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Title: Life and sport in China - Second Edition
Author: Ready, Oliver George
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.

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   [Illustration: PAGODA, NEAR HANKOW.


The British public is greatly handicapped in forming an intelligent
appreciation of happenings in China by a lack of that initial
experience which can only be gained by residence in the country.

In this little work I have endeavoured to place before readers a
sketch of things as I saw them, and to convey to their minds an idea
of how Europeans live there, of their amusements, of their work, and
of those things which are matters of daily interest to them, so that
my book may serve as a kind of preface to that enthralling volume, the
current history of China, as it is daily revealed in the press, in
magazines and in learned works.

While confining myself herein to the lighter side of narrative, I am
not unconscious of those intricate problems and deep studies connected
with the Far East, but to which profound research and matured judgment
must be applied, though information thereon, even when collected and
published, would appeal mostly to the narrow circle of experts on
matters Chinese.

The vast Empire of China with its hundreds of millions of toiling
slaves, with its old, old civilisation reaching back for untold years
prior to the dawn of history in the West, with its manners and
customs so worn into the national character that they almost form the
character itself, with its fertile plains, its sandy deserts, its
lofty mountains, its mighty rivers, its torrid heat and arctic cold,
its devastating floods, its cruel famines and loathsome epidemics,
represents a _mass_, the contemplation of which staggers the mind and
makes one ask, "What is Europe trying to do here? Does she hope to
conquer, to change or to purify?"

After a residence of twelve years in various parts of the country I
instinctively feel that while military occupation by the Great Powers
may be possible, not only is China in a sense unconquerable, but that
she is eminently a conquering nation, though not by clash of arms.
Insidiously, remorselessly and viciously she will subdue apostles of
the West who are sent to her, and unless persistently restrained will
overflow into adjacent lands and conquer there by cheap labour and
unremitting toil.

For the photographs I am indebted to the generosity of Mrs T. Child,
as well as to T.T.H. Ferguson, A.J.E. Allen, Carlos Cabral and the
late H. Hall, Esquires.


CHAP.                                                             PAGE

   I. ANGLO-CHINESE LIFE                                             1

  II. SERVANTS AND TRADESMEN                                        26

 III. SHOOTING                                                      46

  IV. RIDING                                                        73

   V. SAILING                                                       96

  VI. JAMBOREES                                                    119

 VII. AROUND PEKING                                                139

VIII. HERE AND THERE                                               169

  IX. THE MARRIAGE TIE                                             197



                                     PHOTO BY

PAGODA NEAR HANKOW                   H. HALL            _Frontispiece_

THE BRITISH CONCESSION, HANKOW      _Chinese_         _To face page_ 3

  AND "NO. 2."                      T.T.H. FERGUSON         "       37

HOUSE-BOAT ON THE YANGTSE           A.J.E. ALLEN            "       50

THE CAB OF NORTHERN CHINA           A.J.E. ALLEN            "       75

  RACES, 1888                       _Chinese_               "       87

FOOCHOW JUNK, SHOWING EYE           T.T.H. FERGUSON         "       98


THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA             T.T.H. FERGUSON         "      158

  TOMBS                             T.T.H. FERGUSON         "      161

A TYPICAL FARM-HOUSE                H. HALL                 "      177

  AT CHINESE NEW YEAR               CARLOS CABRAL           "      189

  HOLDING BOOK                      T. CHILD                "      228


  =Bund.= The embankment or quay of a concession.

  =Concession.= A strip of land conceded by China to another Power
      exclusively for the residences of foreigners.

  =Camoëns.= Portuguese poet who wrote the Luciad at Macao.

  =Chit.= Any letter or note, also an I.O.U.

  =Chop chop.= Quickly. Hurry up.

  =Compradore.= Chinese agent or partner.

  =Coolie.= Chinese labourer.

  =Cumshaw.= A tip or present.

  =European.= In China this word is equally applicable to

  =Foreigner.= European or American in China.

  =Gingall.= Heavy muzzle-loading musket requiring two men to
      carry and fire it.

  =Han, Children of.= Chinese.

  =Kowtow.= To make obeisance by striking the head on the ground.

  =Lowdah.= Sailing-master.

  =Mafoo.= Groom.

  =Native.= Chinese.

  =Out-port.= Any treaty port except Shanghai, and Hongkong.

  =Papico.= Junk from Ningpo, shaped aft like a duck.

  =Pow.= To gallop.

  =Praia Grande.= Esplanade facing sea.

  =Pumelo.= A coarse fruit resembling an enormous orange.

  =Punkah.= Large fan suspended from ceiling for ventilating

  =Ricksha.= Small gig drawn by a coolie, who plies it for hire.

  =Runner.= Official underling. Police agent.

  =Sai.= Here I am. A word used by servants combining Sir and
      _Lai_, to come.

  =Samli.= A fish resembling salmon.

  =Sampan.= Small native boat.

  =Samshu.= Spirit distilled from rice or millet.

  =Settlement.= Where Europeans have settled on a limited strip of
      Chinese territory.

  =Shroff.= Chinese accountant, cashier and banker.

  =Squeeze.= Recognised cheating.

  =Sycee Shoes.= Rough lumps of silver cast in shape of
      China-woman's small shoe or of half-globe.

  =Tiffin.= Luncheon.

  =Treaty-port.= Any port opened by treaty to foreign trade.

  =Waler.= Horse from New South Wales.

  =Westerner.= European or American.

  =Yamên.= Official building.

  =Yulow.= A scull worked over the stern.

  =Zacousca.= Russian appetiser or snack taken before meals.

Life and Sport in China



Anglo-Chinese life is a sealed book to most people at home, who, if
they ever think about it at all, do so with minds adversely biassed by
ignorance of the conditions, a hazy idea of intense heat, and a
remembrance of cruel massacres.

"Going to China" always elicits looks and exclamations of astonishment
at so rash an undertaking, but which the stock questions as to whether
we eat with chopsticks, whether it is not always unbearably hot, and
whether we like the Chinese, explain as disquietude arising from the
idea of encountering "evils that we know not of."

Our early business relations with the Chinese were conducted at
Canton, to which port opium in particular was shipped direct from
India, but owing to the hostility of Chinese officials towards British
merchants and the legitimate expansion of their trade, quarrels were
frequent, culminating in the so-called Opium War of 1840-42, resulting
in the acquisition by us of the small, barren island of Hongkong, and
the opening to foreign trade of five ports, including Canton and
Shanghai, at all of which small plots of land some half a mile square
were set apart for the exclusive residence of foreigners generally but
of Englishmen in particular. Disputes, however, did not cease, so that
twenty years later England and France in co-operation, attacked China,
and wrung from her the right of foreign ministers accredited to the
Chinese court to reside at Peking, and also that additional ports
should be opened to foreign trade, with a plot of land at each for
residential purposes.

The treaties following on these two wars have since been supplemented
by other treaties opening still more ports, at some of which also
adjoining plots of land have likewise been conceded, and our position
in China to-day is founded on the accumulated result of these various
agreements, which, above all things, guarantee us exterritoriality or
exemption from Chinese jurisdiction, so that Europeans for whatever
misdemeanours, are amenable only to their own consuls.

   _To face page 3._]

There are now about thirty treaty-ports, most of them having these
residential plots or concessions some of which, however, have never
been taken up and built on, but where they have been, although
leased from the Chinese Government at nominal rents, they are to all
intents and purposes little detached portions of the British Empire,
kept scrupulously clean and in perfect order, where natives are not
allowed to dwell, but where Europeans of all nationalities live in
security and comfort.

In each of them resides a British consul, who represents his
Government _vis-à-vis_ the Chinese and foreign officials, and who
holds the position of magistrate in relation to his own nationals. An
English doctor also is generally in practice at all, except the very
smallest, ports.

In many instances walls have been built round these concessions, the
gateways in which can be bolted and barred at night to keep out the
natives, a good system of drainage introduced, wide roads laid out and
lighted, public seats placed in pleasant spots facing the water, trees
planted, palatial houses built with gardens attached, a church
constructed, clubs founded, billiard-tables and other insignia of
Western luxury imported, a municipal council elected for managing
local affairs, and a force of native police or Indian Sikhs raised,
with which, under English superintendents, to maintain order in our

Other countries, notably France, have similar settlements, though far
less numerous, but I shall herein refer exclusively to our own.

Off the frontage or _bund_ is frequently moored a line of hulks
connected with the shore by pontoons, and which in their day were
probably the finest ocean liners afloat, but now, worn out and
dismantled, serve as floating warehouses, alongside which steamers
come to discharge and load cargo. At other places vessels drop anchor
in mid-stream, while between them and the various jetties large cargo
boats constantly pass to and fro laden with merchandise, to be quickly
shipped or landed by gangs of chattering coolies.

Everywhere the foreshore is always crowded with a fleet of native
junks, displaying half mast be it a bundle of wood, a rice measure or
a coal scoop, to show that their cargoes consisting of wood, rice,
coal, etc., are for sale.

Either just on the concession, by permission of the consul, or in
Chinatown immediately outside, are two or three general stores and
butchers' shops, run by either Chinese, Parsees or Japanese,
especially to supply the foreign community with groceries, bread, meat
and other daily requisites.

No one carries money in his pocket, for the Europeans being but few in
number are well known by sight, and any purchase is made by signing an
I.O.U., or _chit_, for the amount necessary in dollars or cents. At
the club you call for say two sherries and one bamboo (half sherry,
half vermouth) and the waiter brings them, together with a small
chit-book in which he has already written down your order in pencil,
and this, after inspection, you simply sign or initial, when it is
torn out and dropped into the till and you see no more of it until the
end of the month, when your club bill comes in, supported by all the
chits you have signed.

For the offertory, pencils and pieces of paper are distributed about
the church, so that the congregation may easily write chits, which are
folded up and dropped into the bag, to be presented at your house next
day by the church coolie for payment. This system, though very
convenient, is apt to prove something of a trap, for signing a chit is
so much easier, and the amount appears to be so much less than if
paying in hard cash, that when the monthly total is made up you are at
first inclined to believe there must be some mistake; but alas!
careful verification too plainly shows that you have signed for more
than you had any idea of.

Amongst Europeans the currency employed is the silver dollar, now
worth about one shilling and sevenpence though formerly rated at five
shillings, together with a subsidiary coinage of fifty, twenty, ten
and five-cent silver pieces, as well as coppers of one and two cents

The Chinese standard of value in universal use throughout the Empire
is copper cash. A cash is about the size of a shilling and equivalent
to one eighth of a farthing in value. Through the centre of each coin
is a square hole large enough to admit a thick string. It is usual to
thread cash, first into bundles of one hundred, each bundle being
about the size and shape of a sausage, and then for ten bundles to be
strung together in pairs, so that the full string of a thousand cash
almost exactly corresponds to a double string of ten sausages. The
value of this full string is about half-a-crown, and owing to its
great weight is usually carried slung over the shoulder.

The _tael_, pronounced tale, is not a coin at all, but means simply an
ounce (of silver). There are many kinds of taels, each of a different
value according to the purity or _touch_ of the silver, which is
chiefly determined by the locality in which the metal is mined.

When a Chinaman sells native produce to a European he always keeps in
mind its value in cash, and wants a corresponding value in dollars or
taels, whatever the price of silver may happen to be. The same with
wages of all kinds; the amount required in each case is based on what
each individual requires in cash.

The whole monetary system, or rather lack of system, complicated by
numberless local banks, each with its own issue of paper money, is so
bewildering that European householders seldom bother about anything
beyond dollars and cents, to which standard, for their especial
benefit, all others are reduced, though always at a certain loss in
the exchange.

Some of these concessions, which are in reality little English towns,
have greatly prospered since their inauguration and are now centres of
voluminous and increasing trade; but others, belying their initial
prosperity, have stagnated, and appear to be gradually slipping back
to the Chinese, who, in contravention of treaty ordinances, have been
allowed to acquire property on them and reside there in
rapidly-increasing numbers.

The thriving settlement of Shanghai, which is situated near the mouth
of the River Yangtse, and which possesses a foreign population of six
or seven thousand, may be considered the metropolis of other
treaty-ports in the northern half of the Empire, or, as they are
generally called, "out-ports"; while the British colony of Hongkong
stands in the same relation to out-ports in the south.

Hongkong has now no connection whatever with China, being entirely a
British possession, and has been converted from a barren rock to a
most lovely, thriving and important commercial town and naval base,
and is the greatest triumph of British enterprise and material
civilisation that I know of.

Nearly all these out-ports are in telegraphic communication with
either Shanghai or Hongkong, and through them with the outside world,
while the postal service is conducted by means of coast and river
steamers which, plying regularly with passengers and cargo, have bases
in these two emporiums, so that in whatever port you reside your
thoughts and your interests are daily and directly concerned with
either one or the other. From them come the daily newspapers,
arriving, maybe, several days after date of issue, but still fresh
reading for those in distant places. From them come the gun-boats
which, besides protection, bring the welcome society of jovial naval
men, and from them come commercial travellers with assortments of
hats, boots, guns, clothes and other necessaries; while to them we go
to embark for home, or, when in need of a social holiday, to chip off
the rust of out-port seclusion, until eventually we look to them for
many of our creature comforts, and through them, as through a window,
to the world beyond.

Existence at both Shanghai and Hongkong is surrounded with so many
Western accessories in the shape of good houses, electric light,
excellent roads, horses and carriages, bands in public gardens and
hourly telegrams, that life at an out-port, while at times very
monotonous, is frequently more interesting, for there, being less
overshadowed by the pleasure of foreign society, you may come into
closer touch with things Chinese, so that if the study of a people the
most antiquated and wonderful under the sun has attractions for any,
this, together with the many facilities for the enjoyment of sport and
outdoor life, should be sufficient to bring occasional contentment to
even the most despondent.

From the extreme north to the extreme south, and from the sea to the
mean west, that is, along the coast line and up the River Yangtse for
fourteen hundred miles to Chungking, these nests of British enterprise
adhere like barnacles to China's stolid bulk, dominating her vast
trade with other countries, appearing as bright oases in the desert of
Eastern heathendom and unfriendliness, and ranging in numerical
importance from say thirty to five hundred Europeans, in accordance
with the amount of shipping which flows through them and is their very

Much depends on the residents themselves whether social life in these
miniature colonies is to be very pleasant or only a deadly monotony.
Nearly every man who comes out from home has been selected from among
his fellows for some particular superiority. Either he is smart in
business, has health and physique to withstand the extremes of climate
to which he may be subjected, is clever and has gained his appointment
in competitive examination, or he may have all these qualities
combined; anyhow, he is a picked man, above the average all round, and
as such has a corresponding force of character.

A number of such men being thrown together in a small place either
co-operate and become fast friends, their wives and children, if they
have any, following suit, when existence is rendered charming, or, on
the other hand, with their marked individualities and business
rivalries they may quarrel, in which case the best thing is to forego
all hopes of social pleasures and wrap yourself up in your own
content. A quarrelsome port provides an amusing study for a short
time, but after that, especially during the depressing dampness of the
rainy season when it is too wet to go out, life becomes very
monotonous and irritating, for the space being so limited you are
continually brought face to face with people who are on bad terms and
who try to attach you to their side. Trivial jealousies, mythical
slights and insignificant nothings which would pass unnoticed in a
larger world here assume such alarming proportions that the club
languishes owing to numerous resignations, few attend church because
one of the rival faction plays the organ, and the evening promenade
beneath the trees along the bund is transformed from a pleasant family
gathering into a funereal procession.

In pleasing contrast is a _nice_ port, where people pull together,
where good-fellowship and hospitality make one feel like the member of
a large family, where you walk into the house of your neighbour, smoke
his cigars and drink his whisky, brought to you while reclining in a
long chair on the verandah with the punkah swinging lazily over you,
waiting for the master's return. This is done with the pleasurable
knowledge that your friend would naturally instal himself in your
house under like circumstances. Here is real charm. Think, too, of the
outdoor life, of those lovely evenings when the air is soft and warm,
the moon at full and of a size never seen in England, when a party of
us would sail out on the lake, drop anchor and dine in the cool
breeze, and after cigars and coffee would sail on again, singing songs
that carried us back to days of yore and bringing a sad yet sweet
strain into thoughts and voices as we glided over the moonlit waters.

Spring and autumn bring the two great events of the year--the races.

Many ports have a capital race-course, which is always circular in
shape, enclosing what are generally the grounds of the recreation
club, while almost every sporting man trains a pony or two, which he
frets and fumes over in a style that would not bemean a Newmarket turf
magnate. Weeks before the meeting, increasing in intensity as the time
shortens and decreasing slowly as the event recedes, the talk is
purely of ponies, ponies, ponies--until the non-racing man droops and
turns away, but without daring to utter one single word of protest
against the prevailing epidemic of pony talk. Race lotteries at the
club afford great excitement to the betting men, when the knowing ones
make books which in the end leave them considerably to the bad, while
those who know nothing rejoice with the joy of fools, thinking that to
their own perspicuity is due the roll of dollars which wanton luck has
thrust upon them.

On the actual race days, of which there are generally two, with a
third or off-day tacked on, things reach a climax. All business is
curtailed or altogether suspended. Everyone wears colours, either his
own or those of a friend, and at eleven o'clock the ladies are driven
to the course in state by happy owners of various nondescript vehicles
furbished up for the occasion. Everyone knows everyone else, the names
of ponies entered have been household words for weeks, while their
supposed merits are open secrets, the jockeys are personal friends,
the weather is bright and warm, the ladies wear their smartest
dresses, the course is kept and order maintained with the aid of
bluejackets from the gun-boat in port, while her drum and fife band or
nigger troupe renders selections of varied merits. A race over, the
successful owner and jockey are seized and carried shoulder high to
the bar behind the grand-stand, where winners and losers alike have
preceded them to secure a glass of champagne at the owner's expense,
with which to drink his health and show a befitting sense of joy at
the victory which has just been achieved.

