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CHA P. XIX.
ACCOUNT of a Controversial Dispute disputo
which happened in CHINA.
N the beginning of the reign of the great
emperor Cam-hi, a mandarin of the city of Canton hearing a great noise and outcry in the house adjoining to that he dwelt in, sent to know if they were murdering any one ; but was told that it was only a Danish almoner, a Dutch chaplain, and a Jesuit difputing together; upon which he ordered them to be brought before him, and enquired of them the occafion of their quarrel ?
The Jesuit, who was the first that spoke, said, that it was a very grievous thing to him, who was always in the right, to have to do with people who were always in the wrong; that he had at first began to reason with them with the greatest coolness; but that, at length, he could not but own his patience had left him.
The mandarin then represented to all three, with all imaginable candour, how necefiary it
to observe decorum and good manners even in difputation ; he told them that no one ever gave way to heats or passion in China, and desired to be informed of the nature of their dispute ?
My lord, said the Jesuit, I take you for judge in this affair. These two gentlemen refuse to fubmit to the decisions of the council of Trent.
I am surprised at that, replied the Mandarin. Then turning towards the two refractory parties, Gentlemen, said he, you ought to shew a deference to the opinion of a great assembly ; I do not know what the council of Trent is; but a number of persons must always have opportunities of knowing better than one single
Noone ought to imagine that he knows more than all others, and that reason dwells (only with him: this is the doctrine of our great Confucius; therefore, if you would take my advice, abide by what the council of Trent has decreed.
The Dane then began to speak in his turn, Your Excellence, said he, has delivered yourself with great wisdom and prudence: we have all that respect for great assemblies that we 6
ought ; and accordingly we submit entirely to the opinions of several councils that were held at the same time with that of Trent.
Oh! if that is the case, said the Mandarin, I ask your pardon, you may doubtlefs be in the right. So then, it seems you and the Dutchman are of one opinion against the Jesuit.
Not in the least, anfwered the Dutchman, this man here (pointing to the Dane) entertains notions almost as extravagant as those of the Jesuitwho pretends to so much mildness. before you. Sblood! there is no bearing this: with patience!
I cannot conceive what you mean, said the Mandarin; are you not all three Christians ? are you not all three come to teach the Chris. tian religion in our empire? and ought you not consequently to have all the same tenets ?
You see how it is, my lord, said the Jesuit: these two men here, are mortal enemies to each other; and yet both of them dispute against me; this makes it clear, that they are both in the wrong, and that reason is on my side.
I do not think it is so very clear, replied the Mandarin, for it may very well happen that you are all three in the wrong. But I should be glad to hear your arguments singly.
The Jesuit then made a long discourse, while the Dutchman and the Dane at every period shrugged up their shoulders, and the Mandarin could not make any thing of what he heard. The Dane now took the lead in his turn, while his two adversaries looked upon him with mani. fest signs of contempt; and the Mandarin, when he had finished, remained as wise as before. The Dutchman had the fame success. At length, they began to talk all three together, and broke out into the most scurrilous revilings. The honest Mandarin could hardly get in a word ; at length he dismissed them, saying, If you expect to have your doctrine tolerated here, begin by shewing an example of it to each other.
At leaving the house, the Jesuit met with a Dominican niffionary, to whom he related what had passed; and told him, that he had gained his cause; for you may be assured, added he, that truth will always prevail. The Domini
can replied, Had I been there, friend, you would not so easily have gained your cause ; for I should have proved you to be an idolator and a liar. Upon this, there arose a violent dispute between them; and the Jesuit and the Friar went to fifty-cuffs. The Mandarin being informed of this scandalous behaviour, ordere.] them both to be sent to prison. A sub-mandarin asked his Excellence, how long he would please to have them remain in confinement? Till they are both agreed, said the judge. Then, my lord, answered the sub-mandarin, they will remain in prison-all their days. Well then, said the Mandarin, let them stay till they forgive one another. That they will never do, rejoined the deputy, I know them very well. Indeed ! said the Mandarin; then let it be till they appear fo to do.