Begging is by no means a profitable trade in China, and few therefore pursue it except the monks of Fo and Tao-tzé, and a few impostors who go about pretending to foretell events and predict good or ill fortune. The annexed is the representation of a beggar of a different description. The piece of hollow wood in his hand is struck to draw attention, and the label on his back describes his condition, which is not exactly such as in other countries would excite much compassion. It states his unfortunate situation, as having no children to take care of him, to console him in affliction, to give him food when hungry, or medicine when sick. The want of children is considered in China as the greatest of all misfortunes, and is in reality so, as by the moral precepts of that nation, which have all the force of law, filial piety is looked upon as the first of moral virtues; and, however poor a child may be, he is bound to share his earnings with his aged parents.
The sabouleux, who were commonly called the poor sick of St. John, were in the habit of frequenting fairs and markets, or the vicinity of churches; there, smeared with blood and appearing as if foaming at the mouth by means of a piece of soap they had placed in it, they struggled on the ground as if in a fit, and in this way realised a considerable amount of alms. These consequently paid the largest fees to the Coesre
-Orphans, Callots, and the Family of the Grand Coesre.--From painted Hangings and Tapestry from the Town of Rheims, executed during the Fifteenth Century.
The Grand Coesre levied a tax of twenty-four sous per annum upon the young rogues, who went about the streets pretending to shed tears, as "helpless orphans," in order to excite public sympathy.