Изображения страниц




[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

THE Koreans claim as the father of their descendants of this colony occupied the northern part of

country, Ki-tsze, who lived about three Korean peninsula, and called the country Korai. thousand years ago. Their historians say: In the sixth and seventh centuries they were attacked

“On the overthrow of the Chow dynasty of by armies from China, and finally Korea became a feudal China, 1122 B. C., the viscount (tsze) of the state province of the Chinese empire. “After twenty-eight

[ocr errors]
[graphic][merged small]

of Ki, preferred to remain loyal to his old master of the generations and a rule of seven hundred years, the line house of Chow rather than to pay court to the new of kings of Korea came to an end in A. D. 665." usurper. Ki-tsze therefore emigrated with 5,000 fol- The province of Korea did not embrace all of the lowers to the northeast. Well-received by the aborigines, peninsula. South of this was Sinlo, the inhabitants of he founded a kingdom on the principles of Chinese which were probably of the same stock. feudalism, and civilized the inhabitants by introducing In 912, A. D., the ruling dynasty of Sinlo was overletters, the arts, medicine and agriculture. He named thrown by Wanghien, in whose veins ran the blood of his dominions Chosen, which means Fresh Morning, or the old kings of Korea, and the whole peninsula was Calm of Dawn.”

brought under his rule. Four centuries of peace and About the commencement of the Christian era thel national development followed, though the kingdom acknowledged subjection to China.

ground to witness the military exercises, from the variety In 1392, a powerful chief named Ni Taijo, deposed the of colors in their dress and the peculiar but graceful king, was himself declared king, and so acknowledged costume of the Ming dynasty which the Koreans still reby the emperor of China. He disestablished Buddhism, tain, presented a gay, pleasing, and picturesque scene. and made the doctrines of Confucius the state religion. Women are frequently met walking in the streets, but White was made the universal color of dress, and covered all over with a long cloak, with a hood closely the styles of hat and hair dressing became fixed in their drawn over the head and face, so that the features are present condition.

hidden from the gaze of men. It is, however, only the The direct succession of the royal line founded by elderly women who are allowed this freedom. The Ni Taijo, in 1392, came to an end in 1864, and a lad younger women, except those of the very poorest, are twelve years old, (the present king), was nominated heir scarcely ever seen in public. The women of the poorest by Queen Cho, his father, Ni Kung, being made the class, old and young, have the privilege, as we Westerns regent of the kingdom.

would think it, of walking about freely, with their heads This lad came to the throne in 1873, and has shown and faces uncovered. himself as possessing decided abilities, and has sought “In the city of Seoul the curfew bell rings out every to establish such institutions as would benefit the country. night at 9 o'clock, after which time all the male pop

The king is now thirty three years of age. In Decem. ulation are to retire within doors. It used to be at the ber, 1884, he appointed a cabinet, all the members of risk of their lives to disobey; but now the law, though which belonged to the Progressive Party, but the still in force, does not apply to Chinese and other naChinese troops interfered, and these men were all killed, tionalities living in the city. After the curfew rings and or driven into exile. The Conservative Party came into the men retire, the women come out to walk and get power, but are not able to prevent the carrying out of some fresh air. I heard the curfew ring clear and loud the plans previously formed and sanctioned by the king over the city, but my curiosity was not sufficiently strong for the advancement of the people, especially the in- enough to transgress propriety and take a walk after 9 troduction of the usages of western civilization. o'clock at night in the streets to witness a city of females

On the seventh of May, 1882, a treaty was made taking fresh air. between the United States and Korea, opening Korea to “The abominable and cruel custom among the Chinese the Americans under specified conditions. This had been of foot-binding is unknown in Korea. The crime of inpreceded by negotiations continued for several years, fanticide, also so common and extensive among the and by an attack upon and capture of some of the forts Celestials, is a crime punished by death in Korea, and in Korea by military forces from the United States. In scarcely, if ever, practiced. February, 1883, General L. H. Foote was sent as minister ". The population of Seoul is 400,000, according to the plenipotentiary to Korea, and on May 19, 1883, the formal account given me by Mr. Mollendorf, the Commisioner exchange of the ratifications of the treaty was made in of Customs, and a Minister of State to the Korean king. Seoul. In November of the same year, a treaty with The population of the whole kingdom, he assured me, Korea was signed in behalf of Great Britain and Ger- was not less than fifteen millions. The people of Seoul many.

