Yet all these devices are trifling and harmless when compared with the enormities of which they are often guilty. When any person is so audacious as to _provoke them, by withstanding their petitions, orrefusing to be duped by their impostures, their diabolical revenge can seldom be satiated without the murder of the un fortunate offender. A mandarin passing with his reti nue along the highway, observed an immense concourse of people, and, on coming up to them, found that the bonzes were celebrating an extraordinary festival. On a large theatre was constructed a very high ma chine, surrounded by a small balustrade, above which a young man put forth his head, rolling his eyes in a very wild and frightful manner. The rest of his bo dy was entirely concealed. In the mean time, an old bonze harangued the people from the theatre, extol ling the piety and fortitude of the youth, who had resolved to sacrifice his life to Fo, by throwing him self into a deep rivulet which flowed along the side of the highway. The mandarin expressed his surprise that this 'heroic young man did not himself explain the motives which induced him to undergo this mar tyrdom, and requested that he might be permitted to come down in order to converse with him. The bonze, terrified by this proposal, protested, that irreparable evil might fall upon the whole province if the victim opened his mouth. But the mandarin, firm to his purpose, promised to take all the risk of that evil upon himself, and, at the same time, ordered the young man to come down. To this command he replied by a wild irregular movement of his eyes, which seemed ready to burst from his head. " Ob serve his agitation," cried the bonze, " and judge from that of the injury you do him ; already lie is sinking under despair, and if you persist he will cer tainly expire through grief." In spite of these re monstrances, the mandarin to`mount the theatre, and-to-bring down-the-young man by force. They found him closely bound and gagged ; and no sooner had he recovered his speech, than he demanded immediate vengeance upon the execrable bonzes, who had seized him before ,break of day ; bound him to the machine in such a manner that he could neither move nor speak; and determined to throw him into the river, and to perform their de testable mysteries at the expence of his life. The man darin ordered the old bonze himself to be thrown into the stream ; and the rest of them were carried to prison, and afterwards punished as their atrocities deserved.
With all their pretended sanctity and austerity, too, these infamous wretches are no less voluptuous and profligate, than they are selfish and cruel. In stances of their lewdness are mentioned by creditable writers, the recital of which would disgust the least delicate of our readers. In short, in the black cata logue of human crimes, there can scarcely be found .one which does not disgrace the character of the bonzes. Hence the Chinese, though one of the most superstitious nations in the world, generally hold the bonzes in contempt and abhorrence. It is partly the cause, and partly the effect of this contempt, that the numbers of the bonzes are recruited from the dregs of the people. They purchase young children, whom they early initiate in their mysteries, and in all the arts of deception. These in time succeed them, and in like manner transmit their knowledge and depra vity to another generation. In general they are so ignorant, as to be unable to explain the true doc trines of their sect. Though subject to no regular hierarchy, they acknowledge superiors, whom they call ta•ho•chang, or grand bonzes. This rank enti tles those who have obtained it to particular distinc tions, and to the first place in all religious assemblies. There are bonzes of all conditions. Some are em ployed only in collecting alms ; others, more elo quent and better informed, are commissioned to visit the literati, and to insinuate themselves into the houses of the great ; and others, venerable for their age and grave deportment, endeavour to ingratiate themselves with the fair sex, and preside in the female assemblies, which are held in several of the provinces. These religious assemblies are the source of consider able gain to the bonzes. They are composed of fif teen, twenty, or thirty ladies, most of whom are of some rank, and advanced in life, or rich widows. One of these ladies is elected superior for the space of a year, and at her house all the assemblies are held. Each of the members contributes towards the expence occasioned by ornamenting their oratory ; by the ce lebration of certain festivals ; and the assistance of the bonzes.
For the religious tenets and ceremonies of the bonzes, see CHINA. See also Grozier's General De scription of China, vol. ii.; Du Halde's China, vol. i.; Le Compte's State of China; and Barrow's Account of ,Lord Macartney's Embassy to China. (k) .