1902 Encyclopedia > China > Social and Domestic Life in China - Introduction

(Part 59)


Social and Domestic Life in China - Introduction

But side by side with all these horrors there is a vast deal of quiet, happy, domestic life in China. It is not every one who gets into the clutches of the mandarins and their satellites, and as long as a man is loyal to the powers that be, and is not over rich, he may expect to be left alone in undisturbed enjoyment of ht pleasures within his reach. And in the ordering of a Chinese household there is much that might be imitated with advantage by European families. The duty of filial piety, which is the final object of Chinese religious teaching, represents much more than the ceremonial observances which outwardly mark its performance. The reverence with which children are taught to regard their parents fosters the affection of which this reverence is the outward and visible sign, and the peace of each household is assured by the presence of a supreme authority, against whose dicta there is no appeal. Although sons very generally remain under their father’s roofs after they are married and have themselves become fathers, yet so impossible would it be for a young Chinaman to rebel against, or even to dispute with, his parent that difficulties seldom arise from this close association of several generations. The patriarchal system of family life is dear to the heart of every Chinaman, and when his time comes to die, death loses to him half it terrors if he assured that his sons will be present at his tomb to perform the customary rites and to offer the prescribed sacrifices. It is his belief that the peace of his soul depends on the due celebration of these posthumous observances, and if he has no son present to officiate, to whom can he took for the performance of them?

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