CHAPTER XXXIV. EUNUCHS, HUMAN SACRIFICES, FOOD
Meat seems to have been much more generally consumed in old China (by those who could afford it) than in modern times; and, as we might expect, among the Tartar infected people, horse-flesh in particular. In the second century B.C. the question of eating horse-liver is compared by a witty Emperor with the danger of revolutionary talk. He said: "We may like it, but it is dangerous." (Last year, when in Neu Brandenburg, I came across a man whose brother was a horse-butcher in Pomerania, and, remembering this imperial remark, I asked about horse-liver. The man said he always had a feast of horse-liver when he visited his brother, and that he much preferred it to cows' liver, or to any other part of the horse; but, he added, "you must be careful about eating it in summer.") In 645 Duke Muh of Ts'in was rescued from the Tsin troops by what was described to him as a body-guard of horse-flesh eaters. It appeared, when he sought for explanation, that the same Ts'in ruler had, some time before, been robbed of a horse by some "wild men," who proceeded to cut it up and eat it. They were arrested; but the magnanimous duke said: "I am told horse-flesh needs spirits to make it digest well," and, instead of punishing them, he gave them a keg of liquor, adding: "no sage would ever injure men on account of a mere beast.", He had forgotten the circumstance, but it now transpired that these men had, out of gratitude, since then enlisted as soldiers. This story is the more interesting as it proves how incompletely civilized the neighbourhood of Ts'in then was. - Bears' paws are often spoken of as a favourite dish. In 626 the King of Ts'u, about to be murdered by his son and successor, said: "At least, let me have a bear's paw supper before I die." But it takes many hours to cook this dish to a turn, and the son easily saw through the paternal manoeuvre, pleaded only to gain time. It may be here mentioned, too, that Ts'u made regular use of elephants in battle, which circumstance is another piece of testimony in favour of the Annamese connection of Ts'u. In the Rites of Chou, supposed to be the work of the Duke of Chou, mention is made of ivory as one of the products of the "Jungle province," as then called. In modern times Annam has regularly supplied the Peking Government with elephants, the skin of which is eaten as a tonic. After the annihilation of Wu by Yiieh, the cunning Chinese adviser of Yiieh decided to retire with his fortune to Ts'i, on the ground that the "good sleuth-hound, when there is no more work for him, is apt to find his way to the cooking-pot." Dogs (fed up for the purpose) are still eaten in some parts of China, and (as we shall soon see) they were eaten in ancient Yiieh.