An excellent champagne lunch is served in the grand-stand, and
presided over by the clerk of the course, who, by virtue of his
exalted office, ranks high in the community, when suitable toasts are
proposed and cordially honoured, followed by an adjournment to the
paddock for a stroll and a smoke, after which attention is again
claimed for the business of the afternoon's racing.

Riding is usually well to the fore, and on an afternoon parties of
ladies with attendant cavaliers trot down the reach by the river and
gallop home across the plain, or wend along the beach, walking their
ponies in the salt water.

For the sportsman game in abundance generally lies within reach, and
nothing of its kind is more delightful than an afternoon with the
spring snipe, or a shooting trip of a few days in company with a
kindred spirit.

Tennis is still a favourite amusement during summer months, and
garden-parties, comprising almost the whole community, meet
frequently, be it on the club grounds or at private houses, when those
who do not play come to watch and chat while partaking of ices and
other refreshments, or smoking peacefully in the cool shade of leafy

In many places there are good turf courts, but at others, where grass
will not grow sufficiently well to be of any practical value, recourse
is had to either cement or cinders.

Chinese lads in neat cotton uniforms are always in attendance to field
the balls, which they do remarkably well, thereby adding greatly to
one's enjoyment of the game.

Golf has of late years come greatly into prominence, a frequent place
for the links being on the recreation ground enclosed by the
race-track, for which reason it is generally the case that they are
too flat to afford much variety of play, although near to Macao there
are some very rough links which, from the natural advantages and
lovely scenery, could be made almost ideal.

Our club there consisted of six members when at its zenith, and
occasionally two in times of dearth. We had three miles to bicycle
out, and part of the way over a fearful stone road through nauseous
burial-grounds, but once there, a round or two in cool, fresh air,
amongst the hills and pines, overlooking both sea and river, amply
repaid one for the toilsome journey.

Of rowing there is very little, except at Shanghai and Hongkong, where
there are large and flourishing clubs.

Hongkong being on the sea it is not practicable to use light ships,
which, of course, is a great drawback.

At Shanghai there is the harbour and also a small creek about the size
of the Cam, both of which afford ample facilities. The club has two
excellent boathouses and plenty of boats, and is composed of the
finest material possible, all the best men in Shanghai, as is ever the
case elsewhere, going in for rowing at one time or another; but the
rowing is not first-class, and unless things have greatly changed
since I was an active member, a crew capable of sitting a light cedar
ship could not be mustered, all the racing being done in clinker

The reason for this lack of watermanship is partly due to the
difficulty in coaching otherwise than from the stern of a boat, there
being no towing path on which the coach can ride or run alongside his
men, as is done at Oxford or Cambridge, while the hire of launches is
too expensive. Also, part of the reason is due to beginners being
seldom taken out and coached in tubs by expert senior men who have
had the benefit of a professional or scientific training, but are put
into a bad four and left to develop themselves as best they may. It
would well repay the club to have a path made alongside the creek and
to get a professional out from home for a year or two to initiate a
high-class style, after which the traditions, once firmly established,
would pass down naturally to succeeding generations of oarsmen.

The coxing is on a par with the rowing. I have seen a length lost at a
corner, the rate of striking reduced by ten a minute and the crew
badly pulled to pieces, through the rudder being hard on when the oars
were in the water.

After all, skill in rowing is but a question of degree and of no vital
importance in a place so isolated from other rowing centres as is
Shanghai, while the club is certainly one of the best to get into on
arriving there, especially for youths, as plenty of good, open-air
exercise can thus be obtained in the society of strong, healthy-minded

If hills or mountains be within easy distance bungalows are there
built, to which most ladies and children retire for the hot weather,
the men snatching hasty visits when business allows them to leave the
settlement. At one place down south such bungalows are built on a tiny
island four or five miles out at sea, and there it is never very hot,
while in the evenings it is delightful to bathe, stroll along the
sands, or sit with the pilot on watch up by the old ruined fort, where
you can see rays from the lighthouses flashing far, far across the
waves, watch the lights of steamers as they pass beneath and listen to
the cadenced throbbing of their screws. For those residing in Central
China a sanatorium has lately sprung up near Kiukiang, at Kuling, a
valley some 4,000 feet above sea-level in the Lushan mountains, which
overlook the Yangtse on one side and the Poyang lake on the other.
This valley was unknown to Europeans a few years ago, but has now the
appearance of a country town, there being probably a hundred and fifty
well-appointed bungalows strongly built of stone quarried on the spot,
a church, shops, laundry and a network of roads and paths.

When feeling run down after a long spell of intense heat in the
plains, a trip to this resort is most refreshing, for there it is
always cool enough to wear light tweeds during the day and to sleep
under a blanket at night. The mountain rambles are lovely, be it over
the lofty peaks, through the trees and scrub in the valleys or along
the bed of a stream, where frequent pools of running, crystal water
afford good bathing or a little fishing for those addicted to the
gentle art.

Never shall I forget one glorious day when, accompanying two friends,
we crossed to a far side of the range and looked down on the Poyang
lake. The view was magnificent, and on our return journey the setting
sun flashed every imaginable hue on the mists rolling close above our
heads, on the landscape changing as we moved, on mountain crags and on
the lake, unfolding at each turn dissolving scenes of surpassing

On arrival at Kiukiang by steamer you hire a chair with four bearers
for the ten or twelve miles' journey up the mountains, with additional
coolies to carry your luggage. For half the distance you follow
ordinary country roads, but during the last few miles the path, though
well constructed, is very steep in some places, while in others it
overhangs yawning valleys, where you instinctively grip the sides of
your chair and fervently hope the bearers will not trip.

In the north, Chefoo, Wei-hai-wei and Pei-tai-ho attract a goodly
number of visitors to the seaside during summer months, while others
desiring greater change sail to earth's fairyland, Japan, or even make
the voyage to Canada and back.

We dance whenever and wherever we can. The houses being generally
large, with fine rooms often but lightly furnished on account of the
summer heat or our own nomadic habits, and servants being both
plentiful and willing, the giving of a dance presents no great

It is a common thing at a dinner-party of twelve or fourteen to have
the drawing-room cleared during dinner, so that with the help of a few
more friends who come in afterwards, the evening's entertainment can
be pleasantly varied with a few dances.

I was once at a small port where for a long time there had been only
one lady, who was naturally regarded as the belle of the place.
Presently a rival appeared, and with her two pretty, unmarried
sisters; whereon my messmates and I forthwith gave an impromptu dance.

We cleared our dining-room for the occasion, but found the carpet to
be so old and so tightly nailed down that it would not bear removing,
and we decided to dance on it.

No sooner, however, had we commenced to the strains of an accordion,
not having a piano, than the floor, which was laid on round joists
over the entrance hall, began to vibrate so violently that glasses on
the sideboard were smashed and ornaments fell from the walls, while
dust from the carpet, which evidently had not been beaten for years,
rose in such clouds that, coupled with the heat of a stifling night,
we were literally choked off and obliged to take refuge in the garden.
Fortunately it was a beautiful night and full moon, so we diverted our
dance to a game of hide-and-seek, and a merrier evening I have seldom

The annual out-port subscription ball keeps everyone in a ferment for
weeks. Owing to the cosmopolitan nature of the community due care must
be taken that the various nationalities are represented on the
committee, to avoid giving offence.

Then the committee has to decide, amongst other things, who are to be
invited and who not, and it invariably happens that some are for
including all, irrespective of station, while others desire to draw
the line after what they consider to be the _élite_. In either case
there is bound to be a certain amount of friction, which at times
rises to a very heated pitch.

One of the leading ladies superintends the decoration of the ballroom,
another is responsible for the supper, while another sees that the
floor is properly waxed and arranges for the piano, as the music is
provided by leading amateurs, there being no band.

After endless discussion and elaborate preparation the important night
arrives, when the guests assemble, frequently with strained feelings
but with a fixed determination to enjoy the passing hour.

Men are largely in the majority, so that ladies of all ages, ranging
say from fourteen to forty, are requested as a favour to dance, and
are assured beforehand of a full programme.

Those men who cannot get partners, or do not care to dance, spend the
evening between cards and occasional visits to the ballroom to watch.

The supper is always very good and not hurried through with that undue
haste so noticeable at home. The assembly, being considerably leavened
with people who are, to say the least, well out of their teens, makes
itself comfortable for an hour or more, doing ample justice to the
delicacies provided; indeed, after the ladies have all departed,
bachelors and wayward husbands usually return to the attack once, and
even twice, so that it is not uncommon to hear an incoherent "For he's
a jolly good fellow" from a belated band of revellers returning home
shortly before daylight.

At Peking, Hongkong and Shanghai dances and balls are very frequent
and carried out on a scale comparable with that of similar festivities
at home.

The club is always a popular institution, where the male element of
the community, frequently representing many nationalities, gathers for
a game of billiards and a chat, and where the home and local papers,
together with a fair number of books and magazines, are to be found.
One evening during the tea season, just before dinner, I counted at
one time fourteen nationalities in the bar of the Hankow Club.

I like those friendly gatherings at the round table, when sport and
other topics of our limited world are discussed, and when one
generally manages to give or to receive an invitation to pot-luck,
with a rubber or a gentle poker flutter to follow.

There, too, is sometimes an American bowling alley, where on cold
nights, or hot, for the matter of that, we roll huge wooden balls down
a raised track for twenty yards, to scatter nine pins at the bottom.
There are two parallel tracks and we make up two bowling parties of
three or four aside, the losers to pay for the game and provide
refreshments all round.

China is so enormous in extent that it embraces almost every variety
of climate, though, speaking generally, the summer is everywhere very
warm, while the winter, from being almost of arctic severity in the
northern provinces, where the sea is frozen and all navigation stopped
for six weeks or two months, gradually becomes milder in lower
latitudes, until snow and frost are seldom experienced, and finally
never seen in the sub-tropical region of the extreme south. Many years
ago snow fell at Canton and the astonished natives are said to have
collected it in bottles to keep, believing that it was a kind of

In the Yangtse valley during July, August and September, the heat at
times is well-nigh intolerable both by day and night. You arise in the
morning played out after a comfortless night under a punkah, which,
hung over your bed in the limited space of a mosquito house, is
pulled with a rope passing through the wall by a coolie stationed on
the verandah outside. With the thermometer standing at ninety degrees
in your bedroom you frame the mental query "Can I last through the
day?" as you crawl on to the verandah in pyjamas wet through with
perspiration, to watch the sun rise, hoping, but in vain, for a breath
of air. The insects buzz, a scorched smell pervades everywhere, the
birds hop listlessly about, gasping with wide-open bills, the fans of
coolies who have been sleeping on the grass, beat with hollow flap,
the sun rises like a furnace, and you must retreat again to the shadow
of your room to avoid sunstroke.

As the day advances the temperature creeps up until it is over a
hundred and you feel your eyes dry and heavy in their sockets, with a
throbbing in your ears, when for full-blooded people of any age it
becomes highly dangerous, death by heat apoplexy being painfully

In the evening, after dinner, long chairs are taken out on the bund
and many assemble there in silence, betrayed only in the darkness by a
continual popping of corks and glowing cigar-tips, to catch what
little air there may chance to be, and to watch the lightning in hopes
that the oft-threatened storm will burst and break the heat.

I remember at Kiukiang the daily temperature rising to over a hundred
degrees in the shade for nearly three weeks at a stretch, culminating
in one hundred and seven, when a break came which, at any rate, saved
_my_ life and practically ended the summer.

Many a time, when too hot for sleep, have I played whist till three
o'clock in the morning. Selecting the corner of an upstairs verandah
where there might be some possibility of a faint draught, and having
cigars, whisky and iced soda well within reach, we would take off our
white jackets for greater coolness and sit perspiring in singlets
round the table between guttering candles, when with bare heads and
naked arms we must have had the appearance of desperate gamblers,
though only playing the regulation twenty-five cent points with longs
and shorts and a dollar on the rub, so that the damage could not be
very extensive.

The winter in this locality is very much on a par with that in
England, only shorter, there being generally some frost with a good
deal of snow and occasionally enough ice for skating.

Dinner-parties are very numerous, being the chief method of
entertainment. The _menu_ is, as a rule, excellent, and the import
duty being almost nominal, wine is both plentiful and good.

After a few mental twinges endured by leading personages consequent on
somewhat exaggerated ideas of precedence, the company is seated, and
a good dinner, aided by a lively flow of chit-chat, makes the evening
speed pleasantly and well.

But, you will ask, what besides amusing themselves have these
Anglo-Chinese to do? British steamers swarm throughout the China seas
and up the Yangtse for a thousand miles to Ichang, and it is in
controlling the working of these vessels, in importing and selling
manufactured goods and opium, in buying and exporting tea, silk and
other products of the country, as well as in filling positions in
Government services or any professional calling that agents,
merchants, officials and the professional classes find employment, so
that if in exile we surround ourselves with such luxuries and
enjoyments as are reserved for the wealthy at home it is because they
are ready to hand at but little cost, and that they serve in a degree
to compensate us for the sweet pleasures of home-life which are
forfeited by those who leave Old England to push their ways in distant



On your first arrival at an out-port, and as you are crossing the
pontoon which leads from the steamer to the bund, a most beaming
celestial meets you and presents an open letter, which runs something
like this:--

    "I hereby certify that the bearer, Lao San, was my boy
    for eight months, and I found him honest and willing.
                                               TOM JONES."

The celestial smirks and jabbers something in pidgin English, which
not being able to understand you answer with a grunt and pass on.

The celestial says, "All right, savez, can do," and vanishes.

Reaching your quarters, you find two or three more beaming natives,
also armed with letters of recommendation, probably borrowed for the
occasion, and who severally inform you "My b'long welly good boy."

These letters of recommendation become kinds of heirlooms, and as
foreigners seldom know the correct names of their Chinese servants,
they are, for a consideration, handed about from one to the other
when seeking employment.

You must have a boy anyhow, and are just beginning to inspect the
candidates when a friend suddenly turns up.

"I'm awfully sorry, old man, I couldn't manage to come and meet you on
board, but the steamer arrived earlier than was expected, so I came
straight on here, and knowing you would require a boy, brought one
along who wants a job. I don't know anything about him, but he says
he's all right, and they are mostly pretty much alike. Anyhow, you
might give him a trial, and if he doesn't suit, just kick him out."

Before you can reply the door is thrown violently open, and your
luggage, which you had left for the time being in your cabin on the
steamer, is brought in on bamboo poles by half-a-dozen coolies and
dumped on the floor, the beaming celestial who met you on the pontoon
following close behind, carrying your collection of sun hats,
umbrellas and sticks. He immediately pays the coolies, unstraps rugs
and trunks, and commences to arrange the room.

Your friend says, "Oh, I didn't know you had brought your own boy,"
and goes on to talk of other things.

You feel rather pleased at all the luggage having turned up without
any effort on your part, pleased at being freed from the importunities
of out-of-work boys, and dumbly acquiesce, so that Lao San remains
until you have the time or inclination to engage a really good boy;
but as you seldom have the time, and never the inclination, he is
already pretty firmly established.

In the course of the day he introduces a cook as well as two or three
coolies that you do not want but must have, and explains that all
these men are of exceptionally good character, and that he "can secure
b'long all ploper." You submit, of course, and so your household is
arranged by the boy without you really having had a word to say. A day
or two later you suddenly remember that nothing has been said on the
subject of wages.

You ring up the boy, and after a short discussion it is arranged that
he is to receive eight dollars a month, the cook ten, and the coolies
six and five. Everything is arranged with the boy, the other servants
not appearing on the scene at all, and so it is that, having obtained
situations for his friends, they are by "olo custom" obliged to pay
him a squeeze on their salaries, the cook probably two dollars a month
and the coolies one each. Without your consent or knowledge the cook
introduces a young friend of his into the kitchen to be known as the
"second cook," or simply "No 2." His position corresponds to that of
the scullery-maid, washing up pots and pans, lighting the fire and
running errands, in return for which he receives very little, if any,
pay, but learns the art of cooking. Your house is now in going order,
and at first things really work very well under the boy's supervision.

A few weeks later it suddenly dawns on you that expenses are mounting
up in rather an unaccountable way, and you look into matters.

Nothing very serious comes to light, and any doubtful little points
are most clearly explained away by the boy. However, it is not long
before you again begin to feel uneasy and insist on knowing details of
the various small accounts which are monthly presented to you by each
individual on the premises.

You are being squeezed by all!

The boy charges for a number of small items such as lampwick, matches,
soap, candles, etc., that you have never had, or in half the
quantities stated. Also, on things which you have had, a large
percentage over cost price is levied. All the native tradesmen are in
league with your servants, and while you know that you are being
swindled it would be quite impossible to prove it, for should a
shopkeeper or butcher tell you what his prices really were he would
lose much of his business, as servants in foreign employ would, in
time, by some means or other, take the custom elsewhere.

You are the means whereby a large but limited circle of Chinese manage
to live and oftentimes save money. All members of the circle regard
you as their prey, and tacitly combining to play into each other's
hands they fleece you with impunity, it being extremely difficult, if
not impossible, to get one Chinaman to expose or bear witness against
another, especially if it be with the object of benefiting the

The best way for a bachelor to run his house is to set aside a certain
sum which he knows should be sufficient for monthly expenditure. If he
can keep his expenses below this figure so much the better. If he
cannot, and they exceed it, he should cut down the various accounts
until a sufficient reduction has been reached. It is useless trying to
argue the case, he would always come off worsted.

I heard of one bachelor who had been drawing a salary of six hundred
dollars a month, but he kept up such style that he could only just
cover expenses. After a time his business partly failed, so he sent
for the boy and explained he could only spend four hundred dollars.
The domestic pulled a long face, but the style of living was not
altered in the least.

Again bad times came and expenditure had to be further reduced to
three hundred dollars a month. The bachelor informed his servant that
he had better get another situation as he feared it would be difficult
for him to come down from six hundred dollars to three hundred, and
that it would be wiser to start a fresh establishment more in
accordance with his reduced circumstances.

After reflection the boy decided to struggle on, and this he did with
such success that the style of living was exactly the same as it had
ever been.

The word "boy" bears no reference whatever to the individual's age,
which may be anything between sixteen and sixty. It is merely a term
applied by foreigners to their personal attendants.

The duties of the boy are those of the ordinary housekeeper in
England, with several additions.

He looks after the other servants and is generally responsible for
their good behaviour. He pays all wages and the accounts of the local
tradespeople, on which, of course, he levies a recognised squeeze. He
waits at table, answers the bell, makes the beds and brushes his
master's clothes, in fact, makes himself generally useful.

As a rule, he accompanies his master to all dinner-parties to assist
in waiting. Also, it is a common and recognised practice for the boy
of a house where a big dinner or a dance is being held to borrow
requisites from the boy of another house, and often without reference
to the owner, so that when dining out you not infrequently drink from
your own glasses, use your own knives and forks, see your own lamp on
the dinner-table and are waited on by your own servant.

A Scotchman who had recently married brought from London a goodly
supply of fine glassware for the new home. At one of the
dinner-parties given in honour of himself and bride, after replying to
the toast of the evening he proposed the health of his host and
requested the company to drink it with Highland honours by placing one
foot on the table and one on the chair. Bumpers having been tossed off
he added that it would not be fitting for glasses consecrated by such
distinguished service to thereafter descend to ordinary usage, and
suiting the action to the word, flung the tumbler over his shoulder,
so that it was shivered to atoms against the wall, the other guests,
numbering upwards of a dozen, following suit.

His boy's placid comment on the proceeding was, "Truly master b'long
too muchee foolo, he no savez b'long he new glass."

They were indeed his own beautiful tumblers, borrowed for the occasion
without his knowledge.

If anything is lost in the house, the boy, being answerable, is
supposed to make the loss good, although he seldom does so. It may be
imagined that his post is no sinecure with an exacting master, but it
is lucrative and one much sought after.

The custom of servants mutually guaranteeing each other's good conduct
is a great safeguard, for in the case of theft or other misdemeanour
by one of them, all the others are responsible and severe measures may
be taken against them with the view of discovering the culprit, so
that in reality while subject to numberless irritating, petty
pilferings, against which there is no guarding and for which it is
impossible to obtain redress, it rarely happens that any serious
offence is committed.

Amongst themselves the Chinese carry this principle of responsibility
to such great lengths that if after committing a crime the culprit
flees from justice, the officials can, and often do, arrest his
father, mother, wife and whole family, and both imprison and persecute
them until the fugitive gives himself up; and such is the strength of
the family tie that this arbitrary method is seldom known to fail.

The cook is, next to the boy, the most important of the other
servants, and as a rule is fairly efficient, some indeed being
excellent, although great care must be taken to guard against their
natural love of filthiness. A kitchen into which the master or
mistress of the house does not go once or twice every day should
never be visited at all if one wishes to enjoy one's meals.

This is also a lucrative post, for besides wages and a heavy squeeze
on every article brought into the kitchen, the remains of each meal,
whether half a chicken, half a leg of mutton, or both, are regarded by
the cook as his perquisite and carried off for sale to native
restaurants, unless special orders have been given to the contrary. A
reason for this is that in hot climates food, if not eaten at once,
quickly becomes worse than useless. Also, owing to the cheapness of
meat, eggs, vegetables, etc., it is by no means the serious loss that
it would be at home, and so the householder is generally not sorry
that the remains of each meal should disappear and thus get fresh food
at every repast.

The cooking in foreign houses is entirely European, the Chinese
cuisine being of a very different and truly wonderful kind, although
excellent in quality. Western ladies have often taken great pains to
train their cooks to a high standard of proficiency, a well-served
dinner in China not uncommonly far surpassing in excellence the
corresponding meal at home. Of course, the reverse is frequently the
case, still, it serves to show that the Chinese have a great faculty
for the culinary art.

In England a dinner-party must be arranged some days beforehand in
order that the necessary preparations may be made, and it is
practically impossible to suddenly announce at tea-time that there
will be eight people to dinner instead of two.

This matter is certainly managed better in China.

Oftentimes on returning from office at five o'clock I have sent for
the cook and said, "To-night eight piecee man catchee dinner. Can do,
no can do?" and the reply has invariably been a laconic "Can do."

At once there would be great bustling but no confusion, and it has
always seemed to me that these sudden demands on the kitchen staff,
instead of evoking complaints and sullen looks, are regarded rather as
a source of pleasurable excitement. "No 2" hurries off to market and
quickly returns with fish, chops, chickens, eggs and fruit. Meanwhile,
the cook dashes another pint or two of water into the soup and gets a
jam pudding well under way.

On returning from the club at seven o'clock you find that the boy has
tastefully laid the table and decorated it with leaves and flowers.
After seeing to the wine and cigars you go up to dress, and on
receiving your guests at half-past seven the dinner is ready.

I remember with feelings of pleasure the following incident which
occurred at Chinkiang.

For some days I had been engaged to dine with friends living in the
next house, and was actually on my way there, when an old
acquaintance, who had just arrived by the steamer from Shanghai, met
me in the garden and wanted particularly to see me with regard to some
private affair. As the steamer would be leaving again in two hours and
my friend was obliged to continue his voyage to Hankow, I had no other
means of meeting his wishes than by forfeiting my engagement. This I
did in a hastily-written chit, making the best excuses I could, and
then sent for the cook. On his appearance I informed him that I wanted
dinner for two--chop chop! Without moving a muscle he answered, "Can
do." Thinking to hurry up matters a little I went to the kitchen, but
found it in darkness and without any fire. The servants meanwhile had
all disappeared, and I returned to my friend with the information that
we must possess our souls in patience, so we settled ourselves on the
verandah for a serious talk, but hardly had we done so than the boy
announced dinner.

Following him in considerable amazement I found that, the night being
warm, he had laid a small table on the lawn and that the soup was
already served. It was delicious, as were also the samli, the
woodcock, the lamb cutlets and the ice-cream. Things having taken so
happy a turn, I uncorked a bottle of champagne and we had a banquet
fit for a king.

   [Illustration: HOUSE-COOLIE, BOY, COOK AND "NO 2."
   _To face page 37._]

My friend complimented me on the prowess of the cook, and we smoked
our cigars and chatted over the coffee until the steamer's whistle
announced that, cargo being finished, she was ready to start. After
seeing him off I joined the party next door in order to offer
apologies and explanations to the hostess, who freely forgave me,
though her husband lamented that I had missed the samli, the woodcock
and the lamb, which were the first of the season.

I discreetly held my peace, but inquiries next day confirmed my
suspicions that prime helpings from each course of my neighbour's
dinner had been carried off by my cook.

Immediately under the boy for indoor work is the "house-coolie," whose
business it is to swab floors, polish grates, light fires, trim lamps,
clean knives and boots and make himself generally useful about the
house. Oftentimes he is unable to speak any English, wears a short
coat in contradistinction to the boy's long one, and while ranking
below the boy is considerably above the other coolies as having better
pay, pleasanter work and holding a position of trust.

At the chief entrance to most residences is a gatehouse, tenanted
during the day by an old man who serves as gatekeeper, and who is
responsible for keeping bad characters off the premises as well as for
not allowing anything to be taken away. At sunset he goes home, being
relieved by the night-watchman, who remains on duty till sunrise. He
also is responsible for the general safety, and is not supposed to
sleep during the night, but to be on guard. Every two hours, that is,
at each of the five watches into which the night is divided, he should
make a round of the outbuildings to satisfy himself that all's well.
This he does not do quietly, but to the beating of a bamboo rattle, so
that thieves may know he is on the lookout and run away. Sometimes, in
order to keep up his courage, I have even heard him shout "I see you,"
"I know who you are," "I'm coming," "Who's afraid?" etc.

Ridiculous as this may appear to English burglars it is yet very
effective, though for a very curious reason.

China is the country of guilds, every trade being in the hands of a
certain section of the population, who combine against all intruders.
There is a guild of water-carriers, a guild of fortune-tellers, a
guild of pipe-makers, and even a guild of _thieves_. This last is a
recognised body, and is treated with by all householders, until it has
become a kind of insurance agency against theft. All gatekeepers and
night-watchmen pay a small monthly fee to this guild in order that no
thieving may take place on the premises over which they have control,
and the system works well, for not only is anything rarely stolen,
but if, occasionally, something does go it is almost certain to have
been taken by a free lance, who would be promptly done to death should
he fall into the clutches of the guild thieves.

A friend of mine who employs many hundreds of coolies pays a regular
monthly salary to the head of the thieves in that district. This man
comes to the office on pay-days like other _employés_ to draw his
wages. If, however, anything has been missed from the factory during
the month the value of it is deducted from his salary until the
article is restored, which is invariably done.

I have heard of a case where a reforming spirit determined not to
submit to such an iniquitous tax. The gatekeeper and night-watchman
immediately resigned and could not be replaced, while by the end of
the month most of his portable belongings had been surreptitiously
removed. Thoroughly cowed, he recalled the two servants and instructed
them to pay the tax, whereupon the stolen articles promptly reappeared
and security was again restored.

Largely owing to the influence of Buddhism, cattle are regarded by the
Chinese solely as beasts of burden, it being seldom that any are
slaughtered for food; and although many natives will eat beef when it
comes conveniently to hand, still, there is a strong prejudice against
it. This prejudice extends both to milk and butter, neither of which
is a common article of celestial food. From this it may be easily
imagined that Europeans are often put to considerable inconvenience in
securing an adequate supply of these daily necessaries. Good milk is
especially hard to get. So long as it is white the native dairyman
considers that his obligations to customers are discharged, while the
more water he can add, the better it is for his own pocket. At Hankow
the supply was so adulterated that a friend of mine actually found a
small live fish in his morning cupful. With a view to exposing fraud I
purchased a lactometer and found the usual proportions of milk and
water to be half and half.

This was too much, so calling the dairyman to the house I abused him
roundly and threatened that if he did not send pure milk in future I
would ask the consul to punish him severely. He vowed and declared
that the lactometer "no talkee true," and that no water whatever had
been added to the milk, adding, that if I did not believe him he would
bring a cow to the kitchen door and I could see it milked myself.

This seemed satisfactory, so I got up early next morning, and after
shivering in my dressing-gown during the milking, carried off the pail
in triumph, fully convinced that I should now be able to enjoy the
pure article. Vain delusion! On testing it there was still a large
percentage of water, and the dairyman, beaming with justified
satisfaction, ambled off, leading his cow.

Feeling sure that the lactometer must be at fault, I consulted my
friend the doctor, who examined and found it quite correct.

How to reconcile these discrepancies seemed an insoluble problem.

After pondering over the matter for several days, I determined on
milking the cow myself, this being an accomplishment of my boyhood. To
the celestial's amazement I did so and instantly tested the proceeds.
Pure milk!

I seized the dairyman with a hazy idea of making an end of him, when,
lo and behold, there slipped from his capacious sleeve a piece of
thick bamboo containing about two pints of water. From the lower part
of this wooden bottle projected another piece of bamboo about the
thickness of a cigar, which served as a tube.

The swindle was now discovered, and the culprit, after the first shock
to his feelings had abated, showed me, with evident if subdued
satisfaction, how the ingenious device worked.

Concealing the bottle and letting the sleeve fall well down over his
wrist, he held the bamboo tube and a cow's teat in one hand, and so,
the moment one's eyes were averted, he was able to turn on the tap
and let water flow into the pail together with the milk.

I now had the upper hand and promised to refrain from taking steps
against him if he would in future furnish me with a pure supply. This
he cheerfully agreed to do, and for a time I fared sumptuously, but it
was not long ere my boy informed me that, the cows having run dry, the
dairyman had returned to his home in the country.

Prior to the Manchu conquest of China two hundred and fifty years ago,
men allowed the hair to grow long and then rolled it up in a tuft on
the top of the head.

The Manchus, however, introduced the custom of partly shaving the
scalp and braiding the back hair into a pig-tail, any man not
conforming to this rule being considered a rebel, and as such liable
to summary decapitation. This visible token of loyalty to the present
dynasty is therefore universal, and obtains from the cradle to the
grave, it being a matter of considerable importance to all who value a
whole skin, and "Olo custom" being an extremely strong _motif_, it
would now be well-nigh impossible to abolish this badge of servitude,
even were the enforcement of it abandoned. In addition to this
national obligation it is the custom for men to clean shave until they
become grandfathers, when a moustache is cultivated, and later on
sometimes a beard, though these hirsute appendages are of a lean and
meagre kind.

As you may readily imagine, the amount of tonsorial operations
indulged in by so dense a population call for an unlimited number of
shavers and braiders of hair, albeit it is considered an employment of
the lowest grade; but although the number of barbers is legion there
are none who know how to _cut_ hair until taught to do so by
Europeans, so that in out-of-the-way places it is often very difficult
to get the operation performed. On several occasions I have been
obliged to rely on my mafoo, who with horse-clippers and iron scissors
proved to be effective if somewhat unartistic.

Of course, a Chinaman will soon learn, and at treaty-ports barbers are
a convenient luxury, for at the cost of a few dollars a month one will
come to your bedroom every morning at a stated time to perform the
daily shave, as well as cut the hair when required. Oftentimes I have
been still asleep when, leaving his shoes outside the door and
creeping in noiselessly with bare feet, he has adjusted the towel,
lathered and shaved me in bed without my having had more than a dim
consciousness of what was going on.

Tailors are cheap and plentiful. A West-end cut is not achieved, but
for flannels, light tweeds and all such clothes as are worn in the
tropics, they are very passable.



"Talkee that tailor-man four o'clock come. Wantchee new clothes."

At four o'clock the tailor is there with a bundle of patterns from
which you select a thin serge and a white flannel, and order a suit of
each. On asking the price you are informed that the serge "b'long
welly cheap" at fourteen dollars and the flannel at twelve.

Your surprise and indignation are great at the exorbitant figures, and
after a good deal of haggling, eleven dollars and ten respectively are
agreed upon, the clothes to be finished in two days.

"Can do."

Out comes the tape and he measures you all over, taking mental notes
but writing nothing down, the Chinese having marvellous memories.

Next morning he appears with the garments loosely stitched together to
try on, draws a chalk line here, puts in a pin there and hurries off.

The following day you discover both suits neatly folded up on your
bed, and on inspection find them to be of good and comfortable fit.

Another plan is, after selecting the material, to hand the tailor an
old suit with instructions to make the new one a counterpart of it,
which, as a rule, he will do to perfection. In fact, he has been known
to let a couple of patches into the seat of the new trousers in order
to make them correspond exactly with the pattern.



To anyone who is fond of shooting, certain parts of China offer a
veritable paradise. When I say shooting I do not mean the kind of
sport to which one is accustomed at home, where to trespass a few
yards on the grounds of another man will probably result in legal
proceedings, where keepers flourish and wax fat on contributions
levied on the friends of mine host, where hand-raised game is driven
into the jaws of death, and where the sportsman's friend and delight,
his dog, is practically banished. No, I mean where one can look on the
whole empire of China and say, "Here is my ground, here I can take my
gun and my dogs and go just wherever, and do whatever, I please,
without let or hindrance; shoot what I will, stay as long as I like
without asking anyone's leave, and where keepers and game licences are

Throughout China, pheasants, deer, quail, wildfowl and snipe abound,
but woodcock, partridges and hares are less numerous and less evenly
distributed. Bustards, plover and many other migratory birds appear
only in winter, while for hunters of big game, tigers, leopards,
horned deer and wild boar are found in certain localities.

Northern China offers the best opportunities, and while from Mongolia
to Ningpo game is plentiful enough, the mighty River Yangtse is _par
excellence_ the sportsman's elysium. Of course, one must have good
dogs and know the country, or go with someone who does, otherwise the
most ardent spirit would soon be cooled to freezing point and disgust
instead of delight would be the result of his endeavours. Along the
banks of this noble river, from the sea for hundreds of miles into the
interior, I have enjoyed as good sport as lies within reach of only
the very rich in western countries.

The Chinese are not often sportsmen, and away from foreign influence
but rarely molest wild animals of any kind.

Owing, however, to the increasing European colony at Shanghai and the
numerous mail steamers which daily arrive there, a profitable market
for game has sprung up during the past few years, to supply which
there are now a number of native gunners who, as a means of
livelihood, scour the country with foreign breech-loaders in search of
pheasants, wildfowl, etc., so that, being capital shots, within a
considerable distance of this port the shooting is not so good as
formerly, although in all other parts of the Empire it still remains
practically untouched until the advent of Europeans.

That there are not more aboriginal sportsmen is partly due to a law
which forbids the people to possess firearms, though this law has not
been rigidly enforced, and partly due to the primitive construction
and consequent unreliability of the few native fowling-pieces which do

Well away from beaten tracks I have occasionally met local sports
carrying guns together with slow-matches of smouldering brown paper.
They are remarkable weapons, with single iron barrels some four feet
and a half long, about twenty bore and without stocks, but having
pistol handles. There are no locks or springs, the hammer and trigger
being in one piece, working through the handle on a rivet. The hammers
have slits in them as if to hold flints, but which really are intended
for the slow-match. Sometimes these men had good bags of snipe, but
only once have I seen such a gun fired, which was at a pigeon sitting
about fifteen yards high in a tree. The gunner blew his slow-match
into a glow and pressed it into the slit in the hammer, placed the
pistol handle to his hip and pulled the trigger, which brought the
hammer slowly forward until the slow-match rested on the powder in the
pan, when the gun went off and the pigeon fell dead. Whether birds
are shot on the wing with these guns I cannot say, but remembering
that a hundred and fifty years ago it was accounted an extraordinary
thing to attempt flying shots even in this country, I should think
probably not.

Old muzzle-loading rifles of European make, striking either flints or
percussion caps, are also in occasional use as shot-guns, in
preference to native weapons.

The shot are always of iron, which is far cheaper than lead, and
extremely liable to cause great injury to the teeth, while the powder
is very poor, burning slowly with much smoke and smell. No cut wads
are used, but pieces of paper, rammed home with a rod, which instead
of being carried attached to the gun is held in the hand together with
the slow-match.

These same sports catch snipe in long, light nets which they carry
stretched out horizontally some two feet above the grass, so that a
bird on rising as it passes overhead, flies into it and is at once
secured. Snares of wire and string, ingenious traps of bamboo which
impale the birds on wooden spikes, and wicker traps closely resembling
the straw plaiting on bottles of olive oil, I have seen set for snipe
and quail in various places.

I once travelled from Shanghai to Nanking with an aged French Jesuit
priest and a Chinese official then returning from the Black Dragon or
Amour river. The former told me that, shortly after the Taiping
rebellion, pheasants were so numerous and tame in the devastated
fields around Nanking that natives speared them in the grass; while
the official said that in the almost deserted Black Dragon river
district these birds were so little afraid of man that on his approach
they would conceal only their heads in the grass, when it was possible
to capture them by the tail with the hand. Although personally unable
to guarantee either of these accounts, still, judging from the manner
in which they were narrated, I am inclined to believe both.

The first essential for shooting-trips up the Yangtse is a good
house-boat or light draft yacht of from ten to fifteen tons, into
which you pack every requisite, and which is in reality your floating
shooting-box for the time being. You have only to choose your field of
operations, sail there, and enjoy yourself to your heart's content in
luxury, fine bracing air, grand scenery and jovial company. What can
one wish for more!

Having decided on a trip you tell your boy in the morning that you
will leave that afternoon for so many days, and at the appointed time
step on board to find everything in readiness--guns, dogs, provisions,
and a good fire in the saloon. You give the lowdah his orders, and in
less than a minute are under way. All bother is at an end and you
make yourself comfortable, have afternoon tea, read, smoke, dine, chat
with your friend over the fire, and after spending the evening as
comfortably as if in your own house, retire to rest, awaking next
morning to find yourself on the scene of action and very possibly to
hear the pheasants crow while still in bed. A good beefsteak breakfast
and you are ready for the fray. After your day's sport you come back
to a hot bath and the comfort of a cosy cabin. Should you desire to
try fresh ground on the morrow, the lowdah will get the boat there,
either by sailing or tracking during the night, while you are enjoying
your well-earned sleep.

   [Illustration: HOUSE-BOAT ON THE YANGTSE.
   _To face page 50._]

Pheasants afford the principal sport and are identical with the
white-ringed English birds, only, if any thing, bigger, stronger in
flight and much more wily.

A hundred miles up the Yangtse and then along the Grand Canal, in
districts that were overrun by Taiping rebels, fine sport with
pointers may be had over what were formerly cultivated fields but are
now still lying waste, with here and there the ruins of a village
destroyed forty years ago, the inhabitants of which were either
extirpated, dragged off in the rebel army or fled to other parts of
the country. These abandoned fields, interspersed with ridges of low
hills clad with young pines, are generally dry and covered with fine
grass, in which the pheasants are fond of lying, and on a bright,
frosty morning it is truly delightful to walk across such country with
a couple of good pointers, watch your dogs work and bowl over the
birds as they rise.

At other places higher up river the low hills are covered with
acorn-bearing oak scrub, a favourite cover both for pheasants, which
feed on the acorns, as well as deer. This scrub, although very trying
to walk through, is not high enough to prevent pointers working
freely, and many a good bag have I made there.

Along the banks of the lower Yangtse, and on numerous islands in the
stream, are dense reeds, which, being flooded to a depth of several
feet in summer, grow from fifteen to twenty feet high, as thick as a
man's thumb, and almost as strong as bamboos. In these impenetrable
thickets, left dry as the waters fall in autumn, the pheasants
congregate in great numbers, but it is not till late winter, when the
reeds have been mostly cut for fuel, that it is possible to get them
out. About the end of December the reeds still uncut, stand in square,
even patches, the sides of which tower up like the walls of a house.
The best way is to select clumps of medium size, place a gun on either
side to keep well in advance, and turn two or three dogs, spaniels for
choice, in at one end. As these dogs hunt the reeds all the way down,
the pheasants will creep to the very edges, watch their opportunity,
and be off like cannon balls. Then is the time for a quick eye and
steady hand, but as you have probably been running to keep up with the
dogs, they are by no means the easy shots that one might imagine, and
many a time the "dead certainty" has slipped gaily away.

Other denizens of these swamps are woodcock, snipe, deer, and
occasionally racoons and wild cats, which follow the pheasants, so
that a mixed bag is frequently the product of a successful day, when
twenty-five head, including seven or eight brace of pheasants, would
represent a fair average per gun. With the exception of spring snipe,
enormous totals like those we gloat over in England are but rarely
made. It is the absolute freedom which is so charming, the hard work,
the bright atmosphere, the thick cover, and the excitement of
following the dogs.

Wildfowl of every description swarm during the spring and autumn
migrations, for after nesting on the Siberian steppes they go down to
the Sunny South in winter. Swan, geese, mallard, teal and countless
varieties of duck literally cover the waters of the Yangtse for miles
at a stretch, and will hardly rise to avoid the river-steamers as they
pass, although extremely shy of approaching small boats, while every
little pond or creek affords the probability of a shot.
Wildfowl-shooting, however, is not largely gone in for, why, I can
hardly say, unless it is that they are so superabundant as to make
them seem hardly worth the powder and shot, that the distances to go
for them are too great and the work of stalking too cold and tiresome,
or that other kinds of shooting are more attractive.

Woodcock are often found in bamboo groves from which it is generally
hard to flush them, while the cover is so thick that it is impossible
to shoot until they come out, though be it only for an instant, when,
topping the bamboos, they alight again on the opposite side. I have
spent nearly an hour in killing a brace which, although I saw perhaps
twenty times, I had the greatest difficulty in getting a snap at. They
also frequent pine woods and heather on the hills, and are identical
in appearance with the woodcock found in England.

During a severe winter at Chinkiang, word was brought in by natives
that some children had been carried off by "dog-headed tigers," which
monsters, after making lengthy inquiries, we assumed to be wolves.

With a view to getting a shot at these brutes, a friend and I went out
overnight to the community bungalow, a distance of seven miles, and in
the morning ranged warily through the pines and over the snow-clad
hills, seeking for traces of the man-eaters, being joined towards noon
by the British Consul. Carrying my twelve-bore fowling-piece loaded
with a bullet in the right barrel and a charge of big shot in the
left, the latter being full-choke, I was passing along the side of a
steep hill at the foot of which, and some fifty feet below me, lay a
frozen stream, when my dog-coolie, pointing downwards, cried, "Look at
the fish!"

Beneath the clear ice, of perhaps a quarter of an inch in thickness, a
mass of fish was swimming with the current. Instinctively I fired the
left barrel at them, and was greatly surprised to behold a jet of
water, broken ice and fish shoot up two or three feet high from a hole
made by the shot. The dog-coolie rushed down and filled his cap with
our unexpected prey, which we subsequently found to number twenty-two,
varying from about two to four ounces in weight each. Concussion from
the blow on the ice had stunned many, but others were bleeding from
shot wounds.

After a fruitless search for the "dog-headed tigers" we walked back to
Chinkiang that evening.

The cold weather having brought wildfowl of all descriptions I was off
betimes next morning to some islands in the Yangtse, a few miles down
river. An hour's sailing with wind and stream brought me to the
desired spot, where I landed on the sandy beach, when my dog, glad to
escape from confinement on board, ran to the top of a high dyke, or
wall for preventing floods, some hundred yards distant, and put up
hundreds of wild geese which had been preening themselves in the sun
on the other side, where they had also found shelter from the cutting
wind. The mighty roar of wings was the first intimation I had of their
presence, and as they were well out of range, my dog came in for a
reminder that his place for the time being was close to heel. Had they
not been thus scared away I could have walked unobserved to within
five yards of them.

Following the beach a little above high-water mark, I presently came
to several small ponds surrounded with willows, out of the first of
which some teal rose in a close bunch, when firing into the brown I
knocked them all down except one, and that I accounted for with the
other barrel. Falling into the pond, some that were winged gave a good
deal of trouble by diving, but eventually they were all secured, being
eight in number. Several ducks were scared away by my shots, but I
here added half-a-dozen snipe to the bag.

Coming to some wide ditches choked with reeds and willows my dog put
out pheasant after pheasant, but as they generally got up on the
opposite side, where there was no gun, I only managed to secure seven,
besides two woodcock.

While eating my lunch of sandwiches under the lee of a reedstack, I
observed that numerous flights of wildfowl on passing from one branch
of the river to another crossed a low, marshy corner of the island, so
that presently I made my way there and crouched down amongst the
rushes behind a dyke, having a small lagoon immediately at my back.
Mallard, widgeon and many other kinds of fowl came over in such quick
succession that for two hours I was kept fully occupied, and it was
highly gratifying to hear a heavy splash in the lagoon after each
successful shot.

As soon as the light began to fail I ceased firing and retrieved my
birds, which numbered twenty-seven, including several varieties of
fish ducks with serrated bills and, as I have subsequently learnt
although then mistaking them for large divers, three goosanders. On my
way back to the house-boat I surprised and shot a goose which was
feeding close under the river bank, so that my total bag consisted of
fifty-one head, and I always look back on that day as one of the most
enjoyable I have ever spent.

The snipe-shooting cannot be surpassed anywhere in the world. In
spring, after spending the winter in rich southern climes, these
birds, following the returning warmth, slowly migrate to Siberia for
nesting. They pass through Central China during May, arriving almost
simultaneously, when for about three weeks one can have superb sport,
and then they depart as suddenly as they came. One day they will
swarm, and the next hardly a bird is to be seen.

Snipe-shooting at home one always associates with long boots, cold
water, mud and marshes. Spring snipe-shooting in China is of a totally
different kind.

Imagine a bright, warm day, with the sun almost too powerful, dry
meadows with fresh, green grass, and clover about six inches high,
fields of wheat and barley in ear and beans in flower, all Nature at
her best. You take your gun with a plentiful supply of cartridges, a
coolie to carry bottled beer and sandwiches and to pick up the birds,
and sally forth into the meadows and fields, dressed in an ordinary
light summer suit or flannels, terai hat and low shoes, with the
bottoms of your trousers tucked into your socks to keep out the

You have not gone far before one, two--half a dozen birds rise within
easy range, and perhaps you make a right and left. What birds they
are, too, fat as butter!--in fact, so fat and heavy that they often
rip quite open merely from the force of falling to the ground. In this
way you go on, firing until the gun becomes so hot that every now and
then you must wait to let the barrels cool. My best bag for one day
was forty-one and a half couples, but this has been doubled by sports
who have shot to make a record.

Autumn snipe, or spring snipe returned, on passing from Siberia to
winter in the south, are not usually in very good condition, owing
probably to the nature of the country from which they come, and
strangely enough they appear to be less numerous and do not arrive so
simultaneously as the spring birds, though remaining longer, many
staying on through the winter. These do not frequent the dry meadows
and fields, but belong to the long boots, mud and marsh category.

I have never seen but one jack snipe, though the painted variety is
fairly common.

In the neighbourhood of a creek seven miles below Hankow is to be had
the best spring snipe-shooting that I know of. One bright May morning,
in response to the invitation of an old friend, I joined him and two
other guests aboard his house-boat and sailed down the Yangtse to this
well-known spot. On landing I shouldered my bag, containing fifty
cartridges, and told my coolie to bring a new box of a hundred in the

The plan was to send the house-boat to a place three or four miles
further down river, where, after shooting through the fields, the guns
would meet for tiffin.

Just as the lowdah was casting off our host asked if he might put a
few bottles of beer into my game-bag as it was a warm and thirsty
morning; so, to make room, and thinking that the snipe had not yet
fully arrived, in which case the spare cartridges would not be
required, they were replaced on board. We had not, however, walked
many yards along the river bank before it became apparent that there
were any number of birds, and I already regretted having so few
cartridges with me. After crossing the creek in a crazy sampan the
party separated, each taking his own line of country. Presently a
tremendous fusillade commenced from all the others, and as the snipe
were rising around them continually and making for a large swamp to my
left, I concealed myself in some millet, where, the birds coming
before the wind directly over my head, I enjoyed for half an hour or
so some excellent shooting and made a number of very sporting shots.

I now started for the swamp, but ere reaching it passed through some
grass patches between fields of barley and beans. The birds here rose
by the dozen, and standing on the same spot, without advancing a yard,
I shot eight, which were all on the ground at one time. My gun became
so hot that it was necessary to open it to let the barrels cool, while
the cartridges were all gone in less than an hour, so that carrying my
now useless weapon and boiling with rage, I had to start in pursuit of
the house-boat, with the shots of the others ringing merrily all
round, the snipe rising at almost every step, and the coolie laden
with beer and dead birds lagging far behind.

I arrived on board simultaneously with a party of ladies, who, under
the ægis of my friend's wife, had come down by launch to join us at
tiffin; at the conclusion of which long and sumptuous repast it was
time to start back to Hankow rather than again attack the snipe.
However, two of us landed with our guns and walked hurriedly across
country towards a point about three miles up river, there to rejoin
the party on the boat. Of course we kept them waiting, the sport was
so good, but satisfaction at the total bag of some two hundred snipe
did much to smooth matters over. Indeed, the bag would have been still
larger except for the vile shooting of one gun; but as a few days
later his engagement to one of the ladies of the tiffin-party was
announced, the mystery was explained, and when in a few weeks the
wedding bells rang, we all forgave him.

Four or five miles outside the principal gate of Peking is the Nan
Hai-tzu, or Imperial Hunting Park, where a few years ago there were
herds of far-famed hybrids known as the "four unlikes," since they
possessed certain attributes of, I believe, the horse, the deer, the
ox and the sheep, without belonging definitely to either family.
Unfortunately, Europeans were not allowed to enter this preserve, so I
was unable personally to see these curiosities, although their
existence was well authenticated.

Outside the lofty wall enclosing this park is a kind of common
interspersed with marshland through which a small stream flows, and
there I have bagged as many as ten couple of snipe in an afternoon,
with an occasional wild duck.

Sending out the cart with gun, dog and provisions in charge of the
head mafoo at about eleven o'clock on Saturday morning, as soon as
work was over at one I would mount my pony, held in readiness by the
second mafoo, and gallop with him after the cart, to find tiffin
awaiting me spread on the grass.

In this way I was comfortably ready to shoot by half-past two, which
would allow of about two and a half hours' sport before returning.

On one of these occasions I saw several large flocks of sand grouse,
which, I believe, are native to Mongolia, but only once managed to get
within range, killing a brace. They are beautiful, gamey-looking
birds, of a very light brown or sand colour, mottled on the back and
with legs and feet thickly feathered. Their flight much resembles that
of golden plover, only sharper.

Having finished shooting, my gun was again placed in the cart and we
started leisurely for home, I riding a short distance in advance,
followed by the second mafoo, while my pointer rambled over the grass.
One evening, when thus returning, two medium-sized eagles swooped at
the dog and commenced to regularly hunt him, much to his
consternation. To dismount and get my gun out of its case again was
the work of a couple of minutes, when I shot one of the birds at a
distance of twenty yards, the other, instead of being alarmed,
immediately swooping at its fallen comrade, to meet with a similar

I could not get them stuffed, so had their wings and claws mounted as
fans, which I still have somewhere in my possession.

The common deer are small, from thirty to forty pounds in weight, and
without horns. They have a thick, bristly hide, and the buck has two
tusks of from two to four inches in length projecting downwards from
the upper jaw, with which he tears up the ground in search of roots,
and it is to these peculiarities that the name of "hog-deer" is due.
They mostly lie in the grass on forms, like hares, but sometimes in
thick scrub on the hillside, and can be knocked over at forty yards
with pheasant shot. I have bagged four in a day more than once. If
well cooked the venison is delicious.

Partridges are only found in certain districts. A few miles from
Chefoo excellent sport is to be had, but in Central China they are not
often seen, although they do exist, as I have shot one myself near
Ngankin. Down south the bamboo partridge abounds in places, but it is
a very different bird from the ordinary partridge, and takes its name
from the fact that it lives, moves and has its being in bamboo

In the vicinity of Hongkong and Macao the partridge, although far from
numerous, is quite common, and a bag of three or four would represent
a good day's work. These birds resemble the red-legged variety so
common in England, but are considerably larger, while the plumage,
although practically identical in colour, is far more brilliant. A
curious feature about them is that they are never flushed in coveys
and very rarely in pairs, but are almost invariably single birds,
which fact, together with their large size and gorgeous plumage, leads
me to think that they must represent a distinct branch of the family,
to which the name "solitary" would be highly applicable.

Quail are numerous and in all respects resemble those found in this
country. They are chiefly prized by the Chinese for their pugilistic
qualities, for after being caught and having had their wings clipped
they are disposed of to various purchasers, who take them to miniature
cock-pits and there back them to fight the birds of other gamblers for
considerable sums, the combats being fierce and often deadly.

The hares are wretched little animals, all bones and felt, and not
larger than the English rabbit. They usually lie in the open, though
often found in graves and in holes in the rocks, from which I have
thought that they might be the "coney" mentioned in Scripture.

Bustards, or wild turkeys, are found at certain periods all over
China. They are very shy, always settle on wide plains, and are
extremely difficult of approach--a shot being only obtainable after
long and careful stalking.

Although tigers are occasionally to be found in most of the southern
provinces, there are but few places easily accessible to Europeans
where they exist in any number, and not having been in one of these
favoured spots I have had no opportunity to try my hand at this
exciting sport, but a friend of mine, who has earned considerable fame
at it, and who keeps a row of grinning tiger skulls on his
drawing-room mantelpiece as mementoes of successful hunts, described
to me how operations are conducted.

At Amoy, which is probably the best known of these districts, when
natives from the surrounding country bring word into the settlement
that a tiger has been seen, preparations for the hunt are quickly
completed, and a party of sportsmen repairs to the scene of action.

The country being exceedingly rocky, the tigers make their lairs in
caves and rocks, approached by long tunnels or holes just large enough
to admit the beasts, so that to get them out is both difficult and

Having traced spore to the entrance of one of these tunnels, my friend
crawled in first with his rifle, immediately after him coming a native
shikarri, who thrust forward over my friend's back a long bamboo
bearing at the end a lighted torch. Next followed three more
shikarries, holding long spears, which they similarly thrust in
advance, so that the attacking force consisted of a torch, three
spears, the Englishman with his rifle and four shikarries, in which
order they slowly crept along the passage, the sides of which were
worn smooth by continual friction of tigers passing to and fro, until
growls and snarls proclaimed that their quarry was near at hand.

Presently two green, shifting eyes could be distinguished a few feet
beyond the torch, when, carefully aimed between them, a hollow,
express bullet crashed through the monster's skull, killing him on the

What would happen in case the brute was only wounded and charged I
have never heard, but personally I should be somewhat chary in
trusting to the protection of a torch and three spears.

It is related that a practical old Yankee sport, desirous of slaying
his tiger, joined in one of these expeditions, setting out from the
rendezvous armed to the teeth, in company with another hunter, but
before very long came stepping briskly back, and by way of explanation
_guessed_ "the tiger's footprints were getting too durned fresh."

I consider he showed true American acumen.

Spear-grass one often hears of but seldom sees, and until making
acquaintance with the real thing I had always imagined that the barbed
grass seeds, which are such a harmful worry to dogs, were practically
identical with it. Not at all.

Before leaving Ichang for a trip to the Yangtse gorges I expressed my
intention of trying to get some of those beautiful Reeves pheasants,
having tails several feet in length, which are indigenous to that
locality, but was warned that it would be necessary to take long
leggings as a protection against spear-grass. Not having any with me,
and believing I knew what spear-grass was, I refrained from borrowing,
so that on landing at Nantou with my dog and gun, it was in an
ordinary shooting suit and worsted stockings.

Inquiries of natives as to the whereabouts of these birds soon led me
up the mountain-side to a rocky plateau, which looked extremely
likely, and where I even saw traces of them. My dog commenced to work,
and I followed him into the light, dry, crackling grass, but suddenly
became conscious of a smarting in the legs as though walking through
nettles, and noticed that the grass was adhering to my stockings.
However, I pushed on, my dog being hot on the scent, but presently we
both came to a standstill--I, because of cramp in both legs, each of
which was now enveloped in grass to the size of a bee-hive; while the
dog's shaggy coat had collected it till he appeared as large as a
sheep, and could no longer force his way along, besides being in much

It was a short half mile down hill to the boat but the difficulty and
discomfort of getting there were considerable. When at length the boy
proceeded to take my stockings off it was found that they were
practically sewn to my skin by the spear-grass, the tiny barbed points
of which had passed in hundreds through the wool and worked like
fish-hooks into my calves. Without penetrating deep enough to more
than slightly draw blood, they had one and all to be forcibly dragged
out as the stockings were peeled off. For days I was lame and sore,
while my dog lived in misery for weeks. I did not even see a Reeves

At Nantou I gathered delicious oranges from the tree for one cash
each, or, eight oranges for a farthing.

A twelve-bore is the best gun for use in China, from the fact that
cartridges are everywhere procurable, whereas for other sizes they
have frequently to be imported from home, although I must admit that
a twenty-bore is preferable for snipe-shooting in warm weather, owing
to the lightness of both gun and cartridges.

It seems to be the general opinion, with which I agree, that pointers
and spaniels are the most suitable dogs to keep, for they appear to
work the cover and to stand the climate better than other breeds.

As European dogs seldom live in China more than three or four years,
and often less, it is necessary to always have puppies coming on if
you do not want your shooting to be spoiled, for it is useless to try
and get pheasants out of the thick cover without them. Dysentery is a
very prevalent canine disease, but their most deadly enemy, and one
existing in no other country that I know of, is worms in the heart.
How the germs get into the blood no doctor has yet been able to say,
but thin, white worms resembling vermicelli cluster round the heart,
living on the blood, until they become so numerous as to eventually
choke an artery, when death is instantaneous. In the case of a
favourite dog, on which a doctor kindly performed a _post-mortem_
examination, these worms were in such numbers that I positively could
not see the heart at all.

Native dogs are useless for sport, as they seem to be devoid of that
friendly intelligence so noticeable in our own breeds, while their
powers of scent are much inferior. I have heard that in the island of
Hainan a certain breed exists which is very good for hunting leopards
and wild boar, but this I cannot guarantee.

In the winter of 1889 I was invited by a friend to join him in his
house-boat a few miles below Chinkiang, when we could shoot together
next day and then have Christmas dinner on board.

I hired a small sampan to sail me down, together with my boy, taking
only a bottle of whisky, a few things for tiffin and a plum cake, the
last being a Christmas gift from a Norwegian lady.

Starting at noon, it was about three o'clock and near the rendezvous,
when we sighted a flock of geese asleep in the sun on a mud-bank. I
ordered the sampan-man to get as near as possible, and when the geese
rose at a distance of about sixty yards, knocked down a couple with
two charges of S.S.G. A minute later another came flying overhead
calling to its wounded mate, and this also I dropped without pity. The
first two, being only winged, gave a lot of trouble, as they swam and
dived with great speed, but all three were eventually secured.

There was still an hour before dark, and seeing no signs of my friend
I went on shore and bagged three pheasants before returning to the
boat. Next morning, after passing a cold and miserable night in the
tiny cabin of the dirty little sampan, I started with gun and dog at
about eight o'clock--fully expecting that the house-boat would turn up
during my absence--and shot all day, killing eleven pheasants, two
deer, three woodcock, seven duck and one pigeon. As by dark there were
still no signs of my expected host I had no choice but to return home.

It was a lovely night, bright, frosty and star-light, with a nice,
crisp breeze, which, the river being there about two miles wide,
raised quite a sea. Thousands of wildfowl, all on their way south,
were flying, whistling and whirring about in every direction, and
rising from the water quite close to the boat. My dog "Snipe" and I
crept into the cabin out of the cutting wind, which was dead ahead,
and proceeded to discuss our impromptu Christmas fare, which, after
all, was not so bad, and reflected great credit on the boy's cooking
powers. I noted down the _menu_, and here it is:--

    1. Pigeon Soup.
    2. Woodcock.
    3. Boiled Pheasant.
    4. Cold Roast Beef.
    5. Plum Cake ablaze with Whisky.
    6. Cheese.
    7. Pumelo.
    Whisky and Water.

There was no holly or mistletoe to remind one of Merrie England, but I
drank to "the Old Folks at Home" with the sadness peculiar to
wanderers on such occasions, and then gave myself up to nicotine and
reflection for the rest of the evening, arriving home at midnight to
find that my truant friend was ill in bed.



No country in the world is so badly supplied with horses as China,
both as regards quantity and quality.

The reasons for this are largely owing to the peculiar and wretched
condition of internal communications, and to the fact that horses are
seldom employed in cultivation of the soil, which is mostly performed
by manual labour, supplemented by water buffaloes in the central and
southern provinces and by oxen in the north.

Wherever rivers and lakes exist there is found a dense boating
population, whose occupation is the conduct of every kind of traffic.

On the large fluvial highways stately junks laden deep with cargo pass
backwards and forwards in unending procession. In shallower waters the
vessels are smaller but more numerous, and this adaptation to
circumstances goes on until the smallest streams and canals, which
invariably cover the valleys of China's mighty rivers as with a net,
are blocked with tiny craft, each bearing its load of merchandise or
its quota of passengers.

In such districts, where everything is carried by water and where
roads are few, there is little or no work for the horse, which, beyond
a few wretched specimens attached to the various yamêns and military
camps, is seldom seen.

Where waterways do not exist, and traffic must necessarily be carried
overland, the highways are either narrow paths paved with large blocks
of stone and suitable only for wheelbarrows and pack-animals, or
tracks picked out at random over a width of perhaps a hundred yards,
along which lumbering, ill-constructed and springless carts plough
their ways, and strings of pack-animals wend slowly to and fro. The
numberless creaking wheel-barrows, bearing heavy loads, are propelled
by coolies, who, the yoke across the shoulders, stagger along between
the shafts, helped occasionally by a small sail set to catch a
favouring wind, or by another coolie harnessed to the vehicle by
ropes. The pack-animals mostly consist of camels (especially in the
north), mules and donkeys, ponies being used in more limited numbers.
As a rule, the carts are supplied with mixed teams of very poor class
animals, mules largely predominating, although ponies are also

Europeans, accustomed to see carriages, dog-carts and all kinds of
horse-drawn conveyances circulating freely on macadamised roads, find
it difficult to realise that, in the oldest civilised empire in
existence, there are, outside the treaty-ports, not only no
macadamised roads, but not even roads that could possibly be compared
with our most out-of-the-way and most ill-kept country lanes, and that
consequently there are neither carriages nor dogcarts, but only
springless tumbrils, which, covered with a wain, discharge the
functions of the celestial cab, and plough through deep mud with their
massive wheels, or jolt over stone causeways to the intense discomfort
of luckless occupants.

   [Illustration: THE CAB OF NORTHERN CHINA.
   _To face page 75._]

There being then practically neither roads nor carriages, the demand
for draught horses is very small, while for riding purposes Chinamen
prefer either the taller and more dignified mule or the ambling pony.

This latter has a rolling, pacing gait which enables the horseman to
sit quietly in his high wooden saddle without any necessity of rising
in the stirrups. He possesses great speed and endurance, and wealthy
Chinese will give as much as four or five hundred taels for a good
one. With his rider leaning well back and pulling hard at the reins
the animal tears along at fifteen or sixteen miles an hour, but when
the reins are loosened he immediately slackens and pulls up. They are
a common sight in the neighbourhood of Peking, where ambling contests
frequently take place outside the city wall. In these contests each
pony in turn is ridden at full speed past the judges, who proclaim the
winner on his general merits and not with exclusive reference to pace.

For agricultural work the horse is not employed. In wheeling barrows
coolies perform the work of beasts of burthen. As pack-animals camels,
mules and donkeys have the preference, so that although the "noble
animal" is to be met with almost everywhere, he is not considered
indispensable as in Western lands. He is unhonoured, ill cared for and
very cheap.

There may be several breeds in China, although personally I have seen
but four, of which a small, well-shaped pony from Turkestan; a large,
stringy horse from Ili; and a weedy, cowhocked pony from Szechuan
deserve here no more than passing notice, for they are seldom seen in
the Eastern provinces, where alone the Mongolian, or, as it is
commonly called, the "China pony," is found in considerable numbers.

This China pony, with which Europeans in the Far East are so well
acquainted, is a native of the Mongolian plains. He stands on an
average about thirteen hands, and is a coarse, thick-set, cobby
animal, with a large, ugly head carried low on a wedge-shaped neck,
so that when mounted you have practically nothing in front of the
saddle. He much resembles, and is evidently closely allied to, the
Russian pony, which is now so commonly met with in this country.

I have heard it stated that, at the conclusion of the Second Chinese
War, to avoid the expense of transport back to India, the Arab horses
of our cavalry were sold at Tientsin, and being mostly purchased by
native dealers, were sent to Mongolia and crossed with the native
breed. If this be true it accounts for the traces of Arab blood which
may occasionally be observed in a smaller head, finer points, wavy
tail and gentler manners.

Mongol princes have long had, by imperial decree, the sole right of
horse breeding in the north, every year paying tribute to the Emperor
of so many head; and as this breed is much superior to the others I
have mentioned, the monopoly practically extends to the whole Empire,
and is most jealously guarded.

Geldings only are allowed to leave the breeders' hands, and that not
before the advanced age of seven or eight, which partly accounts for
the shortness of the time during which China ponies are in their
prime, and for the fact that after two or three years' work they
commence to age and deteriorate.

Mares it is impossible to purchase on any terms, the Mongols
absolutely refusing to part with them, and I have only seen two
during the whole of the twelve years I have spent in China--one at
Peking, the property of a Russian prince, and one with its foal,
belonging to a native official at Kiukiang.

In the late autumn of every year the tribute ponies are brought down
to Peking. I have seen them in large droves coming across country at
full gallop, enveloped in clouds of dust, with mounted Mongol and
Chinese drovers, carrying long bamboo poles, riding on the outskirts
of each mob and directing its course. Villagers, on seeing the clouds
of dust and hearing the thunder of hoofs, hurry out to try and divert
the equine torrent from their crops, but in vain. The whirlwind rushes
by, leaving a broad, well-beaten track, whereon few signs of banks,
gardens or vegetation can be discerned. It is the Emperor's tribute
and there is no redress.

After tributary obligations have been fulfilled in kind or in value,
large numbers of these ponies are thrown on the market, and on an
average can be secured for twenty or thirty dollars each--that is, for
two or three pounds.

The best market is provided by Europeans, and dealers forward the
finest-looking animals to Tientsin, Shanghai, Hongkong, Hankow and
other places where racing is carried on, to meet this demand.

When such mobs of raw ponies reach a treaty-port they are known as
"griffins," which term applies to all that have not previously run at
any race-meeting; and with their tails sweeping the ground, their
hogged manes and their long coats clotted with mud, they present a
very dismal appearance, and one not at all in keeping with the
accepted idea of race-horses.

These griffins mostly pass through the hands of racing men, who, with
a view to securing a good animal, either arrange with the dealers for
private gallops, when the various performances are carefully timed by
stop-watch, or buy their fancies at public auction without speed tests
having previously been made.

Owing to expenses of transport, be it by steamer or by road, the
further south the greater the average value of griffins, and as only
picked animals are supplied to the foreign market, the price is
everywhere far higher than at Peking, and may be said to range from
fifty to five hundred dollars. Those ponies which do not prove to have
sufficient speed to warrant their being trained as racers are resold
as hacks, or filter away at lower prices to the Chinese.

I may here say that although at several of the treaty-ports there are
a few good roads made by the European residents, and along which
imported carriages are occasionally seen to pass, it is only at
Shanghai that vehicular traffic has attained to any considerable
degree of importance. Here the foreign settlements are traversed in
all directions by excellent highways, which extend through the suburbs
for several miles into the adjoining country, and which the Chinese
avail themselves of to a large extent, driving out in thousands every
afternoon to tea-houses and pleasure-gardens.

Besides most well-known varieties of conveyance the celestial mind has
evolved one or two remarkable models of its own, notably, a kind of
victoria, the body of which takes the form of two large inverted
sea-shells gaudily painted with flowers and butterflies, and running
on light iron wheels with bright spokes and rubber tyres. A liveried
coach-man on the box, a footman with a smart rug over the arm standing
on an iron step behind and balancing himself by grasping two straps
attached to the back corners of the carriage, a shabbily-harnessed
China pony in the shafts, and the equipage is complete.

The occupants of this triumphal car are either three or four
prosperous-looking Chinamen, clothed in many-coloured silks, or a
posse of gaily-dressed celestial beauties, who, with faces painted
white, lips dyed vermilion, hair caked with oil, garlanded with
flowers, laden with jewels, displaying their tiny satin shoes and
toying with fans in their small and beautiful hands, furnish a
_tout-ensemble_ sufficiently original if not too painfully grotesque.

At Shanghai, certainly, many thousands of ponies are employed, but it
is owing entirely to the influence and example of Europeans.

The majority of men taking up appointments in China are barely out of,
if not still in, their teens, and whether they come straight from
school, from business in the city or from the universities, it is
seldom they have had any large experience of horses. In very many
cases they do not even know how to mount, but finding ponies so cheap,
or, better still, getting a discarded racer as a cumshaw, they take to
riding as naturally as if to the manner born, so that there are but
few residents of either sex who cannot ride, and China ponies
consequently hold a place in the estimation of foreigners which is
altogether denied them by the natives.

From hacking to racing is but a step. The man who has learnt to ride
(or thinks he has), being already a member of the race club, takes his
steed for a quiet canter round the course. The old racer no sooner
finds himself on the familiar track than he is off with the speed of
flames, and our young friend, being powerless to check him, with his
feet out of the stirrups and hanging on to the back of the saddle for
dear life, is carried a mile or so before a sudden swerve at the exit
rail deposits him on the turf.

No bones are broken but the damage is done. Unless the dismounted
cavalier be devoid of all enthusiasm the spirit of racing has
assuredly entered his veins!

In future he will haunt the course with his own luckless hack, he will
attend the training regularly each morning in hopes of getting a mount
on any rank outsider, and will think of little else all day than
riding and ponies.

To some men riding comes naturally, like cricket, while others can
never acquire a good seat.

A light-weight who is fortunate enough to possess the necessary knack
will soon be in request as jockey at the forthcoming meeting, when, if
he should happen to secure a win, the confidence it immediately gives
him does more than any other thing to transform him into a really good

It costs no more to feed a good pony than it does a bad one, so he now
decides to dispose of his hack for a trifling sum, and in its stead to
purchase a griffin, which may be a potential winner of the champions.
He orders his mafoo to inspect the new season's griffins as they
arrive, and arrange with the dealer to bring three or four of the best
for his approval. This the mafoo does with great pleasure, as, apart
from the keen interest he takes in racing--all Chinese being
inveterate gamblers--it is an understood thing that he will receive a
good cumshaw from his master for each race that his stable wins.

In due course the unbroken, shoeless, mud-covered animals arrive, and
the dealer, perched on a high wooden saddle, trots them up and down to
show off their paces.

In England the would-be purchaser of a horse carefully feels each leg
to make sure that there be neither splint nor curb, lifts up and
examines the hoofs, grasps the lower lip with one hand and draws out
the tongue with the other to study the teeth, and peers closely into
the animal's face to see that his eyes are unblemished.

On approaching a griffin one becomes conscious of being closely
watched by a vicious eye, and oftentimes the brute, snorting with
anger and alarm at the unaccustomed sight and smell of a European,
attempts to rush at one, while the idea of feeling his legs, drawing
out his tongue, examining his hoofs or peering into his eyes quickly
evaporates. One would rather fondle a Bengal tiger!

An adjournment is next made to the race-course, where the ponies are
powed by the dealer for half-a-mile, when the action of each can be
observed and the times taken by stop-watch.

In this manner a rough idea can be formed as to which of the animals
are likely to possess the necessary turn of speed, and that is as
much information as can now be obtained, for as to soundness, age and
stamina the dealer's assurances on these points must be accepted as
the only evidence procurable.

In the end one, and very probably two, are purchased at from sixty to
seventy dollars each, and the erstwhile embryo jock has blossomed into
the dignity of ownership.

The first thing to do with a griffin is to get him shod, which is not
quite so simple a matter as one might imagine, for he has hitherto
never passed through the farrier's hands and will be certain to
fiercely object. No attempt is made to perform the operation by
gentleness, and he is forthwith led under a kind of oblong, wooden
arch about six feet high, constructed of four firmly-planted posts,
connected on top by cross beams.

Ropes passed under his belly and over the cross beams keep him from
throwing himself down, while each leg is securely lashed to one of the
posts, and thus being rendered absolutely powerless, the work is
quickly put through.

There is generally a struggle in mounting each new arrival, but with a
couple of mafoos hanging on to his ears, and sometimes by enveloping
his head in a horse-cloth, it is eventually managed.

The first timidity soon wears off, and you find that after a short
distance there is no more trouble, the animal being probably in poor
condition and lacking the nervousness of finer breeds.

Several days of scraping and grooming having removed the dust and dirt
with which his shaggy coat was filled, he is clipped and his tail
shortened. The transformation is almost startling. You now have quite
a smart-looking mount as China ponies go, and while riding him daily
to improve his condition you will soon discover any marked

He rarely gets over his dislike for Europeans although perfectly
docile with Chinese, and it is seldom that he will allow even his own
master to enter the stall. A black griffin which I bought at Peking
seemed to me so quiet that on an expedition of some days into the
country I fed, groomed and saddled him myself, until quite convinced
that we had become friends, and it was not till after my return that,
in passing through the stables, he rushed at me with open mouth, only
the strength of a raw-hide headstall saving me from being savaged.

What applies to one applies to all. Their tempers are untrustworthy.

Many have the disagreeable trick of "cow-kicking," which usually
occurs on mounting, when they kick forward with the near hind leg and
may inflict a nasty blow.

Invariably hard-mouthed, occasionally buck-jumpers, altogether
without manners, and in trotting mostly slow and jerky, they are but a
poor apology for the gentle and graceful horse as found in Western
countries. On the other hand, they make capital race-ponies, for they
are fast gallopers, and for their size can carry astounding weights.
They are also very good for cross-country work, as, in addition to
being fair jumpers, their great strength enables them to plough
through country which would tax the powers of an English hunter, but
the greatest consideration of all is their cheapness, for it places
them within the reach of sporting men with small incomes.

A certain number of Australian horses are now imported into Hongkong
and Shanghai, but owing to the stringencies of the Chinese climate it
is very doubtful whether so great additional outlay as the long sea
voyage involves is compensated for by the walers' evident

Assuming that, having had a griffin for some time, he is in good
condition, a period of six or seven weeks is sufficient in which to
prepare him for the races.

For training purposes, oats and hay imported from California are
preferable, but adhering to native produce, a diet of boiled barley,
chopped straw and bran will do nearly as well.

Most of the important exercise is gone through at early morning
between six and half-past seven, when the ponies are trotted and
galloped on the course, and when all sporting members of the
community, stop-watch in hand, assemble at the rails, or follow
proceedings from the grand-stand while breakfasting on hot rolls and
coffee. On return to stables, thorough dressing, with much rubbing of
the legs, takes place, while an hour's brisk walking from eleven
o'clock to twelve, and again in the afternoon, completes the day's

   [Illustration: THE OLD GRAND-STAND, HANKOW RACES, 1888.
   _To face page 87._]

Each animal requires individual treatment, and it is the owner who
best knows how to apply it that will bring his ponies to the post in
the fittest condition.

Carrying from ten to eleven stone according to measurement, good time
for half a mile would be fifty-nine seconds, for a mile, two minutes
eight seconds, and for a mile and a half, three minutes fifteen

In dry weather it is an advantage for ponies to race without shoes,
but if the course be wet or muddy they are absolutely necessary to
prevent slipping.

The jockeys are all amateur and mostly personal friends, as also are
the clerk of the course, starters, judges and stewards, so that
instead of a race-meeting being a gathering of complete strangers,
bookmakers and professionals, it partakes more of the social nature of
a huge picnic.

During the winter months a great feature of sport in Shanghai is
paperchasing on horseback.

The meets are usually held on Saturday afternoons, when business
offices are closed, and a field of seventy or eighty is no uncommon

Two members of the club lay the scent, but while free to choose any
line of country, they must not lead the trail over jumps or obstacles
which their own ponies have failed to negotiate.

At the hour advertised the Master gives a signal and the hunt is away.

Through wades and creeks, over water-jumps and graves, across gardens
and paddy fields, the gay throng sweeps on at high speed, until a
welcome check brings relief to man and beast and allows the stragglers
to close up. After a short delay the trail is again hit off and the
field streams away, but in ever-decreasing numbers, until a mere
handful sight the flags which mark the finish, and ride their hardest
at the final jump, the first light-weight and the first welter to
cross which are thereafter entitled to sport pink and gain the honour
of laying scent for the succeeding hunt. The sport is extremely good
though very rough, which is mainly owing to the marshy nature of the
soil and the fact that as the Chinese do not here raise banks or
hedges between their fields the jumping is mostly over water and dry
ditches of considerable width and depth, which accounts for a goodly
number of nasty spills. Although compensation for damage to crops is
awarded by the hunt club, considerable care must be taken to guard
against traps wilfully laid by the natives, who frequently remove the
trail from its proper course and lay it over almost impossible jumps,
which they further render extremely dangerous by digging holes in the
opposite banks and covering them with leaves and rubbish, after doing
which they take up safe positions of vantage to enjoy the fun.

In autumn, when the waters of the Yangtse commence to fall and the
inundated districts along its banks become dry, the plain at Hankow
affords excellent riding, where for miles one can swing along at a
hand-gallop without once having to draw rein. In spring, when covered
with fresh, green grass, it possesses an additional charm, and until
rising waters once more confine riding to the race-course and the
river bank, there are few places in China where such magnificent
gallops can be obtained.

When summer floods at Kiukiang drove our ponies from their mat stables
on the other side of the creek to the higher ground of the concession,
and turned most of the surrounding country into an immense lake, we
were in considerable perplexity as to where we should take our
afternoon rides, until the brilliant idea was conceived of utilising
the city wall, which stands about twenty feet in height, and is four
miles in circumference.

Entering by the western gate and turning sharply to the right we rode
up the stone steps, much worn by time and human feet, to the top of
the wall, which is some twelve feet in width. Picking our way
carefully, for the route was strewn with loose stones and bricks, we
usually made the circuit twice before descending. Where the steps
adjoin the wall two large right angles are formed, into which Chinese
houses have been built in such a manner that their roofs are
conterminous with, and slope at the same angle as, the steps,
rendering it possible to pass from one to the other with the greatest
of ease.

As a friend of mine was passing this point for the second time his
pony tried to bolt down the steps with the intention of returning to
stable. A violent pull at the near rein brought the brute's head
round, but without stopping him, so that he passed sideways from the
steps on to the roof of one of the houses, and together with his rider
instantly disappeared through it, amidst a cloud of dust, a crashing
of timbers and the rattle of falling tiles.

Emerging from the _débris_, and smothered with dust, my friend led his
pony through the front door into the street, where a crowd had already
collected, neither apparently any the worse for their remarkable
feat. An old woman who was in the building at the time had a narrow
escape from being crushed by the falling animal, but she soon
recovered from the shock, and a liberal sum in dollars with which to
repair the roof probably caused her to regret that similar accidents
did not more frequently befall.

At Peking, where for a time I was clerk of the course, a most
remarkable incident occurred, for the accuracy of which I had
irrefutable proof.

A pony named "Chalk," which I had purchased from a Chinese soldier for
twenty-five dollars, had carried all before him at the previous autumn
meeting, for which reason I was naturally greatly attached to him, and
he, although an extremely vicious animal towards others, tolerated me
with a forbearance but rarely met with in a China pony.

At the succeeding spring meeting Chalk was a hot favourite for the
principal events. The evening before the races I passed with several
friends, when the chances of different ponies, and of Chalk in
particular, were discussed till a late hour. That night I dreamed that
after I had been riding Chalk, I was standing dismounted and holding
the reins, on a plot of grass surrounded with trees, while the pony
was lying on the ground. Raising his head and neck two or three times
in attempts to get up he finally struggled into a sitting position,
standing on his forelegs but with his haunches on the ground, and then
sank back dead.

The dream was so vivid and left such an impression on me, that by way
of conversation, and without attaching the slightest importance to it,
I related the circumstance in practically the same words as employed
here, to a Russian friend, who accompanied me early next morning to
the course.

Again, on the grand-stand, a quarter of an hour or so before the races
commenced, I laughingly told a son of the Dutch minister of my dream,
explaining the circumstances and the scene in full.

Looking in the pink of condition, Chalk came out for the first event,
one mile, and won hands down by several lengths. After dismounting in
the enclosure and weighing in, I was being convoyed by my friends to
the bar in order to celebrate the victory in champagne, when I heard
someone say, "Look at Chalk!"

Turning round, I saw him staggering backwards as if he had been struck
a heavy blow on the head. As I rushed forward and seized the reins by
which the mafoo had been leading him, he fell to the ground, and there
on the club lawn, surrounded with trees, exactly as seen in my dream,
he attempted to rise two or three times, eventually getting into a
sitting position, and then falling back was dead in less than ten

My Russian friend was aghast, and pressed into my hand a small coin,
which he said would keep off the evil spirits, but I was then too much
concerned at the loss of my favourite to pay heed to either spirits or
dreams, although I had instantly recognised both the scene and the
locality, the only difference being that the sympathising crowd which
now pressed round me and my fallen steed had been absent in the

I am not a believer in dreams, and possessing an excellent digestion
but rarely have any, and for this one can offer no explanation beyond
that it was a most remarkable coincidence.

At the time it created quite a mild sensation amongst the European
community, while the Chinese who heard of it were extremely

My Russian and Dutch friends I have since met on several occasions,
when, in the presence of others, we talked of my dream and its

Both in Peking and in the various parts of China where I have since
been stationed, I have frequently related the occurrence to Chinese
acquaintances, and they have always given an interpretation of it
which has invariably been to the effect that in this world, or in a
previous existence, I either lent money or did a great service to some
friend, who, dying before repayment had been made, came back to earth
in the form of a horse, and after winning for me sufficient money to
discharge his debt, returned to the realms of departed spirits.

                                                 "THE HAGUE,
                                         "_26th March 1903_.

    "MY DEAR READY,--In reply to yours of 23rd I will certainly
    gladly corroborate the incident regarding Chalk's death. I do
    not remember exactly the details as you put them to me now,
    though I have not the least doubt they were the true features
    of the case. What I do still remember is this: that you gave
    ---- and myself a somewhat circumstantial account of your
    dream shortly before the race; that immediately after the
    death of the pony you came up to us and called attention to
    the remarkable fulfilment of your dream, and that I was at the
    time much impressed with the case, both as regards the main
    fact and the details, which tallied remarkably with what I
    could then still remember of your prophetic account of the
    event. Whether to look upon this as some 'Borderland'
    manifestation or merely as a remarkable coincidence does not
    belong to the province of,--

                                          "Yours very truly,

                                               "T.T.H. FERGUSON."

My Russian friend has long since returned to the dominions of the
Great White Czar and I have not his address, otherwise I feel
confident that he, too, would gladly support with his testimony my
account of this remarkable occurrence.



A good national motto for the Chinese would be "_Semper idem_," for of
a truth they change not and as yet the shadow of turning is but

The same types of junk that called forth the admiration of Marco Polo
may be seen to-day, not only along the internal waterways of the
Empire but far afield, at Singapore, in Siamese waters and amongst the
East India Islands, and it may be interesting for yachtsmen to know
that the problems of water-tight compartments, centre-boards, balanced
and perforated rudders, which during the past few decades have
exercised the minds of designers and builders in this country, were
solved many centuries ago by the Chinese, and almost every junk afloat
contains some, and not unfrequently all, of these equipments.

In the stormy waters of the Formosa channel, where the monsoons raise
a mountainous sea, thousands of fishing-boats, far out of sight of
land, ply their business in weather which would cause the masters of
English smacks to run for shelter.

Mail steamers on the voyage between Hongkong and Shanghai pass through
these fleets and their miles upon miles of bamboo-floated nets, and
oftentimes it occurs that a good view of some of the craft may be
obtained from deck at the distance of only a few yards, when it can be
seen that their crews consist not of men alone as in other countries
but of whole families--fathers, mothers, children and infants--whose
home is in reality on the rolling deep.

That many of these hardy souls perish at their work is a certainty,
for it frequently happens that steamers sight their luckless craft
bottoms upwards or rescue survivors from the wreckage.

Out of Shanghai harbour cumbersome junks make their ways across the
Yellow Sea to ports along the northern coasts or to the hermit kingdom
of Corea. These vessels have frequently five or six masts spread out
like a fan, from the foremast, which rakes forrard at an extraordinary
angle, to the mizzenmast, which shoots well out over the stern.
Ill-shaped sails of matting, ropes made of twisted bamboo splits,
hemp, or cocoa-nut fibre, huge wooden anchors, and a total absence of
paint lend to them a most ramshackle and unseaworthy appearance, while
clothes drying on the line, cocks crowing, pigs rambling about at
will, plants growing in pots and old tins, together with the presence
of women and children, introduce a rustic and farmlike element, and
it is always a matter of wonder to me how these floating curiosity
shops are able to thread their ways unaided through tortuous channels
and crowded shipping out to sea, and when once there, why they do not
succumb to the first rough weather they encounter.

Taken as a whole, Chinese junks are but roughly built, and though
generally excellent sea-boats and easily handled, their sailing powers
are poor when compared with corresponding European craft of similar

A peculiar custom is the supplying of all vessels, whether steamers,
junks or sampans, with large eyes, which are painted one on either
side of the bows and as a reason for which any Chinaman will explain
to you--"S'pose no got eye, no can see. S'pose no can see, how fashion
can walkee."

Another thing to be noted is that all sails without exception have
bamboo reefing battens, which although destroying the smooth set of
the canvas are infinitely superior to our reefing points, inasmuch as
the largest sail can be reefed from deck, or rather reefs itself, just
as quickly as the capstan can lower it, and without that hard work,
waste of time and risk which going aloft or along the spars in bad
weather necessarily entails.

Up the mighty River Yangtse different types of junks may be
numbered by the hundred, all varying in tonnage, dimensions and
draught according to the waters they are designed to navigate.

   [Illustration: FOOCHOW JUNK, SHOWING EYE.
   _To face page 98._]

In the estuary, and as far up as Chinkiang, sea-going papicoes from
Ningpo are to be seen in great numbers. These gaily-painted vessels of
from twenty to eighty tons, with their high freeboards, wide sterns,
raking masts, tanned sails and gaudy vanes, are extremely quaint and

_Via_ the Grand Canal, which connects Tientsin with Hangchow, great
quantities of tribute rice are forwarded by Chinese officials from the
Central and Southern provinces to their Manchu rulers in the north,
every Manchu, owing to the bare fact that he is of the ruling race,
being entitled from his birth to a monthly allowance of rice and
silver, and as the canal crosses the Yangtse at Chinkiang many
deep-draught grain junks may be seen arriving there with cargoes from
various places on the river.

A few miles higher up, at a place called Iching, there are always
scores of junks anchored in orderly rows waiting to load salt as it
arrives overland from the sea-coast, where, being a Government
monopoly, it is manufactured in saltpans under official supervision.

Both the grain junks and the salt junks possess a certain official
status, and are therefore kept in far better trim than the ordinary
trader, and ranging anywhere from sixty to one hundred and fifty tons,
are probably the best class of craft which frequent inland waters.
They are heavily built, with good beam and watertight compartments.
Their lines, while forbidding any thought of speed, are not
ungraceful, and eminently suitable for weight carrying. With square,
massive bows they thicken away aft, until, curving upwards with a bold
sweep of the gunnels, their covered-in sterns, high above the balanced
rudder, form good quarters for the lowdah and his family, where from
tiny windows women and children peep in shy curiosity at the foreigner
sailing by.

The mainmast, an enormous spar of some sixty or seventy feet in
length, is stepped almost amidships in a kind of tabernacle, and has
neither stays nor shrouds, its only visible support being a wooden
prop, which a few feet above the deck takes part of the pressure when
running before the wind, so that on gazing up at its dizzy height one
continually wonders why in heavy weather it does not go by the board
or pound its way through the bottom of the vessel. The foremast, which
is considerably smaller and stepped well forrard, is in like manner
devoid of any kind of stay. Each mast sets one enormous sail of
graceful shape, and but loosely made of a coarse, native material,
resembling cheap calico. The cloths, running vertically, are
interwoven with the bamboo reefing battens, and though but lightly
stitched together, seem capable of withstanding an enormous strain.

Varnished a light yellow, which shimmers in the sun, and displaying
gaudy banners on which the signs of the guilds to which they belong
are printed in large characters, it is a beautiful sight to watch a
fleet of these stately ships glide by, with their towering sails
goose-winged before the breeze, and churning up the waters with their
blunt, unyielding prows.

Amongst the elaborate system of guilds which permeates Chinese
society, one of the most meritorious is the lifeboat guild. Apart from
official aid and direction, it is mostly supported by voluntary
contributions, and to an extent which allows of lifeboats being
stationed at many points of danger.

In fine weather these "red-boats," as, owing to their usual colour,
they are commonly called, lay up in creeks or shelters while the crews
pass their time at leisure, but as soon as a storm arises they
immediately put out and ride to a drift-anchor, ready at a moment's
notice to hoist sail and dash to the rescue of any craft in distress.

At Hankow, where a north-easterly gale against a four-knot current
raises a choppy and heavy sea most dangerous for small craft, I have
seen four red-boats racing from different directions to rescue the
occupants of a capsized sampan. With sails fully hoisted before the
gale and smothered by the waves, in an incredibly short time they were
on the scene of the accident, where, rounding to, the work of salvage
was carried out in a most plucky and seamanlike manner. These boats
have no stem, the bows, which are square and about four feet in width,
sloping away underneath in a gentle curve, so that their tendency is
to skim over the water like a dish instead of cutting through it. They
are decked forrard flush with the gunnel for nearly half their length,
when a low cabin takes up the space as far as the well, which is quite

Flat-bottomed, and using lee-boards, they draw very little water,
while a single mast and sail of the light and convenient Chinese
pattern render them extremely handy. Hand-lines are looped round the
sides in the customary manner, but there is no cork belt.

Their qualities are so good that our own National Lifeboat Institution
would do well to study the model for use in places where a sandy beach
and shoal water make it sometimes impossible to launch the type of
lifeboat now in general use.

Gun-boats, or police junks, are ubiquitous. A very low freeboard and
no cabin, with the exception of a kind of deck-house quite aft, where
the helmsman stands, one mast hoisting a gracefully-cut sail with
alternate blue and white cloths, a small muzzle-loading cannon in the
bows, and a crew of ten or a dozen in quaint uniforms, who, when wind
fails, take to the sweeps, and standing up facing the direction in
which they are going, and keeping good time, propel the boat at a fair
pace. When at anchor an awning in blue and white stripes affords a
commodious shelter. Being official vessels they are spic and span in
light yellow varnish, and frequently fly a number of really beautiful
flags of marvellous design and brilliant colouring. The
_tout-ensemble_ is smart, weird, pleasing and eminently suitable for a
Drury Lane pantomime. Of shallow draught, and of size varying in
accordance with the waters they are destined to patrol, I have seen
them as large as twenty tons and as small as a skiff, having an old
flint gingall mounted forrard with all the circumstance of a 12-inch

Between the treaty-port of Ichang, which is a thousand miles from the
sea, and the treaty-port of Chungking, which is four hundred miles
higher up, lie the celebrated Yangtse Gorges.

Ichang is, for all practical purposes, the present terminus of
steamship traffic, for although a few small steamers have passed
through the Gorges and reached Chungking, there have been many
failures, and one German vessel, the ss. _Shuihsiang_, built
expressly for the run, was dashed on the rocks and sank when on her
maiden trip.

The scenery of the Gorges is the grandest I have ever seen, and made a
greater impression on me than even that of the Rocky Mountains.

My trip there was in the month of November, when the river was low and
the current slack, albeit it raced by at five or six miles an hour.

Having hired a suitable boat at Ichang we set sail before a strong
up-river breeze, and by carefully following all indentations of the
river bank managed to keep in fairly slack water, until we reached a
point where the Gorges actually commence. Here a tow-line was got out,
and by the frantic efforts of half-a-dozen trackers, in addition to
the sail, we slowly forged ahead but at not more than two miles an
hour, although the foam breaking over our bows and a broad wake astern
showed that we were passing through the water at the rate of eight or

The Gorges are where the mighty river has forced a passage through a
lofty range of mountains, which barred its progress to the sea.

Seated on my tiny craft, and gazing up at the towering cliffs which
rise almost perpendicularly for hundreds and sometimes thousands of
feet on either side, I could see caves, terraces and strata, which
indicate with a marvellous distinctness the different levels of the
river, as during untold ages it has eaten its way through solid rock
and stone to its present bed. This manifestation of the irresistible
forces of nature produces a singularly sobering effect on the mind by
making one keenly feel how utterly insignificant we mortals really
are. Along ledges on the beetling cliffs the ubiquitous Chinaman has
built his home and planted orange groves, so that far overhead rich
clusters of golden fruit lend an effective touch of colour to the
beauty and majesty of the scene.

All junks in use between Chungking and Ichang are built with a view to
navigating the numerous rapids occurring in the Gorges, and are
chiefly remarkable for their abnormally high sterns, which, in the
event of grounding on a sandbank while descending with a ten-knot
current, serve as a protection against being pooped.

One or two masts with the ordinary Chinese sails, an immense sweep in
the bows as an aid in turning, and a strong rudder with an enormous
tiller, are the chief items of equipment.

On the voyage down, which takes less than a week, a crew of ten or a
dozen would be sufficient for a medium-sized junk, but for the return
journey against stream, and which takes from four to eight weeks
according to the strength of the current, from forty to a hundred
trackers are necessary in addition to the regular hands.

As in the Gorges the river is liable to freshets, which in a few hours
may cause a rise of thirty or forty feet, the foreshore is at an
uncertain height, for which reason, probably, no towing-paths have
been made.

Upward-bound junks, in addition to their sails, have an immense
hawser, made of twisted bamboo splits, leading from the top of the
mainmast to the river bank, and to the shore end of which, for a
length of about forty to a hundred feet, the trackers fasten the
yokes, with one of which each man is supplied, and which are long
enough to admit a play of ten or fifteen feet on either side of the

It is a stirring sight to see a big junk being bodily forced by wind
and manual power against a strong current. The trackers swarm over
rocks and mounds along the foreshore like a pack of hounds, singing,
laughing and shouting as they go, the mainmast bends beneath the heavy
strain, the hawser is cleared from jutting boulders by intrepid
swimmers, who in pursuit of their vocation must often plunge into the
racing torrent, and the vessel roars through the water with foaming
bows, though the progress made may be but a few yards within the hour,
while if, as frequently occurs, the hawser carries away, she is
whirled three or four miles down stream before the crew can again
bring her to anchor by the bank.

Wrecks are numerous in this seething maelstrom, and a heavy toll in
lives is taken from the brave and hardy fellows whose lot is cast by
these waters of strife.

It was on this trip that I saw a Chinaman fishing with the help of an

The animal had a long cord fastened round its neck like a ferret, and
was attached by it to the bows of a sampan, which was rowed by a
woman, while the fisherman, standing on the fore part, gathered in his
hands a net, circular in shape and having a hole in the centre large
enough to admit the otter.

On arriving at a suitable spot the net was cast with a sweep of the
arm, so that like a spider's web it spread over a considerable area of

Heavily weighted at the edges it sank quickly until the leads rested
on the bottom of the river. The fisherman then hauled at a line until
the hole in the centre appeared above the surface, when the otter,
plunging through it, dived inside the net, quickly to reappear with a
fish in its mouth, whereon he was unceremoniously hauled on board and
his prey taken from him, after which he was again ushered through the
hole into the folds of the net.

While stationed at Kiukiang I possessed a teak-built four-oared gig
which, being heavy and strong, I rigged with a jib and mainsail,
besides adding six inches to her keel, when she proved to be a handy
and seaworthy little craft. An iron framework could be erected over
the stern-sheets and covered with a canvas hood, thus forming quite a
roomy and comfortable cabin, while a light awning protected the well
of the boat, so that I was quite able to make trips in her extending
over two or three days.

From time to time natives had spoken to me of a Purple Lake where,
they said, but few Europeans had ever been, and along the shores of
which good shooting could be found.

This sounded sufficiently alluring, so, the opportunity offering, I
started on a voyage of discovery in my gig, taking with me a couple of
trusty native boatmen. Mounting the Yangtse for a short distance we
entered a narrow creek, along which we were carried by a swift current
between walls of reeds so tall that they effectually shut off the
wind. At dark we tied up near a village, from which dozens of dogs
presently arrived, and which when not fighting amongst themselves
barked at us throughout the night with the most exasperating
persistence. Mosquitoes also were particularly numerous, so that with
the first streak of dawn we were only too thankful to cast off and
continue our journey. During the morning we passed through pleasant
scenery, and I observed a heronry in some dead trees on the left,
while a deer swam the creek two hundred yards ahead of the boat; the
lake being reached shortly before noon.

It was a refreshing sight. Clear, sparkling water dotted with
fishing-boats and wild-fowl, little green-capped islands with white
cliffs and a range of lofty mountains in the background. After a swim
and a hearty tiffin we sailed on with a good breeze, exploring the
different arms of the lake, until about three o'clock, when I landed
with my gun.

The country, though hilly, was richly cultivated, the principal crop
being tobacco, and after a delightful walk I returned on board with a
brace of pheasants and a woodcock. That night we passed in comfort
anchored in a tiny bay sheltered by lofty cliffs, and the morning was
well aired before our cruise was resumed.

At the further end of the lake what at first appeared to be a stately
town was seen rising from the water's edge and reflected on its
glistening surface, but a nearer approach revealed the inevitable
shabbiness and ruin which distance had concealed and mirage had
beautified. A fisherman informed us that it was the "Purple City."

Later on I landed on some low ground, and walking amongst the paddy
fields bagged ten couple of snipe in less than an hour, after which
we sailed on again up a narrow arm of the lake with beautiful cliffs
and wooded hills on either side. Arriving at the end of this inlet we
anchored for tiffin, and early in the afternoon commenced to beat back
against a northerly wind.

During the morning I had observed a number of boats crossing the lake
from all directions and converging on a certain point, and now, on
rounding a sharp headland, we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of
hundreds of craft of many descriptions, each bearing a load of
gaily-dressed holiday-makers, while several long canoes, each paddled
by twenty or thirty men, raced backwards and forwards to a great
beating of gongs and a firing of guns. It was the dragon-boat
festival, and no sooner were we observed than all these boats
immediately closed round in order that their occupants might more
closely inspect the European and his strange-looking craft.

Far from my presence being resented I was most courteously treated,
and after many questions had been put and answered by either side, a
race of the dragon-boats was given for my particular edification,
while as they sped by I fired a salute from my Winchester, which
evidently gave immense satisfaction.

I would here observe that wherever my wanderings in China have led me
I have never been molested, nor, beyond the epithet of "foreign
devil" applied freely by boys from a safe distance, have I been
insulted. While this is not the experience of many, I am obliged to
confess that the fault does not lie wholly with the natives.

I have noticed men enter a village with guns, dogs and a tribe of
beaters, and to an old inhabitant, who courteously bowed his welcome,
one of them shouted roughly, "Well, Johnnie, how are you?"

The aged celestial, not understanding a word though comprehending the
roughness, remained silent, whereon the European exclaimed insolently,
"Who are you staring at, you old fool?"

At this point the village dogs, excited by such an unexpected
invasion, commenced to bark, and were instantly stoned by the
intruders, so that the old Chinaman, to avoid being struck, hurried
into his house and closed the door, while the sportsmen and their
troop passed through the sleepy hamlet like a whirlwind, scaring
women, children, fowls and pigs and disgusting the inhabitants by
their uncouthness. Such behaviour, I fear, is only too common.

In my experience it is seldom that a courteous bearing does not meet
with immediate friendly response.

As the wind was dropping and there were signs of rain I left my
new-made friends and returned to the little bay beneath the cliffs,
where we had spent the previous night. Before dark the rain was
coming down steadily, but having rigged tarpaulins over the hood and
awning we so far kept dry and comfortable.

In the middle of the night I was awakened by a torrential downpour and
by the roar of a heavy gale as it swept over the cliffs high above our
heads. Despite the tarpaulins the wet found its way in and soaked us
to the skin, so that with daylight we were glad to make preparations
for returning to Kiukiang.

The awning we took in, but the lashings of the tarpaulins which
covered the hood were so tightened by moisture that it was impossible
to unknot them, and so the structure was left standing.

Starting off under the jib alone with the wind dead astern, it was not
until the shelter of the cliffs had been left and return was already
impossible that I realised what we were in for.

The gale was a perfect hurricane, before which we flew at a tremendous
pace. The further we left the land the higher the swell became, until
it suddenly dawned on me that our chances of covering the four or five
miles before reaching the creek were not very bright.

I have not been in many tight places, but this certainly was one.

The boatmen had realised our dangerous straits, and failing at the
pinch, as I have seen Chinamen do before and since, crouched down with
faces blanched to putty and almost too terror-stricken to bail out the
water which we shipped in ever-increasing quantities.

A thick mist of driven spray covered the surface of the lake, and the
boat rolled wildly in the waves, which although not very high were
short and heavy and hissed as if in a rapid.

We should have been swamped over the stern again and again had it not
been for the hood, which more by good fortune than by design I had
left standing. The tiller happily was a long one, and by exerting all
my strength we kept a fairly straight course, eventually dashing
through clouds of driven foam into the creek, though in a half-swamped
condition. We had got off scot-free, but it had been touch and go. If
the hood and tarpaulins had failed to keep out the seas we should have
been pooped, and if the jib-sheets had carried away or the rudder
become unshipped we should have broached to, when immediate
destruction would have been our lot.

The remainder of the journey was simple enough, and in a few hours we
were safely back in port.

Both at Hongkong and Shanghai, where the European population numbers
several thousands, there is a yacht club, each containing several
up-to-date classes, ranging from half-raters to fifteen-tonners, and
regattas under various conditions are of frequent occurrence. These
clubs, as well as the yachts, being practically identical with those
in this country, it is unnecessary to enter into details.

At Hongkong the sailing is on a bright, blue sea, whether in the
magnificent harbour or amongst the numerous lovely islands, while at
Shanghai it is on the muddy waters of the Whangpoo, which, except for
the fact that it is the harbour of this thriving settlement, where
scores of vessels of all sizes and nationalities ride at anchor or are
berthed alongside wharves, is a small and uninteresting river flowing
into the estuary of the Yangtse.

From the ancient Portuguese colony of Macao, distant forty miles from
Hongkong and celebrated as the home of the poet Camoëns, come fleets
of fishing-boats, which, in pursuit of their calling, cruise amongst
the islands in the delta of the West River.

These "Macao junks" are about the best sea-boats and the fastest
sailers of all Chinese vessels.

Built on graceful lines, and of light material, they possess the
buoyancy of a duck, rarely shipping water even in the heaviest sea,
while with two masts carrying well-shaped sails of matting, immense
perforated, balanced rudders, and being of light draught, they handle
so well that they can turn a complete circle in their own length.
While unable to sail as close to the wind as a yacht, their chief
point is in running, when with huge sails set on either side they
will tear along at a pace perfectly astounding for craft of their
unpretentious build and rig.

During a pleasant two years' sojourn in this colony I sailed a smart
little cutter of about one and a half tons, so that I was able to
thoroughly test the merits of these junks, and while rather more than
holding my own on all points in a light breeze, I could only make a
good show in strong winds and rough water when sailing full and by,
and was considerably outpaced in running free.

Although these waters are infested with pirates and smugglers, as
evidenced by such names as "Dead Man's Grave," "Robbers' Point,"
"Grave Island," "Pirates' Creek" and the like, Europeans are but
seldom molested, and although generally taking my Winchester as a
precautionary measure when going any distance from port, I have spent
many delightful days in standing out to sea, sailing through the
numerous creeks with which the hinterland is intersected, or in
cruising amongst the islands, on which sometimes I would land, and
creeping round the rocky shores with my gun would frequently surprise
wildfowl feeding amongst the shallow bays and pools.

At other times, in company with a convivial friend, I would get under
way in the cool of the evening, and after running out to sea for an
hour or so to enjoy the night breezes setting in from the Pacific,
and perhaps laying to for a swim, we would return to the lovely bay,
and dropping anchor off the Praia Grande dine by moonlight to the
strains of the Portuguese military band, which played two or three
times weekly either at the Governor's Palace or in the public gardens,
both of which overlooked the sea.

When on a trip up the Sikiang or West River from Canton to Wuchow, I
observed many junks fitted with what may be described as an adjustable
cut-water or bow-board.

These vessels, having great beam and perfectly flat bottoms, would
only draw a few inches, and as their provenance was evidently from
shallow waters, where neither keels, centre-boards nor lee-boards
could be employed, recourse was had to enormous rudders and these
cut-waters as a means of hauling a wind, the device apparently
answering fairly well.

As far as I could see, a deep groove was cut along the stem, and the
bow-board, perhaps three feet in width, was slipped into it and made
fast at the top with a lashing.

In beating to windward these cut-waters were in position, but when
running free they were unshipped and laid on the foredeck.

Wherever foreigners congregate, but more especially at Shanghai and up
the Yangtse, the house-boat, combining comfort, convenience and fair
sailing powers, is a favourite means of getting about on shooting
trips and picnics, and altogether forms an important feature of the
pleasant existence which we lead in the Far East.