are very friendly to foreigners. On one occasion I was The Rev. J. R. Wolfe, missionary in China, has lately in the streets by two Koreans who produced their inkvisited Korea, and gives the following account of the horns and pencils and wrote in my pocketbook the folcountry and people:

lowing words in Chinese: “To behold you is like seeing “The city of Seoul is situated in a valley, the beauty a friend who comes but once a year, like the red autumand loveliness of which it is hard to describe. It is fertil- nal leaves of the maple tree.” I may remark that the ized by the deep and broad waters of the Han, which literati of Korea are as well versed in the literature of roll down from the mountains on the east and bring much China as are the Chinese themselves, and they can write of the precious ore which the natives collect from the their classic characters with fluency and ease. These beds of its diverging streams. The hills which bound it Koreans are a fine stalwart and robust race of men. on all sides are well covered with trees, and its fields and Their physique is infinitely superior to that of either the gardens are well cultivated with wheat, millet, rice, beans, Chinese or the Japanese. The latter looks like a nation and other vegetables. The country abounds with game, of pigmies beside the Koreans. and in the Valley of Seoul I saw immense flocks of wild "I was much interested and surprised at not seeing an geese hovering about, apparently fearless of man and idol or an idol-temple in the country anywhere, or in the ready to alight upon a large rice crop in a field hard by. city of Seoul. The people seem to have no love for idols,

"The city itself is not well built; the houses are of and they erect no temples to the gods. There is not a the very poorest description, and betoken a condition of temple in the entire capital, and, practically, the Koreans extreme poverty among its inhabitants; but this can have no system of religion at all. Buddhism, though hardly be the case, for every one looks gayly dressed traces of it exist here and there in the remote and seand well-fed, and scarcely a beggar can be seen in the cluded parts of the kingdom, is a proscribed religion, and s'reets. The crowds that assembled on the parade for the last five hundred years it has been vigoronsly and

successfully suppressed by the reigning dynasty, and each of these as many captains depending on them, and thoroughly eradicated out of the hearts and sympa- each of these is governor of some town or stronghold; thies of the people. Confucianism, though not a religi. insomuch there is not a village but where at least a ous system, is adhered to by the literary and official corporal commands, who has tithing-men, or officers over classes, but it has little or no influence on the masses of ten men, under him. These corporals are obliged once the people.

a year to deliver to their captains a list of what people "The Koreans are, however, a very superstitious and are under their jurisdiction, and by this means the king spirit fearing people. They deify and worship the knows how many men he may reckon upon when he has spirits of deceased heroes and public benefactors, and the need. worship of deceased ancestors is universally practiced. “The number of freeman who are not in the kings

“Fetichism is also extensively practiced by this peo- service, and have not been, together with the slaves, ple. Favorite trees and stones are worshiped, and along makes about half the people in the country. The child. the road it is common to see some tree gayly covered ren of a free man and slave woman, and also those of a

[graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][merged small]

with rugs hung on the branches as tokens to the deity slave father and free woman, are themselves slaves; and that the individual who placed them there has paid his those whose father and mother are both slaves belong to devotions to the tree. Others, in order to obtain for the mother's master. giveness of their sins, carry round stones to the top of “Korea being almost encompassed on all sides by the some mountain or hill, and leave them there, after they sea, every town is to maintain a ship ready rigged and have paid their devotions to them or to the spirit which provided with all necessaries. Their ships have genis supposed to reside in them. The fear of ghosts and erally two masts and thirty or thirty-two oars, to each spirits also haunts this poor darkened people, and they of which there are five or six men, so that each of this have recourse to the most childish expedients to relieve sort of galleys carries about three hundred men for rowthemselves of this fear and frighten away these spirits.” ing and fight. They carry some small pieces of cannon

