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188 CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC.
tions; by which some of the by-standers profited, not being honorable enough to hand it up to the poor actors.*
This was a public performance and took place in a large shed, before a numerous audience. Often the theatrical performances are allowed to take place in the Joss-houses or houses of worship, the bonzes or priests being wise enough not to offer any obstacles to a mode of amusement so thoroughly loved and appreciated by all the Chinese.
It is somewhat singular, and yet in keeping with the custom of the most ancient nations, that the Chinese should at the same time enjoy the drama so keenly, and despise the performers of it. The comedians are kept as thoroughly within their caste as musicians were in Egypt, four thousand years ago. Parents in China have almost unlimited power over their children (filial love and obedience is the highest of Chinese virtues,) they may sell them as slaves, or in some instances kill them, but they are not allowed to sell them to the troupes of strolling comedians, or to magicians. Any person so selling them is punished with one hundred blows of the bamboo, and any go-between or middle-man, in such transactions, receives a similar dose; any person of free parentage, marrying an actor or actress, is punished in the same manner, in spite of the precedent of several emperors. The crime of intimacy with actresses is punishable with sixty blows, but this is easily
•Edward Brows, Adrentures In Cochin Coin*, p. 221, quoted bj Boge! Mu*. Mythj wad beta, toI. 2, p. 167.