China in Quotations

This Countrie may bee said to excell in these particulers: Antiquity, largeness, Ritchnesse, healthynesse, Plentifullnesse. For Arts and manner off government I thinck noe Kingdome in the world Comparable to it, Considerd altogether.

Travels in Europe and Asia, 1637

China?There liesa sleeping giant. Lethimsleep! Forwhen he wakes he will move the world.

Attributed to Napoleon

Why does the same dull current of ignoble blood creep through a thousand generations in China without any provision for its own purification, without the mixture of one drop from the fountains of wisdom & glory? . . . they worship crockery gods . . . the summit of their philosophy and science is how to make tea.

The Chinese

The inhabitants of those parts are exceeding wise and subtill, replenished with all kinds of skill and cunning, insomuch that they disdaine the endeavours of all other Nations, in all kind of Arts and Sciences: saying that they only see with two Eyes, the Latines with but one eye, and that all other Nations are blind. And albeit they are exceeding sharpe-sighted in the exercise of all bodily workes and labours; yet there is not amongst them any knowledge of spirituall things; the men of that Countrey are not bold, or couragious, but more fearfull of death then befitteth such as bearre Armes; yet are they very ingenious, and have oftener had victories of their enemies by Sea, then by Land.

In Purchas his Pilgrimes, 1625

The Chinois are white (but neerer the South more browne) with thinne beards (some having none) with staring haires, and late growing; their haire wholly blacke; eyes narrow, of Egge forme, blacke and standing out: the nose very little, and scarcely standing forth; eares meane: in some Provinces they are square faced, many of Canton and Quamsi provinces on their little toes have two nailes, as they have generally in Cachin-China. Their women are all low, and account great beauty in little feet, for which cause from their infancy they bind them straight with clothes, that one would judge them stump-footed: this, as is thought, devised to make them housewives.

In Purchas his Pilgrimes, 1625

The Great Wall

An Account of it would have been throught Fabulous, were not the Wall itself still extant.

The Spectaator No. 415, June 26th 1712

I said I really believed I should go and see the wall of China had I not children, of whom it was my duty to take care. “Sir, (said he.) by doing so you would do what would be of importance in raising your children to eminence. There would be a lustre reflected on them from your spirit and curiosity. They would be at all times regarded as the children of a man who had gone to view the wall of China. I am serious, Sir.”

Life of Johnson, (April 10th 1778), 1791

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