The preceding chapter, in a measure, exhibits the attainments the Chinese have reached in the comforts and elegances of living. These terms, as tests of civilization, however, are so comparative that it is rather difficult to define them; for the notions which an Englishman, an Egyptian, and a Chinese severally might have of comfort and elegance in the furniture and arrangement of their houses are almost as unlike as their languages. If Fisher’s Views of China be taken as a guide, one can easily believe that the Chinese need little from abroad to better their condition in these particulars; while if one listen to the descriptions of some persons who have resided among them, it will be concluded that they possess neither comfort in their houses, civility in their manners, nor cleanliness in their persons. In passing to an account of their social life, this variety of tastes should not be overlooked; and if some points appear objectionable when taken alone, a little further examination will, perhaps, show that they form part of a system which requires complete reconstruction before it could be happily and safely altered.