Rev. W. E. Griffis gives us the following account of and abundance of artificial fireworks. the Koreans:

“The king's revenue for maintenance of his house and “For martial affairs the king keeps abundance of forces arise out of the duties paid for all things the soldiers in his capital city, who have no other employ- country produces or that are brought by sea; there. ment than to keep guard about his person and to attend for, in all the towns and villages there are storehim when he goes abroad. . All the provinces are houses to keep the tithe, for the farmers, who are genobliged, once in seven years, to send all their freeman to erally of the common sort, take the tithe of all things keep guard about the king for two months; so that upon the spot in harvest-time, before anything is carried during that year the province is under arms, sending all away. The great men live upon their revenues, as has the men in their turn to court. Each province has its been said before, and those that have employments live general, who has four or five colonels under him, and I upon the allowance the king gives them, to be received out of the revenues of the places where they reside, eldest governs; and if any one does not do his duty he assigning what is raised in the country for the sea and may cause the others to punish him with twenty or land forces. Besides this tithe, those men who are not thirty strokes on the buttocks; but if the offence be enlisted are to work three days in a year at whatsoever heinous they deliver him up to the governor of the town business the country will put them upon. Every soldier to which they belong.

. and trooper has every year three pieces of cloth given “It being lawful for any man to become a religious, him to clothe him, which in all are worth a pistole, which all the country of Korea is full of them, and the more is part of the pay of the troops that are in the capital of because they can quit this profession when they please; the kingdom. This is what is raised from the people, who know no other duties or taxes.

“Justice is severely executed among the Koreans, and particularly upon criminals. He that rebels against the king is destroyed, with all his race; his houses are thrown down, and no man does ever rebuild them, and all his goods forfeited, and sometimes given to some private person. When the king has once made a decree, if any man is so presumptuous as to make any objection to it, nothing can protect him from severe punishment; as we have often seen it executed.

“Thus they punish murder: After they have long trampled upon the criminal, they pour vinegar on the raw body, which they then pour down the offender's throat through a funnel, and when he is full they beat him on the belly with cudgels till he bursts. Thieves are trampled to death; and though this be a dreadful punishment, yet the Koreans are much addicted to stealing. “As for religion, the Koreans have scarce any.

The common sort make some old grimaces before the idols, but pay them little respect; and the great ones honor them much less, because they think themselves to be something more than an idol. To prove this, when one of their kindred or friends dies they all appear to honor the dead man at the offering the priest makes before his image, and frequently travel thirty or forty leagues to be present at this ceremony, whether to express their gratitude to some great man or to show the esteem they have for some learned religious man, and that they prederve the memory of him. On festivals the people repair o the temple, and every one lights a bit of sweet wood; then putting it into a vessel for that purpose, they go offer it to the idol, and placing it before him make a low bow and depart. This is their worship.

however, generally speaking, these religious men are “For their belief, they are of opinion that he who not much more respected than the slaves, because of the lives well shall be rewarded, and he who lives ill shall great taxes they are obliged to pay and the work they be punished. Beyond this they know nothing of preach- are forced to do. Their superiors are in great esteem, ing nor of mysteries, and therefore they have no especially when they are learned, for then they are disputes of religion, all believing and practicing the equal with the great men of the country, and are called same thing throughout the kingdom. The religious men the ‘king's religious men,' wearing their order over their offer perfumes before an idol twice a day and on festi- clothes; they have the power of judging as subaltern vals; all the religious of a house make a noise with officers, and make their visits on horseback, being very drums, basins and kettles. The monasteries and tem- well received and entertained in all places. ples, with which the kingdom swarms, are for the most “These religious must eat nothing that has had life; part on the mountains, each under the liberty of some they shave their heads and beards, and are forbid contown. There are monasteries of five or six hundred versing with women. If any of them breaks these rules religious men, and at least four thousand of them within they give him seventy or eighty strokes on the butthe liberties of some towns. They are divided into com- tocks and banish him the monastery. When they are panies of ten, twenty, antil sometimes thirty, and the first shaved, or soon after, they give him a mark on the



« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »