Old China and its People
THE ANCIENT EMPIRE
HE must be dead to all noble thoughts who can tread the venerable continent of Asia without profound emotion. Beyond any other part of the earth, its soil teems with historic associations. Here was the birthplace of the human race. Here first appeared civilization. Here were born art and science, learning and philosophy. Here man first engaged in commerce and manufacture. And here emerged all the religious teachers who have most powerfully influenced mankind, for it was in Asia in an unknown antiquity that the Persian Zoroaster taught the dualism of good and evil; that the Indian Gautama 600 years before Christ declared that self-abnegation was the path to a dreamless Nirvana; that less than a century later the Chinese Lao-tse enunciated the mysteries of Taoism and Confucius uttered his maxims regarding the five earthly relations of man, to be followed within another century by the bold teaching of Mencius that kings should rule in righteousness. In Asia it was 1,000 years afterwards that the Arabian Mohammed proclaimed himself as the authoritative prophet. There the God and Father of us all revealed Himself to Hebrew sage and prophet in the night vision and the angelic form and the still, small voice; and in Asia are the village in which was cradled and the great altar of the world on which was crucified the Son of God.
We of the West boast of our national history. But how brief is our day compared with the succession of world powers which Asia has seen.
Chaldea began the march of kingdoms 2,200 years before Christ. Its proud king, Chedor-laomer, ruled from the Persian Gulf to the sources of the Euphrates, and from the Zagros Mountains to the Mediterranean. Then Egypt arose to rule not only over the northeastern part of Africa, but over half of Arabia and all of the preceding territory of Chaldea. Assyria followed, stretching from the Black Sea nearly half-way down the Persian Gulf and from the Mediterranean to the eastern boundary of modern Persia. Babylon, too, was once a world power whose monarch sat
"High on a throne of royal state, which far Outshone the wealth of Ormus or of Ind."
Persia was mightier still. Two thousand years before America was heard of, while France and Germany, England and Spain, were savage wildernesses, Persia was the abode of civilization and culture, of learning and eloquence. Her empire extended from the Indus to the Danube and from the Oxus to the Nile, embracing twenty satrapies each one of whose governors was well-nigh a king. Alexander the Great, too, at the head of his invincible army, swept over vast areas of Asia, capturing cities, unseating rulers, and bringing well-nigh all the civilized world under his dominion. And was not Rome also an Asiatic power, for it stretched not only from the firths of Scotland on the north to the deserts of Africa on the south, but from the Atlantic Ocean on the west to the River Euphrates on the east.
Altogether it is a majestic but awful procession, overwhelming us by its grandeur and yet no less by its horror. It is a kaleidoscope on a colossal scale, whose pieces appear like fragments of a broken universe. Empires rise and fall. Thrones are erected and overturned. The mightiest creations of man vanish. Yea, they have all waxed "old as doth a garment," and "as a vesture" are they "changed."
But were these ancient nations the last of Asia? Has that mighty continent nothing more to contribute to the world than the memories of a mighty past? It is impossible to believe that this is all. The historic review gives a momentum which the mind cannot easily overcome. As we look towards the Far East, we can plainly see that the evolution is incomplete. Whatever purpose the Creator had in mind has certainly not yet been accomplished. More than two-thirds of those innumerable myriads have as yet never heard of those high ideals of life and destiny which God Himself revealed to men. It is incredible that a wise God should have made such a large part of the world only to arrest its development at its present unfinished stage, inconceivable that He should have made and preserved so large a part of the human race for no other and higher purpose than has yet been achieved.
Within this generation, a new Asiatic power has suddenly appeared in a part of Asia far removed from the region in which the wise men of old lived and studied, and the might of that nation is even now checking the progress of huge and haughty Russia. But brilliant as has been the meteoric career of Japan, there is another race in Asia, which, though now moving more sluggishly, has possibilities of development that may in time make it a dominant factor in the future of the world. Great forces are now operating on that race and it is the purpose of this book to give some account of those forces and to indicate the stupendous transformation which they are slowly but surely producing.
The magnitude of China is almost overwhelming. In spite of all that I had read, I was amazed by what I saw. To say that the Empire has an area of 4,218,401 square miles is almost like saying that it is 255,000,000,000 miles to the North Star; the statement conveys no intelligible idea. The mind is only confused by such enormous figures. But it may help us to remember that China is one-third larger than all Europe, and that if the United States and Alaska could be laid upon China there would be room left for several Great Britains. Extending from the fifty-fourth parallel of latitude southward to the eighteenth, the Empire has every variety of climate from arctic cold to tropic heat. It is a land of vast forests, of fertile soil, of rich minerals, of navigable rivers. The very fact that it has so long sustained such a vast population suggests the richness of its resources. There are said to be 600,000,000 acres of arable soil, and so thriftily is it cultivated that many parts of the Empire are almost continuous gardens and fields. Four hundred and nineteen thousand square miles are believed to be underlaid with coal. Baron von Richthofen thinks that 600,000,000,000 tons of it are anthracite, and that the single Province of Shen-si could supply the entire world for a thousand years. When we add to this supply of coal the apparently inexhaustible deposits of iron ore, we have the two products on which material greatness largely depends.
The population proves to be even greater than was supposed, for while 400,000,000 was formerly believed to be a maximum estimate, the general census recently taken by the Chinese Government for the purpose of assessing the war tax places the population of the Empire at 426,000,000. This, however, includes 8,500,000 in Manchuria, 2,580,000 in Mongolia, 6,430,020 in Tibet and 1,200,000 in Chinese Turkestan. Some of these regions are only nominally Chinese. Those on the western frontier were until comparatively recent years almost as unknown as the poles. Sven Hedin's description of those that he traversed is wonderfully fascinating. Only a daring spirit, the explorer of the type that is born, not made, could have pierced those vast solitudes and wrested from them the secret of their existence. That Hedin had no money for such a costly quest could not deter this Viking of the Northland. Kings headed the subscription and others so eagerly followed that ample funds were soon in hand. Princes helped with equipment and counsel. The Czar made all Russian railways free highways, and every local official and nomad chieftain exerted himself to aid the expedition. Hedin does not claim to give anything more than an ordered diary of his travels, together with a description of the lands he explored and the peoples he found. But what a diary it is! It takes the reader away from the whirl of crowded cities and clanging trolley-cars into the boundless, wind-swept desert and the solitude of majestic mountains where the lonely traveller wanders with his camels through untrodden wildernesses or floats down the interminable stretches of unknown rivers, while night after night he sleeps in his tiny tent or under the open sky. The author failed to reach the long-sought Lassa, the suspicious Dalai Lama refusing to be deceived or cajoled and sternly sending the inquisitive traveller out of the country. But the expedition of three years and three days was rich in other disclosures of ruined cities and great watercourses and lofty plateaus and majestic mountain ranges. The population is sparse in those desolate wastes, and the scattered inhabitants are wild and uncouth and free.
Manchuria, however, is far from being the barren country that so many imagine it to be. It is, in many respects, like Canada, a region embracing about 370,000 square miles and of almost boundless agricultural and mineral wealth. The population, save in the southern parts, is not yet dense but it is rapidly increasing.
But in central and eastern China, the conditions are very different. Here the population can only be indicated by a figure so large that it is almost impossible for us to comprehend it. Consider that the eighteen provinces alone, with an area about equal to that part of the United States east of the Mississippi River, have eight times the population of that part of our country.
"There are twice as many people in China as on the four continents-- Africa, North and South America and Oceanica. Every third person who toils under the sun and sleeps under God's stars is a Chinese. Every third child born into the world looks into the face of a Chinese mother. Every third pair given in marriage plight their troth in a Chinese cup of wine. Every third orphan weeping through the day every third widow wailing through the night are in China. Put them in rank, joining hands, and they will girdle the globe ten times at the equator with living, beating human hearts. Constitute them pilgrims and let two thousand go past every day and night under the sunlight and under the solemn stars, and you must hear the ceaseless tramp, tramp, of the weary, pressing, throbbing throng for five hundred years."
There is something amazing in the immensity of the population. Great cities are surprisingly numerous. In America, a city of nearly a million inhabitants is a wonderful place and all the world is supposed to know about it. But while Canton and Tien-tsin are tolerably familiar names, how many in the United States ever heard of Hsiang-tan-hsien ? Yet Hsiang-tan- hsien is said to have 1,000,000 inhabitants, while within comparatively short distances are other great cities and innumerable villages. In the Swatow region, within a territory a hundred and fifty miles long and fifty miles wide, there are no less than ten walled cities of from 40,000 to 250,000 inhabitants, besides hundreds of towns and villages ranging from a few hundred to 25,000 or 30,000 people. Men never tire of writing about the population adjacent to New York, Boston and Chicago. But in five weeks' constant journeying through the interior of the Shantung Province, there was hardly an hour in which multitudes were not in sight. There are no scattered farmhouses as in America, but the people live in villages and towns, the latter strongly walled and even the former often have a mud wall. As the country is comparatively level, it was easy to count them, and as a rule there were a dozen or more in plain view. I recall a memorable morning. It was Friday, June 28, 1901. We had risen early, and by daylight we had breakfasted, and started our carts and litters. In our enjoyment of the cool, delicious morning air, we walked for several li. Just before the sun rose, we crossed a low ridge and from its crest, I counted no less than thirty villages in front of us, while behind there were about as many more, the average population being apparently about 500 each. For days at a time, my road lay through the narrow, crowded street of what seemed to be an almost continuous village, the intervening farms being often hardly more than a mile in width.
Imagine half the population of the United States packed into the single state of Missouri and an idea of the situation will be obtained, for with an area almost equal to that of Missouri, Shantung has no less than 38,247,900 inhabitants. It is the most densely populated part of China. But the Province of Shan-si is as thickly settled as Hungary. Fukien and Hupeh have about as many inhabitants to the square mile as England. Chih-li is as populous as France and Yun-nan as Bulgaria.
The density of China's population may be better realized by a glance at the following detailed comparison between the population of Chinese provinces and the population of similar areas in the United States:
[table data unreadable and so omitted -- M.S.]
Perhaps the most thoroughly typical city in China is Canton. The approach by way of the West River from Hongkong gives the traveller a view of some of the finest scenery in China. The green rice-fields, the villages nestling beneath the groves, the stately palm-trees, the quaint pagodas, the broad, smooth reaches of the river reflecting the glories of sunset and moon- rises and the noble hills in the background combine to form a scene worth journeying far to see.
But Canton itself is unique among the world's great cities, and the most sated traveller cannot fail to find much that will interest him. After much journeying in China, we thought we had seen its typical places, but no one has seen China until he has visited Canton. With an estimated population of 1,800,000, it is the metropolis of the Empire. The number of people per acre may be less than in some parts of the East Side in New York, for the houses are only one story in height. But the crowding is amazing. The streets are mere alleys from four to eight feet wide, lined with open-front shops, so filled overhead with perpendicular signs and cross coverings of bamboo poles and mattings that they are in as perpetual shade as an African forest, and so choked with people that men often had to back into a shop to let our chairs pass. No wheeled vehicle can enter those corkscrew streets and we saw no animal of any kind save two cows that were being led to slaughter.
And the hubbub! Such shouting and yelling cannot be heard anywhere else in the world. Our chair coolies were in a constant state of objurgation in clearing a way. Everybody seemed to be bellowing to everybody else and when two chairs met, the din shattered the atmosphere. A foreigner excites a surprising amount of curiosity, considering the number that visit Canton. Troops of boys followed us and there was a good deal of what sounded like cat-calling. But it was all good- natured, or appeared to be.
The unpretentious shop-fronts often beckon to mysteries that are well worth penetrating--tobacco factories where coolies stamp the leaves with bare feet; tea, gold, dye and embroidery shops where designs of exquisite delicacy are exhibited; silk- weaving factories where fine fabrics are made on the simplest of looms; feather shops where breastpins and other ornaments are made of tiny bits of feathers on a silver base--a work requiring almost incredible nicety of vision and such strain upon the eyes that the operators often become blind by forty. Another curiosity is a shop where crickets are reared for fighting as the Filipino fights cocks and the Anglo-Saxon fights dogs. The Chinese gamble on the result and a good fighting cricket is sometimes sold for $100. The attendant put a couple in a jar for our alleged amusement and they began fighting fiercely. But I promptly stopped the melee as I did not enjoy such sport.
The river is one of the sights of China. It is crowded with boats of all sizes. The owner of each lives on it with his family, the babies having ropes tied to them so that if they tumble into the water, they can be pulled out.
Altogether, it is a remarkable city. Viewed from the famous Five-Story Pagoda, on a high part of the old city wall, it is a swarming hive of humanity. As one looks out on those myriads of toiling, struggling, sorrowing men and women, he is conscious of a new sense of the pathos and the tragedy of human life. If I may adapt the words of the Rev. Dr. Richard S. Storrs on the heights above Naples, at the Church of San Mar- tino, on the way to St. Elmo--I suppose that every one who has ever stood on the balcony of that lofty pagoda "has noticed, as I remember to have noticed, that all the sounds coming up from that populous city, as they reached the upper air, met and mingled on the minor key. There were the voices of traffic, and the voices of command, the voices of affection and the voices of rebuke, the shouts of sailors, and the cries of itinerant venders in the street, with the chatter and the laugh of childhood; but they all came up into this incessant moan in the air. That is the voice of the world in the upper air, where there are spirits to hear it. That is the cry of the world for help."
DO WE RIGHTLY VIEW THE CHINESE
TOO much has been made of the peculiarities of the Chinese, ignoring the fact that many customs and traits that appear peculiar to us are simply the differences developed by environment. Eliza Scidmore affirms that "no one knows or ever really will know the Chinese, the most comprehensible, inscrutable, contradictory, logical, illogical people on earth." But a Chinese gentleman, who was educated in the United States, justly retorts: "Behold the American as he is, as I honestly found him--great, small, good, bad, self-glorious, egotistical, intellectual, supercilious, ignorant, superstitious, vain and bombastic. In truth," he adds, "so very remarkable, so contradictory, so incongruous have I found the American that I hesitate."
The Chinese are, indeed, very different from western peoples in some of their customs.
"They mount a horse on the right side instead of the left. The old men play marbles and fly kites, while children look gravely on. They shake hands with themselves instead of with each other. What we call the surname is written first and the other name afterwards. A coffin is a very acceptable present to a rich parent in good health. In the north they sail and pull their wheelbarrows in place of merely pushing them.
China is a country where the roads have no carriages and the ships have no keels; where the needle points to the south, the place of honour is on the left hand, and the seat of intellect is supposed to lie in the stomach; where it is rude to take off your hat, and to wear white clothes is to go into mourning. Can one be astonished to find a literature without an alphabet and a language without a grammar?"
It would never occur to us to commit suicide in order to spite another. But in China such suicides occur every day, because it is believed that a death on the premises is a lasting curse to the owner. And so the Chinese drowns himself in his enemy's well or takes poison on his foe's door-step. Only a few months ago, a rich Chinese murdered an employee in a British colony, and knowing that inexorable British law would not be satisfied until some one was punished, he hired a poor Chinese named Sack Chum to confess to having committed the murder and to permit himself to be hung, the real murderer promising to give him a good funeral and to care for his family. An Englishman who thought this an incredible story wrote a letter of inquiry to an intelligent Chinese merchant of his acquaintance and received the following reply:
"Nothing strange to Chinamen. Sack Chum, old man, no money, soon die. Every day in China such thing. Chinaman not like white man-- not afraid to die. Suppose some one pay his funeral, take care his family. `I die,' he say. Chinaman know Sack Chum, we suppose, sell himself to men who kill Ah Chee. Somebody must die for them. Sack Chum say he do it. All right. Police got him. What for they want more?"
These things appear odd from our view-point and there are many other peculiarities that are equally strange to us. But it may be wholesome for us to remember that some of our customs impress the Chinese no less oddly. The Frankfurter Zeitung, Germany, prints the following from a Chinese who had seen much of the Europeans and Americans in Shanghai:
"We are always told that the countries of the foreign devils are grand and rich; but that cannot be true, else what do they all come here for? It is here that they grow rich. They jump around and kick balls as if they were paid to do it. Again you will find them making long tramps into the country; but that is probably a religious duty, for when they tramp they wave sticks in the air, nobody knows why. They have no sense of dignity, for they may be found walking with women. Yet the women are to be pitied, too. On festive occasions they are dragged around a room to the accompaniment of the most hellish music."
A Chinese resident in America wrote to his friends at home a letter from which the following extract is taken:
"What is queerer still, men will stroll out in company with their wives in broad daylight without a blush. And will you believe that men and women take hold of each other's hands by way of salutation? Oh, I have seen it myself more than once. After all, what can you expect of folk who have been brought up in barbarous countries on the very verge of the world? They have not been taught the maxims of our sages; they never heard of the Rites; how can they know what good manners mean? We often think them rude and insolent when I'm sure they don't mean it they're ignorant, that's all."
A call that I made upon a high official in an interior city developed a curious interest. He was a pale, thin man, apparently an opium smoker and a mandarin of the old school. But he was intelligent enough to ask me not only about "the twenty-story buildings of New York," but "the differences between the various Protestant sects," and in particular about "the Mormons and their strength!" Who could have imagined that the Latter Day Saints of Utah could be known to a Chinese nobleman of Chih-li? Verily, our own idiosyncrasies are known afar.
It will thus be seen that mutual recriminations regarding national peculiarities are not likely to be convincing to either party. Human nature is much the same the world over. From this view-point at least we may discreetly remember that
"There is so much bad in the best of us, And so much good in the worst of us, That it hardly behoves any of us To talk about the rest of us."
I do not mean to give an exaggerated impression of the virtues of the Chinese or what Mrs. Isabella Bird Bishop calls "a milk-and-water idea" of heathenism. Undoubtedly, they have grave defects. Official corruption is well-nigh universal. A correspondent of the North China Herald reports a well- informed Chinese gentleman of the Province of Chih-li as expressing the conviction that one-half the land tax never reaches the Government. "But that is not all," said he.
"There are other sources of income for the hsien official. Thus here in this county, thirty-five or forty years ago, the Government imposed an extra tax for the purpose of putting down the Tai-ping rebellion, and the officials have continued to collect that tax ever since. Of course if the literati should move in the matter and report to Paoting-fu, the magistrate would be bounced at once; but they are not likely to do so. The tax is a small one, my own share not being more than five dollars or so."
China's whole public service is rotten with corruption. Offices with merely nominal salaries or none at all are usually bought by the payment of a heavy bribe and held for a term of three years, during which the incumbent seeks not only to recoup himself but to make as large an additional sum as possible. As the weakness of the Government and the absence of an outspoken public press leave them free from restraint, China is the very paradise of embezzlers. "Any man who has had the least occasion to deal with Chinese courts knows that `every man has his price,' that not only every underling can be bought, but that 999 out of every 1,000 officials, high or low, will favour the man who offers the most money." Dishonesty is not, as with the white race, simply the recourse in emergency of the unscrupulous man. It is the habitual practice, the rule of intercourse of all classes. The Chinese apparently have no conscience on the subject, but appear to deem it quite praise- worthy to deceive you if they can.
Gambling is openly, shamelessly indulged in by all classes. As for immorality, the Rev. Dr. J. Campbell Gibson of Swatow says that "while the Chinese are not a moral people, vice has never in China as in India, been made a branch of religion." But the Rev. Dr. C. H. Fenn, of Peking, declares "that every village and town and city--it would not be a very serious ex- aggeration to say every home,--fairly reeks with impurity." The Chinese are, indeed, less openly immoral than the Japanese, while their venerated books abound with the praises of virtue. But medical missionaries could tell a dark story of the extent to which immorality eats into the very warp and woof of Chinese society. The five hundred monks in the Lama Temple in Peking are notorious not only for turbulence and robbery, but for vice. The temple is in a spacious park and includes many imposing buildings. The statue of Buddha is said to be the largest in China--a gilded figure about sixty feet high--colossal and rather awe-inspiring in "the dim religious light." But in one of the temple buildings, where the two monks who accompanied us said that daily prayers were chanted, I saw representations in brass and gilt that were as filthily obscene as anything that I saw in India. There is immorality in lands that are called Christian, but it is disavowed by Christianity, ostracized by decent people and under the ban of the civil law. But Buddhism puts immorality in its temples and the Government supports it. This particular temple has the yellow tiled roofs that are only allowed on buildings associated with the Imperial Court or that are under special Imperial protection. Mr. E. H. Parker, after twenty years' experience in China, writes,
"The Chinese are undoubtedly a libidinous people, with a decided inclination to be nasty about it. . . . Rich mandarins are the most profligate class. . . . Next come the wealthy merchants. . . . The crapulous leisured classes of Peking openly flaunt the worst of vices.
Still, amongst all classes and ranks the moral sense is decidedly weak. . . . Offenses which with us are regarded as almost capital-- in any case as infamous crimes--do not count for as much as petty misdemeanours in China.
More patent to the superficial observer is a cruelty which appears to be callously indifferent to suffering. This manifests itself not only in most barbarous punishments but in a thou- sand incidents of daily life. The day I entered China at Chefoo, I saw a dying man lying beside the road. Hundreds of Chinese were passing and repassing on the crowded thoroughfare. But none stopped to help or to pity and the sufferer passed through his last agony absolutely uncared for and lay with glazing eyes and stiffening form all unheeded by the careless throng. Twenty-four hours afterwards, he was still lying there with his dead face upturned to the silent sky, while the world jostled by, buying, laughing, quarrelling, heedless of the tragedy of human life so near. And when in Ching-chou-fu, I stopped to see if I could not give some relief to a woman who was writhing in the street, I was hastily warned that if I touched her unasked, the populace might hold me responsible in the event of her death and perhaps demand heavy damages, if, indeed, it did not mob me on the spot. Undoubtedly the Chinese are often deterred from aiding a sufferer because they fear that if death occurs "bad luck" will follow them, a horde of real or fictitious relatives will clamour for damages, and perhaps a rapacious magistrate will take advantage of the opportunity to make a criminal charge which can be removed only by a heavy bribe. And so the sick and poor are often left to die uncared for in crowded streets, and drowning children are allowed to sink within a few yards of boats which might have rescued them. But everywhere in China, little attention is paid to suffering and many customs seem utterly heartless.
In spite, too, of the agnostic teachings of Confucius and their own practical temperament, the Chinese are a very superstitious people and live in constant terror of evil spirits. The grossest superstitions prevail among them, while beyond any other people known to us they are stagnant, spiritually dead, densely ignorant of those higher levels of thought and life to which Christianity has raised whole classes in Europe and America.
Some people who are ignorant of the real situation in China are being misled by an anonymous little book entitled "Letters From a Chinese Official." The author insists that Anglo-Saxon institutions are far inferior to the institutions of China. He declares that "our religion (Chinese) is more rational than yours, our morality higher and our institutions more perfect," and that there is less real happiness in Europe and America than in China. As for Christianity, he regards it as quite impracticable. He holds that Confucianism is feasible and that Christianity is not, and much more to the same effect. There is strong internal evidence that the author is not a Chinese at all, but a cynical European. At any rate, the book is an ex parte statement of the most glaring kind, omitting the good in Europe and America and the bad in China. One who has visited the Celestial Empire gasps when he reads that the Chinese houses are "cheerful and clean," that the Chinese live the life of the mind and the spirit to a far higher degree than the Christian peoples of the West, and that Chinese life has a dignity and peace and beauty which Europe cannot equal. "Such silence! Such sounds! Such perfume! Such colour!" the author rhapsodizes. Bishop Graves, of Shanghai, who has spent a quarter of a century in China and who is therefore presumably competent to speak, declares:
"Far be it from me to belittle the beauty of the Chinese landscape; but why did he not leave out that about the perfume? Why, you can smell China out at sea! However, it is just as easy to imagine the perfume as the rest of it, while you are writing. . . . Exaggeration is the most conspicuous note of these `Letters.' Any one who has not seen China can test whether this book is true to fact by comparing it with any narrative of sober travel, and if he happens to live in China, his own nose and eyes are a sufficient witness. . . . The writer takes the worst of our morals, the weakest of our religion, the most debasing of our industrial conditions, the most pernicious of our vices, and against them he sets not the best that China can show, but an exaggerated picture which is false to fact. This is not argument but trickery, because it presumes on the fact that one's readers will know no better."
Indeed, the Rev. Dr. C. H. Fenn, who has resided in Peking for ten years, writes that he cannot believe that the author of "Letters from a Chinese Official" is a sincere man. He continues:
"I would be almost willing to assert that it is impossible for a man, brought up in China, then spending many years abroad, to return to China and write such a book in honesty and sincerity of heart. He could not possibly help knowing that nine-tenths of what he was writing about China was absolutely untrue, that her political, legal, social, domestic and personal life are rotten to the core, and that only in a few exceptional cases is any pretence even made of living according to the ethics of Confucius. It might be possible for an educated man, whose surroundings had always been of an exceptionally good character, and who had never gone outside of his own province or studied foreign books, to write with some enthusiasm of the beauties of Chinese life, but not for any one else."
Still, at a time when the Chinese are being vociferously abused, it is only fair that we should give them credit for the good qualities which they do possess. I ask with Dr. William Elliott Griffis: "In talking of our brother men, what shall be our general principle, detraction or fair play? Because lackadaisical writers picture the Christless nations as in the innocence of Eden, shall we, at the antipodes of fact and truth, proceed to blacken their characters? Shall we compare the worst in Canton, Benares or Zululand, with the best in London, Berlin or Philadelphia? Surely God cannot look with complacency or hear with delight much of the practical slander spoken among white folks and Anglo-Saxons of His children and our brothers."
There has been too much of a disposition to think of the Chinese as a mass, almost as we would regard immense herds of cattle or shoals of fish. Why not rather think of the Chinese as an individual, as a man of like passions with ourselves? Physically, mentally, and morally he differs from us only in degree, not in kind. He has essentially the same hopes and fears, the same joys and sorrows, the same susceptibility to pain and the same capacity for happiness. Are we not told that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men"? We complacently imagine that we are superior to the Chinese. But discussing the question as to what constitutes superiority and inferiority of race, Benjamin Kidd declares that "we shall have to set aside many of our old ideas on the subject. Neither in respect alone of colour, nor of descent, nor even of the possession of high intellectual capacity, can science give us any warrant for speaking of one race as superior to another." Real superiority is the result, not so much of anything inherent in one race as distinguished from another, as of the operation upon a race and within it of certain uplifting forces. Any superiority that we now possess is due to the action upon us of these forces. But they can be brought to bear upon the Chinese as well as upon us. We should avoid the popular mistake of looking at the Chinese "as if they were merely animals with a toilet, and never see the great soul in a man's face." "There is nothing," says Stopford Brooke, "that needs so much patience as just judgment of a man. We ought to know his education, the circumstances of his life, the friends he has made or lost, his temperament, his daily work, the motives which filled the act, the health he had at the time--we ought to have the knowledge of God to judge him justly."
We need in this study a truer idea of the worth and dignity of man as man, a realization that back of almond eyes and under a yellow skin are all the faculties and the possibilities of a human soul, to grasp the great thought that the Chinese is not only a man, but our brother man, made like ourselves in the image of God. Let us have the charity which sees beneath all external peculiarities our common humanity, which leads us to respect a man because he is a man; which, no matter what complexion he may have, no matter where he lives, no matter to what degradation he has fallen, will take him by the hand and endeavour to elevate him to a higher plane of life. For him we need an enthusiasm for humanity which shall not be a sentimental rhetoric, but a catholic, throbbing love, remembering that he is
"Heir of the same inheritance, Child of the self-same God, He hath but stumbled in the path We have in weakness trod."
Ruskin reminds us that the filthy mud from the street of a manufacturing town is composed of clay, sand, soot and water; that the clay may be purified into the radiance of the sapphire; that the sand may be developed into the beauty of the opal; that the soot may be crystallized into the glory of the diamond and that the water may be changed into a star of snow. So man in Asia as well as in America may, by the transforming power of God's Spirit, be ennobled into the kingly dignity of divine sonship. We shall get along best with the Chinese if we remember that he is a human being like ourselves, responsive to kindness, appreciative of justice and capable of moral transformation under the influence of the Gospel. He differs from us not in the fundamental things that make for manhood, but only in the superficial things that are the result of environment. From this view-point, we can say with Shakespeare:--
"There is some sort of goodness in things evil, Would men observingly distil it out."
Those who are wont to refer so contemptuously to the Chinese might profitably recall that when, in Dickens' "Christmas Carol," the misanthropic Scrooge says of the poor and suffering: "If he be like to die, he had better do it and decrease the surplus population,"--the Ghost sternly replies:--
"Man, if man you be at heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered what the surplus is and where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be that in the sight of heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child. Ah, God! to hear the insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!"
ATTITUDE TOWARDS FOREIGNERS--CHARACTER AND ACHIEVEMENTS
TO understand China's attitude towards foreigners, the following considerations must be borne in mind:--
First, the conservative temperament of the Chinese. It is true but misleading, to say that they have "no word or written character for patriotism, but 150 ways of writing the characters for good luck and longlife." For while the Chinese may have little love for country, they have an intense devotion to their own customs. For nearly 5,000 years, while other empires have risen, flourished and fallen, they have lived apart, sufficient unto themselves, cherishing their own ideals, plodding along their well-worn paths, ignorant of or indifferent to the progress of the Western world, mechanically memorizing dead classics, and standing still comparatively amid the tremendous onrush of modern civilization. I say comparatively still, for if we carefully study Chinese history, we shall find that this vast nation has not been so inert as we have long supposed. The very revolutions and internal commotions of all kinds through which China has passed would have prevented mere inertia. But when we compare these movements and the changes that they have wrought with the kaleidoscopic transformations in Europe and America, China appears the most stationary of nations. She has moved less in centuries than western peoples have in decades. The restless Anglo-Saxon is alternately irritated and awed by this massive solidity, not to say stolidity. There is, after all, something impressive about it, the impressiveness of a mighty glacier which moves, indeed, but so slowly and majestically that the duration of an ordinary nation's life appears insignificant as compared with the almost timeless majesty of the Chinese Empire.
Second, the vastness of China. Her territory and population are so enormous that her people found sufficient scope for their energies within their own borders. They therefore felt independent of outsiders. The typical European nation is so limited in area and is so near to equally civilized and powerful peoples that it could not if it would live unto itself. The situation of most nations forces them into relations with others. But China had a third of the human race and a tenth of the habitable globe entirely to herself, with no neighbours who had anything that she really cared for. It was inevitable, therefore, that a naturally conservative people should become a self- centred and self-satisfied people.
Third, the character of adjacent nations. None of them were equal to the Chinese in civilization and learning, while in territory and population, they were relatively insignificant. Even Japan, by far the most powerful of them, has only a tenth of China's population, while her remarkable progress in intelligence and power is a matter of less than a couple generations. Until recently, indeed, Japan was as backward as China and was not ashamed to receive many of her ideas from her larger neighbour, as the number of Chinese characters in the Japanese language plainly show. As for China's other neighbours, who were they? Weak nations which abjectly sent tribute by commissioners who grovelled before the august Emperor of the Middle Kingdom, or barbarous tribes which the Chinese regarded about as Americans regard the aboriginal Indians. Gibson translates the following passage from a Chinese historian as illustrative at once of China's haughty contempt of outsiders and of her reasons for it:
"The former kings in measuring out the land put the Imperial territory in the centre. Inside was the Chinese Empire, and outside were the barbarous nations. The barbarians are covetous and greedy of gain. Their hair hangs down over their bodies, and their coats are buttoned on the left side. They have human faces, but the hearts of beasts. They are distinguished from the natives of the Empire both by their manners and their dress. They differ both in their customs and their food, and in language they are utterly unintelligible. . . . On this account the ancient sage kings treated them like birds and beasts. They did not contract treaties, nor did they attack them. To form a treaty is simply to spend treasure and to be deceived; to attack them is simply to wear out the troops and provoke raids. . . . Thus the outer are not to be brought inside. They must be held at a distance, avoiding familiarity. . . . If they show a leaning towards right principles and present tributary offerings, they should be treated with a yielding etiquette; but bridling and repression must never be relaxed for conforming to circumstance. Such was the constant principle of the sage monarchs in ruling and controlling the barbarian tribes."
It is not surprising, therefore, that when foreigners from the distant West sought to force their way into China, the Chinese, knowing nothing of the countries from which they came, should have regarded them in accordance with their traditional belief and policy regarding the inferiority of all outsiders.
The resultant difficulty was intensified by the indifference, to use no harsher term, of the foreigner to the fact that the Chinese are a very ceremonious people, extremely punctilious in all social relations and disposed to regard a breach of etiquette as a cardinal sin. "Face" is a national institution which must be preserved at all hazards. No one can get along with the Chinese who does not respect it.
"It is an integral part of both Chinese theory and practice that realities are of much less importance than appearances. If the latter can be saved, the former may be altogether surrendered. This is the essence of that mysterious `face' of which we are never done hearing in China. The line of Pope might be the Chinese national motto: `Act well your part, there all the honour lies'; not, be it observed, doing well what is to be done, but consummate acting, contriving to convey the appearance of a thing or a fact, whatever the realities may be. This is Chinese high art; this is success. It is self-respect, and it involves and implies the respect of others. It is, in a word, `face.' The preservation of `face' frequently requires that one should behave in an arbitrary and violent manner merely to emphasize his protests against the course of current events. He or she must fly into a violent rage, he or she must use reviling and perhaps imprecatory language, else it will not be evident to the spectators of the drama, in which he is at the moment acting, that he is aware just what ought to be done by a person in his precise situation; and then he will have `no way to descend from the stage,' or in other words, he will have lost `face.' "
Even in death this remains the ruling passion. Chinese coffins require much wood and are an expensive burden in this land where timber is scarce, for Confucius said that a coffin should be five inches thick. So the poorer Chinese thriftily meet this requirement by making the sides and ends hollow! Thus "face" is saved.
In these circumstances, it was very important that the relations of Europeans to China should be characterized not only by justice but by tact and at least decent respect for the feelings and customs of the people. The chief cause of China's hostility to foreigners undoubtedly lies in the notorious and often contemptuous disregard of these things by the majority of the white men who have entered China and by the Governments which have backed them.
There is much in the Chinese that is worthy of our respectful recognition. Multitudes are indeed, stolid and ignorant, but multitudes, too, have strong, intelligent features. Thousands of children have faces as bright and winning as those of American children. More strongly than ever do I feel that Europe and America have not done justice to the character of the Chinese. I do not refer to the bigoted and corrupt Manchu officials, or to the lawless barbarians who, like the "lewd fellows of the baser sort" in other lands, are ever ready to follow the leadership of a demagogue. But I refer to the Chinese people as a whole. Their view-point is so radically different from ours that we have often harshly misjudged them, when the real trouble has lain in our failure to understand them.
Let us be free enough from prejudice and passion to respect a people whose national existence has survived the mutations of a definitely known historic period of thirty-seven centuries and of an additional legendary period that runs back no man knows how far into the haze of a hoary antiquity; who are frugal, patient, industrious and respectful to parents, as we are not; whose astronomers made accurate recorded observations 200 years before Abraham left Ur; who used firearms at the beginning of the Christian era; who first grew tea, manufactured gunpowder, made pottery, glue and gelatine; who wore silk and lived in houses when our ancestors wore the undressed skins of wild animals and slept in caves; who invented printing by movable types 500 years before that art was known in Europe; who discovered the principles of the mariner's compass without which the oceans could not be crossed, conceived the idea of artificial inland waterways and dug a canal 600 miles long; who made mountain roads which, in the opinion of Dr. S. Wells Williams, "when new probably equalled in engineering and construction anything of the kind ever built by Romans;" and who invented the arch to which our modern architecture is so greatly indebted.
In the Great Bell Temple two miles from Peking is one of the wonderful bells of the world. It is fourteen feet high, thirty-four feet in circumference at the rim, nine inches thick and weighs 120,000 pounds. It is literally covered inside and out with Chinese characters consisting of extracts from the sacred writings, and the Rev. Dr. John Wherry, who is an expert in the Chinese language, says that there is "not one imperfect character among them." The bell when struck by the big wooden clapper emits a deep musical note that can be heard for miles. Such a magnificent bell vividly illustrates the stage of civilization reached by the Chinese while Europe was comparatively barbarous, for the bell was cast as far back as 1406 in the reign of Yung-loh, and the present temple buildings were erected about it in 1578. The Germans began using paper in 1190, but Sven Hedin found Chinese paper 1,650 years old and there is evidence that paper was in common use by the Chinese 150 years before Christ. Until a few hundred years ago, European business was conducted on the basis of coin or barter. But long before that, the Chinese had banks and issued bills of exchange. There has recently been placed in the British Museum a bank-note issued by Hung-Wu, Emperor of China, in 1368.
The Chinese exalt learning and, alone among the nations of the earth, make scholarship a test of fitness for official position. True, that scholarship moves along narrow lines of Confucian classics, but surely such knowledge is a higher qualification for office than the brute strength which for centuries gave precedence among our ancestors. A Chinese writer explains as follows the gradations in relative worth as they are esteemed by his countrymen: "First the scholar: because mind is superior to wealth, and it is the intellect that distinguishes man above the lower orders of beings, and enables him to provide food and raiment and shelter for himself and for other creatures. Second, the farmer: because the mind cannot act without the body, and the body cannot exist without food, so that farming is essential to the existence of man, especially in civilized society. Third, the mechanic: because next to food, shelter is a necessity, and the man who builds a house comes next in honour to the man who provides food. Fourth, the tradesman: because, as society increases and its wants are multiplied, men to carry on exchange and barter become a necessity, and so the merchant comes into existence. His occupation --shaving both sides, the producer and consumer--tempts him to act dishonestly; hence his low grade. Fifth, the soldier stands last and lowest in the list, because his business is to destroy and not to build up society. He consumes what others produce, but produces nothing himself that can benefit mankind. He is, perhaps, a necessary evil."
While the Government of China is a paternal despotism in form and while it is always weak and corrupt and often cruel and tyrannical in practice, nevertheless there is a larger measure of individual freedom than might be supposed. "There are no passports, no restraints on liberty, no frontiers, no caste prejudices, no food scruples, no sanitary measures, no laws except popular customs and criminal statutes. China is in many senses one vast republic, in which personal restraints have no existence."
We must not form our opinion from the Chinese whom we see in the United States. True, most of them are kindly, patient and industrious, while some are highly intelligent. But, with comparatively few exceptions, they are from the lower classes of a single province of Kwan-tung--Cantonese coolies. The Chinese might as fairly form their opinion of Americans from our day-labourers. But there are able men in the Celestial Empire. Bishop Andrews returned from China to characterize the Chinese as "a people of brains." When Viceroy Li Hung Chang visited this country, all who met him unhesitatingly pronounced him a great man. The New York Tribune characterizes the late Liu Kun Yi, Viceroy of Nanking, as a man who "rendered inestimable services to China and to the whole world," "a man of action, who acted with a strong hand and masterful leadership and at the same time with a justice and a generosity that made him at once feared, respected and loved."
After General Grant's tour around the world, he told Senator Stewart that the most astonishing thing which he had seen was that wherever the Chinese had come into competition with the Jew, the Chinese had driven out the Jew. We know the persistence of the Jew, that he has held his own against every other people. Despite the fact that he has no home and no Government, that he has been ridiculed and persecuted by all men, that everywhere he is an alien in race, country and religion, he has laboured on, patiently, resolutely, distancing every rival, surmounting every obstacle, compelling even his enemies to acknowledge his shrewdness and his determination till to-day in Russia, in Austria, in Germany, in England, the Jew is bitterly conceded to be master in the editorial chair, at the bar, in the universities, in the counting-house and in the banking office; while the proudest of monarchs will undertake no enterprise requiring large expenditure until he is assured of the support of the keen-eyed, swarthy-visaged men who control the sinews of war. Generations of exclusion from agriculture and the mechanical arts and of devotion to commerce, have developed and inbred in the Jew a marvellous facility for trade.
And yet this race, which has so abundantly demonstrated its ability to cope with the Greek, the Slav and the Teuton, finds itself outreached in cunning, outworn in persistence and over- matched in strength by an olive-complexioned, almond-eyed fellow with felt shoes, baggy trousers, loose tunic, round cap and swishing queue, who represents such swarming myriads that the mind is confused in the attempt to comprehend the enormous number. The canny Scotchman and the shrewd Yankee are alike discomfited by the Chinese. Those who do not believe it should ask the American and European traders who are being crowded out of Saigon, Shanghai, Bangkok, Singapore, Penang, Batavia and Manila. In many of the ports of Asia outside of China, the Chinese have shown themselves to be successful colonizers, able to meet competition, so that to-day they own the most valuable property and control the bulk of the trade. It is true that the Chinese are inordinately conceited; but shades of the Fourth of July orator, screams of the American eagle! it requires considerable self-possession in a Yankee to criticize any one else on the planet for conceit. The Chinese have not, at least, padded a census to make the world believe that they are greater than they really are. In June, 1903, the same New York newspaper that gave the horrible details of the burning of a negro by an American mob within thirty miles of Philadelphia announced that a Chinese, Chung Hui Wang, had taken the highest honours in the graduating class at Yale University. Another New York journal, in commenting on the fact that Chao Chu, son of the former Chinese minister, Wu Ting Fang, was graduated in 1904 at the Atlantic City High School as the valedictorian of a class of thirty-one, remarked:
"At every commencement there are honours enough to go around, and those won by the Celestial contestants will not be begrudged them. Yet it is not exactly flattering to smart American youth to realize that representatives of an effete civilization after a few years' acquaintance with western ways can meet our home talent on its own ground and carry off the prizes of scholarship."
A British consular official, who spent many years in China and who speaks the language, declares that in his experience of the Chinese their fidelity is extraordinary, their sense of responsibility in positions of trust very keen, and that they have a very high standard of gratitude and honour. "I cannot recall a case," he says, "where any Chinese friend has left me in the lurch or played me a dirty trick, and few of us can say the same of our own colleagues and countrymen." The Hon. Chester Holcombe, who quotes this, adds--"The writer, after years of experience and intimate acquaintance with all classes of Chinese from every part of the Empire, is convinced that the characterization of the race as thus given by those who at least are not over-friendly does it only scant justice."
Many quote against the Chinese the familiar lines--
"----for ways that are dark And for tricks that are vain, The heathen Chinee is peculiar."
But whoever reads the whole poem will see the force of the London Spectator's opinion that it is a "satire of the American selfishness which is the main strength of the cry against the cheap labour of the Chinese," and that "it would not be easy for a moderately intelligent man to avoid seeing that Mr. Bret Harte wished to delineate the Chinese simply as beating the Yankee at his own evil game, and to delineate the Yankee as not at all disposed to take offense at the "cheap labour" of his Oriental rival, until he discovered that he could not cheat the cheap labourer half so completely as the cheap labourer could cheat him."
It is common for people to praise the Japanese and to sneer at the Chinese. All honour to the Japanese for their splendid achievements. With marvellous celerity they have adopted many modern ideas and inventions. They are worthy of the respect they receive. But those who have made a close study of both peoples unhesitatingly assert that the Chinese have more solid elements of permanence and power. The Japanese have the quickness, the enthusiasm, the intelligence of the French; but the Chinese unite to equal intelligence the plodding persistence of the Germans, and the old fable of the tortoise and the hare is as true of nations as it is of individuals. Unquestionably, the Chinese are the most virile race in Asia "Wherever a Chinese can get a foot of ground and a quart of water he will make something grow." Colquhoun quotes Richthofen as saying that "among the various races of mankind, the Chinese is the only one which in all climates, the hottest and the coldest, is capable of great and lasting activity." And he states as his own opinion: "She has all the elements to build up a great living force. One thing alone is wanted-- the will, the directing power. That supplied, there are to be found in abundance in China the capacity to carry out, the brains to plan, the hands to work."
A TYPICAL PROVINCE
SHANTUNG is not only one of the greatest, but it is in many respects one of the most interesting of all the provinces of China. Its length east and west is about 543 miles and in area it is nearly as large as the whole of New England. The name, Shantung, signifies "east of the mountains." Forests once existed, but tillable land has become so valuable that trees are now comparatively few save in the villages and temples and about the graves of the rich. But for the most part, Shantung resembles the great prairie regions of the western part of the United States, broken by occasional ranges of hills and low mountains. The soil is generally fertile, though in the southwestern part I found some stony regions where the soil is thin and poor. South of Chinan-fu one finds the loess, a light friable earth which yields so easily to wheel and hoof and wind and water that the stream of travel through successive generations has worn deep cuts in which the traveller may journey for hours and sometimes for days so far below the general level of the country that he can see nothing but the sides of the cut and in turn cannot be seen by others. The character of the soil and the power of the wind and rain have combined not only to excavate these long passages, but to cast up innumerable mounds and hills, often of such fantastic shapes that one is reminded of the quaint and curious formations in the Bad Lands of the Missouri, though the loess hillocks lack the brilliant colouring of the American formations.
Throughout the province as a whole, almost every possible square rod of ground is carefully cultivated by the industrious people, so that in the summer time the whole country appears to be continuous gardens and farms dotted with innumerable villages. Wheat appears to be the chief crop and, as in the Dakotas, the entire landscape seems to be one splendid field of waving, yellowing grain. But early in June the wheat disappears as if by magic, for the whole population apparently, men, women and children, turn out and harvest it with amazing quickness in spite of the fact that everything is done by hand. Men and donkeys carry the grain to smooth, hard ground spaces, where it is threshed by a heavy roller stone drawn by a donkey or an ox or by men, and several times I saw it drawn by women. Then it is winnowed by being pitched into the air for the wind to drive out the feathery chaff. The methods vividly illustrate the first Psalm and other Bible references-- gleaning, muzzling "the ox when he treadeth out the corn," the threshing floor and "the chaff which the wind driveth away."
One might suppose that after the wheat harvest, stubble fields would be much in evidence. But they are not, for the millet promptly appears. It is hardly noticeable when the wheat is standing. But it grows rapidly, and as soon as the wheat is out of the way, it covers great areas with its refreshing green, looking in its earlier stages like young corn. It is of two varieties. One is a little higher than wheat, with hanging head and a small yellow grain. The other is the kao-liang, which grows to a height of about twelve feet. When small, it is thinned out to one stalk or sometimes two in a hill so that it can develop freely. This stalk is to the common people almost as serviceable as the bamboo to tropical dwellers. It is used for fences, ceilings, walls and many other purposes. The grain of the two varieties is the staple food, few but the richer classes eating rice which is not raised in the north and is high in price. A third species of millet, shu-shu, is used chiefly for distilling a whiskey that is largely used but almost always at home and at night so that little drunkenness is seen by the traveller.
Fuel is very scarce, trees being few and coal, though abundant, not being mined to any extent. So the people cook with stalks, straw, roots, etc., and in winter pile on additional layers of wadded cotton garments. Chinese houses are not heated as ours are, though the flues from the cooking fire, running under the brick kang, give some heat, too much at times.
Silk is produced in large quantities and mulberry trees are so common as to add greatly to the beauty of the country. As the cocoons cannot be left on the trees for fear of thieves, the leaves are picked off and taken into houses where the worms are kept.
Poppy fields, too, are numerous. The flowers are gloriously beautiful. I often saw men gathering the opium in the early morning. After the blossoms fall off, the pod is slit and the whitish juice, oozing out, is carefully scraped off. High hills rising to low mountains add beauty to the western part of Shantung, while the more numerous trees scattered over the fields as well as in the villages make extensive regions look like vast parks.
The people are among the finest types of the Chinese, tall, strong and, in many instances, of marked intellectual power. To the Chinese, Shantung is the most sacred of the provinces, for here were born the two mighty sages, Confucius and Mencius.
Politically, the Province is divided into ten prefectures, each under a prefectural magistrate, called a Chih-fu, and with a capital which has the termination "fu." I-chou-fu, for example, is a prefectural city. Each fu is subdivided into ten districts under a district magistrate or Chih-hsien, the capital, or county seat as we should call it, having the termination "hsien" or "hien" as for example Wei-hsien. There are 108 of these hsien cities. Between the fu and the hsien cities are a few chou cities as Chining-chou. They are practically small fus, Chining- chou having four hsiens under it. The magistrate is called a Chou- kwan and is responsible directly to a Tao-tai who is an official between the prefectural magistrate or Chih-fu and the Governor. There are three Tao-tais in the province. At the provincial capital are the treasurer or Fan-tai, the Nieh-tai or judge, the Hueh-tai or commissioner of education and the salt commissioner, Yen-yuen. These are all high officials. Over all is the Governor, virtually a monarch subject only to the nominal supervision of the Imperial Government at Peking. He is appointed and may at any time be removed by the Emperor, but during his tenure of office he has almost unlimited power.
My tour of China included two interesting months in this great province. As I approached Chefoo on the steamer from Korea, I was impressed by the beauty of the scene. The water was smooth and sparkling in the bright spring sunshine. The harbour is exceptionally lovely. The shore lines are irregular, terminating in a high promonotory on which are situated the buildings of the various consulates. To the right, as the traveller faces the city, is the business section with its wharves and well-constructed commercial buildings, while on the left is the wide curve of a fine beach on which front the foreign hotel and the handsome buildings of the China Inland Mission. Beyond the city, rises a noble hill on the slopes of which stand the buildings of the Presbyterian Mission. From the water, Chefoo is one of the most charming cities in all China.
Big, lusty Chinese in their wide, clumsy boats called sampans, swarmed in the harbour. Sculling alongside, the boatman caught the rail of the steamer with his boat-hook and with the agility of a monkey scrambled up the long pole, dropped it into the water and began to hustle for business. The babel of voices bidding for passengers was like the tumult of Niagara hack-drivers, but we were so fortunate as to be met by Dr. W. F. Faries and the Rev. W. O. Elterich of the Presbyterian Mission and under their skillful guidance, we were soon taken ashore.
A closer view of the Chinese city proved less attractive than the captivating one from the harbour. The population long ago over-ran the limits of the old city so that to-day most of the people are outside the walls. Within those ancient battlements, the streets are narrow and crooked, while the filth is indescribable. The visitor who wishes to see something of the work and to enjoy the hospitality of the noble company of Presbyterian missionaries on Temple Hill must either pass through that reeking mess or go around it. There is, after all, not much choice in the routes, for the Chinese population outside the walls has simply squatted there without much order, and the corkscrew streets are not only thronged with people and donkeys and mules, but malodorous with ditches through which all the nastiness of the crowded habitations trickles. Why pestilence does not carry off the whole population is a mystery to the visitor from the West, especially as he sees the pools out of which the people drink, their shores lined with washerwomen and the water dark and thick with the dirt of decades. Byron's words in "Childe Harold" are as true of Chefoo as of Lisbon:
"But whoso entereth within this town, That, sheening far, a celestial seems to be, Disconsolate will wander up and down 'Mid many things unsightly to strange e'e; For hut and palace show like filthily. The dingy denizens are reared in dirt, No personage of high or mean degree Doth care for cleanness of surtout, or shirt, Though shent with Egypt's plague, unkempt, unwashed, unhurt!"
The first open port of Shantung was Teng-chou-fu, a quaint old city on the far northeastern point of the Shantung promontory. It has been outstripped in importance by its later rival, Chefoo, and is now ignored by the through steamers and seldom visited by travellers. As the trip from Chefoo by land requires two long hard days over a mountain range and as time was precious, I decided to go by water. The regular coasting steamer was not running on account of danger from pirates, who had been unusually bold and murderous in attacking passing vessels. But I succeeded in hiring a small launch. It was a trip of fifty-five miles along the coast on the open sea, but the weather was good and so we risked it. Several of the missionaries took advantage of the occasion to visit friends in Tengchou-fu so that a pleasant little party was formed.
We had intended to start at 7:30 A. M., but some of our luggage and chair coolies, who had been engaged to take us from Temple Hill to the launch at 6:30, did not come, and we had to press into service some untrained "boys." Then, our chair coolies, who had been carefully instructed as to their destination and who had solemnly asserted that they knew just where to go, got separated from the others and calmly took us to the Union Church. We appreciated their apparent conviction that we needed to go to church, but we vainly tried to make them understand that we wanted to go somewhere else. The delay would have become exasperating if a small English boy who knew Chinese had not helped us out. Then the two coolies who were carrying our valises and the lunch-baskets went another way and sat down en route "to rest." They would doubtless be sitting there yet if, after waiting till our patience was exhausted, we had not sent men to find them. But that is Asia.
However, all arrived at last and at 8:20 A. M. we cast off. The day was glorious and as the sea was not rough enough to make any one ill, we had a delightful trip along the coast with its bare, brown hills so much resembling the scenery of California. We reached Teng-chou-fu at 3:15 and that the pirates were not imaginary was evident for as we entered the harbour, they made a dash and captured a junk less than a mile away. An alarm cannon was fired and soldiers were running to the beach as we landed.
While in Teng-chou-fu, we witnessed a pathetic ceremony. There had been no rain for several weeks. The kao-liang was withering and the farmers could not plant their beans on the ground from which the winter wheat had been cut. The people had become alarmed as the drought continued, and they were parading the streets bearing banners, wearing chaplets of withered leaves on their heads to remind the gods that the vegetation was dying, beating drums to attract the attention of the god, and ever and anon falling on their knees and praying --"O Great Dragon! send us rain." It was pitiful. This country is fertile but the population is so enormous that, in the absence of any manufacturing or mining, the people even in the most favoured seasons live from hand to mouth, and a drought means the starvation of multitudes.
A SHENDZA IN SHANTUNG
THE spring of 1901 was not the most propitious time for a tour of the province of Shantung. It was shortly after the suppression of the Boxer outbreak and the country was still in an unsettled condition. The veteran Dr. Hunter Corbett, who had resided in the province for a generation said, "We are living on a volcano and we do not know at what moment another eruption will occur." Students returning from the examinations at the capitol told the people that the Boxers were to rise again and kill all the foreigners and Chinese Christians. The missionaries did not believe the report, but they said that it might be believed by the people and cause a renewal of agitation as such rumours the year before had been an important factor in inciting the populace to violence. But the interior of this great province was one of the objective points of my tour and I could not miss it. Besides, if the missionaries could go, I could. Wives, however, were resolutely debarred. No woman had yet ventured into the interior and the authorities refused to approve their going. In case of trouble, a man can fight or run, but a woman is peculiarly helpless. Nor could we forget that the Chinese during the Boxer outbreak treated foreign women who fell into their hands with horrible atrocity. So the wives, rather against their will, remained in the ports.
Arrangements are apt to move slowly in this land of deliberation. The genial and efficient United States Consul at Chefoo, the Hon. John Fowler, joked me a little about my hurry to start, laughingly remarking that this was Asia and not New York, and that I must not expect things to be done on the touch of a button as at home. But finding that a German steamer was to leave the next day for Tsing-tau, the starting point for the interior, the energetic missionaries helped me to "hustle the East" to get off on it. The Chinese tailor gasped when I told him that I must have a khaki suit by six the following evening, but when he learned that I was to sail and therefore could not wait, he promised rather than lose the job. The next day the steamer agent notified me that the sailing hour had been changed to four o'clock. I sent word to the tailor with faint hope of ever seeing that suit, and when a later message gave three o'clock as the real time, I abandoned hope. But the enterprising Celestial made his fingers fly, finished the suit by 2:50 P. M., and took it to the house of my hostess. Finding that I had already gone to the steamer, he hurried off to the wharf, hired a sampan, sculled a mile and panting but triumphant placed the suit in my hands just as the steamer was getting under way. His charge for the suit, including all his trouble and the cost of the sampan, was $7 Mexican ($3.50).
Saturday found me in Tsing-tau, and Monday, I turned my face inland, accompanied by the Rev. J. H. Laughlin and Dr. Charles H. Lyon, and, as far as Wei-hsien, by the Rev. Frank Chalfant, all of the Presbyterian mission, besides Mr. William Shipway of the English Baptist mission, who was to accompany us as far as Ching-chou-fu. To-day, the traveller can journey to Chinan-fu, the capital, in a comfortable railway car, but I shall always be glad that my visit occurred in the old days when the native methods of transportation were the sole dependence, for at that time the new German railway was in operation only forty-six miles to the old city of Kiao-chou.
The modes of conveyance in the interior of China are five-- the donkey, the sedan chair, the wheelbarrow, the cart and the shendza (mule litter), and naturally the first problem of the traveller is to decide which one he shall adopt.
The donkey is all right to one accustomed to horseback riding. But there is no protection from the sun and rain and foreign saddles are scarce. The traveller piles his bedding on the animal's back and climbs on top, sitting either astride or sideways. In either case, the feet dangle unsupported by stirrups. It is hard to make long trips in this way, to say nothing of the consideration that a man feels like an idiot in such circumstances. "The outside of a horse is indeed good for the inside of a man," but a mattress on top of a donkey is a different matter.
The chair is comfortable for short distances, but it is comparatively expensive and, as no change of position is possible, one soon becomes tired sitting in the fixed attitude. In pity to your coolies, you walk up-hill and you are exposed to inclement weather unless you hire a covered chair. This, however, is not only hot and stuffy, but it makes people think you an aristocrat, as only officials or the rich use such chairs in the country, though in cities they are a common means of conveyance. Besides, I had travelled in a chair in Korea and I wished to try something else in China.
The Chinese wheelbarrow is a clumsy affair with a narrow seat on each side of a central partition. When large and with an awning, it is not so uncomfortable, but it is not well adapted to a long journey as it is slow and toilsome. When the mud is deep, progress is almost impossible. Moreover, the labour of the barrow-men constantly excites the sympathy of the humane traveller and the dismal screech of the wheel revolving upon its unoiled axle is worse than the rasp of filing a saw. The Chinese depend upon the shrieks of the wheel to tell them how the axle is wearing, but the disconsolate foreigner finds that his nerves wear out much faster than the wooden axle. In Tsing- tau, that agonizing screech proved too much even for the stolid Germans and they posted an ordinance to the effect that all barrow axles must be greased. The Chinese demurred, but a few arrests taught them obedience, so that now the streets of the German metropolis no longer resound with the hysterical wails and moans so dear to the heart of the Celestial.
The Chinese cart is a curious affair. There are no roads in the interior of China, except the ruts that have been made by the passing of many feet and wheels for generations. In dry weather, they are thick with dust and in the wet season they are fathomless with mud. Almost everywhere they are distractingly crooked, and in many places they are plentifully bestrewn with boulders of varying sizes. Instead of spending money in making roads, the Chinese have applied their ingenuity to making an indestructible cart. They build it of heavy timbers, with massive wheels, thick spokes and ponderous hubs, and as no springs could survive the jolting of such a vehicle, the body of the cart is placed directly upon the huge axle. Then a couple of big mules are hitched up tandem and driven at breakneck speed. A runaway in an American farmer's wagon over a corduroy road but feebly suggests the miseries of travel in a Chinese cart. It may be good for a dyspeptic, but it is about the most uncomfortable conveyance that the ingenuity of man has yet devised. The unhappy passenger is hurled against the wooden top and sides and is so jolted and bumped that, as the small boy said in his composition, "his heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach, bones and brains are all mixed up." I tried the cart for a while and gently but firmly intimated that if nothing better was available, I would walk. I am satisfied that nothing short of a modern battleship under full steam could make the slightest impression on the typical Chinese cart. In my humble opinion, a Chinese cart is like any other misfortune in life. When necessary, it should be taken uncomplainingly. But the person who takes it unnecessarily has not reached the years of discretion and should be assigned a guardian.
I therefore turned to the shendza. All things considered, it is the best conveyance for a long interior journey in China. It consists of a couple long poles with a rope basket work in the middle and a cover of matting. It is borne by two mules, and has the advantage of protecting the traveller from the sun and from light rains. An opening in the back gives him the benefit of any breeze while it is possible to get occasional relief by changing position, as he can either sit upright or lounge. Moreover, he can keep his bedding and a little food with him. He need not walk up hills in mercy to weary coolies and he can make the longer daily journeys which the superior endurance of mules permits. In ordinary conditions on level ground, my mules averaged about four miles an hour. The motion is a kind of sieve-and-pepper-box shaking that is not so bad, provided the mules behave themselves, which is not often. My rear mule had a meek and quiet spirit. He was a discouraged animal upon which the sorrows of life had told heavily and which had reached that age when he appeared to have no ambition in life except to stop and think or to lie down and rest. The lead mule, however, was a cantankerous beast that wanted to fight everything within reach and went into hysterics every time any other animal passed him. As this occurred a score of times a day, the uncertainties of the situation were interesting, especially when the rear mule paused or laid down without having previously notified the lead mule. At such times, the sudden stoppage of the power behind and the plunging of the power in front threatened the dislocation of the entire apparatus, and as there is no way for the traveller to get out except over the heels of a mule, life in a shendza is not always uneventful. But I soon got used to the motion and to the mules, and even learned to read and to doze in comparative comfort while the long-eared animals plodded and jerked on in their own way.
The most trying thing to the humane traveller is the soreness of the mules' backs. I insisted on having mules whose backs were sound, but was told by both missionaries and Chinese that they could not be had, especially in summer, as the swaying and jerking of the shendza and the sweat and dust under the heavy pack-saddle always make sores. It was all too true. I examined scores of mules and every one had raw and bleeding abrasions and, in some cases, suppurating ulcers. For a Chinese, our head muleteer was careful of his animals and washed them occasionally, but no practicable care apparently can prevent a shendza from making a sore back. The only solace I had was the evident indifference of the mules themselves. They had never known anything better, and seemed to take misery as a matter of course.
Our party, with the goods we had to carry, for my missionary friends were returning to their stations with the expectation of remaining, included three shendzas, two carts and a pack-mule for our provisions. But the "mule" turned out to be a donkey and unable to carry all we had planned for a larger animal. While wondering how we were to get our supplies carried, we learned that a construction train was about to start for the end of the track, which was said to be Kaomi, fifty- five li beyond Kiao-chou. We got permission to ride on the flat car. In the hope that we might be able to secure a mule or another donkey in Kaomi, we got aboard, leaving our shendzas and carts to follow. After a lovely ride of an hour through wheat-fields interspersed with villages, our train stopped twelve li from Kaomi, an unfinished culvert making further progress impossible. As our caravan had gone by a different route and as no coolies could be hired where we were, the question was how to get our goods transported. Fortunately, a German Roman Catholic priest, who was also on the construction train and who had wheelbarrows for his own goods, cordially told us to pile our luggage on top of his. We gratefully accepted this kind offer, and giving his coolies some extra cash for their labour, they good-naturedly accepted the additional burden, while we footed the twelve li to Kaomi.
But the progress of the barrows was slow and it was half- past eight when we reached Kaomi. In the darkness we could not find the inn which the magistrate had set aside for foreigners and the Chinese whom we met gave conflicting replies. But at that moment, two resident Roman Catholic priests, Austrians, appeared and one of them recognized Mr. Laughlin as the associate of Dr. Van Schoick, a Presbyterian medical missionary who had sympathetically treated a fellow priest during a long and dangerous illness several years before. He promptly invited us to go with him, declaring that Dr. Van Schoick had saved the life of his dearest friend. He was so cordially insistent that we accepted his invitation. Our shendzas, carts and pack-mule were we knew not where, and we were hungry after our long day. Warned by my experience in Korea that the traveller should never trust to the punctuality of natives and pack-animals, I had insisted on taking our bedding and a little food on the flat car. It was well that I did, for we did not see our shendzas that night as they arrived after the city gates had been shut so that they could not get in. But we had a little cocoa, tinned corn beef, condensed milk, butter and marmalade. Same German soldiers sent three loaves of coarse bread. Our priestly host added some Chinese bread, and so had a good supper and afterwards a sound sleep.
At half-past four the next morning, Mr. Laughlin remarked in a forty-horse power tone of voice that it was time to get up. By the time the reverberations had died away, we were so wide awake that further sleep was out of the question. Our cook was nowhere in sight, so we prepared our own breakfast from the remains of last night's meal.
Bidding a grateful farewell to our hospitable priests, we rode across an ancient lake bottom, low, flat, wheat-covered and hot enough to broil meat. At half-past ten o'clock, we reached Fau-chia-chiu, the boundary of the hinterland, where, near a temple just outside the wall, we found Governor Yuan Shih Kai's military escort awaiting us. It was after sundown when we reached Liu-chia-chuang, and we felt half inclined to spend the night there with some genial German military engineers, but our party had become separated during the day and as the others had taken a road that did not pass through Liu- chia-chuang, we pushed on to Hsi-an-tai, which we reached by a little after ten o'clock. By that time, it was so dark that it was impossible to go further and we found lodgment in a good- sized building which smelled to heaven. The odour was like that of a decomposing body. However, it was too late and we were too weary either to hunt up smells or to seek another lodging place. So after a hasty supper out of our tinned food, we put up our cots and went to bed, Mr. Chalfant making a few pleasant remarks about the bedbugs that always swarm in such a building, the centipedes that sometimes crawl into the ears or nostrils of sleepers and the scorpions that occasionally fall from the millet-stalk ceiling on to the bed or scuttle across the floor to bite the person who unwarily walks in his bare feet. Under the influence of such a soporific, I soon fell asleep. The next morning we rose early, and while the cook was preparing our coffee and eggs, we followed the trail of that awful odour to a corner of the building, where, under some millet stalks, we found a rude coffin which we had not noticed in the dim candlelight of the night before. A Chinese of whom we inquired said that it was empty. We could not in courtesy open a coffin before dozens of interested Chinese, but it was very plain to our olfactories that such an odour required a prompt funeral.
As usual, a great but silent crowd watched me as I wrote while the mules were being fed and at Hsien-chung, where we stopped at noon to repair a shendza, Mr. Chalfant translated a proclamation on a wall stating that an indemnity of 110,000 taels had to be paid for damage to the railway during the Boxer outbreak and that 14,773 taels had been assessed on Wei County. The people read it with scowling faces, but they said nothing to us, though they looked as if they wanted to.
At two o'clock, we entered the ruined Presbyterian compound, a mile southeast of the city of Wei-hsien. It was thrilling to hear on the scene of the riot Mr. Chalfant's account of the attack by about a thousand furious Boxers; to see the place just outside the gate where single-handed and with no weapon but a small revolver, he had heroically held the mob at bay for several hours until the swarming Boxers, awed by his splendid courage, divided, and while several hundred held his attention, the rest climbed over the wall at another place and fired the mission buildings. That the three missionaries escaped with their lives is a wonder. But Mr. Chalfant quickly ran to the house where Miss Hawes and Miss Boughton were awaiting him, hurried them down-stairs, and while the Boxers were smashing the furniture on the other side of a closed door, snatched up a ladder, assisted them over the compound wall at a point that was providentially unguarded and hid them in a field of grain until darkness enabled them to make their way exhausted but unhurt to a camp of German soldiers and engineers nine miles distant and to escape with them to Tsing-tau. It was a remarkable experience. If that door had not happened to be closed, and if a ladder had not been carelessly left by a servant beside the house, and if the attack itself had not occurred just before dark, undoubtedly all three would have been killed. On each of those three ifs, lives depended.
Mr. Fitch cordially welcomed us. Mr. Chalfant killed a centipede and various insects crawling on the walls near my cot and a little after nine I was asleep. The next day we took a walk through the city, impressed by its imposing wall and the throngs of people who followed us and watched every movement. Outside the wall, we saw a "baby house," a small stone building in which the dead children of the poor are thrown to be eaten by dogs! I wanted to examine it, but was warned not to do so, as the Chinese imagine that foreigners make their medicine out of children's eyes and brains, and our crowds of watching Chinese might quickly become an infuriated mob.
Immediately on our arrival, we had sent our cards to the district magistrate and in the afternoon he sent us an elaborate feast. As we were about to retire that evening, he called in a gorgeous chair with a retinue of twenty attendants. He stayed half an hour and was very cordial, and we had a pleasant interview. Wei-hsien is famous for its embroideries, and great quantities are made, the women workers receiving about fifty small cash a day (less than two cents). It was not necessary to go to the stores as in America. The shopkeepers brought a great number of pieces to our inn, covering the kang and every available table, chair and box with exquisite bits of handiwork. Lured by the sight I became reckless and bought four handsome pieces for 19,800 small cash ($6.06).
Resuming our journey on a warm, sunny day, we entered Chiang-loa at noon. It was market day, and the greatest crowd yet fairly blocked the streets. The soldiers had difficulty in clearing a way for us. But while much curiosity was expressed, there was no sign of hostility. Then we journeyed on through the interminable fields of ripening wheat. Soon, mountains, which we had dimly seen for several hours, grew more distinct and as we approached Ching-chou-fu towards evening, the scene was one of great beauty--the yellowing grain gently undulating in the soft breeze, the mountains not really more than 3,000 feet in height, but from our stand on the plain looking lofty, massive and delightfully refreshing to the eye after our hot and dusty journeying. The city has a population of about 25,000 and its numerous trees look so invitingly green that the traveller is eager to enter.
But in this case also, distance lent enchantment, for within, while there was not the filth of a Korean village, yet the narrow streets were far from clean. Not a blade of grass relieved the bare, dusty ground trampled by many feet, while the low, mud- plastered houses were not inviting. A Chinese seldom thinks of making repairs. He builds once, usually with rough stone plastered with mud or with sun-dried brick. The roof is thatched and the floor is the beaten earth, although in the better houses it is stone or brick. In time, the mud-plaster or, if the walls are of sun-dried brick, the wall itself begins to disintegrate. But it is let alone, as long as it does not make the house uninhabitable, while paint is unknown. So the general appearance of a Chinese town is squalid and tumbledown. Even the yamen of a district magistrate presents crumbling walls, unkempt courtyards, rickety buildings and paper-covered windows full of holes. The palaces of the rich are often expensive, but the Asiatic has little of our ideas of comfort and order.
The Rev. J. P. Bruce and Mr. R. C. Forsyth, of the English Baptist mission, the only members of the station who were present, gave us a hearty welcome. The green shrubbery, the bath-tub, the dinner of roast beef and the clean bedroom, were like a bit of hospitable old England set down in China. None of the buildings here were injured by the Boxers. But the marauders took whatever they could use, as dishes, utensils, glass, linen, clothes, silver and plated ware, jewelry, etc., the total loss being 4,000 pounds, including 1,000 pounds for machinery. That machinery has an interesting history. One of the members of the mission, Mr. A. G. Jones, conceived the idea of relieving the poverty of the Chinese by introducing cotton weaving. Having some private means and being a mechanical genius, he spent two years and 1,000 pounds in devising the necessary machinery, much of which he made himself. He had completed the plant and was trying to induce the Chinese to organize a company of Christians who would operate the factory, when the building was burned by the Boxers and the machinery reduced to a heap of twisted scrap-iron.
The women we met in these interior districts had only partially bound feet, though they were still far from the natural size. It was surprising to see how freely the women walked, especially as several that I saw were carrying babies. But it was rather a stumpy walk. Women of the higher class have smaller feet and never walk in the public streets.
We left Ching-chou-fu Monday morning, our genial hosts, including Mr. Shipway, who remained here, accompanying us a couple of miles. The trees were more numerous, and as the weather was cool, I greatly enjoyed the day. But the next day, we plodded under dripping skies and through sticky mud to Chang-tien, where a night of unusual discomfort in an inn literally alive with fleas and mosquitoes prepared us to enjoy a tiffin with a lonely English Baptist outpost, the genial Rev. William A. Wills, at Chou-tsun, which we reached at noon the following day, and then, thirty li further on, the gracious hospitality of the main station at Chou-ping. Only three men were present of the regular station force of seven families and two single women, but they gave us all the more abundant welcome in their isolation and loneliness. Of the 2,577 Chinese Christians of this station, 132 were murdered by the Boxers and seventy or more died from consequent exposure and injuries.
A vast, low lying plain begins forty li north of Chou-ping and extends northeastward as far as Tien-tsin. This plain is subject to destructive inundations from the Yellow River and the scenes of ruin and suffering are sometimes appalling. Our unattractive inn the next night was a two-story brick building with iron doors, stone floors, walls two and a-half feet thick and rooms dark, gloomy, ill-smelling as a dungeon and of course swarming with vermin, as savage bites promptly testified. My missionary companion said that it was probably an old pawnshop. Pawnbroking is esteemed an honourable, as well as lucrative, business in China, and the brokers are influential men and often have considerable property in their shops. The people are so poor that they sometimes pawn their winter clothes in summer and their summer ones in winter.
At noon the next day, we reached Chinan-fu, having made seventy li in six hours over muddy roads. Dr. James B. Neal of the Presbyterian mission was alone in the city and gave us hospitable welcome to his home and to the splendid missionary work of the station, though he rather suggestively stopped our coolies when they were about to carry our bedding into the house. He was wise, too, for that bedding had been used in too many native inns to be prudently admitted to a well- ordered household.
As we walked through the city, the narrow streets were literally jammed, for it was market day. Foreigners had been scarce since the Boxer outbreak a year before. Besides, many of the people were from the country where foreigners are seldom seen anyway. So we made as great a sensation as a circus in an American city. A multitude followed us, and wherever we stopped hundreds packed the narrow streets. Our soldiers cleared the way, but they had no difficulty, for though the people were inquisitive they were not hostile. Three magnificent springs burst forth in the heart of the city, one as large as the famous spring in Roanoke, Virginia, which supplies all that city with water. It was about a hundred feet across. The water might easily be piped all over Chinan-fu. But this is China, and so the people patiently walk to the springs for their daily supply.
AT THE GRAVE OF CONFUCIUS
WE were now approaching the most sacred places of China. On a hot July afternoon of the second day from Chinan-fu, the capital of the province, we saw the noble proportions of Tai-shan, the holy mountain. The Chinese have five sacred mountains, but this is the most venerated of all. Its altitude is not great, only a little over 4,000 feet, but it rises so directly from the plain and its outlines are so majestic that it is really imposing. To the Chinese its height is awe-inspiring, for in all the eighteen provinces there is no loftier peak.
Stopping for the night at the ancient city of Tai-an-fu at the base of the mountain, we set out at six the next morning in chairs swung between poles borne by stalwart coolies. My curiosity was aroused when I found that they were Mohammedans and, as they cordially responded to my questionings, I found them very interesting. Centuries ago, their ancestors came to China as mercenaries, and taking Chinese wives settled in the country. But they have never intermarried since. They have adopted the dress and language of the Chinese, but otherwise they continue almost as distinct as the Jews in America. They instruct their children in the doctrines of Islam, though the Mohammedan rule that the Koran must not be translated has prevented all but a few literati from obtaining any knowledge of the book itself. They have done little proselyting, but natural increase, occasional reenforcements and the adoption of famine children have gradually swelled their ranks until they now number many millions in various parts of China. In some provinces they are very strong, particularly in Yun-nan and Kan-su where they are said to form a majority of the population. They are notorious for turbulence and are popularly known as "Mohammedan thieves." It must be admitted that they not infrequently justify their reputation for robbery, murder and counterfeiting. More than once they have fomented bloody revolutions, one of them, the great Panthay rebellion of 1885-1874, costing the lives of no less than two million Moslems before it was suppressed.
But those who bore me up the long slope of Tai-shan were as good-natured as they were muscular. There is no difficulty about ascending the mountain, for a stone-paved path about ten feet wide runs from base to summit. The maker of this road is unknown as the earliest records and monuments refer only to repairs. But he builded well and evidently with "an unlimited command of naked human strength," for the blocks of stone are heavy and the masonry of the walls and bridges is still massive.
As the slope becomes steeper, the path merges into long flights of solid stone steps. Near the summit, these steps become so precipitous that the traveller is apt to feel a little dizzy, especially in descending, for the chair coolies race down the steep stairway in a way that suggests alarming possibilities in the event of a misstep or a broken rope. But the men are sure-footed and mishaps seldom occur. The path is bordered by a low wall and lined with noble old trees. Ancient temples, quaint hamlets, numerous tea-houses and a few nunneries with vicious women are scattered along the route. A beautiful stream tumbles noisily down the mountainside close at hand, alternating swift rapids and deep, quiet pools, while as the traveller rises, he gains magnificent vistas of the adjacent mountains and the wide cultivated plain, yellow with ripening wheat, green with growing millet, and thickly dotted with the groves beneath which cluster the low houses of the villages.
Up this long, steep pathway to the Buddhist temples on the summit, multitudes of Chinese pilgrims toil each year, firmly believing that the journey will bring them merit. We reflected with a feeling of awe that
"The path by which we ascended has been trodden by the feet of men for more than four thousand years. One hundred and fifty generations have come and gone since the great Shun here offered up his yearly sacrifice to heaven. Fifteen hundred years before the bard of Greece composed his Epic, nearly one thousand years before Moses stood on Pisgah's mount and gazed over into the promised land, far back through the centuries when the world was young and humanity yet in its cradle, did the children of men ascend the vast shaggy sides of this same mountain, probably by this same path, and always to worship."
After a night at Hsia-chang, we resumed our journey a little after daylight. The early morning air was delightfully cool and bracing, but the sun's rays became fierce as we entered the dry, sandy bed of the Wen River. By the time we reached the broad, shallow stream itself, I envied the two mules and the donkey that managed to fall into a hole, though I would have been happier if they had been thoughtful enough to discard my spare clothes and my food box before they tumbled into the muddy water. The whole day was unusually hot so that by the time we reached Ning-yang, we were ready for a night's rest which even fighting mules, vicious vermin, and quarrelling Chinese gamblers in the inn courtyard could not entirely destroy.
As we approached Chining-chou, the country became almost perfectly flat, a vast prairie. It was carefully cultivated everywhere, the kao-liang and poppy predominating. The soil was apparently rich, and the landscape was relieved from monotony by the green of the cultivated fields and the foliage of the village trees. Dominating all is the rather imposing walled city of Chining-chou. The high, strong wall, the handsome gates and towers, the trees bordering the little stream and the crowded streets looked quite metropolitan. With its imme- diate suburbs built Chinese fashion close to the wall, Chining- chou has 150,000 inhabitants. It is a business city with a considerable trade, the produce of a wide adjacent region being brought to it for shipment, as it is on the Grand Canal which gives easy and cheap facilities for exporting and importing freight. There is, moreover, no loss in exchange as the danger of shipping bullion silver makes the Chining business men eager to accept drafts for use in paying for the goods they buy in Shanghai. Consequently there is a better price for silver here than anywhere else in Shantung. The main street is narrow, shaded by matting laid on kao-liang stalks and lined with busy shops. Along the Grand Canal, there is a veritable "Vanity Fair" filled with clothing booths and deafening with the cries of itinerant vendors.
But the loneliness of the missionary in Chining-chou is great, for he is far from congenial companionship. The tragedies of life are particularly heavy at such an isolated post. Mr. Laughlin showed me the house where his wife's body lay for a month after her death in May, 1899. Then, with his nine-year old daughter, he took the body in a house-boat down the Grand Canal to Chin-kiang, a journey of sixteen days. What a heart-breaking journey it must have been as the clumsy boat crept slowly along the sluggish canal and the silent stars looked down on the lonely husband beside the coffin of his beloved wife. Yet he bravely returned to Chining-chou and while I travelled on, he remained with only Dr. Lyon for a companion. I was sorry to part with them for we had shared many long-to-be-remembered experiences, while at that time there was believed to be no small risk in remaining at such an isolated post. But Dr. Johnson and I had to go, and so early on the morning of June 17, we bade the brave fellows an affectionate good-bye and left them in that far interior city, standing at the East Gate till we were out of sight.
Fortunately, the day was fine for rain would have made the flat, black soil almost impassible. But as it was, we had a comfortable, dustless ride of sixty li to Yen-chou-fu, a city of unusually massive walls, whose 60,000 people are reputed to be the most fiercely anti-foreign in Shantung. Comparatively few foreigners had been seen in this region and many of them had been mobbed. The Roman Catholic priests, who are the only missionaries here, have repeatedly been attacked, while an English traveller was also savagely assaulted by these turbulent conservatives. But the Roman Catholics with characteristic determination fought it out, the German consul coming from Peking to support them, and at the time of my visit, they were building a splendid church, the money like that for the Chining-chou cathedral, coming from the indemnity for the murder of the two priests in 1897, which was in this diocese. Though great crowds stared silently at us, no disrespect was shown. On the contrary, we found that by order of the district magistrate an inn had been specially prepared for us, with a plentiful supply of rugs and cushions and screens, while a few minutes after our arrival, the magistrate sent with his compliments a feast of twenty-five dishes. Another stage of nine miles brought us at four o'clock to the famous holy city of China, Ku-fu, the home and the grave of Confucius.
Leaving our shendzas at an inn, we mounted the cavalry horses of our escort and hurried to the celebrated temple which stands on the site of Confucius' house. But to our keen disappointment, the massive gates were closed. The keeper, in response to our knocks, peered through a crevice, and explained that it was the great feast of the fifth day of the fifth month, that the Duke was offering sacrifices, and that no one, not even officials, could enter till the sacrifices were completed. "When will that be?" we queried. "They will continue all night and all day to-morrow," was the reply. We urged the shortness of our stay and solemnly promised to keep out of the Duke's way. The keeper's eyes watered as he imagined a present, but he replied that he did not dare let us in as his orders were strict and disobedience might cost him his position if not his life. So we sorrowfully turned away, and pushing through the dense throng which had swiftly assembled at the sight of a foreigner, we rode through the city and along the far- famed Spirit Road to the Most Holy Grove in which lies the body of Confucius. It is three li, about a mile, from the city gate. The road is shaded by ancient cedars and is called the Spirit Road because the spirit of Confucius is believed to walk back and forth upon it by night.
The famous cemetery is in three parts. The outer is said to be fifteen miles in circumference and is the burial-place of all who bear the honoured name of Confucius. Within, there is a smaller enclosure of about ten acres, which is the family burial place of the dukes who are lineal descendants of Confucius, mighty men who rank with the proudest governors of provinces. Within this second enclosure, is the Most Holy Cemetery itself, a plot of about two acres, shaded like the others by fine old cedars and cypresses. Here are only three graves, marked by huge mounds under which lie the dust of Confucius, his son and his grandson. That of the Sage, we estimated to be twenty-five feet high and 250 feet in circumference. In front of it is a stone monument about fifteen feet high, four feet wide and sixteen inches thick. Lying prone before that is another stone of nearly the same size supported by a heavy stone pedestal. There is no name, but on the upright monument are Chinese characters which Dr. Charles Johnson, my travelling companion, translated: "The Acme of Perfection and Learning- Promoting King," or more freely--"The Most Illustrious Sage and Princely Teacher."
Uncut grass and weeds grew rankly upon the mounds and all over the cemetery, giving everything an unkempt appearance. One species is said to grow nowhere else in China and to have such magical power in interpreting truth that if a leaf is laid upon an abstruse passage of Confucius, the meaning will immediately become clear. There are several small buildings in the enclosure, but dust and decay reign in all, for there is no merit in repairing a building that some one else has erected. As with his house, the Chinese will spend money freely to build a temple, but after that he does nothing. So even in the most sacred places, arches and walls and columns are usually crumbling, grounds are dirty and pavement stones out of place.
A feeling of awe came over me as I remembered that, with the possible exception of Buddha, the man whose dust lay before me had probably influenced more human beings than any other man whom the world has seen. Even Christ Himself has thus far not been known to so many people as Confucius, nor has any nation in which Christ is known so thoroughly accepted His teachings as China has accepted those of Confucius. Dr. Legge indeed declares that "after long study of his character and opinions, I am unable to regard him as a great man," while Dr. Gibson "seeks in vain in his recorded life and words for the secret of his power," and can only conjecture in explanation that "he is for all time the typical Chinaman; but his greatness lies in his displaying the type on a grand scale, not in creating it." But it is difficult even for the non-Chinese mind to look at such a man with unbiassed eyes. Surely we need not begrudge the meed of greatness to one who has moulded so many hundreds of millions of human beings for 2,400 years and who is more influential at the end of that period than at its beginning. Grant that "he is for all time the typical Chinaman." Could a small man have incarnated "for all time" the spirit of one-third of the human race? All over China the evidences of Confucius' power can be seen. Temples rise on every hand. Ancestral tablets adorn every house. The writings of the sage are diligently studied by the whole population. When, centuries ago, a jealous Emperor ruthlessly burned the Confucian books, patient scholars reproduced them, and to prevent a recurrence of such iconoclastic fury, the Great Confucian Temple and the Hall of Classics in Peking were erected and the books were inscribed on long rows of stone monuments so that they could never be destroyed again. As a token of the present attitude of the Imperial family, the Emperor once in a decade proceeds in solemn state to this temple and enthroned there expounds a passage of the sacred writings. For more than two millenniums, the boys of the most numerous people in the world have committed to memory the Confucian primer which declares that "affection between father and son, concord between husband and wife, kindness on the part of the elder brother and deference on the part of the younger, order between seniors and juniors, sincerity between friends and associates, respect on the part of the ruler and loyalty on that of the minister--these are the ten righteous courses equally binding on all men;" that "the five regular constituents of our moral nature are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, knowledge, and truth;" and that "the five blessings are long life wealth, tranquillity, desire for virtue and a natural death."
Surely these are noble principles. That their influence has been beneficial in many respects, it would be folly to deny. They have lifted the Chinese above the level of many other Asiatic nations by creating a more stable social order, by inculcating respect for parents and rulers, and by so honouring the mother that woman has a higher position in China than in most other non-Christian lands.
And yet Confucianism has been and is the most formidable obstacle to the regeneration of China. While it teaches some great truths, it ignores others that are vital. It has lifted the Chinese above the level of barbarism only to fix them almost immovably upon a plane considerably lower than Christianity. It has developed such a smug satisfaction with existing conditions that millions are well-nigh impervious to the influences of the modern world. It has debased respect for parents into a blind worship of ancestors so that a dead father, who may have been an ignorant and vicious man, takes the place of the living and righteous God. It has fostered not only premature marriages but concubinage in the anxiety to have sons who will care for parents in age and minister to them after death. It makes the child virtually a slave to the caprice or passion of the parent. It leads to a reverence for the past that makes change a disrespect to the dead, so that all progress is made exceedingly difficult and society becomes fossilized. "Whatever is is right" and "custom" is sacred. Man is led so to centralize his thought on his own family that he becomes selfish and provincial in spirit and conduct, with no outlook beyond his own narrow sphere. Expenditures which the poor can ill- afford are remorselessly exacted for the maintenance of ancestral worship so that the living are often impoverished for the sake of the dead. $151,752,000 annually, ancestral worship is said to cost--a heavy drain upon a people the majority of whom spend their lives in the most abject poverty, while the development of true patriotism and a strong and well-governed State has been effectively prevented by making the individual solicitous only for his own family and callously indifferent to the welfare of his country. Confucianism therefore is China's weakness as well as China's strength, the foe of all progress, the stagnation of all life.
Confucianism, too, halts on the threshold of life's profoundest problems. It has only dead maxims for the hour of deepest need. It gives no vision of a future beyond the grave. It is virtually an agnostic code of morals with some racial variations. Wu Ting Fang, formerly Chinese Minister to the United States, frankly declares that "Confucianism is not a religion in the practical sense of the word," and that "Confucius would be called an agnostic in these days." To "the Venerable Teacher" himself, philosophy opened no door of hope. Asked about this one day by a troubled inquirer, he dismissed the question with the characteristic aphorism-- "Imperfectly acquainted with life, how can we know death?" And there the myriad millions of Confucianists have dully stood ever since, their faces towards the dead past, the future a darkness out of which no voice comes.
But just because their illustrious guide took them to the verge of the dark unknown and left them there, other teachers came in to occupy the region left so invitingly open. Less rational than Confucius, their success showed anew that the human mind cannot rest in a spiritual vacuum and that if faith does not enter, superstition will. Taoism and Buddhism proceeded to people the air and the future with strange and awful shapes. Popular Chinese belief as to the future is gruesomely illustrated in the Temple of Horrors in Canton with its formidable collection of wooden figures illustrating the various modes of punishment--sawing, decapitation, boiling in oil, covering with a hot bell, etc. At funerals, bits of perforated paper are freely scattered about in the hope that the inquisitive spirits will stop to examine them and thus give the body a chance to pass. In any Chinese cemetery, one may see little tables in front of the graves covered with tea, sweetmeats and sheets of gilt and silver paper, so that if a spirit is hungry, thirsty or in need of funds, it can get drink, food or money from the gold or silver mines (paper).
In the Temple for Sickness, in Canton, where multitudes of sufferers pray to the gods for healing, we saw an old woman kneeling before a statue of Buddha, holding aloft two blocks of wood and then throwing them to the floor. If the flat side of one and the oval side of the other were uppermost, the omen was good, but if the same sides were up, it was bad. Others shook a box of numbered sticks till one popped out and then a paper bearing the corresponding number gave the issue of the disease. The stones of the court were worn by many feet and the pathos of the place was pitiful.
Theoretically, "Confucianism is a system of morals, Taoism a deification of nature and Buddhism a system of metaphysics. But in practice all three have undergone many modifications.
With every age the character of Taoism has changed. The philosophy of its founder is now only an antiquarian curiosity. Modern Taoism is of such a motley character as almost to defy any attempt to educe a well-ordered system from its chaos." As for Buddhism, its founder would not recognize it, if he could visit China to-day. The lines:--
"Ten Buddhist nuns, and nine are bad; The odd one left is doubtless mad----"
are suggestive of the depth to which the religion of Guatama has fallen.
Indeed, it would be a mistake to suppose that the Chinese people are divided into three religious bodies as, for example, Americans are divided into Protestants, Roman Catholics and Jews. Each individual Chinese is at the same time a Confucian, a Buddhist and a Taoist, observing the ceremonies of all three faiths as circumstances may require, a Confucian when he worships his ancestors, a Buddhist when he implores the aid of the Goddess of Mercy, and a Taoist when he seeks to propitiate the omnipresent fung-shuy (spirits of wind and water), and he has no more thought of inconsistency than an American who is at the same time a Methodist, a Republican and a Mason. Dr. S. H. Chester says that when he was in Shanghai, he saw a Taoist priest conducting Confucian worship in a Buddhist temple. Even if inconsistency were proved to the Chinese, he would not be in the least disturbed for he cares nothing for such considerations. "Hence it is that the Chinese religion of to-day has become an inextricable blending of the three systems." "The ancient simplicity of the state religion has been so far corrupted as to combine in one ritual gods, ghosts, flags and cannon. It has become at once essentially polytheistic and pantheistic."
The result is that the average Chinese lives a life of terror under the sway of imaginary demons. He erects a rectangular pillar in front of his door so that the dreaded spirits cannot enter his house without making an impossible turn. He gives his tiled roof an upward slant at each of the eaves so that any spirit attempting to descend will be shunted off into space. Nor is this superstition confined to the lower classes. The haughty, foreign-travelled Li Hung Chang abjectly grovelled on the bank of the Yellow River to propitiate an alleged demon that was believed to be the cause of a disastrous flood, and as late as June 4, 1903, the North-China Daily News published the following imperial decree:
"Owing to the continued drought, in spite of our prayers for rain, we hereby command Chen Pih, Governor of Peking, to proceed to the Dragon temple at Kanshan-hsien, Chih-li Province, and bring from thence to Peking an iron tablet possessing rain-producing virtues, which we will place up for adoration and thereby bring forth the much-desired rain."
And so the followers of the most "rational" of teachers are among the most superstitious people in the world. In attempting to clear the mind of error, the great agnostic simply left it "empty, swept and garnished for seven other spirits worse than the first."
As in the deepening twilight we thoughtfully left the last resting-place of the mighty dead, a platoon of thirty Chinese soldiers approached, drew their swords, dropped upon one knee and shouted. The movement was so unexpected and the shout so startlingly strident that my horse shied in terror and I had visions of immediate massacre. But having learned that politeness is current coin the world over, as soon as I could control my prancing horse, I raised my hat and bowed. Whereupon the soldiers rose, wheeled into line and marched ahead of us to our inn in the city. Dr. Johnson explained that the words shouted in unison were: "May the Great Man have Peace," and that the platoon was an escort of honour from the yamen of the district magistrate!
On the way, we stopped to visit the temple of Yen, the favorite disciple whose early death left Confucius disconsolate. The grounds are spacious. There is a remarkably fine tree, tall, graceful and with silvery white bark. A huge stone turtle was reverently kissed by one of our escort, who fondly believed that he who kissed the turtle's mouth would never be ill. But as usual in China, the temple itself, though originally it must have been beautiful, is now crumbling in decay.
It was late when we returned, and as we were about to retire, wearied with the toils of the day, the district magistrate called with an imposing retinue and cordially inquired whether we had seen all that we wished to see. When we replied that we had been unable to enter the great temple, he graciously said that he would have pleasure in informing the Duke, who would be sure to arrange for our visit. The result was a message at two o'clock in the morning to the effect that we might visit the temple at daylight in the interval between the cessation of the sacrifices of the night and their resumption at seven o'clock in the morning. Accordingly we rose at three o'clock, and after a hurried breakfast by candle-light, we proceeded to the temple. About a hundred Chinese were awaiting us, among them two men in official dress. We did not deem it courteous to ask who or what they were, but we supposed them to be from the magistrate's yamen, and as they were evidently familiar with the temple, we gladly complied with their cordial invitation to follow them.
I wish I had power to describe adequately all we saw in that vast enclosure of about thirty acres, with its stately trees, its paved avenues, its massive monuments, and, above all, its imposing temple and scores of related buildings. One was the Lieh Kew Kwei Chang Tien, the Temple of the Wall of the Many Countries. Here are 120 tablets, each about sixteen by twenty-two inches, and in the centre three larger ones measuring two feet in width by four and a-half feet in height. In front of these is a stone three and a-half feet by four and a-half, and bearing the inscription: "Tribute from the Ten Thousand Countries of the World." The Chinese solemnly believe that in these tablets all the nations of the earth have acknowledged the preeminence of Confucius.
Then we visited three gloomy buildings where the animals for sacrifice are killed--one for cattle, one for sheep and one for pigs. Beyond them, we entered temples to the wife of Confucius, to his parents and to the "Five Generations of Ancestors," though the last-mentioned contains tablets to nine generations instead of five. On every side are scores of monuments, erected by or in honour of famous kings, some of them by the monarchs of dynasties which flourished before the Christian era.
Most notable of all is the great temple of the sage himself, standing well back on a spacious stone-paved terrace, around which runs a handsome marble balustrade. The eye is at once arrested by the twenty-eight noble marble pillars, ten in front, ten in the rear and four at each end. The ten in front are round and elaborately carved, as magnificent a series of columns as I ever saw. The others are smooth, octagonal pillars, but traced with various designs in black.
Within, there are twelve other columns about four feet in diameter and twenty-five feet high, each cut from a single tree and beautifully polished. Naturally, the central object of interest is a figure of Confucius of heroic size but impossible features. In front is the tablet with costly lacquered ornaments and pedestals, and an altar on which were a bullock and two pigs, each carefully scraped and dressed and lying with heads towards the statue and tablet. In several other temples, notably in the one to the Five Generations of Ancestors, other animals were lying, some evidently offered the day before and others awaiting the worship of the day now beginning. Altogether I counted nineteen sacrificial animals--one bullock, eight sheep and ten pigs. The great temple is of noble proportions, with an overhanging roof of enormous size but constructed on such graceful lines as to be exquisitely beautiful. But within dust reigns, while without as usual the grass and weeds grow unchecked.
Last of all we visited the library, though the name is a misnomer, for there are no books in it and our courteous guides said there never had been. We ascended the narrow stairs leading from the vast, empty, dusty room on the lower floor through an equally empty second story to the third and topmost story, which is the home of hundreds of doves. Going out on the narrow balustrade under the eaves in the gray dawn of the morning, I looked upon the gorgeous gilded roof of the temple near by and then down upon the many ancient buildings, the darkly solemn pines, the massive monuments resting on ponderous stone turtles, and the group of Chinese standing among the shadows and with faces turned curiously upward. Suddenly a dove flew over my head and then the sun rose slowly and majestically above the sombre tree-tops, throwing splendid floods of light upon us who stood aloft. But the Chinese below were in the sombre shades of a night that for them had not yet fully ended. I would fain believe that the physical was a parable of the spiritual. All the maxims of the Acme of Perfection and Learning-Promoting King have not brought the Chinese out of moral twilight. After all these centuries of ceaseless toil, they still remain amid the mists and shadows. But their faces are beginning to turn towards the light of a day whose sun already touches the mountain-tops. Some even now are in that "marvellous light," and it cannot be long before shining hosts of God shall pour down the mountain-sides, chasing on noiseless feet and across wide plains the swiftly retreating night "until the day dawn and the shadows flee away."
At the outer gate, we bade good-bye to the dignified officials who had so hospitably conducted us through this venerable and historic place and who had taken such kindly pains to explain its ancient relics and customs. Who were they? we secretly wondered. Imagine our feelings when the lieutenant in command of our escort afterwards informed us that they were the guardian of the temple and the Duke himself!
Leaving the city of the mighty dead, we journeyed through a lovely region guarded by distant mountains. At the walled city of Si-sui, sixty li distant, soldiers met us and apparently the whole population lined the streets as we rode to our inn, where the yamen secretary was awaiting us with a feast. This inn, too, had been specially cleaned, and there were cushions, red cloths for the seats, and a screen for the door. In the afternoon, the country became rougher. But while the soil was thinner, the scenery was finer, an undulating region traversed by a shining river and bounded by mountains which gradually drew nearer. One hundred and ten li from Ku-fu, we stopped for the night at Pien-kiao, a small city with an unusually poor inn but a magnificent spring. It gushed up over an area twenty-five feet square and with such volume that the stream ran away like a mill-race. The Emperor Kien Lung built a retaining wall about the spring and a temple and summer- house adjoining. The wall is as solid as ever, but only a few crumbling pillars and fragments remain of the temple and pavilion. The Emperor affirmed that he was told in a vision that if he would build a stone boat, the waters of the spring would float it to Nanking whither he wished to go. So he built the boat of heavy cut stone, with a twelve-foot beam and a length of fifty-five feet. It is still there with the prow five feet above the ground, but the rest of the boat has sunk almost to the level of the earth about it. Is the old Emperor's idea any more absurd to us than our iron boats would have been to him?
The sun struggled long with heavy mists the following morning and the air was so cool that I had to wrap myself in a blanket in the shendza. By eight, the sun gained the victory and we had another breezy, perfect June day. But the road was stony and trying beyond anything we had yet seen. The villages were evidently poorer, as might be expected on such a rocky soil. The people stared silently and did not so often return my smiles. Whether they were sullen or simply boorish and unaccustomed to foreigners I could only conjecture. Few white men had been seen there.
A hard day's journey of 140 li through a rocky region brought us to Fei-hsien. Rain was falling the next morning and the Chinese muleteers do not like to travel in rain. But the prospect was for a steady pour and as we were in a wretched inn and only ninety li from Ichou-fu, we wanted to go on. A present of 600 small cash for each muleteer (twenty cents) overcame all scruples. Just as I had comfortably ensconced myself in my shendza with an oilcloth on top and a rubber blanket in front, I saw a centipede on my leg, but I managed to slay him before he bit me. By nine, the rain ceased and though the clouds still threatened, we had a cool and comfortable ride through hundreds of fields of peanuts, indigo and millet to I-tang, where we stopped for tiffin at a squalid inn kept by a tall, dilapidated looking Chinese, who rejoiced in the name of Confucius. He was really a descendant of the sage and was very proud of the fact that his bones were in due time to rest in the sacred cemetery at Ku-fu.
By 5:40 P. M. we reached Ichou-fu, where the solitary Rev. W. W. Faris was glad to see another white man. A stay of several days was marked by many pleasant incidents. There was much of interest for a visitor to see. The mission work at Ichou-fu, Presbyterian, includes two hospitals, one for men and one for women, a chapel and separate day schools for boys and girls. The church has about a hundred members and in the outstations there are ten other organized churches besides ten unorganized congregations. All these churches and congregations provide their own chapels and pay their own running expenses. Here also the officials were most courteous. The Prefect, who promptly called with a retinue of fifty soldiers and attendants, was a masterful looking man who conversed with intelligence on a wide variety of topics. The day before our departure, we gave a feast to the leading men of the city in return for their many courtesies. Every invitation was accepted and thirty-five guests were present. They remained till late and were apparently highly pleased.
Late in the evening, a youth who had painfully walked 180 li, came to Dr. Johnson's dispensary and presented the following note of introduction:
"Our office a servant who getting a yellow sick, which suffered a few year and cured for nothing. he trusted me to beg you to save his sick and I now ordered him to going before you to beg you remedy facely. With many thanks to you, "Yours sincerely, "V. T. GEE."
Having done all that was possible in so short a time to "save his sick," we resumed our journey, thirty Chinese Christians accompanying us to the River I, a li from the city. The atmosphere was gloriously clear and on the second day out, crossing some high ridges, we had superb views of wide cultivated valleys, and of Ku-chou, a famous city that is said to contain more literary graduates than any other city of its size in the province.
Then followed a more level country with interminable fields of kao-liang and many orchards of walnuts, pears and cherries, while low mountains rose in the background. Men and horses were tired after our long and hard journey, and the mules' backs were becoming very sore. But the end drew near and the fifth day from Ichow-fu we reached Yueh-kou, the border of the German hinterland. The German line is near Kiaochou, but the rule is that Chinese soldiers must not come beyond this point, 100 li from the line, and that German soldiers shall not cross it going the other way except on the line of the railroad. Here therefore our escort had to leave us, as Chinese and Germans have agreed that any armed men crossing the line may be fired on, and even if there should be no casualty, both the German and Chinese authorities might justly have protested if Americans violated the compact. I suggested going on without an escort to our proposed night stop thirty li further. But my more experienced companions thought it dangerous to spend the night alone at an inn within this belt, as the villagers near the line were as bitter against foreigners as any in the province, the German brusqueness and ruthlessness having greatly exasperated them.
So we spent the night at Yueh-kou. No one interfered with us the next day and by getting an early start, we covered ninety long li to Kiao-chou by noon. After five weeks in a mule litter, it seemed wonderful to make 138 li in three hours in a railway car. By 6:50 P. M., we reached Tsing-tau, having, the missionaries said, succeeded in "hustling the East to a remarkable degree." My note-book reads--"A bath, clean clothes, a hot supper and a good night's sleep removed the last vestige of weariness."
SOME EXPERIENCES OF A TRAVELLER--FEASTS, INNS AND SOLDIERS
THE hardships of interior travelling were less than I had supposed. It is true that there were many experiences which, if enumerated, would make a formidable list. But each as it arose appeared insignificant. As a whole, the trip was as enjoyable as any vacation tour. The weather was as a rule fine. The sun was often hot in the middle of the day, but cool breezes usually tempered the heat of the afternoon, while the nights required the protection of blankets. There was some rain at times, but not enough to impede seriously our progress. It was altogether the most perfect May and June weather I have ever seen. Nor was it exceptional, according to Dr. Charles Johnson who has spent many years in North China. But of course I saw Shantung at its most favourable period. July and August are wet and hot, while the winters are clear and cold.
I found a trunk an unmitigated nuisance. Though it was made to order for a pack-mule, no pack-mules could be hired in that harvest season, and the trunk was too heavy for one side of a donkey, even after transferring all practicable articles to the shendza. So it had to be put in a cart, and as a cart cannot keep up with a shendza, I was often separated from my trunk for days at a time. Besides, a couple valises would have held all necessary clothing anyway. I took a light folding cot and a bag held a thin mattress, small pillow, sheets and two light blankets, so that I had a very comfortable bed under the always necessary mosquito net.
We also took a supply of tinned food to which we could usually add by purchase en route chickens and eggs, while occasionally in the proper season, we could secure string-beans, onions, cucumbers, apricots, peanuts, walnuts and radishes. So we fared well. The native food cannot be wisely depended upon by a foreigner. He cannot maintain his strength, as the poorer Chinese do, on a diet of rice and unleavened bread, while the food of the well-to-do classes, when it can be had, is apt to be so greasy and peculiar as to incite his digestive apparatus to revolt. Indeed, a Chinese feast is one of his most serious experiences. Most heartily, indeed, did I appreciate the kindly motives of the magistrates who invited me to these feasts, for their purpose was as generously hospitable as the purpose of any American who invites a visitor to dinner. But the Chinese bill-of-fare includes dishes that are rather trying to a Christian palate, and good form requires the guest to taste at least each dish, for if he fails to do so, he makes his host "lose face"--a serious breach of etiquette in China. For example, here is the menu of a typical Chinese feast to which I was invited, the dishes being served in the order given, sweets coming first and soup towards the last in this land of topsy-turveydom:
The appetite being pretty well sated by this time, the following delicacies were served to taper off with:
Tea was served from the beginning and throughout the feast. It was made on the table by pouring hot water into a small pot half full of tea leaves, the pot being refilled as needed. The tea was served without cream or sugar, and was mild and delicious. Rice whiskey in tiny cups is usually served at feasts, though it was often omitted from the feasts given to us. The Chinese assert that the alcohol is necessary "to cut the grease." There is certainly enough grease to cut.
The guests sit at small round tables, each accommodating about four. There are, of course, no plates or knives or forks though small china spoons are used for the soups. All the food is cut into small pieces before being brought to the table, so that no further cutting is supposed to be necessary. Each article of food is brought on in a single dish, which is placed in the centre of the table, and then each guest helps himself out of the common dish with his chop-sticks, the same chop- sticks being used during the entire meal. It is considered a mark of distinguished courtesy for the host to fish around in the dish with his own chop-sticks for a choice morsel and place it in front of the guest. With profound emotion, at almost every feast that I attended in China, I saw my considerate hosts take the chop-sticks which had made many trips to their own mouths, stir around in the central dish for a particularly fine titbit and deposit it on the table before me. And of course, not to be outdone in politeness, I ate these dainty morsels with smiles of gratified pride. As each of the Chinese at the table deemed himself my host, and as the Chinese are extremely polite and attentive to their guests, the table soon became wet and greasy from the pieces of pork, slugs and chicken placed upon it as well as from the drippings from the chop-sticks in their constant trips from the serving bowls.
However, two small brass bowls, fitting together, are placed beside each guest, who is expected to sip a little water from the upper one, rinse his mouth with it and expectorate it into the lower one. The emotion of the foreign visitor is intensified when he learns that it is counted polite to make all the noise possible by smacking the lips as a sign that the food is delicious, sucking the tea or soup noisily from the spoon to show that it is hot, and belching to show that it is enjoyed. Often, a dignified official would let his tea stand until it was cold, but when he took it up, he would suck it with a loud noise as if it were scalding hot, as he was too polite to act as if it were cold.
But the American or European, who inwardly groans at a Chinese repast and who felicitates himself on the alleged superior methods of his own race, may well consider how his own customs impress a Celestial. A Chinese gentleman who was making a tour of Europe and America wrote to a relative in China as follows:
"You cannot civilize these foreign devils. They are beyond redemption. They will live for weeks and months without touching a mouthful of rice, but they eat the flesh of bullocks and sheep in enormous quantities. That is why they smell so badly; they smell like sheep themselves. Every day they take a bath to rid themselves of their disagreeable odours but they do not succeed. Nor do they eat their meat cooked in small pieces. It is carried into the room in large chunks, often half raw, and they cut and slash and tear it apart. They eat with knives and prongs. It makes a civilized being perfectly nervous. One fancies himself in the presence of sword-swallowers. They even sit down at the same table with women, and the latter are served first, reversing the order of nature."
So I humbly adapted myself as best I could to Chinese customs and learned to like many of the natives' dishes, though to the last, there were some that I merely nibbled to "save the face" of mine host. Some of the dishes were really excellent and as a rule all were well-cooked, although the oil in which much of the food was steeped made it rather greasy. My digestive apparatus is pretty good, but it would take a copper- lined stomach to partake without disaster of a typical Chinese feast. But for that matter so it would to eat a traditional New England dinner of boiled salt pork, corned beef, cabbage, turnips, onions and potatoes, followed by a desert of mince pie and plum pudding and all washed down by copious draughts of hard cider.
Chinese inns do not impoverish even the economical traveller. Our bill for our tiffin stop was usually 100 small cash, a little more than three cents, for our entire party of about a score of men and animals. For the night, the common charge was 700 cash, twenty-three cents. Travellers are expected to provide their own food and bedding and to pay a small extra sum for the rice and fodder used by their servants and mules, but even then the cost appears ridiculously small to a foreigner. Still, the most thoroughly seasoned traveller can hardly consider a Chinese inn a comfortable residence. It is simply a rough, one-story building enclosing an open courtyard. The rooms are destitute of furniture except occasionally a rude table. The floor is the beaten earth, foul with the use of scores and perhaps hundreds of years. The windows are covered with oiled paper which admits only a dim light and no air at all. The walls are begrimed with smoke and covered with cobwebs. Across the end of the room is the inevitable kang--a brick platform under which the cooking fire is built and on which the traveller squats by day and sleeps by night. The unhappy white man who has not been prudent enough to bring a cot with him feels as if he were sleeping on a hot stove with "the lid off."
The inns between Ichou-fu and Chining-chou were the poorest I saw, and if a man has stopped in one of them, he has been fairly initiated into the discomforts of travelling in China. But wherever one goes, the heat and smoke and bad air, together with the vermin which literally swarms on the kang and floor and walls, combine to make a night in a Chinese inn an experience that is not easily forgotten. However, the foreign traveller soon learns, perforce, to be less fastidious than at home and I found myself hungry enough to eat heartily and tired enough to sleep soundly in spite of the dirt and bugs. But the heat and bad air as the summer advanced were not so easily mastered, and so I began to sleep in the open courtyard, finding chattering Chinese and squealing mules less objectionable than the foul-smelling, vermin-infested inns, since outside I had at least plenty of cool, fresh air.
There is no privacy in a Chinese inn. The doors, when there are any, are innocent of locks and keys, while the Chinese guests as well as the innkeeper's family and the people of the neighbourhood have an inquisitiveness that is not in the least tempered by bashfulness. But nothing was ever stolen, though some of our supplies must have been attractive to many of the poverty stricken men who crowded about us. On one occasion, an inn-employee, who was sent to exchange a bank-note for cash, did not return. There was much excited jabbering, but Mr. Laughlin firmly though kindly held the innkeeper responsible and that worthy admitted that he knew who had taken the money and refunded it. So all was peace. The innkeeper was probably in collusion with the thief. This was our only trouble of the kind, though we slept night after night in the public inns with all our goods lying about wholly unprotected. Occasionally, especially in the larger towns, there was a night watchman. But he was a noisy nuisance. To convince his employers that he was awake, he frequently clapped together two pieces of wood. All night long that strident clack, clack, clack, resounded every few seconds. It is an odd custom, for of course it advertises to thieves the location of the watchman. But there is much in China that is odd to an American.
On a tour in Asia, the foreigner who does not wish to be ill will exercise reasonable care. It looks smart to take insufficient sleep, snatch a hurried meal out of a tin can, drink unboiled water and walk or ride in the sun without a pith hat or an umbrella. Some foreigners who ought to know better are careless about these things and good-naturedly chaff one who is more particular. But while one should not be unnecessarily fussy, yet if he is courageous enough to be sensible, he will not only preserve his health, but be physically benefited by his tour, while the heedless man will probably be floored by dysentery or even if he escapes that scourge will reach his destination so worn out that he must take days or perhaps weeks to recuperate. I was not ill a day, made what Dr. Bergen called "the record tour of Shantung," and came out in splendid health and spirits just because I had nerve enough to insist on taking reasonable time for eating and sleeping, boiling my drinking water, and buying the fresh vegetables and fruit with which the country abounded. From this view-point, Dr. Charles F. Johnson, who escorted me from Chining-chou to Tsing-tau, was a model. With no loss of time, with but trifling additional expense and with comparatively little extra trouble, he had an appetizing table, while water bottles and fruit tins were always cooled in buckets of well water so that they were grateful to a dusty, thirsty throat. It is not difficult to make oneself fairly comfortable in travelling even when nearly all modern conveniences are wanting and it pays to take the necessary trouble.
Throughout the tour, we were watched in a way that was suggestive. When United States Consul Fowler first told me that Governor Yuan Shih Kai would send a military escort with me, I said that I was not proud, that I did not care to go through Shantung with the pomp and panoply of war, that I was on a peaceful, conciliatory errand, and preferred to travel with only my missionary companions. But he replied that while the province was then quiet, no one could tell what an hour might bring forth, that in the tension that existed even a local and sporadic attack on a foreigner might be a signal for a new outbreak, that the Governor was trying to keep the people in hand, and that as he was held responsible for consequences he must be allowed to have his own men in charge of a foreign party that purposed to journey so far into the interior. So, of course, I yielded.
When I lifted up my eyes and looked on the escort at Kiao- chou, I felt that my fears of pomp and panoply had been groundless, for the "escort" consisted of two disreputable- looking coolies who had apparently been picked up on the street and who were armed with antiquated flint-locks that were more dangerous to their bearers than to an enemy. I am sure that these "guards" would have been the first to run at the slightest sign of danger. We did not see them again till we reached Kaomi, where we gave them a present and sent them back, glad to be rid of them. We afterwards learned that they were only the retainers of the local Kiao-chou yamen to see us to the border of the hinterland, which Governor Yuan's troops were not permitted to cross.
But the men who met us at the border were soldiers of another type--powerful looking cavalrymen on excellent horses. Remembering the stories we had heard regarding the murder of foreigners by Chinese troops who had been sent ostensibly to guard them, we were relieved to find that there were only three of them, and as there were three of us, we felt safe, for we believed that in an emergency we could whip them. When on leaving Wei-hsien the number increased to five and then to six, we became dubious. But we concluded that as we were active, stalwart men, we might in a pinch manage twice our number of Chinese soldiers or, if worst came to worst, as we were unencumbered by women, children or luggage, we could sprint, on the old maxim,
"He that fights and runs away Will live to fight another day."
But when a little later, the force grew to eleven and then to fifteen, we were hopelessly out-classed, especially as they were well-mounted and armed not only with swords but with modern magazine rifles.
The result, however, proved that our fears were groundless, for the men were good soldiers, intelligent, respectful, well- drilled, and thoroughly disciplined. They treated us with strict military etiquette, standing at attention and saluting in the most approved military fashion whenever they spoke to us or we to them. I was not accustomed to travelling in such state. Our three shendzas meant six mules and three muleteers, one for each shendza. Our cook and "boy" each had a donkey, and a pack-mule was necessary for our food supplies. So including the men and horses of the escort, we usually had nineteen men and twenty animals and a part of the time we had even a larger number. We therefore made quite a procession, and attracted considerable attention. I suspect, however, that some of those shrewd Chinese were not deceived as to my humble station at home for one man asked the missionary who accompanied me whether I travelled with an escort in America!
The lieutenant commanding our escort said that he received forty-two taels a month, the sergeants eleven taels, and the privates nine taels. The men buy their own food, but their clothing, horses, provender, etc., are furnished by the Government. This is big pay for China. The lieutenant further said that Governor Yuan Shih Kai had thirty regiments of a nominal strength of 500 each and an actual strength of 250, making a total of 7,500, and that the soldiers had been drilled by German officers at Tien-tsin. There are no foreign officers now connected with the force, but there are two foreign educated Chinese who receive 300 taels a month each. He further said that all the men with us had killed Boxers and that he was confident that they could rout 1,000 of them. An illustration of the reputation of these troops occurred during my visit in Paoting-fu a little later. A messenger breathlessly reported that the Allied Villagers, who had banded themselves together to resist the collection of indemnity, had captured a city only ninety li southward and that they intended to march on Paoting-fu itself. Three thousand of Yuan Shih Kai's troops had been ordered to go to Peking to prepare for the return of the Emperor and Empress Dowager, but the French general at Paoting-fu had forbade them coming beyond a point a hundred li south of Paoting-fu, so that they were then encamped there awaiting further orders. The Prefect hastily wired Viceroy Li Hung Chang in Peking asking him to order these troops to retake the recaptured city, as the Imperial troops were "needed here," a euphemism for saying that they were useless. Li Hung Chang gave the desired order and the seasoned troops of Yuan Shih Kai made short work of the Allied Villagers.
At any rate, those who escorted me through Shantung were certainly good soldiers. They had splendid horses and took good care of them, while several evenings they gave us as fine exhibitions of sword drill as I ever saw. I was interested to find that seven of them belonged to a total abstinence society, though none of them were Christians. I became really attached to them. They were very patient, although my journey compelled them to make a long and hard march for which they received no extra pay. On the last evening of the trip, I gave them a feast in the most approved Chinese style. I made a little farewell address and gave the officer in charge the following letter which seemed to please them greatly:--
"June 27th, 1901. "To His Excellency,
"General Yuan Shih Kai,
"Governor of the Province of Shantung, China,
"In completing my tour of the Province of Shantung, I have pleasure in expressing my high appreciation, and that of the missionaries of the Presbyterian Church who accompanied me, of the excellent conduct of the soldiers who formed our escort under the command of (Lieutenant) Wang Pa Chung. Both he and his troopers were courteous and faithful, attentive to every duty and meriting our admiration for the perfection of their discipline.
"We regret the death of one of their horses, but we are satisfied that the soldier was in no way to blame. The animal died in the inn courtyard early in the morning.
"I have had pleasure in giving the officer and his men a feast. In addition I offered them a present, but the Wang Pa Chung declined to accept it.
"Thanking you for your courtesy in detailing such good soldiers for our escort,
"I have, sir, the honour to be
"Your obedient servant,
(Signed) "ARTHUR J. BROWN."
I was impressed by the refusal to accept the present, which was a considerable sum to Chinese. But the men were evidently under strict orders. The lieutenant was polite and grateful, but he said that he "could not accept a gift if it were ten thousand taels."
During the whole tour, these soldiers watched us with a fidelity that was almost embarrassing at times. Not for a moment did they lose sight of us except when we were in the mission compounds. If we took a walk about a village, they followed us. Eating, sleeping or travelling, we were always watched. Several times we tried to escape such espionage, or to induce the soldiers to turn back. We did not feel our need of them, nor did I desire my peaceful mission to be associated with military display. Besides, if hostility had been manifested, a dozen Chinese soldiers would have been of little avail among those swarming millions. But our efforts and protests were vain and we had no alternative but to submit with the best grace possible.
Nor was this all, for many of the magistrates whose districts we crossed en route added other attentions. Indeed, they appeared to be almost nervously anxious that no mishap should befall us. I had sent no announcement of my coming to any one except my missionary friends, nor had I asked for any favour or protection save the usual passport through the United States Consul. But the first Tao-tai I met politely inquired about my route, and, as I afterwards learned, sent word to the next magistrate. He in turn forwarded the word to the one beyond, and so on throughout the whole trip. As we approached a city, uniformed attendants from the chief magistrate's yamen usually met us and escorted us, sometimes with much display of banners and trumpets and armed guards, to an inn which had been prepared for our reception by having a little of its dirt swept into the corners and a few of its bugs killed. Then would come a feast of many courses of Chinese delicacies. A call from the magistrate himself often followed, and he would chat amicably while great crowds stood silently about.
There was something half pathetic about the attentions we received. Our journey was like a triumphal procession. For example, twenty li from Chang Ku a messenger on horseback met us. He had evidently been on the watch, for after kneeling he galloped back with the news of our approach. Soon a dozen soldiers in scarlet uniforms appeared, saluted, wheeled and marched before us to an inn where we found rugs on the floor and kangs, a cloth on the table and two elevated seats covered with scarlet robes. Attendants from the yamen with their red tasselled helmets were numerous and attentive. Basins of water were brought and presently the magistrate sent an elaborate feast. As we finished the repast, the magistrate himself called. He was very affable and made quite a long call. In like manner the district magistrate of Fei-hsien sent his secretary, personal flags and twenty soldiers twenty li to meet us. They knelt as we approached and shouted in unison--"We wish the great man peace!" So as usual we entered the town with pomp and circumstance, our own escort added to the local one making a brave show.
And these were typical experiences. We could not prevent them and to resent them would have made the official "lose face" and so embittered him. At Pien-kiao, where a hundred of Governor Yuan Shih Kai's troops were stationed, the whole garrison turned out, meeting us a couple of miles from the city and escorting us to our inn with blares of trumpets which Dr. Johnson said were only sounded for high officials. We were awakened at three o'clock the next morning by the bellowing of calves and the braying of mules in the inn courtyard, and as we had our longest day's journey ahead of us, we rose, breakfasted at four by candle-light and were on the road at a quarter of five. But in spite of the early hour, the whole garrison again turned out and lined the road at "present arms" as we passed.
Think of the mayor of an American city of fifty or a hundred thousand habitants hastening to call in state on three unknown travellers, who were simply stopping for luncheon at a hotel, and sending a couple dozen policemen to escort them in and out of town! The Shantung Chinese are a strong, proud, independent people, and it must have cost them something to be so effusive to foreigners. There was doubtless in it some real regard for Americans and American missionaries. But policy was probably also a factor. The officials felt that any further attack on foreigners would be a pretext for further foreign aggression, an excuse for Germany to advance from Kiao-chou, and they were anxious not to give occasion for it. Each official was apparently determined to make it plain that he was doing his duty in trying to protect these foreigners so that if they got hurt it would not be his fault. Perhaps, too, he was not averse to showing the populace that foreigners had to be guarded. I was half ashamed to travel in that way. But I could not help myself. Sometimes I felt that the guard was not so much for us as for the Chinese, assuring nervous officials that foreigners should have no further excuse for aggression and warning the evil-disposed that they must not commit acts which might get the officials into trouble.
Whatever the reasons were, they were plainly impersonal. No one of us had any official status nor were we as individuals of any consequence whatever to Chinese officials. We were simply white men and as such we were regarded as representatives of a race which had made its power felt. Perhaps the soldiers and the orders of Governor Yuan Shih Kai had much to do with the quietness of the people, but some way I felt perfectly safe. Whether any attack would have been made if I had been allowed to journey quietly with my one or two missionary companions, I am not competent to judge. Foreigners who had lived many years in China told me before starting that my life would not be safe beyond rifle shot. They have told me since that the profuse attentions that we received were mere pretence, that the very officials who welcomed us as honoured guests probably cursed our race as soon as our backs were turned, and that if the people had not understood from the presence of troops and from the magistrates' marked personal attentions that we were not to be molested, we might have met with violence in a dozen places. The opinions of such experienced men were not to be lightly set aside.
All I can say is that on these suppositions the Chinese are masters of the art of dissimulation, for in all our journeyings through the very heart of the region where the Boxers originated, and where the anti-foreign hatred was said to be bitterest, we saw not a sign of unfriendliness. The typical official received us with the courtesy of a "gentleman of the old school." The vast throngs that quickly assembled at every stopping place, while silent, were respectful. We tried to behave decently ourselves, to speak kindly to every man, to pay fair prices for what we bought; in short, to act just as we would have acted in America. And every man to whom we smiled, smiled in return. Wherever we asked a civil question we got a civil answer. Coolies would stop their barrows, farmers leave their fields to direct us aright. In all our travelling in the interior, amid a population so dense that we constantly marvelled, we never heard a rude word or saw a hostile sign. I naturally find it difficult to believe that those pleasant, obliging people would have killed us if they had not been restrained by their magistrates, and that the officials who exerted themselves to show us all possible honour would have gladly murdered us if they had dared.
And yet less than a year before, the Chinese had angrily destroyed the property and venomously sought the lives of foreigners who were as peaceably disposed as we were, ruthlessly hunting men and women who had never done them wrong, and who had devoted their lives to teaching the young and healing the sick and preaching the gospel of love and good will. Why they did this we shall have occasion to observe in a later chapter.