Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Peking Dust
Author: La Motte, Ellen Newbold, 1873-1961
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peking Dust" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Kentuckiana Digital Library)



[Illustration: Cover]



          PEKING DUST



[Illustration: Loading coolies at Wei-Hei-Wei]



          PEKING DUST


              BY

        ELLEN N. LAMOTTE
  Author of "The Backwash of War"


          ILLUSTRATED
        WITH PHOTOGRAPHS


        [Illustration]


          NEW YORK
        THE CENTURY CO.
            1919



      Copyright, 1919, by
        The Century Co.

     _Published, May, 1919_



INTRODUCTION


Two classes of books are written about China by two classes of people.
There are books written by people who have spent the night in China, as
it were, superficial and amusing, full of the tinkling of temple bells;
and there are other books written by people who have spent years in
China and who know it well,--ponderous books, full of absolute
information, heavy and unreadable. Books of the first class get one
nowhere. They are delightful and entertaining, but one feels their
irresponsible authorship. Books of the second class get one nowhere, for
one cannot read them; they are too didactic and dull. The only people
who might read them do not read them, for they also are possessed of
deep, fundamental knowledge of China, and their views agree in no
slightest particular with the views set forth by the learned scholars
and theorists.

This book falls into neither of these two classes, except perhaps in the
irresponsibility of its author. It is compounded of gossip,--the flying
gossip or dust of Peking. Take it lightly; blow off such dust as may
happen to stick to you. For authentic information turn to the heavy
volumes written by the acknowledged students of international politics.

                                                      ELLEN N. LA MOTTE.



ACKNOWLEDGMENT


The writer wishes to thank the following friends who have been kind
enough to lend the photographs used in the illustrations: Warren R.
Austin, F. C. Hitchcock, Margaret Frieder, T. Severin and Rachel Snow.



CONTENTS


PART I

LETTERS WRITTEN OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER, 1916

CHAPTER                                      PAGE

   I POOR OLD CHINA                             3

  II PEKING                                    13

 III CIVILIZATION                              24

  IV RACE ANTAGONISMS                          29

   V SPHERES OF INFLUENCE                      39

  VI ON THE SACREDNESS OF FOREIGNERS           50

 VII DONKEYS GENERALLY                         61

VIII ADVISERS AND ADVICE                       71

  IX CHINESE HOUSES                            77

   X HOW IT'S DONE IN CHINA                    86

  XI THE LAO-HSI-KAI OUTRAGE                   94

 XII THE LAO-HSI-KAI AFFAIR                   101

XIII THE LAO-HSI-KAI "INCIDENT"               108


PART II

LETTERS WRITTEN FEBRUARY AND MARCH, 1917

   I THE RETURN TO PEKING                     115

  II THE OPIUM SCANDAL                        124

 III THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER             132

  IV CHINA'S COURSE CLEAR                     139

   V FEAR OF THE PLUNGE                       145

  VI A DUST-STORM                             150

 VII A BOWL OF PORRIDGE                       164

VIII FROM A SCRAP-BOOK                        172

  IX THE GERMAN REPLY                         182

   X DUST AND GOSSIP                          189

  XI DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BROKEN              198

 XII WALKING ON THE WALL                      202

XIII MEETING THE PRESIDENT OF CHINA           208

 XIV GREAT BRITAIN'S TWELVE DEMANDS           220

  XV CONCLUSION                               229

     APPENDIXES                               231



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


Loading coolies at Wei-Hei-Wei      _Frontispiece_

                                             FACING
                                              PAGE
Map                                             3

Coolies                                        20

Camel caravan, Peking                          21

Peking cart                                    32

Fruit stall in the bazaar                      33

Entrance gate to compound of Chinese house     84

Compound of Chinese house                      85

Chinese funeral                               120

Chinese funeral                               121

Vice-President Feng Kuo-Chang                 128

View of Peking                                129

Village outside walls of Peking               204

Fortune teller                                205

President Li Yuan-Hung                        216

Entrance to Winter Palace                     217



PART I


[Illustration: Sketch Map of China Showing Spheres of Influence]



PEKING DUST



I

POOR OLD CHINA


When I came away last August, you said you wanted me to tell you about
our travels, particularly about China. Like most Americans, you have a
lurking sentimental feeling about China, a latent sympathy and interest
based on colossal ignorance. Very well, I will write you as fully as I
can. Two months ago my ignorance was fully as overwhelming as yours, but
it is being rapidly dispelled. So I'll try to do the same for you, as
you said I might. Rash of you, I call it.

I'll take it that you have just about heard that China is on the map,
and occupies a big portion of it. You know that she has a ruler of some
kind in place of the old empress dowager who died a few years ago. Come
to think of it, the ruler is a president, and China is a republic.
Vaguely you may remember that she became a republic about five years
ago, after a revolution. Also, in the same vague way, you may have heard
that the country is old and rich and peaceful, with about four hundred
million inhabitants; and beyond that you do not go. Sufficient. I'll go
no further, either.

After six weeks in Japan, we set out for Peking, going by way of Korea.
On the boat from Kobe to Shimonoseki, passing through the famous Inland
Sea of Japan,--which, by the way, reminds one of the eastern shore of
Maryland,--we met a young Englishman returning to Shanghai. We three,
being the only first-class passengers on the boat, naturally fell into
conversation. He said he had been in the East for ten years, engaged in
business in Shanghai, so we at once dashed into the subject of Oriental
politics. Being quite ignorant of Eastern affairs, but having heard
vaguely of certain phases of them, we asked if he could tell us the
meaning of "sphere of influence." The Orient seems full of spheres of
influence, particularly China.

"How do the European nations acquire these 'spheres of influence' in
China?" I asked. "Do they ask the Chinese Government to give them to
them?--to set apart certain territory, certain provinces, and give them
commercial and trading rights to these areas?"

"Ask the Chinese Government?" repeated the young man, scornfully. "Ask
the Chinese? I should say not! The European powers just arrange it among
themselves, each decides what provinces it wants, agrees not to trespass
upon the spheres of influence of one another, and then they just notify
China."

"Just notify China?" I exclaimed. "You mean they don't consult China at
all and find out whether she's willing or not? You mean they just decide
the matter among themselves, partition out the country as they like,
select such territory as they happen to fancy, and then just notify
China?"

"That's the idea," he returned; "virtually that's all there is to it.
Choose what they want and then just notify China."

"Dear me!" said I.

I'm glad we met that young man. I like things put simply, in words of
one syllable, within range of the understanding. Moreover, incredible as
it seems, what he told us is true. Oh, of course, as I've found out
since, there are treaties and things to be signed after China has been
notified. She is then compelled to ratify these treaties or agreements;
it looks better. Forced to sign them at the pistol's point, as it were.
However, this ratification of treaties is more for the benefit of the
European powers than for China. Having staked out their claims, they
officially record them; that's all. And you know what used to happen in
our country during the good old days of the "forty-niners" if some one
jumped another's claim.

To show to what extent poor old China is under the "influence" of the
great European powers, I shall have to give you a few statistics;
otherwise you won't believe me. The total area of the Chinese Republic
is about 4,300,000 square miles. The spheres of influence of some of the
important nations are as follows:

                                        Square miles

  England: Tibet                           533,000

           Szechuen                        218,000

           Kwan'tung                        86,000

           Provinces of Yangtse Valley     362,000

             Total                       1,199,000 or 27.8%

   Russia: Outer Mongolia                1,000,000

           Che-Kiang                       548,000

           Three-quarters of Manchuria     273,000

             Total                       1,821,000 or 42.3%

   France: Yunnan                          146,700 or  3.4%

  Germany: Shan-tung                        55,000 or  1.3%

    Japan: South Manchuria                  90,000

           Eastern Inner Mongolia           50,000

           Fu-kien                          46,000

             Total                         186,000 or  4.3%

    Total area under foreign influence                  79%

Don't forget these figures; turn back to them from time to time to
refresh your memory. But remember one thing: it is not customary to
speak of anything but of Japanese aggression. Whenever Japan acquires
another square mile of territory, forestalling some one else, the
fact is heralded round the world, and the predatory tendencies of
Japan are denounced as a menace to the world. But publicity is not
given to the predatory tendencies of other powers. They are all in
agreement with one another, and nothing is said; a conspiracy of
silence surrounds their actions, and the facts are smothered, not a
hint of them getting abroad. The Western nations are in accord, and
the Orient--China--belongs to them. But with Japan it is different. So
in future, when you hear that Japan has her eye on China, is
attempting to gobble up China, remember that, compared with Europe's
total, Japan's holdings are very small indeed. The loudest outcries
against Japanese encroachments come from those nations that possess
the widest spheres of influence. The nation that claims forty-two per
cent. of China, and the nation that claims twenty-seven per cent. of
China are loudest in their denunciations of the nation that possesses
(plus the former German holdings) less than six.

Our first actual contact with a sphere of influence at work came about
in this wise: After we had spent two or three weeks in Korea, we took
the train from Seoul to Peking, a two-days' journey. In these
exciting days it is hard to do without newspapers, and at Mukden,
where we had a five-hours' wait, we came across a funny little sheet
called "The Manchuria Daily News." It was a nice little paper; that
is, if you are sufficiently cosmopolitan to be emancipated from
American standards. It was ten by fifteen inches in size,--comfortable
to hold, at any rate,--with three pages of news and advertisements,
and one blank page for which nothing was forthcoming. Tucked in among
advertisements of mineral waters, European groceries, foreign
banking-houses, and railway announcements was an item. But for our
young man on the boat, I shouldn't have known what it meant. We read:

    ALLIES PROTEST TO CHINA

    Great Britain, France and Russia have lodged their
    respective protests with China on the ground that the
    Sino-American railway loan agreement recently concluded,
    infringes upon their acquired rights. The Russian
    contention is that the construction of the railway from
    Fengchen to Ninghsia conflicts with the 1899 Russo-Chinese
    Secret Treaty. The British point out that the
    Hangchow-Wenchow railway under scheme is a violation of
    the Anglo-Chinese Treaty re Hunan and Kwanghsi, and that
    the proposed railway constitutes a trespass on the British
    preferential right to build railways. The French
    Government, on behalf of Belgium, argues that the
    Lanchow-Ninghsia line encroaches upon the Sino-Belgian
    Treaty re the Haichow-Lanchow Railway, and that the
    railway connecting Hangchow with Nanning intrudes upon the
    French sphere of influence.

There you have it! China needing a railway, an American firm willing
to build a railway, and Russia, England, France, and even poor
little Belgium blocking the scheme. All of them busy with a
tremendous war on their hands, draining all their resources of both
time and money, yet able to keep a sharp eye on China to see that
she doesn't get any improvements that are not of their making. And
after the war is over, how many years will it be before they are
sufficiently recovered financially to undertake such an expenditure?
China must just wait, I suppose.

On each side of the rocking railway carriage stretched vast arid
plains, sprinkled with innumerable villages consisting of mud houses.
The fields were cut across in every direction by dirt roads, unpaved,
full of deep ruts and holes. At times these roads were sunk far below
the level of the fields, worn deep into the earth by the traffic of
centuries; so deep in places that the tops of the blue-hooded carts
were also below the level of the fields. Yet these roads afford the
only means of communication with the immense interior provinces of
China--these sunken roads and the rivers.

Just then we passed a procession of camels, and for a moment I forgot
all about the article in "The Manchuria Daily News." Who wouldn't,
seeing camels on the landscape! A whole long caravan of them, several
hundred, all heavily laden, and moving in slow, majestic dignity at the
rate of two miles an hour! Coming in from some unknown region of the
great Mongolian plains, the method of transportation employed for
thousands of years! Yes, undoubtedly, China needs railways; but she
can't have any more at present, for she has no money to construct them
herself, and the great nations who claim seventy-nine per cent. of her
soil haven't time at present to build them for her. And they object to
letting America do it. A sphere of influence is a dog in the manger.



II

PEKING


Here we are in Peking at last, the beautiful, barbaric capital of China,
the great, gorgeous capital of Asia. For Peking is the capital of Asia,
of the whole Orient, the center of the stormy politics of the Far East.
We are established at the Grand Hôtel des Wagons-Lits, called locally
the "Bed-Wagon Hotel," or, as the marines say, the "Wagon Slits." It is
the most interesting hotel in the world, too, where the nations of the
world meet, rub elbows, consult together, and plan to "do" one another
and China, too. It is entertaining to sit in the dark, shabby lounge and
watch the passers-by, or to dine in the big, shabby, gilded dining-room,
and see the various types gathered there, talking together over big
events, or over little events that have big consequences. Peking is not
a commercial city, not a business center; it is not filled with drummers
or traveling-men or small fry of that kind, such as you find in Shanghai
and lesser places. It is the diplomatic and political center of the
Orient, and here are the people who are at the top of things, no matter
how shady the things. At least it is the top man in the concern who is
here to promote its interests.

Here are the big concession-hunters of all nationalities, with
headquarters in the hotel, ready to sit tight for a period of weeks or
months or as long as it may take to wheedle or bribe or threaten the
Chinese Government into granting them what they wish--a railroad, a
bank, a mine, a treaty port. Over in a corner of the lounge sits a
so-called princess, a Chinese lady, very modern, very chic, very
European as to clothes, who was formerly one of the ladies-in-waiting
to the old empress dowager. And, by the way, it took a woman to hold
China together. Next to her sits a young Chinese gentleman, said to be
the grandson of one of the old prime ministers, a slim, dapper youth,
spectacled and intelligent. I may say that the lady is almost
completely surrounded by the young man, but no one gives them more
than a passing glance. We do, because we are new-comers, but the
others are used to it. The British adviser to the Chinese Government
passes, a tall, distinguished, gray-haired man, talking with a burly
Englishman, hunter of big game, but now, according to rumor, a member
of the secret service. Concession-hunters and business men sit about
in groups, representatives of great commercial and banking firms from
all over the world. A minister from some legation drops in; there are
curio-buyers from Europe, with a sprinkling of tourists, and a
tired-looking, sallow group of anemic men and women who have just come
up from Manila on an army transport.

The approach to Peking is tremendously impressive. Lying in an arid
plain, the great, gray walls, with their magnificent towers, rise
dignified and majestic. Over the tops of the walls nothing is to be
seen. There are no skyscrapers within; no house is higher than the
surrounding, defending ramparts. Peking is divided into several areas,
each called a city, each city surrounded by its own walls. There is the
great, populous Chinese City, where only the Chinese dwell. The Tartar,
or Manchu, City has several subdivisions. It contains the legation
quarter, and all the foreign legations are clustered together in a
small, compact area, surrounded by a small wall for defensive purposes.
Beyond the legation quarter, on all sides, extends the Tartar City
itself. Foreigners also live in this part of Peking, and, as far as I
can see, always hold themselves in readiness to dash to the protection
of their legation if anything goes wrong. They tell one that it is quite
safe, that nothing can go wrong, that the Boxer troubles can never be
repeated; but all the same, they always appear to have a bag packed and
a ladder leaning against the compound walls in case of emergency. Which
gives life in Peking a delightful flavor of suspense and excitement.

Also within the Tartar City lies the Imperial City, inclosed by
towering red walls, and within that lies the Forbidden City, residence
of the rulers of China, containing the palaces, and the
dwelling-places of the mandarins. Now, except for certain parts of the
Forbidden City, such as the palace of the President, Li Yuan Hung, the
city is no longer forbidden. It is open to the public, and the public
may come and go at will; coolies, hucksters, beggars, foreigners--all
may move freely within the sacred precincts where formerly none but
the high and mighty might venture.

The streets are marvelous. Those in the legation quarter are well paved,
European, and stupid; but those in the Chinese and Tartar cities are
full of excitement. A few are wide, but the majority are narrow, winding
alleys, and all alike are packed and crowded with people and animals and
vehicles of all kinds. Walking is a matter of shoving oneself through
the throng, dodging under camels' noses, avoiding wheelbarrows, bumping
against donkeys, standing aside to let officials' carriages go
by,--antiquated European carriages, very shabby but surrounded by
outriders, mounted on shaggy Mongolian ponies, who gallop ahead and
clear the way. The horses can't be guided from behind; the coachman sits
on the box and holds the reins and looks impressive, but the real work
is done by the _mafu_ or groom. When it comes to turning a corner,
passing a camel-train, or other obstacle, the _mafu_ is obliged to leap
down from his seat, seize the bridle, and lead the horses round whatever
obstruction there may be. At other times, when not leading the horses,
the _mafu_ sits on the box and shouts to clear the way. I tell you,
progress in a carriage is a noisy affair,--what with the rattling of the
old vehicle, the clanking of the brass-mounted harness, the yells and
screams of the groom, and the yells and shouts of the crowds refusing to
give way. It's barbaric, but has a certain style and swing.

Don't think there is any speed to a carriage. Oh, no. Despite the noise
and rattle and apparent progress, the progress itself is very slow. At
the rate of two miles an hour, possibly. We went out for a drive in the
minister's carriage the other day, a comfortable victoria, drawn by a
pair of very fat, very sorrel horses, and we skimmed along, as I say, at
the rate of two miles an hour when the going was good. All we passed
were the pedestrians,--a few of them,--and we usually found ourselves
tailing along behind a camel-train or waiting for a wheelbarrow to get
out of the way. In the side streets, or _hutungs_, we shouted
ourselves along at a snail's pace, cleaving the dense throngs of
inattentive citizens, whose right to the middle of the road was as
great as ours, and who didn't purpose to be disturbed. Once on turning
a corner, the groom pulled the bridle off one of the horses. Off it
slipped into his hand, and the horse tossed his head and ran. The
_mafu_ yelled, the coachman yelled, every one else yelled, and for a
few moments there was intense excitement. Later on, that same
afternoon, we went out to tea somewhere, this time going by rickshaw.
In comparison to the speed of a carriage, the pace of a
rickshaw-runner is prodigious. We were positively dizzy.

There is a great difference between the speed of the rickshaw-runners in
Tokyo and in Peking. In Japan they go rather slowly, and refuse to
overexert themselves, and quite right, too; but here they go at top
speed. There are such enormous numbers of them, and competition is so
keen, that the swift young runners make capital of their strength. It is
pathetic to see broken-down old coolies, panting and blowing, making
painful efforts to compete with the younger men. I am not yet used to
being taken about by man-power. It seems wrong somehow, demoralizing,
for one human being to place himself in that humiliating relation to
another, to become a draft animal, to be forced to lower himself to the
level of an ox or an ass. It must have an insidious, demoralizing
effect, too, upon the persons who ride in these little vehicles. I am
not yet used to seeing able-bodied young foreigners, especially men,
being pulled about by thin, tired, exhausted coolies. I feel ashamed
every time I enter a rickshaw and contrast my well-being with that of
the ragged boy between the shafts. I suppose I shall get over this
feeling, think no more about it than any one else does, but at present
it is new to me. Every time we leave the hotel, twenty boys dash
forward, all clamoring for us; and if we decide to walk, twenty
disappointed, half-starved boys wheel their little buggies back to the
curb again and wait. Well, what can one do? They are so desperately
poor! One way or the other, it seems all wrong.

[Illustration: Coolies]

[Illustration: Camel caravan, Peking]

We got caught in a block in the Chinese City the other day. At the
intersection of two cross streets, narrow little _hutungs_ about eight
feet wide, four streams of traffic collided, and got hopelessly
entangled in a yelling, unyielding snarl. From one direction came a
camel-train from Mongolia; from another, three or four blue-hooded,
long-axled, Peking carts. Along a third street came a group of
water-carriers and wheelbarrows, and from the fourth half a dozen
rickshaws. All met, and in a moment became thoroughly mixed up. There
being no traffic regulation of any kind, no right of way of any sort,
there was no idea in the mind of any one but that of his unalterable
right to go ahead. It was pandemonium in a minute, with yells and
curses, pushing and blows, men whacking one another and the beasts
indiscriminately. Over the tops of the blue-hooded carts the tall camels
raised their scornful heads, and surveyed the commotion with aloof
disdain. In all the world there is nothing so arrogant and haughty as a
camel, and they regarded from their supercilious height the petty
quarreling of man. In fifteen minutes, however, the snarl cleared itself
up, and it was the camels who first managed to slither by, after which
each vehicle unwound itself from the mess and passed on.

You know, the lobby of this hotel seems a little like that block of
traffic. There is such a heterogeneous massing of nationalities and
of people within these shabby walls--officials, soldiers,
concession-hunters, tourists, attachés, journalists, explorers. All
those camels, coolies, rickshaw-boys, and water-carriers each felt
that he had the right of way; and so all these people think that
they have the right of way in China. There must be a hundred
different opinions about China in these corridors of the hotel. I'll
see what I can discover.



III

CIVILIZATION


The longer we stay here, the more we are impressed with the fact that
in China there is no sympathy for the Allies. The atmosphere is not at
all pro-German, however. There is no special feeling for the Central
powers any more than there is for the Entente Allies. It can best be
described as neutrality, or, rather, complete indifference as to which
group wins. Coming as we have direct from France,--two years of France
in war-time,--it is very curious to find ourselves plunged into this
atmosphere of total indifference to the outcome and objects of the
war. We have gathered these impressions from many talks with the
Chinese and from a diligent perusal of Chinese papers,--papers printed
in English, but owned and edited by the Chinese, and which may
therefore be said to reflect their sentiments. Also we have talked
with many foreigners who have lived in China for a long time, who have
many Chinese friends and acquaintances, and understand the Chinese
point of view, and these also tell us that China has no sympathy with
the Allies or with any other powers.

The explanation is not hard to find. Despite what foreigners may think
of them, the Chinese are by no means fools. They possess the wisdom of
the ages,--of their own peculiar kind. They have had a long experience
with foreigners, saddening and enriching, and cynicism is the outgrowth
of such experience. China has suffered at the hands of the great powers,
has suffered at the hands of England, Russia, France, and Germany alike.
She is virtually in the position of a vassal state, not to any one of
these nations but to all of them, and they have pillaged and despoiled
her for a century and a half. To one of them she owes the curse of
opium, which was forced upon her for commercial reasons--a curse which
she is about ready to throw off. She is weak and corrupt, but it is to
the advantage of her foreign masters to keep her in a state of weakness
and corruption. At the present moment she is paying huge indemnities to
various European powers as compensation for the losses they sustained
during the Boxer uprising in 1900, the Boxer trouble being an attempt on
the part of China to rid herself of the foreign invader. To one of these
countries, Russia, she is paying an indemnity part of which consists of
the expenses of thousands of troops which had no existence except on
paper. It is hardly possible for the Chinese to believe, in the light of
their own experience, that the various European nations at death-grips
in this war are actuated by the noble sentiments they profess to be
fighting for. The assurances from Europe, cabled daily to the Chinese
press, that the Allies are fighting for liberty, for justice, for
civilization, for the protection of small nations, mean nothing to the
Chinese. Such professions leave them cold. To the Oriental mind this
gigantic struggle is between a nation who is mistress of the world (and
the world's markets) and a nation who wishes to become mistress of the
world (and the world's markets). With seventy-nine per cent. of her
territory under foreign control, China can hardly believe in the
disinterested motives of the fighting nations.

The other day I saw a little incident on the street that puts the case
in a nutshell. Two big Mongolian dogs were locked together in a fight
to the death. Each had the other in a death-grip, and they rolled over
and over in the dust, surrounded by a great crowd of people who stood
by indifferently and watched them fight it out. This is the attitude
of China toward the European War, the attitude of the calm,
indifferent spectator.

The structure of civilization that Europe has erected for itself is
imposing and beautiful. We in America are confronted with the façade
of this great building, and beheld from our side of the Atlantic it
looks magnificent and superb. Even when we enter it in Europe, and
behold its many ramifications, we still have cause to admire. But
there is a back side to this structure of civilization; there are
outbuildings, slums, and alleys not visible from the front. These back
on the Orient, and the rear view of the structure of European
civilization, seen from the Orient, is not imposing at all. The
sweepings and refuse of Western civilization and Western morality are
dumped out upon the Orient, where they do not show.



IV

RACE ANTAGONISMS


It is a crisp, cold morning, but nothing to what it will be, they tell
us, when the autumn is over, and the bitter winter settles down upon
North China. After all, come to think of it, we are abutting on two
extremely Northern provinces, Manchuria and Mongolia, and these adjoin
Siberia, which all the world knows is cold. So this sharp October day,
with its brilliant blue sky and hard, glittering sunshine, is only a
foretaste of the weather that will come later.

To-day we went into the Chinese City and visited a native department
store. At the best speed of our rickshaw-boys we passed out of the
Chi'en Men, the principal gate, and once beyond the towering, embattled
wall that separates the Chinese from the Tartar City, we lost ourselves
in the maze of narrow, winding streets that open on all sides from the
main road leading from the Chi'en Men, which, by the way, has been in
the possession of the American troops since the Boxer uprising. In the
narrow _hutungs_ our progress was slow; we literally shoved our way
through crowds of rickshaws and thousands of pedestrians, and as there
are no sidewalks, we were alternately scraping the walls and shop fronts
on one hand, or locking wheels with Peking carts on the other, and
feeling the warm breath of a camel or donkey down our necks whenever the
traffic brought us to a halt. Finally our boys stopped before a large
building about three stories high, emblazoned with gold dragons, and
with gorgeous red and yellow banners and flags all over the front of it.
It stood some distance back from the street, and the wide courtyard in
front was filled and crowded with the carts and carriages of the
high-class women who had gone inside to shop.

I have already told you that Chinese horses can't be driven; they must
be led along with great show and shouting. Well, when they stop they
can't even be trusted to stay in harness; they must be unharnessed and
removed to a place of safety. Therefore the courtyard of this department
store presented a unique appearance, filled with twenty or thirty Peking
carts, empty, tilted back on their haunches, with shafts gaping toward
heaven. Also, the horses had been removed from innumerable little coupés
of ancient date, with the superstructure all of glass, so that the
occupant within is completely visible from all sides, like a fish in an
aquarium. Horses and mules, in gorgeous, glittering harness, were
carefully stood apart, or were being led up and down in the crowded
courtyard to cool off. Though why cool off, after a dash through the
streets at two miles an hour or less, I couldn't see. However, here they
all were,--great, high white horses, shaggy Mongolian ponies, and
magnificent mules, the latter by far the most superb animals I've ever
seen. I am not much at heights, but the mules were enormously tall,
enormously heavy, very beautiful beasts, white, red, yellow, and black,
and sleek with unlimited polishing and grooming. They were clad--that's
the only word--in heavy, barbaric harness, mounted with huge brass
buckles, and in some cases the leather was studded with jade, carnelian,
and other semi-precious stones.

[Illustration: Peking cart]

[Illustration: Fruit stall in the bazaar]

Style? There's nothing on Fifth Avenue to touch it. Do you think a
ten-thousand-dollar automobile is handsome? It's nothing to a Peking
cart, with its huge, sleek mule and glittering harness. I tell you,
the Chinese have the style of the world; the rest of us are but
imitators. In comparison, our motors are merest upstarts. But you must
picture a Peking cart, of beautifully polished wood, natural color,
and a heavy wooden body covered with a big blue hood. The owner rides
inside, on cushions, and on each shaft sits a servant, one to hold the
reins, the other to yell and jump off and run forward to press his
weight on the shaft to lessen the jar to the occupant whenever a bad
bit of road presents itself. They say that this old custom, due to the
discomfort and jolting of the springless carts, is the reason why the
horses are not trained to round corners or go over bad bits of road
alone. From time immemorial it has been the duty of the groom to run
forward and throw his weight on the shafts to lessen the jolts;
therefore he is the real, the important driver. In front of the
blue-linen hood hangs a curtain, and the two side windows are also
carefully curtained, with screens which permit the occupant to see
out but not to be seen from without. Thus do high-class mandarins
protect themselves, save themselves from having to descend whenever
they meet a mandarin of equal or higher rank and prostrate themselves
in the dust before him. Also, the longer the axle, the further it
projects beyond the hub of the wheel, the higher the rank of the
owner; it denotes his right to occupy the road. The rims of the
wheels are spiked: big nails project all round, indicating the
mandarin's right to tear up the road. It's all splendid and barbaric;
no mawkish sentiment about it.

So we entered the department store through rows and rows, very neat and
orderly, of upturned carts and antiquated coupés, and mules and horses
and a courtyard full of liveried servants. Inside, it still looked
barbaric, with its magnificent display of rich silks and furs. Great
skins of tiger, panther, leopard, wildcat, sable, were hanging in
profusion on all sides, interspersed with costly embroideries, wonderful
brocades, and all the magnificence and color of the gorgeous East. It
was the idea of Kwong, our pet rickshaw-boy, to bring us here and we
soon found that foreigners were not expected and not wanted. No one of
the suave shop attendants could speak English, nor did they make the
slightest attempt to wait on us. We wandered round, rather desolate,
followed by looks of curiosity and disdain on the part of the clerks,
and the wholly undisguised amusement and contempt of the high-class
Chinese and Manchu women, who, with their liveried servants, were making
the rounds of the various floors. In the store it was noisy and
cheerful, the atmosphere cold and close except in the neighborhood of a
few big red-hot stoves, which gave forth a local heat. Chinese women,
not high-class, attired in satin trousers, sat about at small tables
drinking tea and smoking cigarettes, tea and cigarettes being furnished
free at innumerable little tables on every floor. As we passed, they
giggled and nudged one another. Can't you imagine a Chinese lady in
satin trousers passing through a great American department store and
being remarked upon? To them we were equally queer, and they made no
attempt to disguise the fact. There was none of that servile deference
one finds among the hotel servants and the rickshaw-boys, or of the
extreme politeness of the upper-class Chinese whom we had met at the
legations and elsewhere. To these people we were nothing but foreigners,
and down at heart foreigners excite nothing but amusement or hostility.
That conservative, gossiping throng of Orientals had a good, firm
opinion of us, and it wasn't complimentary. We were interlopers and
intruders, and had no business in that _pukkah_ Chinese shop. We were
glad to get out and to make our purchases in some kindlier atmosphere.

How can I reconcile this impression with previous ones, of the docility
and servility we had previously encountered? Docility and subserviency
are necessary in dealing with the conquering foreigner, but in such
places and on such occasions when those qualities are not required, we
get an impression of the real feelings of the Chinese. I believe they
feel toward us very much as we should feel toward them, or toward any
other nation that claimed us as a vassal state. For one country to be
under the "influence" of another, for any nation to assert a "benevolent
protectorate" over another, is to engender the hostility of the state so
patronized. Very well, it stands to reason. Foreigners have been patting
China on the head for a long time, and repeated pats don't always
produce a callous; sometimes they produce profound irritation.

This country is so enormous, so chaotic, one is so aware of the
strength underlying its calm, submissive exterior, that one feels that
some day this latent strength will break through and disclose itself.
In trying to describe all these feelings at random, day by day as
they come, I am not trying to sort them out and classify them and
present them in an orderly manner. You must see them with me, and feel
them with me from day to day, and do your own thinking later. That
English boy on the boat coming over to China told us this. We asked
him if he had enjoyed his vacation in Japan.

"Not much," he replied. "I don't care for the Japanese; they don't
compare with the Chinese."

"What's the difference?" I asked.

He pondered a moment.

"I'll sum it up for you like this," he answered. "In Japan they treat
you as an equal; in China they treat you as a superior."

That's it, I believe. Race antagonism all the way through. China is a
conquered country. She doesn't dare show resentment or insist upon
equality. Whatever her private opinion may be, she is helpless, and she
must treat her conquerors with deference as superiors. But Japan has
never been conquered by the foreigner. She is the only nation among all
the nations of the Orient that has never been trodden underfoot by the
European. She has never been subjugated and never been drugged. And,
curious coincidence, she has reached a level with the foremost powers of
the world, and holds the rank of a first-class nation. All this without
having had the blessings of European civilization conferred upon her by
a conqueror! She has snatched here and there, has imitated, even
excelled, certain qualities and propensities of the white man, but has
never been blighted by having Western civilization forced upon her.
That's the rub. Japan is a striking example to the rest of Asia; her
success is a striking commentary on the value of independence. She has
attained eminence without the assistance of the great powers. And of the
value of this assistance, conferred by the great powers upon the other
nations of Asia--enough said.



V

SPHERES OF INFLUENCE


We are beginning to know a lot of people in Peking, for we were launched
upon Peking society the other night when we dined at the American
legation. It was the first dinner party we have been to in several
years, as we have been living quietly in Paris since the beginning of
the war, and there are no such things as dinners or parties in Paris in
these distressful days. However, knowing that we were coming to the
Orient, and having shrewd ideas that possibly we might be invited out,
and therefore would need a proper dress, E---- and I each had one made,
a good one. Strange and unusual sensation to get into them; neither of
us could tell the back from the front! They looked alike from both
aspects, and felt equally uncomfortable either way. We tried them on
both ways and got no light from the experience, and then laid them on
the bed and looked at them ruminatively, all the while the clock moving
toward eight and no decision reached.

Finally, we concluded that if there was as little difference between
back and front as that, it couldn't matter much. Which shows you how
little we have been wearing evening clothes in the last two years, and
how unaccustomed to them we are. So, as I say, we dined at the legation
the other night, with our dresses on hind-side before, for all we knew,
and neither of us was troubled at all. Had a delightful time, too, and
met many interesting people. The dinner was in honor of the general in
charge of our army in the Philippines, and we also met Admiral von
Hinze, the German minister. The Dutch minister and his wife were there,
too. As America is neutral, it is necessary to entertain the various
diplomats as usual, but naturally they can't all dine at the legation on
the same evening. Sheep and goats, as it were, one dinner to the Allied
representatives, the next to the representatives of the Central powers.
Much nice sorting is required, and they tell us that in consequence of
the war Peking society is rift in twain. This is all very well when it
happens in a big community, but when it happens in such a limited little
society as Peking, all walled in together within the narrow inclosure of
the legation quarter,--walled in literally, also, in the fullest sense,
with soldiers from the guards of the various legations patrolling the
walls and mounting guard day and night,--such a situation results in
great tension and embarrassment all round. There was not one word of war
talk during the dinner; it was tacitly avoided, by common consent.

Well, as I said, after that dinner the other night, people began to be
very nice to us and to invite us out. The one safe subject for
discussion is Chinese politics, in which every one is interested and of
which every one knows a lot. At least, I don't know that they really
know, but they say they do, and speak as if they do, and become emphatic
if you doubt them, and altogether they dispense a wonderful lot of
news, whatever its value. Rumors! There was never in the world such a
place for rumors as Peking. We thought Paris was the hotbed of rumors
during the last two years of the war--Paris with its censored press,
suppressed speech, and general military rule, so that all one lives on
are the rumors that never get into the papers; but Peking is stupendous.
Here the rumors simply fly, and the corridors of the old Wagons-Lits
Hotel seems to be the pivotal spot of the whirlwind. Sooner or later
every one in Peking seems to drop into the hotel on some pretext or
other, as if it were a club, and the lounge is so thick with news and
rumor and gossip that you can lean up against them and not fall down.
All absolutely true, authentic, unquestionable, and to-morrow all
flatly contradicted by another set equally veracious, startling, and
imposing. Never mind. Who are we, to question the truth of them? All
we can do is to drink them in day by day, modify and change our
opinions on the morrow, and enjoy ourselves with such thrills as one
gets nowhere else in the civilized world.

On top of it all we have the newspapers. There are three or four in
English, one in French, and the rest in the vernacular. The most
interesting is "The Peking Gazette," since it represents the pure
Chinese point of view. Printed in English, it is owned and edited by
the Chinese, and gives their side of the story. The editor is a
delightful man, Chinese, an Oxford graduate, fiery, intense, alert,
ever on the defensive for China's rights and speaking in no uncertain
tones on that subject, leaving one in no doubt as to his attitude on a
decision concerning China's welfare when opposed to the welfare of a
European nation that wishes to "do" China. "The Daily News" is the
organ of the Allied powers, and presents things from the point of view
of the Western nations; consequently there is perpetual warfare
between the "Gazette" and the "News," the perpetual clash between
Chinese and foreign interests. Only on one subject do they
agree--their hatred of Japan. For the Chinese do not like Japan any
more than they like any other would-be conqueror. And the Europeans do
not like Japan, who is their great commercial rival, a rival that can
market her products without going half-way round the world.
Consequently the "News" attacks Japan, while the "Gazette" attacks
impartially all invaders who seek the subjection of China. It is
amusing. When the "Gazette" attacks Japan, a chorus of praise from the
European organs. When it attacks predatory tendencies manifested by
European nations, a chorus of denunciation from the European organs.
But the editor fights ahead, regardless of praise or blame, with a
single purpose in view, the preservation of China's sovereignty.

A few days ago this article appeared in the "Gazette," an amplification
of the little paragraph in that diminutive newspaper "The Manchuria
Daily News" of which I wrote you. Said the "Gazette," under a bold
head-line in large type:

    CHINA IN FETTERS

    Foreign writers are wont to complain that nothing in the
    sense of real work is being done in this country. This, of
    course, is a misleading statement, although much that
    ought to be done is left undone. And one of the principal
    reasons for this state of things is revealed in what
    begins to look like the development of a scandalous
    opposition to American enterprise in China. Owing to the
    war putting a stop to the financing of public undertakings
    in China by European capitalists and contractors, a
    powerful American organization has turned its attention to
    this country and in an entirely business sense has secured
    contracts for the construction of certain railroads in
    China. The transaction involves the expenditure of
    $200,000,000 of American money, a considerable portion of
    which will be spent for labor and other things. It is
    admitted that there is absolutely nothing like "politics"
    in the deal. The same remark applies with greater force to
    the American loan for the conservency of a portion of the
    Grand Canal. And yet we have Japan, Russia, France, Great
    Britain, and even _Belgium_--a country that ought at least
    to know what not to do to a state struggling to preserve
    its elementary rights of existence--trying to interfere
    with the construction of necessary public works in this
    country, simply because America can do what these other
    people cannot now do.

"China in Fetters"--a significant term for a Chinese newspaper to use.
It would seem as if these spheres of influence[1] had become linked
together into a chain for throttling purposes. I tried to tell you the
other day about them, but please listen to a little further explanation.
In the lobby of the hotel I found a journalist who knows things, who had
been in China many years.

"Explain to me," I asked him, "all over, from the very beginning, what
these things mean."

"The country which claims such a sphere," he began patiently, "claims
for itself the right to develop that territory."

"Suppose," I interrupted, "the Chinese themselves should wish to develop
this territory,--to open up a gold-mine, to build a railway,--would they
be allowed to do so?"

"Certainly, if they have the money."

"But if they haven't the money, if they must borrow?"

"Then they must borrow from the power which claims the territory."

"But if for some reason that power can't lend it to them,--can't spare
it, as is the case with all Europe at present,--or if for some other
reason does not wish to lend it, what then?"

He shrugged his shoulders.

"Fineesh! China can't borrow money from one power to 'start something'
in the sphere of influence claimed by another."

Apropos of all this there's a good story at present going the rounds of
Peking. The head of a certain great corporation, out here seeking a
concession from the Chinese Government, appeared before the Chinese
officials one day and made his request. The officials, in their gorgeous
robes, were all seated round a large table on which was spread a map of
China. It was a wonderful large map, but all colored in different
colors, some parts red, some blue, others yellow, and so on. Behind the
chairs of the Chinese officials stood the representatives of the various
European powers--British, French, Russian, all of them. Our American
laid his finger on that part of the map colored red.

"I'll do the work here," he said to the Chinese.

"Excuse me," interrupted a representative of a foreign government, "you
can't go there. That red part of China belongs to Great Britain."

"Very well. I'll go here," said the American, indicating the blue part
of the map.

"Excuse me," said another European gentleman, "you can't do it there.
That part of China belongs to Russia."

"Here, then," continued the American, laying his finger on a green spot.
"This will do."

Another suave alert diplomatic gentleman stepped forth.

"That," he said regretfully, "is French."

So it went on all over the map. The Chinese officials sat silent, while
one European representative after another stepped forward with his
objections. Finally, in exasperation, the American turned to the silent
Chinese and asked:

"Where the hell is China?"

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: America has neither a concession nor a sphere of influence
in all China.]



VI

ON THE SACREDNESS OF FOREIGNERS


You know, I can't believe that it is good for us,--Americans, Europeans,
foreigners of all sorts,--to feel ourselves so sacred as we feel in
China. Whatever we do, we are always right, no matter how wrong we may
be. We always have the right of way, the privilege of walking over the
Chinese, and to this privilege they must submit. Our sacredness is not
due to admiration for or belief in us. Quite the contrary. It is due
to a deep sense of fear of the consequences should they attempt to
check or curb our activities or inclinations. The relations between a
subject people and their conquerors is fundamentally immoral, and
demoralizing to both. A few years ago motors made their appearance in
Peking; there are not many even to-day. But there are no speed
regulations, and they dash through the crowded streets as rapidly as
they choose. After a number of accidents the Chinese sought to
establish a speed-limit law, but this was positively objected to by
one of the foreign ministers, who said that he did not intend to have
his liberty interfered with by the Chinese!

Throughout China are the foreign concessions, small holdings of land
which belong to the various European nations. In each of the treaty
ports these concessions are established,--Russian, English, French,
German,--and although they lie in the heart of a Chinese city, they
are absolutely the property of the Russians, English, French, or
Germans, as the case may be. The Chinese have no authority or control
over them, and are unable to regulate them in any way. This brings
about a very difficult situation for the Chinese. For example, the
opium traffic. On Chinese soil the sale of opium is strictly
prohibited; yet it is freely sold in the foreign concessions, and the
Chinese are powerless to prevent it. At present they are making a
determined and gallant fight against the opium habit, which was
forced upon them by Great Britain as the result of two successful
opium wars, and legalized by treaties that, to say the least, were
extorted from the helpless Chinese. The ratification of these treaties
made it all right for Great Britain to import opium as freely as she
liked. Well, ten years ago, after a century and a half of opium
traffic, poor old China made a stand against this evil and determined
to overcome it. She entered into a contract with Great Britain, by the
terms of which England agreed to decrease her opium imports year by
year, for a period of ten years, in proportion as China decreased,
year by year, her poppy cultivation. Both sides have kept the faith,
and the end of the bargain will be celebrated by rejoicing (Chinese)
on April 1, 1917, when the ten-year contract expires.

It has been a colossal struggle against almost overwhelming odds. For a
nation as weak, as unwieldy, as corrupt as China to undertake such a
stupendous task seems almost inconceivable. Accurate statistics are not
available, but it would seem that one-half of the Chinese were in the
grip of this vice. In some provinces about ninety per cent. of the
officials were addicted to opium-smoking, and in all provinces a huge
percentage of the people were addicts. Anyway, China has made this
gigantic effort to get rid of opium, and she has almost succeeded; April
1 of next year will see the end of the whole sordid business. But no
assistance has been given her in this enormous task; she has
accomplished it alone. During this ten-years' struggle she has had to
contend not only against the inclinations of her drug-sodden people but
against the fact that her people could procure opium freely in the
foreign concessions, over which the Chinese have no control.

The bargain between China and Great Britain, however, has been lived up
to. The Chinese began to plant poppies when they were unable to curb or
suppress the British imports. As long as the vice was to be fastened
upon the country by treaties, they shrewdly decided that at least all
the money spent for opium should not go out of the country; therefore
they started in on poppy cultivation on their own account. But this
native cultivation has been almost entirely suppressed in the last ten
years, and the supplies of both native and foreign opium will reach
the vanishing-point on April 1, 1917. But it seems pretty hard to
realize that the foreign governments have given China no assistance in
this struggle. It is too lucrative a trade. The Peking papers are
already talking of the great day, only six months distant, when China
will have freed herself from this curse. We are determined to be here
in Peking to witness the celebration.

But that brings me back to my starting-point, the fact that foreigners
are not subject to Chinese laws. In his own concession the foreigner is
amenable to the laws of his own country. If on Chinese soil he violates
Chinese law, all that the Chinese can do is to hand him to his nearest
consul, who may or may not punish him. And this immunity from
responsibility, this arrogant privilege of doing as one likes on Chinese
soil, with very small chance of being brought to book for it, has a
demoralizing influence upon the average foreigner who comes out here.
Between ourselves, the class of foreigners who come to China don't
amount to much. "Beach-combers" they were called in the good old
days--adventurers, gamblers, shady characters of all sorts, and pretty
well dwarfed ethically. But no matter what they did, they were usually
supported by their various governments, and the result to-day is a
well-defined fear of the foreigner, a desire to sidestep him, to stand
from under. It seems rather cowardly, this cringing attitude on the part
of the Chinese, but it is the result of a century of experience with the
ethics of the West. Brave men, unarmed, have been known to throw up
their hands in the presence of a bandit.

An amusing thing happened to-day. After tiffin E---- and I went out in
our rickshaws, trying to find a shop where we could buy camel's-hair
blankets. And, by the way, there aren't any, so we had a fruitless
quest. We each have our own rickshaw now, hired by the month at twenty
dollars (Mexican) apiece. It seems miserably cheap, yet they tell us
that we have paid five dollars more than the usual rate. It was pathetic
when we chose our boys the other day--chose two out of a crowd of thirty
or more that presented themselves. The disappointment of the others was
pitiable. Competition is keen, and it means much to these boys to know
they have an assured income rather than haphazard, precarious
employment. My boy is called Kwong, and is a wonderful little runner,
much faster than E----'s boy.

By this time we are much attached to them, and our days usually end up
at the bazaar out on Morrison Street, that marvelous bazaar where
everything made in North China is for sale--furs, silks, jade, jewels,
sweetmeats, everything. But it is to the sweet-stalls that we always go,
where wonderful Chinese candies and sugared fruits are for sale. We
first change a dollar into pennies, and then all four of us eat our way
from stall to stall--sesame candy, sugared walnuts, sugary plums on
straws. It's wonderful. Germs? Maybe, but we don't care. I am sick of
germs, of the emphasis that every one at home places on them. It's
restful to get into a country where there aren't any, or at least people
don't know about them. The trouble with America is that every one is so
busy thinking of clean streets, clean garbage-cans, the possibilities of
disease contained in impure food, that much of the beauty and comfort of
life is lost. Life is not all in length.

Well, as I say, with our visit to the bazaar reserved for the end of the
afternoon, we went into the Chinese City in search of camel's-hair
blankets. Soon we turned aside from the big high-street, and dived into
one of the narrow, winding, unpaved lanes of the native city, which only
the rickshaw-boys can negotiate. Presently, in this maze of narrow
streets, we met the usual block; a dozen rickshaws from opposite
directions encountered one another, and each claimed the right of way.
When an alley is six feet wide, there is neither right nor way, and
voluble conversation ensued, mounting rapidly into screams and curses.
Coolies and passengers alike took part in the discussion, and as we were
the only foreigners, we felt handicapped by our lack of language. The
storm of yells mounted higher and higher, when suddenly the crowd gave
way a little, and E----'s boy managed to slide through, while Kwong,
pulling me, slipped close behind.

Indignity! It seems the passage had been cleared for a young Chinese
gentleman, clad in gorgeous brocade, an official, perhaps, since he
had all the marks of wealth and position. As we ran past, into the
space opened for him, the young official leaned forward and shouted
some insult into Kwong's ear, and Kwong made some furious retort.
Instantly the young official jumped from his rickshaw, dashed up to
Kwong, and struck him between the eyes. Poor little Kwong staggered,
and dropped the shafts, and I leaped out and caught the wrists of
the young gentleman just as he was aiming another blow at my unhappy
boy. What happened? While I held firmly pinioned the hands of the
young gentleman, Kwong recovered, and proceeded to deal the
official a series of stunning blows! He would have fallen except for
my hold on his wrists.

"Kwong, stop it! Behave yourself!" I shouted, and released the official
in order to seize Kwong. Whereupon the young gentleman pounded Kwong
anew. I was unable to hold the hands of both; could seize only one at a
time, and my part soon resolved itself into pinioning one belligerent
while the other struck him! A silly rôle, I must say. Impartially
holding up first one, then the other, for punishment! At a modest
estimate, I should say that one half the population of Peking
swarmed out of adjacent lanes and burrows to see the excitement, and
amidst the pandemonium of yells I heard some one shouting in
English: "Police house! Police house!" The finish came when E----'s
boy came to the rescue with a hearty kick to the young man, after
which the fighters broke away, and every one took to their rickshaws
and made off with all speed.

It was too much. To go out on a peaceful shopping expedition, and
become involved in a free-for-all fight! Some one of us lost face by
that episode, whether the official, Kwong, or myself, I'm not sure.
There wasn't much prestige to the whole thing. Just one fact stands
out clearly amidst that maze of swift events. At the end of the
street, about fifty feet beyond that wild mob, stood a Chinese
policeman. One hasty look he gave to the affair, and seeing that
some foreign ladies were involved, he decided to keep out of it. He
kept his back turned the entire time, with his hands tight in the
pockets of his padded trousers.



VII

DONKEYS GENERALLY


It's all delightful here every moment of the day. The excitement begins
every morning at breakfast with the unfolding of "The Peking Gazette." I
come down-stairs early, when the corridors are being swept and dusted by
the China-boys in their long blue coats, and receive a series of
"Morning, Missy's" on my way to the breakfast-room, the nice, warm
breakfast-room, with oilcloth-covered floor, and everything else simple
accordingly. There is gilding in the big dining-room, but the
breakfast-room is as simple as a New England boarding-house. One boy
pulls out my chair, another opens my napkin,--they look after you well
here,--and a third boy, the regular waiter, leans over and says,
"Pollidge, Missy?" and a moment later brings a big bowl of porridge
and a can of cream. There is nothing but tinned milk and cream in
China, for there are no cows. There is no room to pasture cows or to
feed them, for one cow can eat as much food as twenty people, so no
land can be devoted to such superfluities as that. One of the
legations has a cow, however, and people who stand in well with the
legation can have such milk as there may be over and above the
legation's needs. But the Wagons-Lits Hotel is not on that list,
and, as I say, tinned cream is all that I get for my "pollidge." But
it is very good indeed, these chilly October mornings. After all,
what does food matter? Peking is so rich in other things!

To-day at breakfast, with the "Gazette" propped against the coffee-pot,
I began my usual search for news. Found it, too, in a moment, in the
editorial column. A fairly long leader, entitled, "The Shanghai Opium
Combine: Frantic Efforts to Secure Further Privileges in China," caused
me to forget "pollidge" and everything else, and to read hastily to the
end. As I told you the other day, the opium traffic in China is to come
to an end in six months. Well, this article says that the Shanghai
Opium Combine, the combination of a dozen British firms with
headquarters in Shanghai, is making frantic efforts to prolong the time
limit for the sale of opium, to extend it for another nine months. The
excuse offered is that the combine has not sufficient time between this
and April 1, 1917, to sell off its remaining stocks of opium, and in
consequence it is appealing to the British authorities to bring
pressure upon the Chinese Government to extend the time by nine months.
According to the "Gazette," the combine has "worked hard to induce the
local British consul-general once more to enlist his sympathies for the
Opium combine; but, happily, the latter has peremptorily declined to do
anything of the sort. It is reliably reported that the British Minister
at Peking, Sir John Jordan, was similarly approached, and the latter
has equally refused to recognize the combine any longer. As a last
resort, they telegraphed to the London Foreign Office for support, in
their desire to compel either the Chinese Government or the local
Municipal Council [at Shanghai] to aid them to secure their
nine-months' privilege. The decision of the London Foreign Office is
awaited with feverish interest, although it is considered doubtful
whether any good result can be achieved."

Think of China's position--having to await with "feverish interest" the
decision of the British Government as to whether or not it will be
possible for China to suppress the opium traffic at the end of the
ten-years' agreement! The sale and manufacture of opium is a monopoly of
the British Government, just as vodka was a monopoly of the Russian
Government at the beginning of the war. The Shanghai Opium Combine is
the distributing agent of this British opium, and until the beginning of
this ten-years' struggle China was an important customer. The loss of
revenue to the British Government through the closure of the Chinese
market is a very serious item. And these rumblings, these hints of
pressure being brought to bear upon China, are pretty ugly. Anyway, the
"Gazette" is aroused to the danger, and the "Gazette" is nothing if not
outspoken, and will give the matter full publicity if anything goes
wrong. Only it makes one uneasy. Poor old China!

We went on such a pleasant expedition to-day. It was arranged last
night on receipt of an informal note from Dr. Reinsch, our minister,
asking if we would go with him on a donkey-trip to a temple in the
hills outside Peking. Out came our khaki clothes, bought for just such
an emergency, for nothing is more appropriate for a donkey-ride than
our khaki skirts and breeches and leggings.

There are two railway stations in Peking, usually spoken of as "the
station" and "the other station." From "the station" trains run down to
Shanghai or up into Manchuria and Mukden, and connect with the
Trans-Siberian and other far-away, thrilling places. The "other station"
takes one out into the country somewhere, to various outlying spots in
the hills, and it was to one of these places that we were bound. When we
arrived we found the other members of the party waiting for us. We were
all early, ahead of time, for Chinese trains have certain idiosyncrasies
that must be reckoned with. Scheduled to start at a certain hour, they
frequently leave five or ten minutes ahead of time, or whenever the
guard thinks that no more people are coming. All six of our party found
ourselves at the station well ahead of time, having been warned of this
peculiarity of Chinese railways. Dr. Reinsch's two servants were on hand
to buy the tickets and to carry large and imposing lunch-baskets. Soon
we were all installed in an antiquated railway-carriage, first class by
courtesy only, with half an hour's ride before us.

Pandemonium greeted us when we alighted on the platform of a dusty
little station--a small house solitary upon the vast plain. Pandemonium
came from the donkey-drivers who were expecting us, thirty or forty at
least, each one dragging forward a reluctant donkey, praising its merits
and himself as donkey-driver, and disparaging all the other donkeys and
drivers and battling for our helpless persons. What can you do when a
towering coolie takes a firm clutch on your arm, and, with an equally
firm grip on his donkey's bridle, drags you and the donkey together and
is about to lift you on the animal's back, when you are suddenly jerked
in an opposite direction by an equally firm hand and confront another
stubborn and reluctant donkey and are about to be boosted upon that,
when you are clutched from the rear and meet a third possibility!
Mercifully, our khaki clothes were new and strong and stood the jerking
and hauling without giving way at a single seam. Out of the mêlée peace
was finally restored. Some one got me, and the others also were
captured, the yells finally died down, and we set off over the plains,
all mounted on donkeys much too small. Saddles? Not at all. A square
seat, about as wide and unyielding as a table-top, was strapped securely
to each donkey, and to this seat we clung, with no secureness at all. An
exceedingly wide seat it was, with stirrups dangling somewhere out of
reach, and which could not be reached even by the widest effort to
straddle that square wide pad. Behind each donkey ran its owner,
flicking its heels with a long-lashed whip, urging it to a speed likely
to pitch one off at any minute.

Do you think donkeys are sure-footed? I had thought so up to this time.
By no means. These little beasts stumbled constantly, their little
ankles having been so strained by the heavy burdens they ordinarily
carry that they seemed to give way at every step. We had eleven miles of
this, over a rough, uneven road, across the dusty plain, mounting
gradually toward the hills through loose and rolling stones. It was a
gray day, with rain threatening, and when we finally reached our temple,
Je Tai Ssu, the rain began in a steady drizzle, and steadily continued.

The temple was most interesting. We stiffly rolled off our donkeys, and
wandered through the multitude of courtyards, in and out of the many
buildings, filled with fine carving and beautiful color. A few priests
were at hand, deferential but unobtrusive, and when we finally sat down
to lunch at a big table placed in the courtyard before the main temple,
they surrounded us silently, filled with curiosity. The boys had placed
our table under a tree, which did something, but not much, to shelter us
from the rain that fell during the meal, dripping through the bare
branches. Below us spread a magnificent vista of more hills, a great,
far-reaching panorama, with the old Summer Palace in the distance. In
all directions we could see temples perching on the distant
hills--temples which are no longer used as such but are the summer homes
of the foreign residents of Peking. They were all pointed out to us.
Over yonder was Mr. So-and-So's temple; beyond, on that hilltop, was
Mrs. So-and-So's, all occupied during the summer months by foreigners
who escape from Peking in the hot weather. At once we became fired with
a desire to rent one, too. Thirty Mexican dollars a season, a hundred
Mexican dollars a year; not exorbitant, surely!

Besides the priests, the pariah dogs, or "wonks," watched our meal with
intense interest. They stood by in a silent circle, monks and wonks,
and our gay tiffin proceeded undisturbed except by the pattering rain.
But the rain was increasing in violence, so we left soon after the meal,
and it was far from easy to straddle our donkeys again and retrace our
way across the stones and sand. From time to time we dismounted and
tried to walk, but it was difficult to keep pace with our galloping
animals, eager to return home. Time was pressing, so we were finally
obliged to ride, becoming stiffer and sorer every minute. In single file
as we had come, we made our way back. Presently I heard a sort of
flumping sound behind me, and I turned, to see E---- and her donkey
lying side by side in the road, motionless. Dr. Reinsch jumped off his
animal, I rolled off mine, and we both ran back to the bundles of khaki
and fur lying together at full length.

"Are you hurt?" I asked anxiously.

"Mercy no!" replied E----, contentedly. "Leave me alone! Most
comfortable position I've been in all day!"



VIII

ADVISERS AND ADVICE


There is another quaint custom here, which, its far as I know, is unique
in the history of international relations. That is the custom of giving
advice to China. Any country can do it, apparently. Any country that
thinks China would be benefited by a little disinterested and helpful
counsel can see that she gets it--and that she pays for it, too. Any
person who wishes a lucrative position can get his government to appoint
him as an "adviser" to China, and his government will see to it that
China pays him a salary. As far as I know, China does not ask for this
advice; it is thrust upon her unsought. But she must pay for the
privilege, whether she likes it or not. So over they come, these various
"advisers" from various foreign nations, and settle down here in Peking
as the official adviser of this and that, and draw their salaries from
this bankrupt old government. The China Year Book for 1916 gives a list
of twenty-five such advisers, British, American, French, Russian, Dutch,
German, Italian, Japanese, Danish, Belgian, and Swedish. There is the
political adviser to the President; to the ministry of finance; in
connection with the five-power loan; to the ministry of war; on police
matters; to the ministry of communications; legal advice; advice on the
preparation of the constitution; advice to the bureau of forestry, and
to the mining department of the ministry of agriculture and commerce. In
addition to all this paid "advice," there is of course the unpaid,
voluntary "advice," equally disinterested and helpful, of the various
foreign legations in Peking. No wonder the poor old Chinese Government
is distraught and, as some one said last evening, in a state of anarchy.
Who wouldn't be in the circumstances? I wonder how long Washington would
tolerate such a string of "advisers," all appointed willy-nilly, and
paid for by the American Government. They say that some one once wrote a
book entitled, "Advising China to Death," but it was never published.
Some one advised against it, probably.

Another thing that China is not allowed to do is to regulate her
customs duties. This poor old country, rich as she is or as she might
become, has virtually no revenue, for she is allowed to have but a
nominal tariff. There is no use in developing her industries, she can't
protect them, or hedge them in with any sort of protective tariff. It
is not allowed. She must first consult with some seventeen different
powers if she wishes to raise the duty on a single item. And if one
power that does not import a certain article into China is willing to
have a duty laid on that article, this decision will not be agreeable
to another power that imports a lot of it. So it goes. It is pretty
hard to find seventeen powers all in accord. The great nations allow
old China just enough revenue to return to them in the shape of Boxer
indemnities; nothing more.

Oh, disabuse your mind of the fact that China is a sovereign state! She
is bound hand and foot, helpless, mortgaged up to the hilt. Every
foreigner in China knows it, and the Chinese know it themselves only too
well. It seems such a farce to give them the courtesy title of
sovereignty. I don't think you realize, never having been in this
country, what a farce it really is. I am not able to write you a learned
book. All I can do is to write you these letters, which are surely
devoid of all legal verbiage, because I don't know any. If I were a
scholar, a student of international politics, I would wrap all my
statements in fine, well-chosen language, quoting treaties and acts and
agreements and all the rest of it, and you wouldn't know what it all
meant. I can only give you the facts as they disclose themselves to me
from day to day. I can also tell you that every one over here--all the
foreigners I mean--laugh at China and ridicule her and make fun of her
weak, corrupt government, of her inertia and helplessness, and think
what she gets is good enough for her.

I grow so tired of all this talk about the corruptness of the Chinese!
They are corrupt, all the officials, or the greater part of them. But
you don't hear much about those who corrupt them. Why? Because it suits
the great Western nations to keep this government in a state of
weakness, of indecision, of susceptibility to bribes and threats; it
makes China easier to control. The one ray of hope for China lies in the
fact that there are so many foreign nations trying to gain control of
her. One could do it, two could do it, three could do it, but a dozen!
China plays off one greedy predatory power against another. One
"adviser" arranges everything nicely in the interests of his country,
and then what does the "corrupt" Chinese official do? Runs off and
tattles it all to some other "adviser," whose interests will be damaged
if the advice of Number One goes through. It is a tremendous game, each
foreign power striving to cut the ground from under the next foreign
power and to gain the ascendency for itself. Diplomatic Peking is a
great, silent battle-ground; on the surface Oriental politeness and
suave political courtesies but underneath a seething sea of strife.

The Chinese attitude toward all this reminds me of a story I heard long
ago. Two negroes were discussing a negro girl.

"Trus' dat niggah?" said one; "trus' dat niggah? I wouldn't trus' her
'hind a cornstalk!"

Yes, many of the Chinese are corrupt. They have their price. For
example, the old palace in the Forbidden City is now a museum, holding
one of the most superb collections of Chinese treasures in the world,
all that remains from the imperial go-downs. This collection is not
catalogued, however, and every few months the exhibits are changed and
others substituted; for the collection is too large, they say, for
everything to be kept on view at one time. At such times as the
exhibits are changed, current Peking gossip has it, certain of the
finest treasures disappear. They are said to find their way into the
currents of trade, to enrich the museums of Europe and America. Put
this down as you like, however, the conventional explanation for this
is that the Chinese are so corrupt!



IX

CHINESE HOUSES


We are really, seriously looking for a house in Peking, in which to set
up a Peking cart, a white mule, a camel, and a Mongolian dog! That shows
what the Orient does to one in a few short weeks, how it changes one's
whole point of view. A month ago neither of us had any idea of staying
in Peking for more than two or three weeks; we had intended to stop long
enough to see the obvious things, temples and such, and then go down to
the tropics for the winter. Now we are on the verge of giving up our
trip to Angkor and of settling right here--I was almost going to say for
life! And all in a few short weeks!

There is so much beauty and style in a Chinese house, and most of the
people we know have them, and we are becoming tired of being "tourists."
Let me describe these Chinese houses. Each "house" consists of anywhere
from two to a hundred little separate one-story buildings, the whole
collection inclosed by a stone wall, ten feet high, with broken glass on
top. Within this compound, or surrounding and protecting wall, the
various houses are arranged symmetrically in squares, built around
courtyards that open into one another. They are laid off with beautiful
balance, and the courtyards, large or small, are usually paved with
stone. Sometimes trees are planted in them, or bridges and rock gardens
and peony mountains are made. The finer and more numerous the houses,
the more beautiful and elaborate the architecture of these separate,
single buildings, the larger and more elaborate the courtyards, the more
filled they are with trees, lilac-bushes, stone bridges, and other
charming details. As one enters the compound, the building facing one is
the residence of the mandarin himself. Back of it lies the house of his
"number-one" wife, and back of that, each surrounded by its own
courtyard, are the houses of his other wives and of the various members
of his family. All are quite separate one from the other, yet all are
connected by passages leading through moon-gates in the dividing walls,
one courtyard opening into another in orderly, yet rather confusing,
profusion. However, we are not looking for anything grand and
imposing--a palace or the abode of some old mandarin. We know several
people who live in such stately homes, but we shall be satisfied with a
simpler house, consisting of fewer buildings and fewer courtyards.

Inside the compounds, these various separate buildings are divided by
invisible partitions into "rooms." In the ceiling one sees arrangements
by which a wall can be built in, a screen adjusted,--a big carved
screen,--or some sort of partition erected by which the house can be
further subdivided. These possibilities for subdivision, whether by
elaborately carved woodwork or by simple paper screens, are described as
rooms, whether partitioned off as such or left open as one big one.
Therefore one rents one's house according to the number of rooms it may
be divided into, whether the division is made or not. We find we cannot
possibly live in a house of less than twelve rooms, or four by ordinary
reckoning. One house (three rooms) for E----, one for me, one for a
salon, one for the dining-room. This makes four rooms, European
calculation, twelve according to Chinese, and leaves nothing for
guest-rooms, trunk-rooms, a study, or anything of the kind. Therefore,
all joking aside, a house of a hundred rooms might do for us nicely!

How lovely they are, these one-story stone houses, with their tiled
roofs, red lacquered doors, fine, delicate carvings on the
window-lattices, and all the rest of it! The floors are of stone, but
foreigners have wooden floors laid down. The winters are bitter here,
and before these Chinese houses can be made comfortable according to
Western ideas, much must be done to them. Some foreigners put in glass
windows in place of the thick, cottony paper windows of the Chinese. The
paper windows shut out the cold, it is true, but, being opaque, they
also shut out the sunlight. And how gorgeously they are furnished! Such
ebony chairs, such wonderful carved tables! Now and then we meet some
one who has picked up an old opium divan, a magnificent, huge bench of
carved ebony, with marble seat and marble back, very deep, capable of
holding two people lying crosswise at full length, with room for the
smoker's table between them. Only, the opium tables have been dispensed
with, and their place is taken by cushions of beautiful brocade, of rich
embroidery, which add something of warmth and comfort to the enormous
couch. Mind you, all this furniture can be bought very cheap. To live
Chinese fashion is not expensive at all, despite the impression of
magnificence and luxury, which is rather overwhelming. When one
considers that the most ordinary Chinese things are sold in America at a
profit of three or four hundred per cent., the outlay for Chinese
furniture in Peking is not great.

As to heating, stoves do it. Every room--I mean every one of these
separate buildings--is heated by its stove; a good big one, too.
Russian stoves are found here and there, and any one who possesses a
Russian stove is well equipped to withstand the bitterest winter. Now
and then open fireplaces are introduced, but the big stoves go on
functioning just the same.

These Chinese houses are charming from the outside. You wind your way
along a narrow, unpaved street, or _hutung_,--a street full of little
open-air shops, cook-shops, stalls of various kinds, and then come upon
a high, blank wall, with a pair of stone lions at the gateway and an
enormous red lacquer gate, heavily barred, and that's your house. The
gateman opens to your ring, and as the big doors swing back you see
nothing of the courtyard or of the houses within the inclosure; you are
confronted by the devil screen, a high stone wall about fifteen feet
long and ten feet high. This devil screen blocks the evil spirits that
fly in when the compound gates are opened--the blind evil spirits, that
can fly only in straight paths, and hence crash against the devil
screen when they enter. As to yourself, the gateman leads you round the
screen, and across the compound to the master's house. Along the
compound wall that gives on the street are the servants' quarters, the
house for the rickshaws, the stables for the big mules and the Peking
carts, and the house of the gateman. Life is none too secure in these
compounds. Robbers abound, and scale the walls, and slip from the roofs
of adjacent buildings into the compounds. Every household is in a
constant state of alertness, of defense. Broken glass covers the tops of
the walls, and in the courtyards Mongolian watch-dogs guard the
premises, huge, fierce, long-haired creatures, like a woolly mastiff.
Through the day they are chained, but at night they are unloosed. Oh,
there is not only style but excitement in living in a native house in
Peking! We have looked at a good many Chinese houses, but can't quite
make up our minds about renting one. If we decide to stay, it will mean
that we must give up our trip to Angkor, and it was to make that trip
that we came out to the Orient!

Not every foreigner lives in a Chinese house, however. There are a few
European ones, scattered about the Tartar City, looking so out of place,
so insignificant and ugly! The foreigners who live here a long time seem
to like them, however. They tell us that after a time China gets on
one's nerves. Chinese things become utterly distasteful, and one becomes
so sick of Chinese art and architecture and furniture that one must
approximate a home like those of one's own country. Therefore there are
a certain number of these "foreign-style" houses to be found, furnished
with golden oak furniture, ugly and commonplace to a degree. I don't
know how a long residence in Peking would affect us. At present we are
too newly arrived, too enthusiastic, to feel any sympathy with this
point of view. Let me add that when a foreign-style house is furnished
with a few Chinese articles tucked in a background of mission furniture,
the result is disastrous. One lady we met, who possesses such a house,
recognized the humor of the situation.

[Illustration: Entrance gate to compound of Chinese house]

[Illustration: Compound of Chinese house]

"I know," she explained; "it's just Eurasian."

We are undecided. If we take a house and settle down, we must give up
our nice, warm little rooms at the old Wagons-Lits, forgo all the
amusing gossip of the lobby, told in such frankness by the interesting
people who know things, or think they do. They say housekeeping is not
difficult here. You engage a "number-one boy," who engages the rest of
the servants, and any one of the servants who finds himself overworked
engages as many more servants as he may require; but that is not your
lookout. The compound is full of retainers, and the kitchen as well,
but you don't have to pay for them. They eat you out of house and
home, squeeze you at every possible point, but add an air of the
picturesque and of prosperity to the establishment. Housekeeping here
is a throw-back to the Middle Ages, with a baronial hall filled with
feudal retainers. And all for the price, except for the "squeeze," of
one servant in America!



X

HOW IT'S DONE IN CHINA


We have got to Peking at just the right moment--right for us, that is,
but one of the wrong moments for poor old China. These cycles of Cathay,
I may mention, are filled with such moments for China, and this is just
another of the long series, another of the occasions on which she is
plundered. Only here we are, by the greatest of luck, to see how it's
done. Could anything have been more fortunate? Wait; I'll tell you about
it. You will hardly believe it. We should not have been able to believe
it, either, if it had not taken place under our very noses.

Day before yesterday four of us went up to see the Ming tombs and the
Great Wall. Everything is so exciting in Peking that we could hardly
bear to absent ourselves from it even for two days; but, having come all
the way out to China, it seemed as if we really ought to see the Great
Wall. I won't describe our trip. You can read descriptions of the wall
in any book; all I can say is that it took two days to get there and
back, and that we set off on the expedition most reluctantly. E----'s
theory is that it's best to get all the sights crossed off as soon as
possible, so that we can enjoy ourselves with a clear mind. I had a
presentiment that something would go wrong if we left Peking for such a
long time, left China alone to her fate, as it were, for forty-eight
hours. But E---- and the others thought this was as good a time as any,
so in spite of our misgivings, we took advantage of what seemed like a
quiet moment and slipped off on our excursion, to get it over with.

When we returned on Monday afternoon, we found the whole place rocking
with excitement, boiling with rage and resentment, simply seething with
fury and indignation. The hotel was ablaze. The moment we pushed open
the big front door and entered--tired, dusty, and very shabby in our
khaki clothes--we were pounced upon and asked what we thought of it.
Thought of what? Well, _this_. Night before last--the 19th of October,
to be exact--the French had grabbed three hundred and thirty-three
acres in the heart of Tientsin. The attack, or charge, or party of
occupation, whatever you choose to call it, was led in person by the
French chargé d'affaires, at the head of a band of French soldiers.
They seized and arrested all the Chinese soldiers on duty in the
district, put them in prison, and in the name of the Republic of
France annexed three hundred and thirty-three acres of Chinese soil to
the overseas dominion of the great republic!

Let me explain what this means. Tientsin is a large city, nearly as
large as Peking, with about a million inhabitants. It is only two hours
distant from Peking, by rail, and is the most important seaport of North
China,--the port of Peking. Until the railway was built, a few years
ago, the only way to reach Peking (other than by a long overland
journey) was to come to Tientsin by boat, and thence to Peking by cart
or chair. In spite of the new railway, Tientsin still retains its old
importance as the seaport for North China, and is a trade center of the
first rank. To seize three hundred and thirty-three acres in such an
important city as this, was an act of no small significance. The annexed
land, containing wharfage, streets, houses, shops, and the revenue from
such, makes a goodly haul. Really, from the French point of view, it was
a neat, thrifty stroke of business, or of diplomacy, or of international
politics, whatever you choose to call it.

But from the Chinese point of view it is different. How are they taking
it, the Chinese? How are they behaving? Well, in spite of the fact that
the East is East and the West is West, that the Chinese are nothing but
a yellow race and heathen at that, their feelings and reactions seem
very similar to what I imagine ours would be in similar circumstances--I
mean, if France should suddenly "claim" and "annex" three hundred and
thirty-three acres of ground in the heart of Boston or New York. Their
newspapers have broken out into flaring head-lines an inch high, and
are wild in their denunciations of what they term an outrage; an
infamous, high-handed act, a wanton, deliberate theft of territory from
a peaceful and friendly country. Really, these Chinese newspapers seem
to be describing the business in much the same words, with much the same
force and fury and resentment, as our American papers probably would
employ in describing such an episode if it took place in some American
city. Only, our head-lines would probably be a little larger. However,
the Chinese newspapers do very well, and what type they have seems to
convey their meaning--rage and indignation. Mass meetings of protest
against this outrage are being held in Peking, in Tientsin, in all the
provinces, in fact; the governors of the different provinces are sending
in telegrams; societies and organizations are telegraphing to the Peking
government; the whole country is wild with resentment and is sending
delegations and messages and protests to the poor old wabbly Chinese
Government, urging it to "act." To act; that is, to tell the French
Government to hand back to China this "acquired" land. What the outcome
will be, I don't know. Apparently the supine, terror-stricken Chinese
Government cannot act, doesn't dare. Three days have now passed, and the
French are still sitting tight, holding to their fruits of victory,
facing an enraged but helpless country. And they will probably continue
to sit tight till the matter blows over.

I was eager to find out what constituted the French claim to this
particular piece of territory, called Lao Hsi Kai. The French already
possess a large concession in Tientsin, and why they should have wished
to enlarge it, particularly in such a summary manner, I was anxious to
discover. Their excuse is this: they asked for this Lao Hsi Kai area as
long ago as 1902. That's all. Asked for it years ago, and have been
"claiming" it ever since. Have been asking for it at intervals during
all these years. When the first request was made, in 1902, the ruling
official in Tientsin considered it so insolent that he tore up the note
and threw it into the scrap-basket, disdaining a reply. Since then,
whenever the request has been repeated, the Chinese Government has
played for time, has deferred the answer, delayed the decision,
shilly-shallied, avoided the issue by every means. This is the classic
custom of the Chinese when confronted with an unpleasant decision,--to
play for time, to postpone the inevitable, in the vain hope that
something will turn up meanwhile, some new condition arise to divert the
attention of the "powers that prey." Occasionally this method works but
not always. Not in this case, anyway. When a European power asks for a
thing, it is merely asserting its divine right.

We have talked to many people about this Lao Hsi Kai business, people of
all ranks and all nationalities--diplomats, old residents, journalists,
business men--and not one of them has made any attempt to justify or
defend the action. Without exception, they say it is an outrage, and
totally unwarranted,--at the very least, a most shocking political
blunder. None of them, however, has come forward to the aid of the
Chinese. A curious conspiracy of silence seems to reign,--not silence
in one sense, for every one is talking freely with most undiplomatic
candor, and in private every one condemns what France has done, yet not
a voice is raised in public protest. The Chinese alone are doing their
own protesting; and much good it seems to do them!



XI

THE LAO-HSI-KAI OUTRAGE


A week has passed since the French "acquired" Lao Hsi Kai, and the
situation remains unchanged. The French still sit tight, waiting for
the storm to blow over; the Chinese continue to hold their protest
meetings, to send in their delegations and requests to the central
government to act; the government sits supine, afraid to budge; and
the newspapers continue to rave. It is all most interesting. The
"Gazette" devotes almost its entire eight pages to what it calls the
"OUTRAGE" and hasn't decreased the size of its type one bit. If it
had larger letters, it would probably use them. I should think that by
this time, after such long and painful experience with foreign powers,
it would have laid in a stock suitable to such occasions.

The "Gazette" is an annoying sort of newspaper,--annoying, that is,
to the powers that prey. Under the caption "Madness or War," in the
biggest head-lines it has, it insists upon describing this Lao Hsi Kai
affair as the most Belgium-like thing that has happened since the
invasion of Belgium. Alike in principle, if not in extent. Whipped up
into a white heat of fury, it draws, over and over again, the most
disconcerting parallels.

And all this week it has continued to be irritating, referring
constantly to Belgium, and harping upon the Allies' ideals,--the
preservation of civilization, liberty, justice, and the rights of
small, weak nations. The "Gazette" insists that these ideals should
be applied to China, forgetting, apparently, that while China is
weak, she is not small!

Meanwhile, at the mass meetings which are being held all over the
country, especially at Tientsin, the officials are trying to calm the
people. It is feared that some violent action will take place, some
hostile demonstration against the French which will throw the Chinese
entirely in the wrong, no matter how great the provocation. If this
happens, the sympathy of the world will be turned against the Chinese,
and the officials are striving by all means to prevent such an outbreak.
A quaint account of one of these indignation meetings was published in
one of the Peking papers:

    On Saturday morning more than four thousand merchants and
    inhabitants of Tientsin gathered themselves at the Chamber
    of Commerce at Tientsin, declaring that as the French
    authorities had disregarded international law and
    principle, they would devise means themselves for the
    preservation of their own liberty against the aggression
    of foreigners. The Chairman of the Chamber came out with
    the representatives of the Society for the Preservation of
    National Territory to appease the indignation of the
    public, and to persuade them not to resort to violence,
    but to seek a constitutional method to arrive at a
    peaceful solution through the proper channels. He at once
    proceeded with the people to the office of the Shengcheng,
    who said, "The Frenchmen are indeed most aggressive and
    unreasonable. Your humble servant is ready to sacrifice
    position, rank, even life itself, for the preservation of
    the territory of the ration. A telegram has already been
    sent to the Central Government giving a detailed report of
    what has happened here, and a reply will soon be received
    giving instructions for our guidance." The Chairman of the
    Chamber of Commerce replied: "I am afraid that the people
    are out of patience now, and there are several thousands
    of merchants and other classes of people awaiting
    instruction, outside your office. It would be advisable
    for you to come out and pacify them, informing them what
    you would do." When the Shengcheng came out, the audience
    clapped their hands and shouted at the top of their voice.
    Some even wept, and others cried "Liberty or Death" and
    suchlike expressions. The Shengcheng said: "I am also of
    your opinion. I will sacrifice my life, too, for the
    maintenance of the territory entrusted to me for
    preservation. And I can assure you that no foreigner shall
    be allowed to occupy one inch of our territory in this
    unreasonable manner."

It is pitiful to read these accounts and the telegrams sent to the
President of China and to Parliament, and to realize that the weak and
cowed government at Peking cannot defend itself against the foreign
aggressor. However, the Chinese people have taken affairs into their own
hands, to a certain extent, and have organized a run on the French bank,
the Banque Industrielle de Chine. One of the branches of this bank is
around the corner from the hotel, and all day long, for the past
several days, a long, patient line of Chinese have been standing,
waiting to withdraw their accounts from the bank of the country which
has treated them so ill. This run on the bank, conducted by a huge crowd
of quiet, orderly men and women, is a favorite Chinese method of
retaliation. They say the bank is losing enormous sums in consequence,
is obliged to buy great quantities of silver to maintain its credit.
Also, there are rumors flying about that a boycott of French goods is
shortly to be established.

The attitude of the English newspapers (those that represent the foreign
point of view) is illuminating. They are laying all these manifestations
of resentment to "agitators," refusing to believe in the indignation of
the people themselves. Every day the newspapers representing the foreign
interests are becoming more and more abusive. Here is one extract that
seems particularly insulting:

    The Chinese agitator, particularly if he believes that he
    enjoys official support, is invariably willing to fight to
    the death for some cause that he professes to have at
    heart, until there is some risk that he may be taken at
    his word. Then he invariably beats an ignominious retreat.
    And unless we are greatly mistaken, this is what will
    happen in this case. We are familiar with the normal
    course of events--public and press clamor, attempts to
    institute a boycott, and finally, when the Power whose
    interests are affected, intimates that it has had enough
    of this tomfoolery--collapse of the whole agitation.... If
    the French Legation, after allowing sufficient time for
    the self-styled patriots to let off steam, intimates that
    this nonsense has got to cease, the great crusade for the
    protection of China's sovereign rights over fifteen
    hundred mow [three hundred and thirty-three acres] of land
    formally promised to the French authorities several months
    ago, will collapse as suddenly as it began. Whenever a
    crisis in China's foreign affairs occurs, we are treated
    in the Chinese press to humorous dissertations about
    Chinese dignity and self-respect. How such things can
    exist, even in the Chinese imagination, at the present
    moment, passes comprehension. The China of to-day cannot
    seriously expect much respect or consideration for her
    dignity from foreign states, because these things are only
    accorded to nations that are worthy of them.

Read this paragraph over and ponder it well. It appeared in an English
newspaper, the semi-official organ of the European point of view. There
is nothing veiled or hidden in the attitude of the dominant race!



XII

THE LAO-HSI-KAI AFFAIR


Another week has gone by, the atmosphere is still tense and surcharged
with feeling, and the situation remains unaltered. However, the
newspapers have changed their headings from "Outrage" to "Affair,"
although they are still devoting columns and columns to the matter.
Protest meetings are still being held, and the run on the French bank
must have been pretty successful, from the Chinese point of view, for
there is now talk of an indemnity for the damage done! Listen!

    Already Threats of Indemnity. The French Consul at
    Tientsin is already threatening to demand damages. He
    contends that the Tientsin people should not be allowed to
    hold a meeting of protest against what is clearly an
    outrage on the integrity of China. He says the Chinese
    authorities are guilty of the "violation of treaty rights"
    and therefore must be held responsible for any damage done
    to French commerce. The French Consul also objected to
    the presence of officials [Chinese] at the meeting, but
    omitted to state that the local officials did their best
    to calm the people and persuade them to wait patiently for
    the decision of the Government.

Well, I have always wondered how it was that poor old China is
forever paying indemnities, first to one country, then to another; I
have never known how it came about. Pretty easy, come to think of it!
First grab a piece of Chinese soil, then suppress all protests by
levying an indemnity.

The "Gazette" seems to have gone too far in its championship of China,
and has got into trouble. Almost from the beginning the editor has
insisted that the French Government itself was not to blame for this
affair. He has asserted repeatedly that this high-handed procedure was
the individual action of the French consul-general. As far as I can see,
these little "affairs" always take place in the absence of the
minister,--a well-timed vacation, during which an irresponsible chargé
d'affaires acts on his own initiative. Be that as it may, on this
occasion the French minister happens to be in Paris, and the "Gazette"
is insisting that the chargé d'affaires has exceeded his authority and
acted without instructions. Apparently this interpretation is given
partly because of a desire not to involve the two governments in a
hopeless snarl admitting of no retreat, and partly to calm the rising
anger of the Chinese, who are incensed at the delay in restoring the
captured land. While stoutly refusing to retire from its position as the
champion of Chinese liberty and territory, the "Gazette" is insistent
that this act could not have been committed at the instigation of a
country at present fighting for liberty and justice, a great nation
pledged to noble ideals.

Whether this attitude has been due to a sincere belief in the Allies'
professed ideals, or whether by the fixing of blame on an irresponsible
official who has exceeded his authority, the French are being offered a
loophole to retreat from an intenable position without "losing face," I
don't know. Certain it is that "justice, liberty, and civilization" have
been dragged into the argument, day after day, with irritating
persistency. Really, the Oriental mind, plus contact with a higher
civilization, was becoming unbearable. So a stop was put to it in this
way: One morning the papers contained an announcement that "The Allied
and neutral ministers despatched an identical note to the Chinese
Foreign Office, warning the Chinese Government against allowing the
Chinese press to attack the diplomatic body in the way it had lately
done, and practically demanding that the Government take some steps to
prevent the attempted raising of anti-foreign feeling."

Isn't it lucky we are here at this moment! Could you believe it! Now you
know how "indemnities" are raised, and how "anti-foreign feeling" is
aroused. A day or two afterward, a further pronouncement was made:

    Comments in the Chinese press have been rather rude and
    sharp, so that the Ministry [Chinese] has been requested
    by the British, Russian, French and Japanese and other
    foreign governments to caution the editors and proprietors
    of Chinese papers to exercise more care and discretion in
    their recording of foreign intercourse affairs, and that
    sufficient politeness should be showed to foreign
    ministers and consuls as a sign of courtesy toward the
    representatives of Treaty Powers in this country.

There you have it--the Chinese press muzzled at the instigation of
foreign powers! Since that happened a few days ago, I haven't got nearly
as much fun out of my "Gazette" in the morning when I have had my
"pollidge." But, thank Heaven, the English newspapers, representing the
interests of the foreign powers, are able to spout freely. And these
papers have been having a wonderful time describing the happenings in
Tientsin, where the threatened boycott has gone into effect. For the
Chinese, baffled in their attempt to regain their captured territory,
have instituted what they call that "revenge which must take the form of
civilized retaliation, namely, refusal to buy or sell French goods." On
an appointed day there was a general walk-out in the French concession
in Tientsin. All the Chinese in French employ--house servants, waiters,
electricians in the power-houses, stall-holders in the markets,
policemen, every one in any way connected with or in French
service--took themselves off. Moving-picture shows are in darkness;
interpreters and clerks in banks and commercial houses have disappeared;
cooks, coolies and coachmen have departed; and life in the whole French
concession is entirely disorganized! The French consul-general sent a
letter of protest to the Chinese Commissioner of Foreign Affairs,
calling for "strict preventive measures on the part of the Chinese
authorities," and the answer of the Commissioner, the prompt and polite
reply, was to the effect that the only preventive measure for these
disturbances would be to hand Lao Hsi Kai back to the Chinese!

How demoralizing this boycott is may be gathered from the way the
foreign press is raging about it. One bitter editorial, entitled, "A
Plain Talk to the Chinese," has this to say:

    Boycotts and strikes, in lieu of diplomatic action, are
    becoming somewhat of a fad with the Chinese. They have
    been practised with impunity and considerable success for
    the past fifteen or twenty years.... We wish to impress
    upon the Chinese people and Government that these
    anti-foreign agitations are becoming somewhat of a
    nuisance, and it is high time the foreign powers stepped
    in and put a stop to them.... The foreign powers have no
    means of getting directly after this handful of agitators,
    but they have the means and the power--the will only is
    necessary--to hold the Chinese Government responsible, and
    to demand satisfaction in full for all losses suffered by
    firms and individuals as a result of these organized
    boycotts. We wish to warn the Chinese that this boycott
    business can be carried out once too often, and it looks
    to us that they have just now reached this once-too-often
    stage. If the French Government, backed up by the Allies,
    demands indemnity for all losses sustained, we will hear
    the last of Lao Hsi Kai and all similar affairs in China.
    It may be just as well to remind the Chinese Government,
    in case they conclude that the Allies are too busy in
    Europe to pay serious attention to Chinese affairs, that
    the Japanese are one of the Allies, and _their_ hands are
    not particularly tied at present.

Good gracious! A threat to call in the Japanese! Don't you love it!



XIII

THE LAO-HSI-KAI "INCIDENT"


It's about over, I should say. The French are going to keep their
ill-gotten gains, and the Chinese are giving up all hope of getting Lao
Hsi Kai back again. The thing has drifted from an "Outrage" into an
"Affair" and now it's only an "Incident," which means it's over. The
boycott continues, but it is dwindling in intensity and will soon
subside. It is now but a question of time before China settles down
to an acceptance of the situation, bows before the might and majesty
of Western civilization, and prepares herself for the next
outcropping of kindred ideals.

You ask, why didn't the Chinese fight? "What with, stupid Gretchen?"
How can a virtually bankrupt nation like China take up arms, which she
doesn't possess, against the mighty nations of Europe? Defenseless,
unarmed China is no match for the "civilization" of the West!

A few nights ago I got a French point of view of the affair, and will
give it to you just as I heard it, without comment. One of the
attachés of the French legation was dining with us. This Lao Hsi Kai
business, which has been uppermost in every one's thoughts for the
last four weeks, was naturally in our minds as we sat down at dinner.
Not to mention it would have savored of constraint; yet it was equally
embarrassing to speak of it. After ten or fifteen minutes, during
which the subject was carefully avoided, I took the bull by the horns.

"Seems to me you've stirred up a great mess out here," I began.

"Mess?" replied the young Frenchman. "Oh, you mean that affair of the
other day! Ah, these Chinese! Perfectly impossible people!"

He crumbled his bread a while, and then continued with much heat.

"For fourteen years," he burst out, "we have been wanting that piece of
land, and asking for it! Asked them for it fourteen years ago! Told them
fourteen years ago that we wanted it!

"And what did they do?" he went on irritably. "What did they do but
procrastinate, knowing we wanted it! Put us off. Postponed a decision.
Practically refused to give it to us, knowing we wanted it! Other things
came up in the meantime, so we did not press them, and the matter
dropped for a number of years. However, we took it up again in 1914, two
years ago. It was the same thing--procrastination: delay; no positive
answer. Then we pressed them a little harder. What did they do? Asked
for more time to think it over, more time after all these years, knowing
we wanted it! Knowing that we had asked for it fourteen years ago, as
far back as 1902! Knowing that we had asked for it as far back as 1902,
they still had the audacity to ask for more time to think it over!

"However," he resumed, "we gave them more time. They asked for a year.
We gave them a year. When the year was up, they asked for six months.
We gave them six months. When the six months were up, they asked for
three months. We gave them three months. We were most reasonable and
patient. When the three months were up, they asked for one month. We had
infinite patience. When the one month was up, they asked for two weeks.
We gave them two weeks. We had infinite forbearance. Think of it!
Naturally, at the end of two weeks, when they still had not made up
their minds, we took it. What else could we have done? We had given them
every opportunity, for fourteen years. Ah, these Chinese! They are
impossible. No one can understand them!"

We are going to leave Peking within a day or two and go down to the
tropics for the winter. This is the end of November and it is getting
bitterly cold, and with the on-coming of cold weather we seem to have
reverted suddenly to our original plan of visiting Angkor. So you will
get no more Chinese letters from me until the spring, when we are
planning to return to Peking. It has all been most exciting, most
interesting, but we are thoroughly tired out with having our sympathies
so played upon, so wrought up, and feeling ourselves impotent. It is
distressing to stand by and see such things transpire under our very
eyes, injustices which we are powerless to prevent. I shall be anxious
to know whether anything of this affair has crept into our American
papers. I suppose not, however. We are anxious only to see
"civilization" triumph in Europe. The backwash of civilization in the
Orient is not our concern. All I can say is this: The world would have
rung with news of such a grab if Japan had been guilty of it.



PART II



I

THE RETURN TO PEKING


We have been away now for three months, and it seems like getting home,
to be back in our beloved Peking. We reached the shabby old station, the
other evening, worn out from the long two-days' journey up from
Shanghai, and it was good to have the porter from the Wagons-Lits greet
us and welcome us like old friends. It was pleasant to walk back along
the long platform of the station, under the Water Gate, and to find
ourselves, in a minute or two, in the warm, bright lobby of this
precious hotel. The door-keeper knew us; the clerks at the desk knew
us; and the various "boys," both in the dining-room and up-stairs in our
corridor, all knew us and greeted us with what seemed to our tired souls
real and satisfying cordiality. "Missy way long time. Glad Missy back,"
"Missy like Peking best?" And Missy certainly does. Moreover, if you
have once lived in Peking, if you have ever stayed here long enough to
fall under the charm and interest of this splendid barbaric capital, if
you have once seen the temples and glorious monuments of Chili, all
other parts of China seem dull and second rate. We began here, you see.
If we had begun at the other end,--landed at Shanghai, for instance, and
worked our way northward,--we should probably have been enthusiastic
over the lesser towns. But we began at the top; and when you have seen
the best there is, everything else is anticlimax.

We arrived the other evening in a tremendous dust-storm, the first real
dust-storm we have experienced. We ran into it at Tientsin, where we
changed trains to continue the last two hours of our journey north, and
were uncomfortable beyond description. The Tientsin train was absolutely
unheated, cold as a barn. The piercing wind from the plains penetrated
every nook and crevice of the carriage, and the cracks were legion: the
windows leaked, the closed ventilators overhead leaked, the doors at
each end of the carriage leaked, and we wrapped ourselves in our ulsters
and traveling-rugs and sat huddled up, miserable and shivering. But it
wasn't wind alone that blew in through the numerous holes. There was
wind, of course, in plenty, but it carried in it a soft, powdery red
dust, a fine, thin dust, able as the wind that bore it to sift through
every crack and opening. It filled the carriage, it filled the
compartment, and when the lamps were lit we sat as in a fog, dimly able
to see each other through the thick, hazy atmosphere. There we sat,
coughing and sputtering, breathing dust into ourselves at every breath,
unable to escape. We became covered with it; it piled itself upon us in
little ridges and piles; no one moved much, for that shook it off into
the surcharged air, already thick enough, Heaven knows.

Two hours of this, bitter cold and insufferable, choking dust. And every
one in the crowded compartment was suffering from Chinese colds; we had
them too, contracted at Shanghai. And let me tell you that a Chinese
cold is something out of the ordinary. Whatever happens here happens on
a grand scale, and these colds, whatever the germ that causes them, are
more venomous than anything you've ever known. No wonder the railway
station looked good to us; no wonder we were glad to be welcomed back to
the old hotel, at the end of such a journey!

We found plenty of hot water when we got here. Not that hot water does
one much good in Peking. For Peking water is hard and alkaline, and
about as difficult to wash in as sea-water, if one uses soap; we are
dirty despite all the facilities afforded us. I should say that the
Chinese had given up the struggle several generations ago; and small
blame to them. We reached here the last day of February, and are now
experiencing a taste of real Northern winter, just the tail of it but
sufficient. Coming up from the Equator, as we have done, the shock is
rather awful. This winter, they say, has been an extraordinarily severe
one, even for Peking, where it is always cold; they tell us it has been
the coldest winter within the memory of the oldest foreign resident. I
don't believe much in these superlative statements, however: people
always make them concerning hot or cold weather, in any climate or in
any country. However, the thermometer went so low on several occasions
that the pipes burst, and the hotel was without heat; very trying with
the weather at twenty below zero. Nevertheless, in spite of the
lingering cold, in spite of the dust, in spite of the hard water and
other discomforts, Peking is the most delightful place in the world, not
even excepting Paris, than which, as an American, I can say no more.

We have been here a week now, have recovered from our Chinese colds, and
are getting hold of things again. We are catching up with all the
gossip, all the rumors, all the _dessous_ of Chinese politics, which are
such fun. And just as I expected, too, it wasn't safe for us to go away,
to leave China to flounder along without us. Things have happened in
our absence: I won't say that we could have prevented them, but at least
we could have been on the spot to take notes. That is what makes Peking
so absorbing,--the peculiar protective feeling that it gives one. In a
way it seems to belong to us; its interests are _our_ interests; its
well-being is peculiarly our concern. You wish the best to happen to
China, you wish Chinese interests to have the right of way. And
whatever you can do to promote such interests, however small and
humble your part may be in advancing them, it is your part
nevertheless, and the obligation to fulfil it rests upon you with
overwhelming insistence. As I told you before, China is overrun with
"advisers." Consequently we all feel ourselves "advisers," more or
less, all capable of giving advice just as worthless or just as
valuable as, certainly more disinterested than, that which the Chinese
Government is compelled to pay for. Everything is in such a mess
here--so anarchic, so chaotic--that you feel you must put out a hand
to steady this rocking old edifice; and you also feel that your hand
is as strong, and probably as honest, as the next one.

[Illustration: Chinese funeral]

[Illustration: Chinese funeral]

In no other country that I know of do you feel so keenly this sense of
possession, this wish to protect. The other countries belong to
themselves, absolutely. For example, Japan owns itself and directs
itself; the Japanese don't let you know much about what's going on in
their country; and you feel that it is none of your business anyway.
They are quite capable of managing their own affairs. So in Europe:
the affairs of the European peoples are their affairs, not your
concern at all. But the case is so different with poor, weak, helpless
China. China enlists all your sympathies, calls forth every decent
instinct you possess.

For these are dark, distressful days for China. At present she is
passing through a reconstruction period corresponding to our
reconstruction period after the Civil War. Just five years ago the
revolution occurred by which she rid herself of the Manchu rulers, an
alien race which had dominated her and ruled her for two hundred years.
And chaos followed that upheaval, just as political chaos followed the
close of our Civil War. We, however, were free to work our way upward
and outward from the difficulties that beset us at that time, out of the
maze of corruption and intrigue that almost overwhelmed us. We were
permitted to manage our own affairs, to bring order out of that chaos,
harmony out of strife, without having to deal with foreign predatory
powers who for their own ends were anxious to prolong the period of
internal dissension. China is not free in that respect: not only must
she set her house in order, but she must deal with those foreign powers
who do not wish her house in order, who are slily and adroitly using
their enormous, subtle influence to defeat this end. During our
reconstruction period in America we made mistakes; but after those
mistakes we did not have to hear a chorus from European nations telling
us that we were unfit to govern ourselves. Nor were we forced to have
other nations trying to corrupt every honest man we wished to put in
office, nor to have these alien nations attempting to put into power
dishonest and inefficient men as their own tools. That is China's
problem at present: not only must she contend against the inherent
weakness and dishonesty, the inefficiency and graft of her own people,
but she must contend against unseen, suave enemies, who under diplomatic
disguise are intriguing to bring the nation under foreign control.

I have not been able to get much definite news so far. Our Chinese colds
proved so severe that they were nearly our undoing. I fancied myself
reposing under a little mound on the plains, after an imposing Chinese
funeral. I must say I should have enjoyed a Chinese funeral, with drums
and horns, flags and banners, carried along in a car supported by three
score bearers. But for the present it's not to be.



II

THE OPIUM SCANDAL


I knew it would happen. I knew that if we went away from Peking for even
a short time, let alone for three months, something would take place
that oughtn't to. The minute you turn your head the other way, take your
hand off the throttle, pop goes the weasel! It's popped this time with
an awful bang. The papers are full of it, pages and pages, the entire
paper, and not only one or two but all of them. You have probably not
been permitted to hear a word of it at home, but the Chinese papers are
allowed to explode all they please, to rail and rave and rant. As I said
before, much good may it do them.

I wrote you last autumn of the ten-year contract entered into between
China and the British Government, the final outcome of the contract to
be the total suppression of the opium trade. Every year for ten years
the importation of British opium into China was to decrease in
proportion to the decrease of native-grown Chinese opium, until at the
expiration of the ten years the vanishing-point would be reached. During
these ten years each side has lived up to its part of the bargain.
British imports have been lessened year by year, scrupulously, and the
Chinese have rigidly supervised and suppressed the production of native
opium. China began to plant poppies extensively after 1858, the year in
which Great Britain forced the opium trade upon her.

The ten-year contract was to expire on April 1, 1917, a day which the
Chinese press referred to as "a glorious day for China and her
well-wishers throughout the world, a day on which a nation liberated
herself from an age-long vice." I also told you last autumn something of
the activities of the Shanghai Opium Combine, a combination of several
firms of British opium-dealers, who were making prodigious efforts to
have the time limit extended. This Shanghai Opium Combine are not
officials of the British Government: they are private firms, private
dealers; but they buy their opium direct from the British Government,
and may therefore be considered its unofficial agents or middlemen. This
Opium Combine had been appealing for an extension of the ten-year
contract, an extension of nine months. They had appealed to the
various British officials in China, and to the Foreign Office in
London, but apparently the British Government had turned a deaf ear to
these pleas, which must have been a hard thing to do, considering the
enormous revenue that country derives from her opium monopoly. Even
without the Chinese markets, one would have supposed that the markets
of India, Siam, the Straits Settlements, etc., and other subject or
helpless states, would afford these dealers opportunity to get rid of
their surplus stocks. But no. The opium was in China, in their
go-downs in Shanghai, and they wanted nine months' additional time in
which to get rid of it.

If this time extension had once been granted, however, pressure would
have been brought to bear at the end of the nine months for a further
extension; and so on, and so on, upon various pretexts. Accordingly, the
British Government refused to interfere in the matter, and very
honorably decided that the opium traffic in China was to end on the date
specified, April 1, 1917.

But what did the Shanghai Combine do? Finding they could not sell their
remaining chests of opium before the first of April (which they could
easily have done had they not held them at such exorbitant prices), they
apparently "influenced" the Vice-President of China to purchase them in
behalf of the Chinese Government! There were some three thousand of
these chests, each one containing about a hundred and forty pounds of
opium, and the sum which the Vice-President pledged China to pay for
this opium was twenty million dollars. China was under no obligation
whatsoever to purchase this. In a few more weeks the contract would have
expired, and China would have been automatically freed. The Shanghai
Combine could either have disposed of their chests at reasonable prices
within the time limit, or else hawked them round to other markets. But,
the Vice-President having been "influenced" in this manner, this
well-nigh bankrupt country is now about to issue domestic bonds to the
value of twenty million dollars to pay for this indebtedness.

This secret treaty, this dastardly betrayal of China by her
Vice-president and the British opium-dealers, is apparently a one-man
deal. After the contract between them was signed, Parliament and the
country at large was notified of the transaction, and once more the
country is ablaze with indignation. Once more mass meetings of
protest are being held throughout the provinces; telegrams from
governors and officials are pouring in; the contract is denounced and
repudiated by Parliament; but all to no purpose. This infamous
contract holds and cannot be broken. China must pay out twenty
millions of dollars for this drug, which she has made a superhuman
struggle to get rid of. And as twenty millions is a sum far in
excess of the real value of these three thousand chests, the papers
are freely hinting that Baron Feng was bribed.

[Illustration: Courtesy of Far Eastern Bureau

Vice-President Feng Kuo-Chang]

[Illustration: View of Peking, looking north, towards Forbidden and
Imperial Cities]

Feng's excuse is that he was obliged to conclude this deal for
"diplomatic reasons." You can draw your own conclusions as to what that
implies. He also says that it was better for China to buy these chests
outright than to have them smuggled in later. Also he says the Chinese
Government can now sell this opium at discretion, in small amounts, for
"medical purposes." Legitimately to dispose of three thousand chests of
opium for medical purposes, would require about five hundred years.

By reason of this infamous deal China is now faced with the probable
resumption of the opium traffic. The Chinese Government has become, like
the British Government, a dealer in opium. It must dispose of this opium
either for "medical purposes" or for smoking purposes. This will
undoubtedly mean that poppy cultivation will again be resumed. It is
not inconceivable that the same sinister pressure which was brought
to bear upon the Vice-president may also be brought to bear upon
planters in the interior provinces, should they be unwilling, which
is unlikely, to raise once more these profitable crops. And if China
goes back to poppy cultivation, Great Britain may feel at liberty to
import opium again. If that happens, the whole vicious circle will be
complete. All barriers will be down, and this whole long, ten-years'
struggle will have been in vain.

The whole country is shocked, appalled, dismayed. No one sees any way
out of this _impasse_. One suggestion is made that this opium be
destroyed, a bonfire made of it. It would be a costly proceeding, for
this almost bankrupt nation cannot afford to destroy twenty million
dollars with a wave of the hand. We can only wait and see what the
outcome will be. Only once can a drug-sodden nation rise to grapple with
such a habit as this. Only once can a nation set itself such a colossal
task. The fight was made against great odds, under a tremendous
handicap. But it was carried on in the belief that at the end of ten
years the fight would be won. If betrayal is to be the outcome of such a
mighty effort, what incentive is there to begin again, to renew the
struggle, should things slip back to the conditions of ten years ago?
The country is overwhelmed with disappointment and humiliation. No one
knows what the future holds in store. The great nations of the world
stand silent, in this hour of China's betrayal.[2]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 2: See Appendix I.]



III

THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER


We have got back to China just in time to witness another interesting
event. The decision has now been reached that the time has come for
China to go to war. She has been "notified" to this effect. What she
will eventually do is the question. Anyway, the screws are now being put
on in earnest: you can fairly hear them creaking.

As I wrote you in one of my letters last autumn, ever since the outbreak
of the war numerous but vain efforts have been made from time to time to
draw China in. Inducements of various kinds have been offered her during
these last two years, but she has resolutely turned a deaf ear to these
overtures and remained neutral. But the time has now come when her
resources and her man power are needed; consequently the screws are
turning gently but relentlessly, and China is being crowded along into
a realization of her duty toward civilization.

Wilson's note to China, asking her to break off diplomatic relations
with Germany, was similar to the notes he despatched to the other
neutral countries, asking them to do the same thing. In the case of
China, however, it gives the Allies the opportunity they have been
looking for, and they have all sprung forward in a chorus of
endorsement. They have been unable, for obvious reasons, to make much of
an appeal on the score of high morality: the Orient is not quite the
ground in which to sow seed of that kind, especially after Lao Hsi Kai
and the recent opium deal. But America's record in the Far East is
well-nigh irreproachable, and when we ask China to join with us--

So the papers are discussing the question back and forth, from every
angle, for and against, with every shade of frankness, bitterness,
enthusiasm, and doubt. There are those who would trust America utterly:
we have always been China's friend, sincerely and disinterestedly; we
would not lure her into a disastrous adventure. There are others who
distrust the predatory powers, and who are frankly puzzled at our
joining them. They question our motives. Are we going to pull them up to
our level, to our high idealism, or are we going to sink to theirs? The
Oriental mind is an old, old mind, richly stored with experience and
memories,--not in the least gullible and immature. Therefore, they very
earnestly desire to know. America has never deceived them, never played
them false. But--but--what does it all mean? They cannot be sure.

This is no fertile field for crass, popular propaganda. On the one
hand the Allies urging China to join with them. On the other hand
America, their friend. This great country sways back and forth
between them, very much puzzled.

So the papers discuss the affair freely, frantically, copiously,
favorably and unfavorably, and one wonders what the outcome will be.
The first step, of course, is to induce China to break diplomatic
relations with Germany. After that the next step, naturally, will be a
declaration of war. So high is feeling running, that they freely
prophesy that this will split the country wide open, into civil war. If
China could get rid of all her European masters at one fell swoop, well
and good. But she hesitates to pack off one enemy, and surrender herself
hard and fast into the keeping of the rival group.

Here let me tell you of a doctrine that seems to be making much headway
in the Orient: we have come across it over and over again, in varying
circumstances. That is the doctrine of Pan-Asianism, or Asia for the
Asiatics. Logical enough, come to think of it. The Monroe Doctrine for
Asia, in which the Orientals shall govern and own themselves, and not be
subject to the control and guidance, however benevolent, of Europe. They
argue that Oriental control of Europe would be hotly and bitterly
resented; and they are prepared to resent Occidental control of Asia.
Do not dismiss this theory lightly. It is spreading more and more widely
throughout Asia, and some day it will be a force to be reckoned with.
Also, these Pan-Asians will tell you the contention that the Orientals
cannot manage their own affairs is untenable. Japan is an example to the
contrary. If the smallest and least of the countries of Asia has been
able to do this, it is because she has _been let alone_,--not conquered,
exploited, nor drugged.

Which reminds me of that poem in "Through the Looking Glass," called
"The Walrus and the Carpenter." It will bear re-reading. The nations of
the East have been playing the part of little oysters to the Walrus and
the Carpenter, and the little oysters are having their eyes opened.

       *       *       *       *       *

      "A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
      "Is what we chiefly need:
      Pepper and vinegar besides
      Are very good indeed--
      Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
      We can begin to feed."

      "But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
      Turning a little blue.
      "After such kindness, that would be
      A dismal thing to do!"
      "The night is fine," the Walrus said.
      "Do you admire the view?"

       *       *       *       *       *

      "It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
      "To play them such a trick.
      After we've brought them out so far,
      And made them trot so quick!"
      The Carpenter said nothing but
      "The butter's spread too thick!"

      "I weep for you," the Walrus said:
      "I deeply sympathize."
      With sobs and tears he sorted out
      Those of the largest size,
      Holding his pocket-handkerchief
      Before his streaming eyes.

      "O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
      "You've had a pleasant run!
      Shall we be trotting home again?"
      But answer came there none--
      And this was scarcely odd, because
      They'd eaten every one.

"I like the Walrus best," said Alice: "because he was a _little_ sorry
for the poor oysters."

"He ate more than the Carpenter, though," said Tweedledee. "You see he
held his handkerchief in front, so that the Carpenter couldn't count:
contrariwise."

"That was mean!" Alice said indignantly. "Then I like the Carpenter
best--if he didn't eat so many as the Walrus."

"But he ate as many as he could get," said Tweedledum.



IV

CHINA'S COURSE CLEAR


China has sent a note of protest to Germany, under date of February 9.
It was a dignified note, but, somehow, one could almost see the mailed
fist guiding the slim, aristocratic, bony hand that penned it; the
delicate, sensitive hand, with long finger nails; the weak hand of
China.

    To His Excellency von Hintze, Envoy Extraordinary and
    Minister Plenipotentiary of Germany.

    Your Excellency: A telegraphic communication has been
    received from the Chinese Minister at Berlin, transmitting
    a note from the German Government dated February 1, 1917,
    which makes known that the measures of blockade newly
    adopted by the Government of Germany will, from that day,
    endanger neutral merchant vessels navigating in certain
    prescribed zones.

    The new menace of submarine warfare inaugurated by
    Germany, imperilling the lives and property of Chinese
    citizens to even greater extent than measures previously
    taken which have already cost so many human lives to
    China, constitute a violation of the principles of public
    international law at present in force; the tolerance of
    their application would have as a result the introduction
    into international law of arbitrary principles
    incompatible with even legitimate commercial intercourse
    between neutral states, and between neutral states and
    belligerent powers.

    The Chinese Government, therefore, protests energetically
    to the Imperial German Government against the measures
    proclaimed on February 1, and sincerely hopes that with a
    view to respecting the rights of neutral states and to
    maintaining the friendly relations between these two
    countries, the said measures will not be carried out.

    In case, contrary to its expectations, its protest be
    ineffectual, the Government of the Chinese Republic will
    be constrained, to its profound regret, to sever the
    diplomatic relations at present existing between the two
    countries. It is unnecessary to add that the attitude of
    the Chinese Government has been dictated purely by the
    desire to further the cause of the world's peace and by
    the maintenance of the sanctity of international law.

Well, well, thinks I, on reading that note, wonders will never cease! Is
this the same China, prating about the sanctity of international law,
that sat supine and helpless under the French grab of Lao Hsi Kai? Is
this the same China that accepted the deal of the Shanghai Opium
Combine, powerless to prevent it? How comes it that she's got this
sudden influx of moral strength? Who or what has suddenly inspired her
to make these bold assertions about "arbitrary principles incompatible
with even legitimate commercial intercourse," and what pressure is it
that suddenly inspires her to step into the arena as the champion of
"world's peace" and the defender of the "sanctity of international law"?

Besides the note to Germany, China transmitted a note to the United
States. This was addressed to Dr. Paul S. Reinsch, American Minister,
etc., to Peking:

    Your Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the
    receipt of Your Excellency's Note of the 4th of February,
    1917, informing me that the Government of the United
    States of America, in view of the adoption by the German
    Government of its new policy of submarine warfare on the
    1st February, has decided to take certain action which it
    judges necessary as regards Germany.

    The Chinese Government, like the President of the United
    States of America, is reluctant to believe that the German
    Government will actually carry into execution those
    measures which imperil the lives and property of citizens
    of neutral countries and jeopardize the commerce, even
    legitimate, between neutrals as well as between neutrals
    and belligerents, and which tend, if allowed to be
    enforced without opposition, to introduce a new principle
    into public international law.

    The Chinese Government, being in accord with the
    principles set forth in Your Excellency's Note, and firmly
    associating itself with the Government of the United
    States of America, has taken similar action by protesting
    energetically to the German Government against the new
    measures of blockade. The Chinese Government also proposes
    to take such action in future as will be deemed necessary
    for the maintenance and principles of international law.

Again I marveled at the lofty tone of this note, and wondered how this
moral strength had been so suddenly acquired. Thought I to myself, can
this be poor old browbeaten China,--humbled and prostrate before the
powers of Europe, unable to protest when her territory is snatched
away from her,--now suddenly giving voice to these exalted ideas?
Does it not seem rather ludicrous that she should suddenly proclaim
herself the upholder of international law? Like Moses of old, she is
now stretching forth her arms; but who are they who uphold those arms?
These solemn notes are given forth to the world, and the world is
asked to believe sincerely, as China herself states, that they were
"dictated purely by the desire to further the cause of the world's
peace and by the maintenance of the sanctity of international law."
Let us believe it, if we can.

An editorial in the "Shanghai Times," a British paper, under the date
of February 12 throws some light upon the matter. The article is
entitled "China's Course Clear"; the italics are mine.

    To those of us who live in this corner of the Far East, a
    question of paramount importance is the attitude which the
    Republic of China is likely to take up in regard to the
    war. The pendulum of Fate may swing in our favor, and the
    Peking Government--acting on the counsels of its statesmen
    _and its friends_--may decide to unite its forces with the
    Allies. This is a question which interests us
    individually, it touches our daily lives, and becomes a
    theme of much discussion at a moment when neutrals are
    emphasizing to the Hun their rights and their insistence
    of Germany's recognition of these privileges.... Germans
    in Shanghai and possibly other ports are to-day existing
    on the instalments which are being paid as Boxer
    Indemnity. _The Germans have big interests up north in
    railway and other enterprises; they penetrated the Customs
    and captured positions in other Government circles. There
    is a great deal at stake in China._

This frank and lucid statement contains food for thought. It may
possibly lie at the root of China's sudden acquisition of moral
strength. It is true that the Japanese have acquired Shan-tung since
the war, but there are "big interests up north in railway and other
enterprises" which have not yet been captured. Fat plums which may
yet be shaken into some expectant lap. But will the Chinese, in spite
of their ample skirts, have laps wide enough to catch them? Would it
not be well to see that these ripe plums do not fall into the lap of
Chinese incompetence?

The Lord knows.



V

FEAR OF THE PLUNGE


China is now wavering on the brink. Having despatched her two notes,
and thereby proclaimed herself worthy to rank as a first-class power,
with a seat at the Peace Table promised her, and all the benefits
which accrue therefrom, she still hesitates to make the break.
Unquestionably several of her officials and other prominent men have
already succumbed to what the papers call "foreign influence," lured
by the words of spellbinders, but there are others who are stoutly
resisting all appeals, and who see in such a step dire calamity for
the country. The fact that China has no real reason to break with
Germany makes the decision more difficult. A plausible excuse of some
kind must be offered the country, and such flimsy pretexts as the
necessity of upholding the sanctity of international law are
difficult to get away with. The Chinese press is full of the
incongruity of the situation, and outspoken of its amusement.

Besides keeping the Lao Hsi Kai affair constantly before the people, it
is relentless in its denunciation of Vice-President Feng's opium deal,
and the methods of the British opium-dealers. Columns in regard to
this transaction are published every day in the papers, throwing light
on some new phase of it, keeping the public constantly informed
regarding it, and asking the people at large to consider well the
advisability of allying themselves with such friends as the French and
English have proved within the last few months. Thus, in regard to the
opium deal we read:

    High Official Offered Bribe of $5,000,000. A report is
    current in the Capital that some time ago, a man
    representing himself as the Manager of the Shanghai Opium
    Combine, approached a certain high official and solicited
    his good offices in consummating the opium transaction,
    which is now being carried out by the Vice President.
    According to the paper, the man promised the high official
    five million dollars as a "birthday present," a
    euphemistic term for bribery in this country, if the
    Combine, through his influence, succeeded in concluding a
    deal with the Government. The attempt fell through because
    the high official is too honest to be thus corrupted.
    Finding the authorities in Peking incorruptible, the
    Combine turned its attention to Nanking.

Nanking being the residence of Baron Feng.

It is very interesting to watch this struggle, to see the various forces
at work. The passions of the Chinese are being played upon: the public
is constantly reminded of the insults and indignities that China has
suffered at the hands of those nations who are now urging her to join
with them. The people are not allowed to forget it is through force and
bribery that China has been reduced to her present plight; they are
asked to be skeptical of promises made by those nations who employ such
methods. It is having its effect, too, this press campaign. While the
foreign diplomats are working upon a handful of officials, the people
are being reminded of the wrongs they have suffered through the
machinations of these diplomats, representing predatory powers.

But, after all, the Chinese people, four hundred millions of them, are a
negligible quantity. The ultimate decision rests with a dozen high
officials. It simply remains to influence these officials, and the thing
is done. They are of three types: those, like the Vice-president, open
to direct bribery; those, like the premier, Tuan Chi jui, who have
political ambitions and whose ambitions can be played upon (they say
Tuan wishes to become president); and certain others, of the younger
school, who are dazzled by the promises made to China and are unable to
offset these promises with the experience of years. These last rejoice
to think that China has been promised a seat at the Peace Table, which
means that China is recognized as a first-class power. All sorts of
inducements are offered, including cancelation of the Boxer indemnity
now being paid to Germany. (The Allies have very obligingly decided that
payment of their own Boxer indemnities shall be postponed, not
canceled.) Also, there are vague, indefinite hints afloat to the effect
that if China is very, very good, the Allies will consider, kindly
consider, the right of China to raise her customs-duties. She may,
perhaps, be allowed some sort of protective tariff. This latter hint is
very vague indeed, too nebulous, in fact, to have much weight. But,
after all, the cancelation of the German indemnity is something.

The disadvantages, on the other hand, are these: If China enters the
war, she must equip her armies. Being virtually bankrupt, she must
first borrow. From whom? She must mortgage herself again, to somebody,
before she can borrow money to equip her armies. And will the country
from whom she borrows money, who agrees to train and equip her armies,
also have full military control over the affairs of China? Will that
nation be given liberty to suppress her press, to stifle all opposition
to whatever moves military necessity may dictate? It looks like
complete surrender.

But the Chinese are not blind, not all of them. Nor are they all
corruptible. And very few of them have utter, childlike faith in the
motives of the Allies.



VI

A DUST-STORM


S---- invited us to go with him to the Gymkana at the race-course.

"It's a rather amusing sight," he explained. "You'll see all foreign
Peking scrambled together out there." Then he went on: "Take the
special train from the 'other station,' and, when you arrive, follow the
crowd to the club-house. I'm riding out from town, so may possibly be a
minute or two late, though I expect to be on hand to welcome you when
you arrive. But if I'm a little late, please don't mind."

We assured him that we shouldn't mind at all; and then he went on to say
that he hoped we'd have a pleasant day and no dust.

These dust-storms are the curse of Peking and of North China. To-day,
however (March 5), dawned bright and clear and sunny, as usual; but
clear, bright weather is not necessarily the sign of a fine day in this
part of the world. Not in spring. Every day is one of brilliant
sunshine, the winter sunshine of China just south of the Great Wall,
and just south of the Mongolian desert. That's where the dust comes
from. It blows in straight from the Gobi Desert, and makes the late
winter and the spring, particularly the spring, almost intolerable.
Since our return we have been having dust-storms on an average of twice
a week, big ones and little ones, lasting from a few hours to several
days. There are two kinds: surface storms, when a tremendous wind blows
dense clouds of fine, sharp dust along the streets and makes all
outdoors intolerable; and overhead storms, which are another thing.
These latter really are a curious phenomenon: fine, red, powdery dust
is whirled upward into the higher levels of the atmosphere blown
overhead by the upper air currents, from which it drifts down, covering
everything in sight. On such occasions there is frequently no wind at
all on the streets, but the air is so filled with dust that the sun
appears as in a fog, a red disk showing dimly through the thick, dense
atmosphere. The dust floats downward and sifts indoors through every
crack and crevice, until everything lies under a soft red blanket. You
simply breathe dust for days; there is no possibility of escape until
the wind changes and it is over.

To-day, however, apparently was going to be a good day. I ran down the
hotel corridor to look at the flags flying over the legation quarter,
the flags of most of the nations of the world. The sight was
reassuring. No wind at all, apparently; they were all idly flapping
from their poles, whereas yesterday they had been frantically tearing
at them, whipped out stiff by a piercing, cold north wind. So we took
rickshaws and were soon running along toward the Hankow station, where
we found a large crowd of foreigners assembling for the special train
that was to take us to Pao Ma Tchang, literally "Run Horse Place," the
race-course six miles from Peking.

When we dismounted, we had the usual arguments with the coolies as to
fares. There are three classes of fares here,--one for the Chinese, one
for the sophisticated resident, and one for the tourist; each one double
that for the preceding class. By this time we consider ourselves
sufficiently at home to pay the tariff which the foreign residents pay,
sufficiently sophisticated to avoid being overcharged. No use. We never
seem able to manage it. Inside of a minute we had half the coolies of
Peking yelling round us, just as if we were the greenest tourists that
ever set foot on Chinese soil. I'm sorry for the rickshaw boys, they
have a hard life of it; yet I must confess that our sympathies are
somewhat alienated by the way they "do" us on every possible occasion.

The special was waiting in the station, and we installed ourselves in a
compartment and looked eagerly out upon the platform for the signs of
the "scrambling" we had come to see. There it was, too, all the Who's
Who of Peking,--all the ministers and secretaries of the legations, with
their families and guests, and all the foreign residents of the
legation quarter and the East City and the West City and every city
contained within the walls of the capital. Americans, English, French,
Danes, Russians, Swedes; only the Germans were absent. The railway
pierces the wall of the West City, and for a time we ran along under the
walls outside, with the great crenelated battlements rising above us,
and their magnificent gates or towers glittering in the sunshine. How
incongruous and insignificant seemed that train-load of chattering
foreigners beneath the majestic, towering ramparts of this old royal
city! The arid plains presented rather a Biblical appearance, with
camel-trains moving slowly across the desolate landscape, while here and
there flocks of broad-tailed sheep were browsing, tended by their
shepherds. We passed the usual graves,--little mounds of earth ploughed
round very closely, as closely as the people felt they might without
disturbing the spirits within.

Twenty minutes later we came to a stop on the plains, and every one
began getting off. In a moment we were surrounded by crowds of yelling
donkey-boys leading donkeys, and a few rickshaw-pullers as well. No one
seemed to care for either form of conveyance, and we soon left behind
the blue-coated coolies still shouting the merits of their tiny gray
donkeys with their tinkling bells, and began a journey on foot across
the dusty plain. Road there was none: merely an ill-defined track
presented itself, along which all the ministers and secretaries of the
great nations of the world walked, ankle-deep in dust.

But something had gone wrong with the weather. Our pleasant day, on
which we had staked our hopes, had somehow disappeared. We had noticed,
as the train moved along, that clouds of dust seemed to be rising; but
we laid this to the speed of the train, fully twelve miles an hour. But
once outside the shelter of our carriage, it was impossible to deceive
ourselves any longer. The wind was rising, and the dry dust of many
rainless months was rising with it, flying in dense, enveloping clouds.
It was a curious sight that presented itself: a long, straggling
procession of two or three hundred men and women, beating their way,
heads downward, across the plains of Chili in what turned out to be a
dust-storm of colossal proportions. Presently the Chinese band passed
us, its members mounted on donkeys, galloping by with their drums and
horns bumping up and down behind them. We were glad when they
disappeared over a knoll on the horizon.

We finally reached the club-house, a simple, unpretentious little
building, with wide, open verandas in front, which afforded no shelter
from the biting wind. The whole procession staggered in, a choking,
coughing, sputtering crowd, and from one end of the line to the other
rose imprecations on the weather, in every language known to Europe. As
E---- and I stood there, beating the dust off our clothes and looking
for some sign of S----, one of the foreign ministers came up to us,
raising an immaculate gray hat, in sharp contrast to a very dusty
overcoat. "Have you an invitation to tiffin?" he asked, as he shook
hands. We hastily said we had, were expecting our host any minute. We
don't know what his intentions were. These are war times, and Peking is
surging with furious suspicions. He may have meant to ask us to lunch
with him, or he may have meant to put us out as intruders. Fortunately,
at that minute S---- appeared round the corner, wiping his face and
eyes; he claimed us and all was well.

Two or three races were to be run before tiffin, and we went out to have
a look at the ponies, little Mongolian ponies with short, clipped hair.
They were the same breed as the shaggy little animals one sees
everywhere in Peking. E---- and I know nothing of horses; there's no use
pretending. But in spite of that blinding dust, every one else was
attempting to distinguish the various points, good and bad, of the
snorting, struggling little beasts, who were as unhappy about the
weather as we were. And between you and me, I think it was a fine
affectation to pretend to distinguish qualities in that storm. In the
paddock racing-camels and donkeys also were tied up, and let me say I
think it was all an honest person could do in the circumstances to tell
the difference between a camel and a horse. Our interest centered in the
camels, the great, disdainful camels, who looked down upon ministers
plenipotentiary and potentates and powers with such superb hauteur.
Really, these Peking camels are the aristocrats of the world; you feel
it every time they condescend to glance at you.

The wind, which was getting higher and colder every moment, soon drove
all but the most ardent enthusiasts indoors. We mounted to the upper
story of the club-house, and looked out over the course from the windows
of the big dining-room, which occupies the entire upper floor. Before us
stretched the same bleak, arid plains that we had crossed on our way
from the station: only the railing marking the outer boundaries of the
track divided it from the barren stretches of earth which extended
northward to the uttermost confines of China. Not a blade of grass was
anywhere in sight. And over all, the dust--not the ordinary dust of a
windy March day at home, but great, thick, solid clouds of dust,
reaching upward, and covering the entire sky. The noon sun gleamed down
in a circle of hazy red.

There were two races before lunch. One couldn't see the ponies till
they were within a hundred yards of the winning-post. S----, who has
great courage, and moreover felt his responsibility as host, would
remain outside on the upper veranda, straining his eyes in the biting
gale, and then signal to us when they came in sight. Whereupon we
would rush outdoors for a brief moment, clinging to our hats and
groping for the veranda rail, and stand there for an agonizing minute
till he told us it was over.

Now and then, in brief pauses in the wind, the horizon would clear for a
moment and we could see beyond the outer boundaries of the course. We
caught occasional glimpses of long caravans of camels, two or three
hundred of them, bound for the coal-mines up north. Once, in a short
interval, we saw a funeral procession stretching away over the
plains--a straggling procession on foot, in dingy white dresses,
carrying banners and flags and parasols. The coffin was slung on a
pole between bearers, and the wailing drone of a horn, and the thud of
a big drum came down the wind. Then the dust rose again, and the
melancholy sight was shut out. How curious was this little pleasure
spot of the Europeans, in the midst of this barbaric setting, in the
heart of old, old Asia!

Tiffin time. Every one who had not already taken refuge in the
dining-room now trooped up-stairs, hungry and laughing. I must tell you
of the dining-room. It was just a huge, square, bare room, with
whitewashed walls, with not a picture, with not an attempt at
decoration. A dozen trestle tables ran across it, with narrow, backless
benches on each side,--benches which had to be stepped over before one
could sit down. Every one stepped over them, however--ministers and
first-secretaries and Russian princesses and smart American women; and
you had to step over them again when the meal was finished, too, unless
by some preconcerted agreement every one rose at the same time. There
was not a chair in the place. Every one was dust-grimed, wind-blown and
bedraggled, and it was a gay, noisy meal, with laughter and cigarette
smoke and dust all through it.

In spite of the noise, however, there seemed little real merriment. One
became conscious of the atmosphere,--of the forced, rather strained, I
was going to say hostile, atmosphere. Every nation, as if by
prearrangement, withdrew to itself. The English sat together, the French
sat together; the Russians were apart; and the Americans in still
another section. There was no real intermingling, no real camaraderie,
except among the individual groups. There was much hand-shaking of
course, and greetings and perfunctory politeness, but no genuine
friendliness. The various ministers, for instance, did not sit together
as ministers, off on a holiday. On the contrary, each one sat at the
table with his countrymen. Over all there was a feeling of constraint,
distrust, national antipathies but thinly veiled, with but the merest
superficial pretense of disguising intense dislikes and jealousies.

In Peking there is great freedom of speech, and much outspoken criticism
of one nation by another; for there hatred and suspicions run high.
Therefore, of course, such feelings could not be submerged on an
occasion of this kind. Perhaps the war has intensified them; perhaps
they are always there; perhaps this is the chronic atmosphere of Peking,
where each power is trying to outdo the other, to overreach the other,
in their dealings with China. Anyway, E---- and I were intensely aware
of it in this "scrambling together" of all diplomatic Peking.

No Japanese was present, although a few Japanese are members of the
club. And it is significant that no Chinese, no matter how high in rank,
is admitted to membership. The impression we derived of this European
playground is that the attempt to play is a farce. You look over your
shoulder to behold a knife at your back.

After tiffin two more invisible races took place, but no one made an
attempt to see them. The dust sifted in through the windows and lay
thick on the tables, and one made footprints in it on the floor. Then we
were all cheered by the announcement that the special train was
returning an hour earlier than the time scheduled, and there was a
general move to go. The walk back across the plains was even worse, if
possible, than that from the station to the club-house, for the wind was
stronger, the dust more blinding. Yet the whole procession was
light-hearted, somehow: there were prospects of a bath at the journey's
end. As we reached the station the train was pulling in. E---- was
walking just ahead of me, talking to the Russian minister, Prince K----.
A gust more violent than usual struck us, and I saw her suddenly leap
aboard while the train was moving. When I joined her a moment later she
seemed rather dubious.

"I don't know that that's exactly the way to take leave of a prince,"
she said doubtfully, "to jump on a moving train in the middle of a
sentence."



VII

A BOWL OF PORRIDGE


While we were at the races yesterday in all that dust, exciting things
were happening in Peking. We no sooner returned to the hotel than there
were a dozen people to tell us of them. It seems that at a cabinet
meeting yesterday morning (March 5) the prime minister, Tuan Chi jui,
wished to send a circular telegram to the governors of the various
provinces announcing China's determination to sever diplomatic relations
with Germany. The President of China, Li Yuan Hung, who is strongly
opposed to this course, rejected the premier's proposal, whereupon Tuan
tendered his resignation and flew off in a huff to Tientsin. Tuan is
forever resigning his post as prime minister, and is forever being
coaxed back. A deputation to coax him back was sent the day afterward,
and there were those who hoped he would return and those who hoped he
wouldn't. And now, a day or two later (March 7) back he comes and all is
well. The problem, however, is still to be settled. Tuan is pretty
powerful, has the backing of the military, and is said to be desirous of
becoming president. It is all very complicated and difficult to
understand, and there are rumors floating about that he departed not
because the President refused to break with Germany but because his life
was in danger. There was some plot on foot to assassinate him, and his
suggestion concerning the telegram to the governors was merely an excuse
for his resignation, for the necessity for quickly leaving Peking. Plots
to assassinate people always occur at critical moments, and it is most
uncomfortable for all concerned.

The papers are full of tales of coercion, of charges of bribery, of
hints of pressure being brought to bear upon Chinese officials. China
must be made to break with Germany and to do it soon. A few days ago
we met an intelligent little Chinese lady, wife of an "official in
waiting." (This is a nice title, and means an official waiting for a
job.) She is an alert, well-educated, advanced little person, who has
spent several years in America, and speaks English fluently with
almost no accent. She is thoroughly conversant with the present
political situation, too,--having doubtless discussed it with her
husband, the official in waiting,--and was most outspoken concerning
it. She grew very indignant as she spoke of the pressure being brought
to bear upon China, and she told of a dinner recently given in Peking,
given by certain foreign officials to certain Chinese officials whom
they wished to "influence." When the plates were lifted, a check was
found lying beneath each plate. She got so excited over this
incident--as I did, too--that I forgot to ask her what the Chinese
officials did with these checks.

"I should think you would hate all foreigners," I said. "I should, in
your place."

"We do!" she replied emphatically, and her black eyes flashed. "Why
don't you leave us alone?"

"Which of us do you hate most?" I asked, "or least?--if you like it
better that way."

The Chinese have a delightful sense of humor, something that you can
always count upon. She wrung her little claw-like hands together,
twisted them with emotion; yet her sense of humor prevailed. She
flashed a brilliant smile upon me.

"You Americans we hate least," she explained. "You have done the least
harm to us. And some of you, individually, we like."

"But, naturally, you hate us all?"

"Why not?" she replied. "See what you foreigners are doing to us, have
done to us, are still trying to do to us. Can you blame us? Judge for
yourself."

"I can perfectly understand your Boxer uprising," I told her, "when you
tried to get rid of us all--"

"I'm glad you can understand that," she retorted. "Few foreigners do. We
feel that way still; only we can't show it as we did then."

Into my mind came a recollection of the high stone wall surrounding the
British legation, on which are painted the words, "Lest we forget."
Every day, as one passes in or out of the legation quarter by that road,
one's attention is arrested by those words. "Lest we forget." Every
foreigner in Peking is thus reminded of those dreadful months of siege
in 1900. But so is every Chinese of the upper classes; so is every
rickshaw coolie who stops to point out those words to the tourists as he
passes. Why remember? Why not try to forget? Neither side will forget.
Neither foreigner nor Chinese has any intention of forgetting. The huge
indemnities that are paid out year by year by the Chinese make
forgetting impossible. Of all the countries that received an indemnity,
America was the only one that tried to forget. Yet she did it by
erecting a monument to her forgetfulness, or forgivingness, in the shape
of a college-preparatory school for Chinese boys, and is using part of
her yearly indemnity fund to maintain it; and "Lest we forget" is
written large upon its walls.

But in contrast to the bitterness of the little Chinese lady, we
received an impression to-day of quite opposite character. We called
upon the editor of one of the Chinese papers. We have seen him many
times, and he has often had tea with us in the lobby of our hotel, but
upon this occasion he sent us a note and asked us to call on him at
his office. He kept us waiting a few minutes in a shabby, dingy
office, littered with papers and newspaper clippings, the regulation
untidy office of a newspaper man. When he finally arrived, after ten
minutes' delay, he apologized profusely, saying it was five o'clock,
the hour for his bowl of porridge. He looked as if he needed it, too,
for he was a thin, nervous little man, a burning, ardent soul
contained in a gaunt, emaciated body.

Straightway, after his allusion to his porridge, he burst into a eulogy
of America, such as it did our hearts good to hear. In his mind there
was absolutely no question that China should trust herself to America,
enter the war on the side of America. No other nation in the world, he
said, had such great ideals, and so thoroughly lived up to them.
Wilson's Mexican policy filled him with enthusiasm; he spoke of it at
length, almost with tears in his eyes. Next he touched on our Philippine
possessions. Our record in the Philippines is an example to the world.
No exploitation of a helpless people but a noble constructive policy to
educate them, develop them, and, finally, bring them to a point where
they could exercise their own sovereignty. The first thing we did, he
reminded us, on taking possession of the Philippines, was to throw out
opium. It was at that time a drug-sodden country, but our first act was
to banish the traffic, root and branch.

It was also America, he went on, which had given China moral support
and active backing in her ten-years' struggle against the drug. We had
called together the Opium Conference at Shanghai, and later the Hague
International Opium Conference, and owing to the publicity gained
through these conferences China had had the courage to demand the
opportunity to eradicate the curse. On and on he went, and it was
good hearing. He would use his influence, and it was great, to
induce China to accept America's invitation and enter the war on the
side of the Allies.

It made one rather humble to hear him. China will place her fate and her
fortunes so implicitly in our hands. It will be a great responsibility
for us to meet. Do you think we can do so?



VIII

FROM A SCRAP-BOOK


This isn't a letter. I shall take a bunch of old newspapers and with
scissors and paste-pot, stick upon this sheet of paper such press
comments as seem relevant to the situation. First of all, remember that
China has a population of four hundred million people, of whom three
hundred and ninety-nine million have never heard of the European war.
But the opinion of the million that may have heard of it is of no
moment. The few people it is necessary to convert to a sympathetic
understanding of the European war are the handful of officials
composing the Cabinet, about two hundred members of Parliament, and a
small, outlying fringe of "officials in waiting" and other odds and
ends, generals and such like. Once convince them, and the thing is
done. The understanding million, and the three hundred and ninety-nine
millions who do not understand are negligible. At present there is a
good deal of talk about restoring the monarchy. You don't have to deal
with as many people in a monarchy as in a so-called republic. A
monarchy is a more wieldy body. China, however, a five-year-old
republic, is behaving just like any other democracy,--forever appealing
to the people, as if the people even in a democracy had any chance
against their masters and rulers.

Thus the "Peking Gazette," under date of Tuesday, March 1:

    The Entente and China. Reported Allied Decision. A report
    reaches us--which we have been unable to confirm--that,
    the Entente Ministers and Chargés d'Affaires in the
    capital met at the French Legation on Tuesday and
    considered the advisability of deputing the Japanese
    Chargé d'Affaires to call on the President, the
    Vice-President and the Premier, to ascertain the decision
    of the Chinese Government regarding further action against
    Germany. In the event of failure on the part of the
    Chinese Government to decide on the matter this week,
    the report adds that a joint Allied inquiry will follow
    next week.

    In the absence of confirmation, we have to reserve comment
    on what looks like an amazing blunder, if true. In the
    meantime, we have to warn those concerned, that unless
    they are bent on alienating the growing Chinese sympathy
    for the Allied cause, and arresting the powerful movement
    for some form of action, in association with or in
    coöperation with the Entente, it will be well if anything
    like Allied pressure be avoided at this juncture.

    Since writing the foregoing--or rather as we go to
    press--we learn from a responsible quarter that the French
    Minister and the Belgian Chargé d'Affaires called at the
    Chinese Foreign Office yesterday afternoon and either
    informally suggested or actually invited China to join the
    Entente. In the name of the Allies, they are understood to
    have promised the postponement of the instalments of the
    Boxer indemnities accruing due and payable during the war,
    and guaranteed the revision of the Chinese customs tariff.
    We have just time to register our emphatic protest against
    this proceeding; and limiting ourselves to the bare
    statement of one of the many grave objections to this
    action of the Entente, we have to point out that it is not
    real Chinese interest for the Allies to thrust large sums
    of money on persons who may not be able to apply the same
    to national ends. The Chinese Government is in need of
    money for specific objects, like the resumption of specie
    payment, the disbandment of superfluous troops, and the
    liquidation of certain unfunded indemnities. Financial
    assistance to the authorities is something for which the
    country would feel grateful to any Power or group of
    Powers who might render the same. But Chinese who have the
    real interest of their country at heart will not thank
    those who--without regard to the vital interest of
    China--are resolved upon securing the support of a few
    ambitious men whose single aim is to have enough money
    to influence, first, the Parliamentary elections, due
    in a few months, and next, the Presidential election to
    be held next year. Curses not blessings would issue from
    our lips for such questionable assistance to the forces
    of reaction in Peking.

On March 2 appears a translation from a vernacular paper, the "Shuntien
Shih-Pao":

    At a recent meeting of Allied Ministers in the French
    Legation, it was decided that if China does not declare
    her intention to join the Allied nations within the next
    few days, the Allied nations should give advice to China
    to that effect.

Apart from "advice" of this sort,--rather threatening advice, it would
seem,--appeals are being made to Chinese vanity, by the contrasting of
the potential might of China with the might of Japan. In an article
entitled "China and the World War," Putnam Weale, speaking for the
British interests in China, makes some clever but rather blunt
suggestions:

    So far, no one has gone beyond suggesting the general
    mobilization of Chinese labor-battalions, some of which
    are already at work on the Tigris building docks, and
    thereby contributing very materially to the vastly
    improved position in Mesopotamia. But it does not do
    credit to the stature of the Chinese giant, or to the
    qualities of the Chinese intellect, for Chinese to remain
    hewers of wood and drawers of water; it is imperative that
    if the nation goes to war she should actually fight, as
    the experience of the last five years shows what she can
    do with skill and science. In advancing the contention
    that a definite offer of a picked Chinese Division, or of
    several divisions, to Great Britain, against a definite
    treaty, to hasten the Mesopotamian campaign would be a
    master-stroke of policy, we have to recall that Japan
    herself refused to send contingents to the Balkans, and is
    therefore looked upon as a semi-belligerent whose stature
    can at once be overtopped by the Chinese giant merely
    rising to his feet.

A clipping from a Paris paper, the "Petit Parisien," has been
reproduced in the Chinese press, and given prominence. The Chinese
colossus is not asked to rise to its feet merely to demonstrate its
huge proportions. If it rises, it must be to serve a purpose. With a
simple frankness due perhaps to a failure to consider possible
quotation in the Peking press, the "Petit Parisien" comments upon the
"Value of China's Intervention" thus:

    The intervention of China is not to be underrated. The
    Chinese army at present is sufficiently instructed and
    equipped, well officered and supplied, and possesses large
    reserves. The military schools are in a position to train
    nearly five thousand officers a year, and this figure
    could be increased five times, if needed. The natural
    resources of China would enable her to supply raw
    materials for the ammunition and machinery, as well as
    leather, cotton, rice, tea, and other commodities.

In exchange for these natural resources, to develop which China will
have to mortgage herself to the Allies, is offered cancelation of the
Boxer indemnity to the Germans, and postponement (not cancelation) of
the indemnities paid to the other nations. There are also, as I have
said before, vague hints that China may be allowed to revise her
tariffs and place a duty upon certain commodities. But even with the
first suggestion of such tariff revision comes opposition, from Japan.
The Allies, who have no cotton to import to China at the present
moment, may generously consent to protective duties on this article,
but Japan, which has plenty of it to import, objects to a handicap to
her cotton-trade. If the Allies require China's intervention, then let
them pay for it. Thus the "Chugwai Shogyo," a Japanese newspaper, under
date of March 7:

    Buying China's Friendship. We maintain that the Foreign
    Office [Japanese] officials should resolutely refuse to
    agree to the raising of the Chinese customs tariff. But it
    is reported that the officials are backing out. They are
    goody-goody people. They seem to think that the Chinese
    proposal is a just one. There is no reason why China
    should make any unjust claim. But even if China's claim is
    intrinsically just from her own standpoint, we should not
    agree to it if it is disadvantageous to us. Besides, if
    China makes that claim as her condition of her joining the
    Entente Powers, it is not right. If China thinks that to
    sever her relations with Germany and Austria is
    disadvantageous to her, and therefore wants to obtain a
    _quid pro quo_ for so doing, this consideration should be
    given by the Entente Powers, not Japan. Is the
    participation in the war beneficial to China or to the
    Entente Powers? If the former, then China should not ask
    any compensation. If the latter, then the compensation
    should be paid by the Entente Powers, not Japan. From the
    point of view of Oriental peace, there is no absolute
    necessity for China to participate in the war.

Sun Yat Sen, the great revolutionary leader and spokesman for the more
enlightened Chinese of South China and Canton, has also sprung into the
arena, and makes a protest against dragging China into the war. In an
open letter to the Prime Minister of England, which appeared in the
papers under the date of March 7, he says:

    To His Excellency Lloyd George, London.

    Your Excellency: As a patriot of China and grateful friend
    of England, to whom I owe my life, I deem it my duty to
    point out to you the injurious consequences to China and
    England caused by this agitation of some of your officials
    here, to bring China into the European conflict. I have
    been approached by prominent English to consider the
    question of China joining the Allies. After careful study
    I come to the conclusion that it would be disastrous to
    both countries should China break her neutrality.

    For China is yet an infant Republic and as a nation she
    may be likened to a sick man just entering the hospital of
    constitutionalism. Unable to look after herself at this
    stage, she needs careful nursing and support. Therefore
    China cannot be regarded as an organized country. She is
    held intact only by custom and sentiment of a peace-loving
    people. But at once, should there arise discord, general
    anarchy would result.

    Hitherto the Chinese possessed unbounded faith and
    assurance in the strength of England and her ultimate
    triumph, but since the agitation by shortsighted though
    well-meaning people, while some English dailies even
    advocate the sending of several Chinese divisions into
    Mesopotamia, this confidence has been greatly shaken.

    Should China enter the war, it would prove dangerous to
    her national life and injurious to the prestige of England
    in the Far East. The mere desire to get China to join the
    Allies is to Chinese minds a confession of the Allies'
    inability to cope with Germany. Just now comes Premier
    Tuan's report to the President that the Entente Powers are
    coercing China to join the Allies. Already the question
    has raised bitter dissensions among our statesmen. Discord
    now may evoke anarchism which will arouse the two strong
    but perilous elements in China, anti-foreign fanatics and
    Mohammedans. Since our revolution, anti-foreign feelings
    have been suppressed by us, but anti-foreign spirit lives
    and may take advantage of the critical time and rise in
    another Boxer movement with general massacre of
    foreigners. If war is declared against any country, the
    ignorant class cannot distinguish one nation from another,
    and consequences would be more fatal to England, owing to
    her larger interest in the Orient.

    Again, the Mohammedans cannot be overlooked. To fight
    against their Holy Land would be a sacrilege.

    The worst results of anarchism in China, I fear, would be
    dissension among the Entente Group, which would surely
    mean disaster to the Entente cause. Under such conditions
    and at this critical juncture, China cannot be expected to
    do otherwise than maintain strict neutrality.

    My motive for calling your Excellency's attention to this
    injurious agitation is actuated not purely by the desire
    to preserve China from anarchy and dissolution, but
    prompted by my warmest sympathy for a country whose
    interest I have deeply at heart, and whose integrity and
    fair name I have every reason to uphold and honor.

                                                  SUN YAT SEN.



IX

THE GERMAN REPLY


The German Government has sent a reply to China's protest, a most
conciliatory note, saying that it is extremely sorry to hear that
China's shipping has suffered so greatly through the submarine warfare,
and that if China had protested sooner, had sent any word as to her
specific losses, the matter would have been looked into at once. As
China has never had any ships that navigate in European waters, or in
other seas included in the war zone, this solicitous reply was not
without irony. I quote the reply:

    To the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of
    China.

    Your Excellency: By the instructions of my home
    government, which reached me at 7 P. M. on the 10th
    instant, [March 10, 1917], I beg to forward you the
    following reply to China's protest to the latest blockade
    policy of Germany: The Imperial German Government
    expresses its great surprise at the threat used by the
    Government of the Republic of China in its note of
    protest. Many other countries have also protested, but
    China, which has been in friendly relations with Germany,
    is the only state which has added a threat to its protest.
    The surprise is doubly great because of the fact that as
    China has no shipping interests in the seas of blockaded
    zones, she will not suffer thereby.

    The Government of the Republic of China mentions that loss
    of life of Chinese citizens has occurred as the result of
    the present method of war. The Imperial German Government
    wishes to point out that the Government of the Republic of
    China has never communicated with the Imperial Government
    regarding a single case of this kind, nor has it protested
    in this connection before. According to reports received
    by the Imperial Government, such losses as have been
    actually sustained by Chinese subjects have occurred in
    the firing line while they were engaged in digging
    trenches and other war service. While thus engaged, they
    were exposed to the dangers inevitable to all forces
    engaged in war. The fact that Germany has on several
    occasions protested against the employment of Chinese
    subjects for warlike purposes is evidence that the
    Imperial Government has given excellent proof of its
    friendly feelings towards China. In consideration of
    these friendly relations the Imperial Government is
    willing to treat the matter as if the threat had never
    been uttered. It is reasonable for the Imperial Government
    to expect that the Government of the Republic of China
    will revise its views respecting the question.

    Germany's enemies were the first to declare a blockade on
    Germany, and the same is being persistently carried out.
    It is, therefore, difficult for Germany to cancel her
    blockade policy. The Imperial Government is nevertheless
    willing to comply with the wishes of the Government of
    China by opening negotiations to arrive at a plan for the
    protection of Chinese life and property, with the view
    that the end may be achieved and thereby utmost regard be
    given to the shipping rights of China. The reason which
    has prompted the Imperial Government to adopt this
    conciliatory policy is the knowledge that, once diplomatic
    relations are severed with Germany, China will not only
    lose a truly good friend, but will also be entangled in
    unthinkable difficulties.

    In forwarding to Your Excellency the above instructions
    from my home Government, I also beg to state that, if
    the Government of China be willing, I am empowered to
    open negotiations for the protection of the shipping
    rights of China.

Imagine how disconcerting that reply must have been, since China has
never had any ships in the war zone. Still less has she had any that
have been or might possibly be sunk. With that excuse cut from under
her, she is at present under the painful suspicion that this desire to
uphold the sanctity of international law has been imposed from without.
One is almost forced to the conclusion that it is imposed by those
nations which themselves have been most flagrant violators of
international law, upon Chinese territory. But be that as it may.

So much has been happening lately, that perhaps I have forgotten to
mention a certain phase of international activity referred to in the
German reply, that is, the employment of Chinese subjects behind the
firing-lines in Europe. For a year past Chinese coolies have been
recruited for service in France, paid of course, though probably not
paid liberally, nor told frankly what they are being let in for. The
French colonies have also been drafting their subjects for work in
France. When we went down to the tropics in December, we traveled on a
ship gathering coolies, mobilized not as soldiers but as laborers. The
captain of our ship told us that up to date (December, 1916) France had
already imported some forty thousand Annamites for work in munition
factories, agricultural work, and noncombatant service behind the lines.
The ship we were on was carrying some fourteen hundred of these little
men, packed like sardines in the hold, which had been transformed into a
sort of fifth-rate lodging-house, with tiers of bunks for the
accommodation of these little coolies.

Each French ship of this particular line, going through the
Mediterranean, carries between a thousand and fourteen hundred of such
laborers; and what the effect of this will be upon the next generation
of Frenchmen remains to be seen. They were pretty, docile little
creatures, to be turned loose in villages and in the provinces, which
villages and provinces have been bereft of men these many months, and
where no race prejudice exists among the women. Many Frenchmen we have
met deplored this state of things, and its probable effect upon the
population of France. War is not very pretty, no matter from what angle
you look at it. And now that the Chinese are being imported as well, the
situation may become worse. An article entitled "China's Gift to the War
in Human Labor and Human Life," has this to say:

    Of far greater menace to Chinese interests [than the
    German submarine blockade] is the understanding which the
    Chinese Government is contemplating to make with France,
    Russia and Britain, for the despatch of laborers to
    Europe. The Chinese Government wants to indulge in coolie
    traffic. Bad business at any time, and worse now.

    This business of sending Chinese laborers to these
    countries has been going on for over a year. It is done
    without regard to the interests of the people, or the wish
    of the Government. The companies for organizing the
    emigration were supposed to be under the inspiration of
    Mr. Liang-Shih-Yi, who was sure of making a few dollars on
    every coolie's head. The Chinese who have gone have been
    with Chinese cognizance, but not under Chinese protection.
    The business was of private or semi-official character,
    not of official character.

    For several months English missionaries in the province of
    Shantung have been war-agents of the British Government
    for securing laborers for France and England. This has
    been done of late, at least, contrary to the wishes of the
    Chinese provincial authorities. Thus the English, like
    the Japanese in Shantung, have been going their own
    free way, without regard to the Chinese Government. The
    policy is bad missionary policy; the business is bad
    missionary business.

However, I ask myself--I who am nothing if not fair-minded--why
shouldn't missionaries act as recruiting-agents? What's the use of
spending years converting heathen into Christians, if they are not to
act as Christians? Why should there be any scruples about enlisting
converts for a "Holy War"? They might as well "do their bit" for
civilization, Christian civilization. Besides, "the blood of the
martyrs is the seed of the Church." Moreover, the Treaty of Tientsin,
in 1858, which legalized the sale of British opium, also legalized the
practice of Christianity in China.[3]

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 3: See Appendix II.]



X

DUST AND GOSSIP


I don't suppose a country can go to war, without first having a war
spirit. If the enemy doesn't rouse this spirit, doesn't provoke it, then
some one else must. The ideal war, I suppose, is the one in which the
enemy furnishes the incentive. Poor old China has now got to go to war,
but it is mighty uphill work to create the war feeling. Since Germany
has not provoked it, it must be manufactured somehow, and the task is
now devolving upon those foreign influences which will benefit if China
goes to war. They are getting to work rapidly and adroitly, but the
situation requires some diplomacy. It is so difficult to incite feeling
against one foreign nation without inciting it against them all. The
poor Chinese can't distinguish. They can't understand why they should
be especially irate against Germany at the moment, when rankling
uppermost in their minds is the recent French grab of Lao Hsi Kai, and
the still more recent deal of the Shanghai Opium Combine. It is so
difficult to fan the flame yet not cause too great a conflagration. It
requires nice discrimination, and these poor old heathen minds have a
quaint logic of their own. The game is amusing, interesting, from the
standpoint of the detached onlooker.

Roughly speaking, the people of a nation may be grouped into two
classes, the inciters and the fighters. They are not the same people, as
a rule. The inciters usually work in the rear, as noncombatants or
molders of public opinion. In China--China being what it is, in the
circumstances, and all--the noncombatants who have assumed this task of
arousing the war spirit are foreigners. A delicate task, this arousing
resentment against one set of foreigners without arousing it against
all. It means diplomacy of the first water. Thus, the foreign press is
very insistent that the Huns be got rid of. One English paper naïvely
remarks: "We do not like to see Germans free to wander about our
streets at will." Which is well enough in its way, although it must be
galling to the Chinese to have outsiders refer to the streets of China
as "ours." Americans would resent such a remark made by a foreigner
concerning the streets of New York.

If only the European nations had been as decent to China as America has
been! Then, in this crisis, China would have turned to them, been guided
by them, with the same trust that she places in America. As it is, she
distrusts all Europe to the core.

And over all this whirling dust of rumor and gossip, hatred and ill
feeling, there has been raging for the past three days a physical
dust-storm of tremendous intensity. The yellow, overhead kind, sifting
downward in clouds of powder, and covering everything, inside and out.
The China-boys about the hotel tell us with superstitious awe that when
a dust-storm lasts more than three days it is "bad joss." Such a storm,
of a week's duration, preceded the outbreak of the Chinese-Japanese
War. Every one feels uneasy, the whole atmosphere is full of
depression, tension, and suspense. One can't think or talk of anything
but this impending disaster.

This afternoon we went out for a while to forget it, if we could. We
went to the Lung Fu-Ssu, a sort of rag-fair held every ten days in the
grounds of an old temple in the East City. It's a wonderful fair,
usually, with booths and stalls stretching in every direction, and
spreading all over the ground, underfoot as well. Everything is sold at
this bazaar, everything made in China or ever made in China, to-day or
in the remote past,--porcelain, bronzes, jade, lacquer, silks,
clothing, toys, fruits, food, curios, dogs and cats. Three times a
month everything of every description finds its way to the Lung
Fu-Ssu, and three times a month all foreign Peking, to say nothing of
native Peking, finds its way to the temple grounds to look for
bargains. To-day, however, it wasn't much fun: neither the native city
nor the legation quarter were out in force, for the dust was too
thick, the air too cold.

Indefatigable bargain-hunters as we were, we could not stay long; but I
don't believe it was because of the overwhelming dust: it was just sheer
nervous anxiety to get back to the hotel for the latest news. We are all
restless and anxious, and withal feel ourselves so utterly impotent to
avert this impending calamity. Therefore, as I say, we didn't stay long
at the fair,--just long enough for me to buy a pair of little, ancient,
dilapidated stone lions, which the man assured me were of the Ming
dynasty. My first venture into Ming. They looked it, anyway, when I
bought them. I laid them at my feet in a newspaper, and--I suppose the
jolting of the rickshaw did it--when we reached the hotel, the Ming had
all rubbed off. They were stone lions of the purest plaster.

We found a note from the minister asking us in for tea, so we brushed
ourselves hastily and went over to the legation to find a large crowd
of dusty people assembled, in the beautiful, spacious drawing-rooms.
Every one was talking politics, discussing the situation fore and aft,
and, as usual, arriving nowhere. At the end of an hour there was a stir
caused by the arrival of C----, one of the young, important Members of
Parliament. He stood surrounded by an enquiring group, hands hidden up
the capacious sleeves of his crackling brocade coat, while he sucked in
his breath with hissing noises, in deference to the honorable company.
"Good news!" he exclaimed, "good news! Or so I think you'll find it! We
have just decided to break with Germany!"

There wasn't what you'd call rejoicing; instead, his rather hilarious
announcement was greeted with a sort of constrained silence. It's such a
tremendous thing for any country to declare war, and for a country in
China's position it is such a blind leap into the abyss. However, the
matter is not yet quite decided: the first vote is taken, but the final
has yet to be cast. Parliament has been sitting all day. This, of
course, merely means the severance of diplomatic relations, but the
next step must follow as the night the day.

I must tell you of an incident that occurred the other day, when we were
at tiffin at the home of some English acquaintances. But first I must
tell you about the pailows, and before that again, I must tell you of
the French ships that carry troops. I don't know where to begin, for you
must hear everything if you are to see the point.

I'll start with the pailows, those big, red lacquer memorial arches that
span the streets all over the place--arch, by the way, being a figure of
speech, since actually these arches are square, and consist of two
upright posts with a third laid horizontally across them. They are
emblazoned all over with gilded characters and sprawling dragons, and
honor some great Chinese,--erected to his memory instead of a library or
a hospital or something like that. Well, there is one pailow or memorial
arch that is not of red lacquer but of white marble, erected not in
honor of a Chinese but in honor of a foreigner, the imposing von Kettler
Memorial which spans Ha-Ta-Men Street, far out. It is a Lest-We-Forget
memorial placed in honor of Baron von Kettler, the German minister who
was killed in the Boxer uprising. Chinese characters and German letters,
carved in marble, tell the tale of von Kettler's death to all who pass
beneath. Now to the ships. Three months ago when we went down to the
tropics, we happened to travel on French ships, two of them loaded to
the gunwales with troops for France, labor battalions. The passengers, I
may mention, came off rather badly, being squeezed into exceedingly
restricted quarters in order to make room for the troops. The first ship
we were on carried a thousand, the other one twelve hundred of these
little Annamites; the number varies according to the size of the vessel.
Really, you know, I don't think it's quite fair to either, to carry both
troops and passengers on the same ship. Well, at tiffin to-day we heard
what seemed like a most astounding proposal. Our host was explaining his
plan for dealing with the von Kettler Memorial. The _Athos_ was sunk
February 17, in the Mediterranean, together with five hundred Chinese
soldiers. And here were we listening to a suggestion to erase the
inscription on the von Kettler arch, and substitute a new one dedicating
the pailow to the five hundred "Chinese" troops torpedoed by the
Germans. It seems to me rather late in the day to begin inscribing
pailows to Chinese killed by the conquering foreigner. To create the war
spirit it may be necessary to dedicate the von Kettler pailow to this
purpose, but as a precedent it seems rather unwise,--leads one into
sweeping vistas of all the pailows of China, all the thousands
innumerable of red lacquered pailows, all insufficient in their
thousands to contain the names of the still greater thousands of Chinese
slain by their European conquerors.



XI

DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BROKEN


It's done at last. China has at last broken diplomatic relations with
Germany this fourteenth day of March, 1917. The foreign press is
triumphant, while the Chinese press is much less enthusiastic, its
rejoicings far less obvious. Here's a bit of gossip for you, blown along
with the dust of Peking. (By this time you must have discovered that
Peking dust and Peking gossip are pretty much the same thing, whirling
and blowing along together, sifting over you and into you, physically
and mentally, till you are saturated through and through.) Miss Z----
told us this; she knows every bit of rumor in Peking, from topside down:

"What _do_ you suppose happened, just two hours after the final vote was
taken, and the note despatched to the German minister announcing
China's decision? X---- [one of the Allied ministers] was seen ramping
up and down before the German legation, shaking his fist at the German
flag flying up above and shouting, 'That thing must come down! That
thing must come down!' Had two Japanese soldiers with him, they
say--where he got them heaven knows--but there he was, fairly raging,
and stomping--that's the word, stomping--up and down and shaking his
fist at the flag, and shouting that it must come down!"

"Why didn't he wait till the Chinese took it down?"

"Lord only knows, my dear! Wasn't it amusing! Could such things happen
anywhere except in Peking?"

It appears, however, that while X---- was pacing up and down before the
German legation, shaking his fist at the flag and furiously impatient at
Chinese slowness, the wily Chinese were engaged upon other, more
important matters. Hauling down the flag could wait; it was less urgent.
The astute Chinese, with admirable foresight, hastily "acquired" the
German concessions in Tientsin and Hankow for themselves--acted with
remarkable intelligence and great haste, almost undue haste, before any
of the foreign powers could "acquire" or "protect" these concessions for
themselves; put their own Chinese soldiers in possession, and with the
utmost promptness occupied these German holdings in the name of the
Republic of China. Imagine the shock! Furthermore, with the same speed,
they also seized the interned German war-ships.

Well, this is a tremendous decision for China to have reached, and the
next step, declaration of war, will be still more momentous. Opposition
is growing all the while, in spite of the rupture of diplomatic
relations, which does not mean that this country will declare war
immediately, automatically, as a matter of course. Those in favor, and
those who resist, are lining up for a tremendous struggle, and, as I
wrote you before, some say that civil war will result.

One thing stands out clearly,--our whole visit to the East has confirmed
it,--and that is that this European war had its origin in the Orient.
Supremacy in the Orient, control of the Far East--that is the underlying
cause of the struggle which is rending Europe in twain. The world does
not go to war for little stakes, for trifles. It fights for colossal
stakes, worth gambling for.



XII

WALKING ON THE WALL


Don't think that even in all this excitement our taste for shopping has
become quiescent. Far from it! Shopping freshens one up, relaxes one's
mind, makes one more keen for the next bit of rumor that comes along. We
know where all the antique-shops are situated, those along Ha-ta-Men
Street, out on Morrison Street, in the Tartar City, all those without
the Wall, and those in the Chinese City, as well as the pawnshops down
the lower part of Chi'en Men Street, the Thieves' Market, and all the
various bazaars. And we know the days on which the temple fairs are
held. We know all about them and get bargains every day, sometimes real
finds, and sometimes stone lions of the purest Ming, such as I described
a few days ago. And in the intervals, when we are not out questing on
our own, the dealers and runners from the various shops appear at our
door, bow themselves in with such ingratiating compliments that we can't
resist, and then stoop over and undo wonderful blue cotton bundles and
exhibit such treasures that there's no withstanding them. The most
irresistible of all these dealers is "Tiffany" (his Chinese name has
given way to this nickname, which is solemnly printed on his card),
dealer in jewels and jade, a giant Chinese about six feet tall, weighing
some three hundred pounds, with the smiling, innocent face of a
three-foot child! When Tiffany enters the room and squats down over his
big blue bundle, his knees spread out, he looks like a wide blue
elephant, and there is no refusing his bland, smiling, upturned face,
his gentle, "No buy. Just look-see." Then from the bundle come strings
of pearls, translucent jade of "number-one" quality, snuff-bottles fit
for a museum. The only way of getting rid of him is to tell him that a
new American lady has just arrived on the floor below, whereupon he
gathers up his treasures and goes in search of her! His method of
gaining admittance to our room is ingenious. A gentle knock, and we open
to find the doorway suffused by Tiffany.

"No want things to-day, Mr. Tiffany. No can buy."

To which comes the pleasant reply: "No want Missy buy. Come bring Missy
cumshaw."

A slender hand slips around the open door, against one side of which I
press my knee while he braces a huge foot against the other, and in the
hand lies a red leather box painted with flowers and dragons. "Present
for Missy; cumshaw," says the pleasant voice, and what can you do?
"Amelican lady you say down-stair, she buy heap pearls, so I bring Missy
cumshaw." Whereupon in he comes, with his gratitude for the American
lady, his bargains, his wheedling, and we are lost!

[Illustration: Village outside walls of Peking]

[Illustration: Fortune teller]

After some weeks of this--Tiffany and others, and our own
excursions--our room became a veritable curio-shop, and our curios were
so overlaid with spring dust which the "boys" had failed to remove
that we called in a packer one day, had everything boxed, and resolved
to buy nothing more. On this afternoon, March 16, we went over to the
legation compound to arrange with our consul for invoices, and as we
crossed the compound Dr. Reinsch appeared from his house, and came over
and spoke to us. He looked very tired and troubled, showing the strain
of the last few weeks.

"I've just had word from the Chinese Foreign Office," he said, "that the
Russian Government has been overturned!" He had no details, just the
mere fact, but the shock was so great that we forgot all about our visit
to the consul, forgot our intention to obtain an invoice; all we wanted
to do was get off and talk it over! We flew back to the hotel, simply
bursting with the news! It's so exciting, in this old, barbaric city, to
hear such news as that, so casually, from your minister! No one in the
hotel to talk to,--three o'clock, a bad hour! So we went for a walk on
the only available place for a walk that Peking affords, the top of the
wall. For you can't walk with comfort in the streets, they are too
crowded, with camels and wheelbarrows to be dodged at every turn. And as
we walked on the wall, discussing that bit of tremendous news, going
over and over again the possibilities contained in those few words, we
met other people out walking, also talking it over. The French minister
and his first-secretary came by, deeply engrossed in conversation. Some
little distance behind us came Dr. Reinsch with one of the press
correspondents. We met all diplomatic Peking walking on the wall that
afternoon, talking it over! For the wall is a good safe place for
conversations: one can't possibly be overheard, for one can see people
coming a mile off. Only foreigners may go there: the Chinese aren't
allowed on it, except the soldiers at the blockhouses by the towers. The
most frequent visitor is the baby camel owned by the American marine
guards, which comes up to browse on the weeds growing between the
stones. We once asked a marine where they found this mascot. "Stole it
first," was the reply, "and paid four dollars afterward!"

I picked up a Tientsin paper a few days ago, and was interested to read
an "Ordonnance" promulgated by the French consul-general at Tientsin. By
the terms of this decree every Chinese employed in the French concession
is obliged to have a little book containing his name, age, place of
birth, and so on, together with his photograph and finger-prints. A
duplicate _carnet_ is on file at the French police bureau in Tientsin,
and no Chinese can find employment in the concession, as cook, groom,
clerk, chauffeur, or in any other capacity, unless he is first
registered with the police. The idea of having one's finger-prints
recorded, like a common criminal, seems somehow humiliating. I imagine
there would be some comment if the Japanese enforced such regulations in
their concessions in China.



XIII

MEETING THE PRESIDENT OF CHINA


Ever since we came to Peking we have been anxious to meet the President
of China, Li Yuan Hung. Dr. Reinsch said he would arrange it for us "at
the first opportune moment." Opportune moments are scarce in Peking, as
you can well imagine; consequently we have been waiting for weeks for
such a moment to arrive, for a pause longer than usual between
impeachments and betrayals and plots of various kinds. We had waited so
long, in fact, that we had quite forgotten about it, until we came in
one day just before tiffin time, rather late, and found the whole hotel
in a blaze of excitement: we were to meet the President that afternoon!

And, what's more, best clothes were required! Really, I had not foreseen
that contingency, and therefore felt uncomfortable and self-conscious
when arrayed in my other hat, with the feather, the hat which has been
reposing in the hat-box for eight long months, waiting for just such an
emergency! Every one else, however, was in the same state of excitement
as to dress; that is, all those who like ourselves had been long in the
Orient, and whose clothes had fallen off a bit in appearance. In sharp
contrast were the newly arrived tourists with their smart new outfits,
beautiful as only Americans can be beautiful. But never mind: we
reflected that the President would never know the difference; he would
consider us all alike and all outlandish. There were others in the party
who had lived so long in Peking that they were reduced to Gillard's
best,--Gillard's, the one "department store" of the city, about on a
plane with the general store of a country village or a frontier town,
only worse. Sooner or later every one in Peking is reduced to Gillard's
Emporium, where the stocks are old-fashioned and musty, and the thing
you want has just been sold out. And if you can't get it at Gillard's,
there is nowhere else to go. Up-stairs Mrs. Gillard makes Paris gowns
on the latest models, which look all right, too, till tourist season
comes round and you see the difference. Well, finally we were all ready,
and assembled at the front door of the hotel,--the smart and beautiful
Americans; those clad in Gillard's best, and ourselves, something
intermediate. The men were upset, too: several of them had been obliged
to borrow top hats. And at the last moment a rumor spread that
ceremonial bows were required. That created such consternation that
several of us considered backing out.

We were all to meet at the Pei Hei Gate at two o'clock, so we started
early, for we had a long distance to travel. The smart Americans went in
motors, as was fitting, but the rest of us made a long procession of
rickshaws, and jogged happily along the dusty streets, out through the
gates of the legation quarter, past the North Glacis, through the gates
of the Imperial City, and finally, after half an hour's run, reached the
Pei Hei Gate, leading into the old and abandoned Winter Palace. It then
transpired that a visit to this old palace was part of the program, and
we were to wander for two hours through its beautiful and extensive
grounds, until four o'clock, when the President would receive us. Now
March is March the world over, but March in Peking is excessive. No one
who has not passed a spring in North China can know the meaning of dust.
On this clear, bright March afternoon a classic dust-storm was in
progress and in this, dressed in our best clothes, we were to wander for
two hours through the closed grounds of the Winter Palace, which had
been thrown open to us by special courtesy of the President!

They say one never realizes the meaning of the word decay until one has
seen Peking. And the climax of decay is reached here, in this former
abode of the old empress dowager, where everything remains as she left
it, or as the Boxers left it, or as the European looters left it after
the Boxer troubles. Scattered through the beautiful grounds are
magnificent buildings, all fallen into ruin. The roofs of the palaces
and temples, blazing with the imperial yellow tiles, are dropping to
pieces, and rank grass is replacing the fallen tiles and dislodging
those that are left. In one of the temples we walked through littered
débris of rich carvings, kicked against the broken heads and hands of
gilded gods fallen from the altars, and brushed against the loosened
shreds of old paintings swaying in tatters from the walls. One building
contained the remains of a once beautiful fountain, painted and
lacquered, now moldering and fallen into dust. At the four corners of
the room the old gods, life-size, had been gathered into piles and
covered with matting, and from beneath this dusty covering protruded
dirty, battered heads and gilded bodies, ludicrous and pathetic.

In the grounds it was no better. Weeds grew shoulder high, springing
from between the stones of the great courtyards and open spaces
connecting the temples and palaces, and we pushed ourselves through this
brush, and stumbled over rolling stones, all the while enveloped by the
whirling dust, the everlasting Peking dust, straight from the Gobi
Desert. All this was very disastrous to our personal appearance, and at
the end of two hours we were all reduced to pretty much the same level:
really, there wasn't much difference between the beautiful Americans,
those attired in Gillard's best, and ourselves, when we took to our
rickshaws (and motors) again and set off for the President's palace, in
the Forbidden City.

The grounds of this palace presented a much better appearance than
anything we had seen in Peking. The roads were newly swept, and
everything was very neat and clean and orderly, though bare. The lawns,
if such they could be called, were as arid and grassless as the great
plains of Chili. We arrived a few minutes before four, and descended
from our vehicles, grand and otherwise, and then a cleaning-up process
took place. Dusty shoes were brushed off with handkerchiefs, dusty coats
slapped and patted, wind-blown hair rearranged, dust cleaned out from
the corners of eyes, and powder-papers passed from hand to hand among
the women. One lady remarked cheerfully, "Well, we surely don't look
very nifty to meet the President," but we made ourselves as "nifty" as
we could, in the circumstances, standing together in a laughing group on
the lee side of the palace, and asking one another if we'd do. I
remember that once, years ago, when I was living in the Latin Quarter,
some of us went over to a tea on "the other side," and before pulling
the door-bell, we stood first on one foot and then on the other,
polishing our dusty shoes on our stockings. Well, here we were doing the
same thing, before meeting the President of China!

We got clean at last, and then soberly marched round the corner of the
building and presented ourselves in the anteroom of the palace, leading
to the President's apartments. Here we found Dr. Reinsch waiting for us,
and he sorted us into groups of eight, and left us waiting till the
summons came. In former times the mandarins used to wait in this
anteroom, before an audience with the empress dowager, and we tried to
imagine the big bare room of to-day filled with these high officials in
their gorgeous robes. Nothing remains of the old glories of the palace
save the elaborate carving on wall and ceiling, and a few pieces of
magnificent old furniture. The ceiling is now disfigured with a gaudy,
cheap European chandelier, while standing here and there on beautiful
ebony tables are hideous modern vases, straight from the
five-and-ten-cent store. The floor was covered with ugly oilcloth. Such
is China modernized, imbued with Western culture.

Our group of eight was the first to be called, and Dr. Reinsch led the
way with an interpreter. We passed out of the antechamber and along an
open marble corridor, lined with Chinese soldiers in their padded gray
cotton uniforms, who stood at salute as the American minister passed.
Immediately we found ourselves in another room, also plainly furnished,
and the next moment were shaking hands with an unassuming little man
clad in a frock-coat, the President, Li Yuan Hung. Through the
interpreter the President explained that he would like us to pass into
the room beyond, where he could speak with us one by one, personally.
He waved his hand toward the other room, and my recollection is that we
led the way! It all happened so quickly, I can't remember; but somehow
our group seemed to be waiting in the other room when the President and
Dr. Reinsch arrived at our heels, a second later. However, you can't
expect people not brought up in courts to know much about such things,
and we were probably flustered, anyway.

[Illustration: Courtesy of Press Illustrating Service

President Li Yuan-Hung]

[Illustration: Entrance to Winter Palace]

President Li, Dr. Reinsch, and the interpreter stood together, while we
arranged ourselves in a semicircle round them, and then Dr. Reinsch
presented each one of us in turn, explained who each one was, or what he
or she represented or had been doing. He began with the Allens,--told
who Mr. Allen was, what big American interests he represented, why he
had come out to China, and all about it. Then the interpreter repeated
all this to the President, who meanwhile stood looking inquiringly at
the Allens, as did the rest of us. When the translation was finished,
Li replied in Chinese; they say he can speak English, but
imperfectly, and he did not attempt it. "When quality meets, compliments
pass." Dr. Reinsch said all manner of nice things about the Allens and
China, and the President said all sorts of nice things about the Allens
and America, and it all took some time, just disposing of the first two
of our party. Meanwhile, two servants came in with a tray of champagne
and plates of cakes, and we all stood with a glass in one hand and a
cake in the other, waiting to see what Mr. Allen would do when the
President finished telling him how glad he was he had come to China.
Mr. Allen rose to it, however, in a happy little speech, saying that it
was a privilege, and so on.

Then came our turn. We were anxiously wondering what Dr. Reinsch could
find to say about us two, having committed himself by introducing the
whole group at one swoop as "representative Americans." However, we were
both exceedingly pleased at what he did say, and the President was
pleased, too, apparently, for he replied that he was glad we were like
that. So it continued all round the circle, and we felt exactly as if it
were the Day of Judgment, and the secrets of all hearts were being
revealed: we thought we knew our friends pretty well, and all about
them; yet we hung with bated breath upon Dr. Reinsch's introduction or
send-off! And we had never understood the meaning of "true Oriental
politeness" until we heard the President's gracious, courteous welcome
in reply. We stood directly opposite him, and had a good opportunity to
observe him closely,--a short, thick-set man with a small mustache, much
darker than the usual Chinese type, owing to his heritage of Siamese
blood. Many people say he has no Siamese blood at all, but it is always
like that in China: whatever any one tells you is always flatly
contradicted by the next person you meet.

Then we committed a great _gaffe_! When the Allens and E---- and I had
been safely disposed of, and the introductions and interpretations were
being directed toward the other four members of the party, we drank
our champagne--we four, the Allens and ourselves! I think it was
because we did not know what else to do with it, having stood stiffly
at attention for some twenty minutes, trying to balance a very full
glass in one hand, and conscious that the sugary cake in the other was
fast melting. Anyway, we emptied our glasses, and set them down on a
table behind us, and ate the cakes as well. Then, to our horror, Dr.
Reinsch summed us all up again, collectively, in a graceful little
speech, and the President raised his glass, and bowing, drank our
health. I heard E---- whisper, "The glasses, quick!" and the Allens and
she and I hastily groped backward for the empty glasses on the table
behind us, and drained the few remaining drops with what manners we
could muster. After which we all shook hands with the President again,
and filed out of the room.

In the anteroom the rest of the party crowded round us, asking for tips.
We had two big ones to offer: _Don't_ lead the way for the President of
China, and don't touch your glasses till he raises his!



XIV

GREAT BRITAIN'S TWELVE DEMANDS


The scaffolding is being put up for more trouble. China has got to
declare war, and to do it soon. It took five weeks' manoeuvering to make
her break diplomatic relations and will probably take much longer to
induce her to take this next step, opposition to which is growing
stronger and more intense every day. The President is obstinately
opposed to it, and he has considerable backing. There is free talk about
a revolution occurring if the break takes place, so determined are
certain leaders not to be dominated by "foreign influence." Many Chinese
can be bribed, but the Chinese in general cannot be fooled, and no
glowing compliments about China's "masculine" attitude can deceive them
as to the yoke they must wear should they decide to surrender
themselves and place their nation at the disposal of European interests.

On the morning of March 26 one of the papers contained this significant
article, under the caption of Tibetan Affairs:

    Reported British Demands. Indignation of Chinese M. P.'s.
    Mr. Ho Sheng-Ping and other Senators have addressed the
    following interpellation to the Government: "According to
    the reports of the Japanese newspapers, the British
    Government has sent Twelve Demands to the Chinese
    Government in connection with Tibetan affairs, and these
    demands, being so cruel and unreasonable, tend to provoke
    the anger and indignation of any people. Why did we
    address a protest to the German Government against its
    submarine warfare? And why did we declare diplomatic
    severance with Germany? Was it not to render assistance to
    the Entente Powers, and was it not to render direct help
    to Great Britain? We are, indeed, surprised at these
    British Demands appearing in the newspapers. In accordance
    with the provisions laid down in Article 19 of the
    Provisional Constitution, we hereby demand that a reply be
    given within five days as to the true nature of the
    reported Demands, and the attitude of the Government
    towards them."

    The Demands from Great Britain as reported in the Japanese
    newspapers are as follows:

    1 Great Britain shall have the right to construct railways
    between India and Tibet.

    2 The Chinese Government shall contract loans from the
    British Government for the improvement of the
    administration of Tibet.

    3 The treaty obligations between Tibet and Great Britain
    shall be considered valid as heretofore.

    4 British experts shall be engaged for the industrial
    enterprises of Tibet.

    5 China shall secure the redemption of loans contracted
    from the British people by the Tibetans.

    6 Neither China nor Great Britain shall send troops to
    Tibet without reason.

    7 The Chinese Government shall not appoint or dismiss
    officials in Tibet on its own responsibility.

    8 The British Government shall be allowed to establish
    telegraph lines in Lhassa, Chiangchu, Chamutao, etc.

    9 British postal service shall be introduced in Lhassa and
    other places.

    10 China shall not interfere with the actions of the
    British Government in Tibet.

    11 No privileges or interests in Tibet shall be granted to
    other nations.

    12 All mines in Tibet shall be jointly worked by the
    British and Chinese Governments.

These Twelve Demands, which the Chinese M. P.'s resent so hotly, which
they quaintly term "cruel and unreasonable," virtually amount to the
annexation of Tibet by the British Government. It is amusing to think
that it was the Japanese press which first gave them publicity. We are
so accustomed to hearing of the famous Twenty-one Demands of Japan that
we fail to realize that other nations make demands equally sweeping and
equally arbitrary. Of course, these British demands will not receive the
world-wide attention accorded those of Japan. Remember, over here it is
not customary to think of or speak of anything but "Japanese
aggression." Japan, you see, offers the only stumbling-block to the
complete domination of the Orient by Europe. But for Japan--China might
possibly become another India. And the Japanese, facing race
discrimination and exclusion from most of the European countries, and
many of their colonies, as well as America, cannot afford to have China
under European control. It is a question of self-preservation.

We were dining the other evening with a Chinese gentleman, of high
position, who invited us to dinner at an old and very famous restaurant
outside the palace gates. It was at this restaurant, in the days of the
dowager empress, that the Mandarins used to assemble every night while
waiting for the imperial edicts to be issued from the palace. And as the
edicts frequently did not appear until two or three in the morning, they
comforted themselves, during this long wait, with much fine and delicate
food cooked in the fine and delicate manner that even French cooks
cannot excel. And if the cooking in those days was as delicious as at
present, they passed the time very pleasantly, and did very well by
themselves, those old officials.

It was a bitterly cold night, and the dark street in front of the
restaurant was crowded with a motley array of rickshaws, Peking carts,
and motors, through which we made our way by the light of a bobbing
lantern. We entered a crowded, noisy kitchen, filled with rushing
waiters and shouting cooks bending over charcoal fires. In contrast to
the freezing wind outside the air was deliciously warm, redolent with
the fumes of charcoal and the aroma of savory exotic food. Our table was
waiting for us in a private dining-room; the whole place consists of
private dining-rooms, separated by good thick stone walls, so that one
can't hear the plots and intrigues being hatched next door, though the
din in the open courtyard caused by the scrambling, yelling waiters
would make that impossible, in any event. The room had a stone floor,
and was unheated, only a little less cold than outdoors. Inadvertently,
we took off our wraps,--not all, only two or three; for we are becoming
quite Chinese in our manner of putting one coat on over another. We put
them all on again, however, at the end of the second course, for the
draughty windows and the door constantly swinging open into the
courtyard made all our warm things indispensable.

Our Chinese gentleman gave us a "number-one" dinner, and a number-one
dinner always begins with bird's-nest soup, the greatest delicacy a
Chinese can offer; also, the most expensive. Well, we began with it, and
truly it is "number-one"--gelatinous, delicate, with an exquisite flavor
altogether indescribable. Then followed the other courses. As this
dinner was given to foreigners, we had only twelve courses, whereas the
usual Chinese dinners run up into the dozens; "forty curses" they are
sometimes called by unwary foreigners who have tried to eat their way
through a whole meal. The courses come on and on, endlessly; but the
proper Chinese custom is that you leave when you have had enough, say
four or five. You aren't supposed to sit through an entire meal. Our
host told us that he had been to three dinners that evening, before this
one, and was expecting to go to one or two more. We felt rather uneasy
when he told us this, and thought we ought to be going, ourselves; but
he hastily explained that this dinner, given in our honor, was not long
and that we must go through all of it. Very easy going, I must say!

After the bird's-nest soup came shark fins, another delicacy and also
delicious. Then fish, then soup of another kind, then powdered chicken,
then duck and rice, then cake, then shell-fish, then more duck, then
lotus-flower soup, and finally fruit and coffee. As each wonderful dish
succeeded the other our host apologized profusely, deprecating its poor
quality and miserable manner of preparation. We protested vehemently,
with enthusiasm. This also is Chinese etiquette, it seems, for the host
to denounce each dish, while the guests eat themselves to a standstill.
It all took a long time, for we managed our chop-sticks badly;
nevertheless, in spite of this handicap, we finished every marvelous
course placed before us. A tea-pot of hot sake did something to keep the
creeping chill out of our bones, but very little: the thimble-like sake
cups contained only a few drops, and one doesn't like to ask for the
tea-pot more than seventeen times! During the meal. Mr. Y----
entertained us with many side-lights on the political situation, and we
finally asked him to explain the meaning of the Twelve British Demands.
He replied promptly, emphatically.

"They are a threat," he said, "a form of coercion, to make us take the
next step, to declare war. If we declare war, they will be withdrawn. We
are familiar with them. They have appeared before, when it was
necessary."



XV

CONCLUSION


On the first of April we are going to leave Peking, to leave China alone
to her fate! We have had enough of it, and are just about worn out with
the strain on our sympathies. Opposition to a declaration of war is
growing daily, and so are rumors of a revolution. But a revolution is
just what is needed,--a revolution which will unseat those who are
opposed to the war, and which will place in power a group of officials
submissive and subservient to European influence. A revolution will
offer the grand, final excuse for the "protection" of China, by Europe.
You will see; mark my words. Only, of course, Japan will not be the
power that sets in order this disturbed country. Never Japan, the great
commercial competitor. For by this time you must surely understand that
Japanese aggression is immoral and reprehensible, whereas European
aggression or "civilization" is the fate to which the Orient is
predestined. The world contains a double standard of international
justice, for the East and the West.

At least we are glad to have been in China during these distressful
days, just to see how they do it. With the attention of the world
centered on Europe, things are taking place out here which could not
possibly occur were the world free to know of them, and judge. But in
the safe seclusion of Oriental isolation all things are now possible.
Back of the war, behind the war, ugly things are going on, which will be
all finished and done with and safely accomplished by the time the war
is over. This war for civilization is all that "civilization" requires
in the way of opportunity in the Orient.

So we are going to leave Peking, gorgeous, barbaric Peking, with its
whirling clouds of gossip and its whirling clouds of dust. We are
stifled by them both. We are going to Japan to see cherry-blossoms.



APPENDIXES



APPENDIX I


This despatch appeared in "The New York Times," the last of July or the
first part of August, 1918:

    FEAR OPIUM TRADE REVIVAL IN CHINA

    BRITISH PROTEST LODGED AGAINST LARGE TRACT OF POPPY UNDER
    CULTIVATION IN SHENSI. GOVERNMENT IS HELPLESS. AREA IS
    PRACTICALLY RULED BY BANDITS. MAY TRY TO ENFORCE THE LAW.

    _From a Special Correspondent. Peking, May 27, 1918:_

    One of the very few things which China has done well
    is the suppression of the opium practice with all its
    baneful influences. Under the spur of enlightened foreign
    opinion, the Chinese have rid themselves of opium much
    earlier than was arranged for, and in their thoroughness
    actually defied conventions to which the British
    Government was a party.

    This in other circumstances might have awkward
    consequences. But those who took the risk knew that the
    British people would not tolerate the continuance of
    opium importation into China even if it did involve the
    violation of certain agreements.

    For several years now China has been certified as free,
    that is to say, the cultivation of the poppy has been
    entirely discontinued. Of course the habit has not been
    completely eliminated--that takes time--and the fact that
    a demand for the drug exists is sufficient temptation for
    greedy officials and unscrupulous speculators to connive
    at renewed attempts to cultivate the poppy and resume
    its sale and use.

    The state of lawlessness which prevails in China invites
    disregard of authority, especially when it affords
    lucrative possibilities, and the continued enfeeblement of
    the administration in Peking contributes to conditions
    favoring the resumption of the traffic in opium.

    It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that reports
    have been received by the British Legation in Peking, of
    large tracts being under poppy cultivation in Shensi, a
    province where lawlessness is rampant, and where the
    unfortunate residents are harassed, plundered and
    murdered by large roving bands of Tufei, the Chinese
    equivalent for robbers or thieves. The reports come
    from missionaries and foreign travellers and naturally
    they could not be ignored.

    Accordingly, the British Minister has lodged a protest
    with the Chinese Government. _Under the Opium Convention,
    Indian opium may be imported into China as long as the
    poppy is cultivated in China. That is the legal aspect_,
    but in these days of higher ideals, it may be presumed
    that Sir John Jordan and the British Government, which he
    represents, are more concerned with the moral aspect. _His
    protest is not made in the interests of Indian opium_, but
    in the hope that the national regeneration from a former
    vice should not suffer a relapse.

    The reply of the Chinese Government is not known, but it
    is safe to infer that assurance would be given that orders
    would be issued to the provincial authorities to enforce
    the law prohibiting the cultivation of the poppy. Whether
    these orders will be obeyed is not so certain.

    Gone are the days when edicts from Peking concluded with
    the warning, "tremble and obey." Then they were heeded,
    but now the authority of the Government does not seem to
    extend beyond the metropolitan area, and however ready the
    administration may be to suppress poppy cultivation, it is
    unable to control the more distant feudal tachuns. How
    then, can a Government be held responsible when it is not
    in a position to enforce its authority? This problem meets
    the treaty powers at every turn. One or several must act
    as did Alexander the Great when he cut the Gordian knot.
    Who or which shall it be?

From an article in the "North China Herald," dated September 14, 1918:

    The Government [Chinese] after concluding the opium deal,
    farmed the right to sell the drug in Chekiang, Hupeh
    and Kiangsu, to a specially formed company, called
    the Hsichi Company.

We read further in the article that the Hsichi Company bought opium from
the Chinese Government at the rate of 10,000 taels per chest, which it
sells to district farmers at 23,000 taels per chest, and these latter
retail it to drug-stores or consumers at 27,000 taels per chest.

From Millard's "Review of the Far East," October 12, 1918:

    It would be advisable for the Peking government to
    seriously consider the notes addressed to it on the
    subject of opium by the British and American governments.
    The trade in opium cannot any more be successfully revived
    in China than could the African slave trade, and if Peking
    proposes to make a few dollars by the sale of the
    over-plus opium stock at Shanghai the venture is
    dangerous. Only a few years ago China gave her pledge, in
    the presence of the assembled nations at The Hague, that
    the poppy plant should never again be cultivated within
    her borders, nor would the traffic in opium be tolerated,
    and in the notes from the British and American governments
    the pledge given at The Hague is brought directly to the
    attention of those in authority at Peking. The two Western
    governments named would hardly have taken such concurrent
    action without a significant meaning, and a meaning which
    Peking will not be permitted to treat with indifference
    and impunity. It is certainly not the policy of either
    British or American governments to interfere in the
    domestic affairs of China, but both of those governments
    do intend that no business shall be carried on as
    demoralizing and offensive to the moral sense of the world
    as the business of debauching and drugging with opium.
    London and Washington really do not appear to be fully
    enlightened as to conditions at Peking and the motives and
    inspirations influencing officials in that Capital, and a
    reformation there is as much needed as in Russia. It may
    be written that at no time in Chinese history, during the
    past two hundred years, has the name of China been so
    disparaged and her reputation besmirched. Representatives
    of the Allied nations and America are in Russia charged
    with the duty of aiding in bringing about the unity of the
    Russian people that they may establish a stable
    government, and representatives of a similar character for
    a like purpose are as much needed in China. Russia will
    soon have a stable government, the choice of her people,
    but China promises to go on unsettled so long as Peking
    governs as at present.

From the "New York Times," November 25, 1918:

    CHINA TO DESTROY OPIUM

    1,200 CHESTS TO BE BURNED IN DEFERENCE TO ALLIED
    REPRESENTATIONS

    Copyright, 1918, by The New York Times Company. Special
    Cable to "The New York Times."

    PEKING, Nov. 23.--The Government has decided to destroy
    the remaining stocks of opium in Shanghai in deference to
    Anglo-American representations. Three hundred chests have
    been sold, and 1,200 will be burned in presence of the
    allied representatives, the Government making a virtue
    of necessity.

America to the rescue! It must have been a close squeak for poor old
China.



APPENDIX II


From the "New York Medical Record," October 12, 1918:

    THE ORIGIN OF THE SO-CALLED "SPANISH INFLUENZA"

    BY JAMES JOSEPH KING, A.B., M.D.

    NEW YORK

    CAPTAIN MEDICAL CORPS, U. S. ARMY

    We desire to present in this preliminary note a
    consideration of the similarity of the present epidemic to
    the epidemic of pneumonic plague which broke out in
    Harbin, China, in October, 1910, and spread rapidly and
    continuously throughout Northern China at that time; and
    to suggest that this epidemic may be the same disease
    modified by racial and topographical differences. The
    origin of this epidemic was suggested to the writer soon
    after its outbreak in our camps by Mr. Guy M. Walker, an
    eminent American authority on Chinese affairs. This
    suggestion led to an investigation of the reports of the
    pneumonic plague in China and there is sufficient likeness
    of that epidemic to the present one prevailing in our
    cities and army camps to warrant a consideration of it.

    In the latter part of 1910 the pneumonic plague first
    appeared in Harbin a town in Manchuria under Chinese
    control. Harbin is on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and was
    the original hotbed of the disease. The plague had
    prevailed in Russia previous to November, 1910, but the
    Russians, alert to its danger, took immediate action and
    stamped it out. It was believed that the plague was
    carried into Harbin by the fur dealers and by the Chinese
    laborers returning to their homes to celebrate New Year's
    Day, a custom universally observed in China. From Harbin
    the plague rapidly spread in all directions, usually
    following the lines of traffic along the railroads. It
    spread as far south as Chefu, a seaport town, probably
    having been carried there by Chinese coolies returning
    from the north.

       *       *       *       *       *

    This plague has been very serious. The mortality has been
    fearfully high. It has spread throughout China. Wherever
    the Chinese coolies from the North have traveled they have
    carried this disease. From 1910 up to 1917 China has not
    been free from it. The writer has heard of several cases
    being present in Peking last year.

    In the early part of 1917, about 200,000 Chinese coolies,
    collected from the northern part of China, where the
    pneumonic plague has raged at intervals since 1910, were
    sent to France as laborers. Part of them were sent around
    through the Mediterranean; some, perhaps the majority,
    were sent across the Pacific, and then through Canada and
    America, to be transported across the Atlantic to France.
    Trainloads of these coolies were sent in solid trains
    across the United States to New York and thence to France.
    They made splendid laborers in France, and were in back of
    the lines during the German drive of March, 1918. No doubt
    many of them were captured by the Germans at that time.
    Hence the outbreak of it in the German army and its rapid
    spread in Spain.

    So far as we know, this disease first broke out last
    spring, in the German army, where it is said to have been
    very serious. We next heard of it in Spain, hence the name
    Spanish influenza. The name is really a misnomer, but it
    has stuck probably because it is the first epidemic of
    influenza that Spain has ever had. Since our soldiers and
    sailors have been returning from the battlefields of
    France it has become very prevalent and serious in our
    camps and cities all over this country.

       *       *       *       *       *

    ... It seems possible that the _Bacillus pestis_ may have
    been present in a non-virulent state in the Chinese
    coolies, and assumed new virulence, vigor, and a somewhat
    different form, when transplanted into virgin soil. The
    high mortality and infectivity of this epidemic strongly
    suggest it.

    On this basis the epidemics which have followed all great
    wars may be explained. If a nation or tribe can survive
    any disease long enough it will acquire immunity to that
    disease. When, however, foreign people commingle freely
    and intimately, as in war, epidemics will break out. The
    inactive, non-virulent organisms in one race will become
    virulent in some other race which has not acquired
    immunity to that specific organism.



Transcriber's Notes:


Author's name is spelled LaMotte (title page) or La Motte (cover and
introduction). The appearance of the original text has been preserved in
each case.

List of illustrations, 5th entry, "Peking car" changed to "Peking cart"
to match caption under illustration.

Inconsistent hyphenation of words in text preserved. This occurs
mainly in the transliteration of Chinese names. (Lao-Hsi-Kai, Lao Hsi
Kai; Li Yuan-Hung, Li Yuan Hung; Shan-tung, Shantung)

Abbreviations: sometimes a space between letters, sometimes not, the
appearance of the original text is preserved. (P. M., M. P., U. S.,
A.B., M.D.)

Page 37, closing quote mark added. (Not much," he replied)

Page 149, extra period removed. (motives of the Allies.)

Page 220, non-standard spelling "manoeuvering" preserved. (weeks'
manoeuvering to make)





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peking Dust" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home