The hull usually resembles that of a light-draught yacht, with either
a drop-keel or lee-boards, so that shallow creeks may be readily

In rig they are semi-Chinese, the shape of the sail being that of the
ordinary balanced lug, which bamboo reefing battens with a sheet-line
leading from the extremity of each to the main-sheet render extremely
handy and safe. A jib can also be set, but as it destroys the
simplicity of the rig it is greatly disliked by the crew and therefore
seldom utilised.

The particular craft which I have now in mind is an excellent
sea-boat, fast and comfortable, has a fine cabin with four berths,
tables folding on either side of the centre-board well, and capable of
seating a dozen, stove, gun-racks, glass and bottle brackets and
numerous lockers. There is also a bathroom and lavatory, a kitchen
with good cooking range, quarters forrard for the crew--which consists
of the lowdah and four sailors, together with cook, boy and
dog-coolie--while on deck are the water-tanks, kennels, and a small
sampan by way of a jolly.

Replete with every comfort, a shooting-box for the sportsman and a
sure refuge for the overworked, the house-boat represents to me the
acme of leisure and repose.

    "And the night shall be fill'd with music,
      And the cares that infest the day
    Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
      And as silently steal away."



It is nearing twenty years ago since I celebrated my last bump supper
in my old college at Cambridge, but the remembrance of it is so bright
and cheering in the monotony of daily life that time is much abridged,
and it seems but yesterday that the two pailfuls of smoking milk punch
worked such deadly havoc amongst four crews of well-trained men that
ultimately they were mostly laid out in a row, with consequent sore
heads and interviews with the dean next morning. A bump supper is an
orgy never to be forgotten.

A jamboree is a very analogous function. Where and what the word comes
from I do not know, but its meaning in the Far East is universally
understood to be a bachelor entertainment consisting of an enormous
dinner with plenty of wine, tales, songs and general hilarity,
occasionally verging on riotousness with breakage of household
furniture and other effects.

As I glance back over the past fifteen years such wild nights stand
out like beacons in pleasing relief from the many respectable
gatherings, be it in Church or Society, at which I have had the honour
of assisting, but which have left no impressions sufficiently vivid to
class them with treasured souvenirs or even provoke a smile.

Some years since there visited Hankow a personage of exalted rank,
who, being a near kinsman of one of the most powerful of Europe's
present rulers, was received with patriotic enthusiasm by the large
colony of his nationals domiciled there, and with every mark of
respect by all other members of the cosmopolitan community.

His arrival in one of the fine Chinese river-boats was signalised by
what might have been a fatal catastrophe but for the skilful
manoeuvring of his ship by the veteran American skipper.

Just as the vessel had threaded her way through numerous ocean
steamers and foreign gun-boats anchored in the stream, and was slowly
approaching the hulk alongside which she was to be made fast, an
enormous raft of timber, bearing a whole village of huts and a
considerable population of raft navigators, caught by the swirling
eddy caused by a freshet from the River Han, which 200 yards above
this point was pouring at right angles into the mighty Yangtse's
five-knot current, bore swiftly down on the steamer, threatening to
strike her amidships and either pin her to the hulk or crush her
against the stone-faced bund, when she must have been immediately
sunk. Unaware of the danger until it was almost upon him, the captain
had just time to reverse his engines, and by going full speed astern
with the helm hard over bring his ship round so as to receive the
threatened blow end on instead of abeam. The impact nearly drove the
vessel's stern into the hulk, but with her engines now going full
speed ahead, and churning up two white lanes of foam with her
paddle-wheels, she rammed her bows into the raft, and just managing to
deflect its course they floated down with the stream locked together,
until by a miracle they had passed clear of all the shipping, though
at times only by a few feet, and the steamer with her illustrious
passenger again bore up for her berth, after the narrowest of escapes
but without having sustained the slightest damage.

These enormous rafts, composed chiefly of bamboos and pines, generally
come from the forests of Hunan, and after crossing the Tongting lake
float down the Yangtse to places where wood is scarce and a good
market obtains. They vary in size, but sometimes are a hundred yards
in length by twenty in breadth, and draw probably from ten to twenty
feet. With their huts of bamboo and matting, with long sweeps both
ahead and astern for steering, and great coils of plaited bamboo ropes
for mooring purposes, they present an extremely picturesque

Amongst other festivities arranged by his compatriots in honour of the
distinguished visitor, a banquet, preceded by a reception of prominent
residents, was given at the club. It being almost midsummer, the
weather was fearfully hot, the thermometer registering over ninety
after sundown, and as a notification had been issued with all
invitations that black evening dress would be _de rigueur_ we were
debarred from wearing our cool, white mess jackets, and all arrived at
the club almost melting inside thick broadcloths.

A very amusing little episode occurred at the reception.

Amongst the few ladies present were the wife and daughter of a Western
official. They had evidently been "raised" away from the beaten tracks
of Society and crowned heads had not been their daily companions. On
this party being presented, the official and his wife preserved a
diplomatic silence, but mademoiselle was not inclined to take things
for granted, and seeing neither golden crown nor purple robe she
evidently had misgivings. "Are you really the grand duke?" she
inquired with striking accent; "are you really a prince?" The prince
smilingly replied that such was the case, on which his fair
interrogator exclaimed, "Oh, my! I _am_ surprised," and then slowly
retired from the front but with many backward glances of unconcealed

A large number of residents had received the honour of an invitation,
probably a hundred sitting down, and, as is customary in China, each
guest brought his own servant, so that from a hundred and fifty to two
hundred people were assembled in one large room, which together with
the hot dishes and a great many lamps caused the temperature to go up
several degrees, adding greatly to the discomfort we already
experienced owing to our thick clothes.

To still further increase the torture, a crowd of Chinese which had
collected in the streets below commenced to throw stones through the
open windows. One passed between my right-hand neighbour and myself,
shivering my wine-glasses to atoms. The windows and shutters were
hastily closed, and very shortly the temperature must have still
further increased by several degrees. Champagne flowed in streams, a
short speech of welcome was made by the local sport, to which the
guest of honour replied, "White Wings" was sung by the doctor, and the
parboiled throng descended to the lower precincts of the building to
watch a display of fireworks. The heat was awful. Not a breath of air,
and the sulphurous smoke from the fireworks hung low on the ground in
white masses, and seemed to seek shelter in the club, for in a very
short time the place was flooded with the choking fumes which caused
one to feel a tightness across the chest and a stinging in the eyes,
and which made it impossible to see across the room.

The prince withdrew at a somewhat early hour, and after a time the
guests commenced to disperse.

The heat, the champagne and the sulphur smoke had proved too much for
me. I attempted to walk straight, but the power to do so was gone.
First one foot would strike a hill, then the other would go down into
a deep hole, and so on, while lamp-posts and buildings seemed to whirl
past and round at a fearful pace.

When nearing my quarters I heard a faint "hillo" from a by-street, and
a continental mess-mate stumbled almost into my arms. He fully
intended to do so and I had no wish to avoid him but somehow we missed
each other and both fell prostrate on the pavement. Far from feeling
any ill-humour at this catastrophe, we both thought it a capital joke,
and I can distinctly remember our sitting side by side in the gutter
and swearing eternal friendship. After this things are vague, and the
next I remember is going upstairs on all fours and then opening my
bedroom door. A most remarkable sight presented itself. I have seen
mirage in the Arabian desert, but I have never seen anything like
that. There was my bed, shrunk to the size of about one inch in
length, at the top corner of the room near the ceiling, dancing up and
down at the end of a bright and circling tunnel. How to get there I
did not know. I can just remember sinking on hands and knees in order
to attempt the climb, when the floor struck me so violently in the
face that I lost consciousness, awaking late next morning to find
myself reclining on the bed, but still in my dress clothes. My friend,
it was said, attempted to go to bed in his bath, where he was
discovered in full evening dress, scooping the water over himself and
complaining that he could not keep the sheets up. But this is by the

At Kiukiang, where I happened to be a few years later, the community
was small, consisting of a few married couples and perhaps half a
dozen bachelors.

Time hung like lead, and small wonder that now and again we young men
would foregather round the festive board, when high spirits long pent
up would burst forth with a _vim_ that is but rarely attained in
places offering perennial sources of amusement.

On the occasion in question the dinner was at our mess, which, besides
myself, consisted of an Italian and a tall American of stern and
unbending nature. Our guests were two Russians and two Scotchmen, all
we could muster, but excellent in quality. After a jovial repast we
sallied forth on to the bund, and being a bright moonlight night,
romance entered into our souls, and we started to serenade the various
ladies of the port. First to the Consulate, where we drew up in line
on the lawn, the time being 2 a.m., and rendered "God Save the Queen"
with great execution and considerable pathos, notwithstanding
pronounced differences in American, Italian, Scotch, Russian and
English accentuation. Subsequently visits were made to all the other
houses, with the exception of one, where we rather feared to intrude,
as the good lady, while very affable as a rule, would stand no
nonsense, and when she did not wish to be pleasant could treat one to
a touch of sarcasm which would last for some time. However, we finally
summoned up courage and approached the house as noiselessly and
guiltily as a gang of thieves. The front gate was locked and eight
feet high, but after some delay we scaled it, ranged ourselves on the
lower verandah and were halfway through "My Bonnie Lives over the
Ocean," when a crash overhead announced that we were in for a storm. I
have never in my life seen seven men break and fly in such utter
terror. Once off the verandah into the moonlight we were in full view
of the outraged dame, who stood in a commanding attitude on the upper
verandah in her dressing-gown, almost speechless with emotion, but
gesticulating frantically. We rushed at the gate, and in our eagerness
to be on the other side fought and wrestled with each other for first
place. The upper bars broke away in our hands, bricks came off the top
of the adjoining walls, and it was fully five minutes before we were
in the road, breathless, with torn clothes, and I, personally, with a
sprained wrist.

We now felt we were in for a bad time next day, and so, to revive our
drooping spirits, repaired to the house of one of the Russians. Here
vodka, caviare, salmon-back, sardines, Bologna sausage and other
little dainties common to the _zacousca_ furnished us with a most
_recherché_ supper. We ate everything and drank a good deal. By this
time we were again in the wildest spirits and fit for anything. Our
tall American friend was still somewhat unbent, and being of an
inquiring turn of mind was examining the trap-door through which the
dinner is handed by the cook from the pantry into the dining-room. No
sooner was his head well through than he was pounced on by the two
Caledonians, who, seizing him by the legs below the knee, shot his six
feet odd through the trap-door as if they had been tossing the caber.
A terrific crash of crockery told its own tale; the Russian's best
dinner service was no more. Rising from the fragments the victim
declared it to be his opinion that all, with the exception of
himself, were inebriated and unfit for the society of respectable
citizens, after which delivery he withdrew to his own quarters.

Next we heard female shrieks and screams, accompanied by a heavy
tramping of feet down the stairs, and two of our joyous band appeared,
bearing in triumph by her head and her heels, the struggling form of
our host's Chinese housekeeper, clad in nothing but her night
garments. She was laid tenderly on the dining-room table and comforted
with some _Veuve Clicquot_ champagne, for the poor creature had been
somewhat upset by being pounced on when asleep in bed and hauled off
with so little ceremony and preparation into the publicity of a
well-lighted room full of masculine visitors.

Shortly after daylight the company separated with many expressions of
mutual esteem. On my way to bed I thought our American chum should be
interviewed and an explanation made that no offence was intended by
the recent treatment of him. He was in bed and sleeping heavily, so I
was obliged to wake him in order to fulfil my mission of peace. To say
that he received these overtures in a friendly spirit would be
incorrect. He seemed to be preparing for immediate hostilities, and
so, not to be taken at a disadvantage, I closed with him as he leaped
out of bed. The _mêlée_ lasted probably five minutes, during which
brief period his furniture was hurled in chaotic profusion all round
the room, my black mess jacket was divided up the back from the tail
to the collar, his pyjamas carried away, and the skin was detached
from his bare feet by my boots. So ended a glorious evening. Next day
we all lay low, but learnt that a certain person had interviewed the
Consul with a view to legal proceedings for alleged housebreaking. Our
enemy, however, was check-mated, and ourselves saved, by the veracious
testimony of a dear old Scotch lady, who lived in the adjoining house,
and who declared that our serenade was "verra nice though a wee bit
muxed," and that she herself had enjoyed it immensely.

One often hears of the flower-boats of Canton, and immediately
associates them with gaily-painted gondolas, tenanted by captivating
sirens and decorated with perfumed flowers and plants, growing with a
luxurious profusion common only to the Flowery Land. "Flower-girl" is
the universal Chinese term for those young women who dance and sing in
public, and who for regular fees attend at Chinese dinner-parties,
composed exclusively of men, to flirt with the guests while filling
their pipes and pouring out their wine. Poor parents having larger
families than they can support frequently sell one or two of their
best-looking daughters to professional trainers, who, after teaching
them to dance and sing, send them to the flower-boats in hopes that
they may there captivate wealthy _habitués_, when handsome prices
would be realised.

These girls are frequently not of bad character, but being on the
marriage market employ their wiles to secure husbands, in which they
sometimes succeed, passing into the hands of rich Chinese for three,
four or five hundred dollars, according to their merits, as wives of
an inferior rank, say number four or six.

At various places in the south, but especially at Canton and Wuchow, a
number of large, ugly junks with spacious cabins are moored alongside
each other in a certain locality. They possess no very striking
features, and those I have seen at Wuchow were absolutely devoid of
flowers or plants of any kind, the name "flower-boat" signifying
nothing more than the haunt of the flower-girl.

In the cabins of these craft it is the fashionable thing amongst
well-to-do Chinamen to hold their jamborees. They hire a particular
junk for a certain date, and at the appointed hour the party assembles
there, being received by two or three unprepossessing servants.
Dinner, or whatever form the entertainment may take, is commenced, and
as general mirth rises with the good cheer, guests write on a slate
provided for the purpose the names of such flower-girls as they may
fancy. This slate is quickly carried to where the girls live, hard by,
and shortly they will appear, staying for a time to dance, sing and
dally with their admirers, after which they will pass on to other
boats to fulfil further engagements.

The singing is execrable, being a high, nasal falsetto, and the
dancing, or rather swaying on their tiny feet while waving overhead a
dirty cloth in their beautifully-shaped hands, is feeble in the
extreme. A band of musicians is usually engaged, after protracted
haggling, to enliven the proceedings. Two or three native fiddles of
most primitive make wail incessantly, cymbals clash recklessly, a kind
of flute resembling bagpipes in sound squirls, while a wooden drum
adds to the deafening din. The girls squeak and posture, the place
reeks with pungent tobacco smoke and the smell of garlic, the guests
munch dried melon seeds, spitting the husks on to the floor, and shout
to make each other hear above the general uproar.

To escape from this inferno was the chief pleasure of the evening, and
any romantic ideas I may have had with respect to "flower-boats" will
remain shattered for ever.

Macao has been a Portuguese colony for upwards of three centuries, it
having been ceded to its original settlers by the viceroy of Canton in
recognition of services rendered by those intrepid buccaneers in
freeing neighbouring waters from pirates and robbers. It is a most
quaint and interesting little place, wearing a look of mediæval
times, and still possessing many traces of former prosperity, though
now chiefly remarkable for its legalised gambling facilities, for
which reason it is frequently called the Monte Carlo of the Far East,
there being also a certain natural resemblance.

At Hongkong gambling is strictly prohibited amongst the Chinese, while
at Canton gaming-houses are heavily taxed, so that natives come in
great numbers from both places to Macao in order to play _fantan_
without constant dread of police interference. All fantan shops, as
they are called, contain but one gambling-table each, which is on the
ground floor. This table is covered with a fine grass mat and
surrounded on three sides with benches for the players, while on the
fourth side sit the croupier and the banker or shroff. In the ceiling
a large hole has been cut immediately over, and corresponding in size
with, the table, and a railing placed round it in the room above, so
that players can mount to the first floor, and bending over the
railing look directly down on the gambling. In the centre of the table
lies a thin slab of lead about six inches square, the sides of which
represent the numbers one, two, three and four.

The croupier has immediately in front of him a pile of bright copper
cash, perhaps two pints. From these he takes a large double-handful,
which he places well on the table and covers with a small metal
bowl. Now is the time for making bets on the four numbers. Suppose we
put a dollar on number three. In the course of a few minutes all those
who desire to bet have done so, stakes from the first floor being put
into a basket by an attendant and lowered on to the table by means of
a string, and the little square of lead is surrounded with coins,
notes and counters arranged by the shroff. Now the croupier, with a
thin stick about a foot in length, commences to scrape away four coins
at a time from the double-handful of cash. One, two, three, four. One,
two, three, four, and so on. The little heap begins to diminish. The
eager gamblers, who are generally all Chinese, bend forward with
straining eyes to within a few inches of the croupier's stick, so that
any cheating would be well-nigh impossible. One, two, three, four.
Only a few more cash. The excitement is intense. One, two, three....
Three cash remain!

   _To face page 133._]

Number three wins. All those who bet on one, two and four lose their
stakes, while those who bet on three receive five times the amount of
their stakes after a deduction of twenty-five per cent. has been made.
We put a dollar on number three; well, after deducting twenty-five per
cent. from it as profit for the table, seventy-five cents are left,
and we receive five times that amount, which is equal to three
dollars and seventy-five cents.

These fantan shops, of which there may be twenty or thirty, are all
licensed and kept under strict supervision, being farmed out to rich
syndicates by the Portuguese authorities, the large sums thus realised
forming no inconsiderable part of the colony's revenue.

Play goes on day and night all the year round, Sundays included, and
is practically unlimited, for it is possible to bet from five cents to
five hundred dollars at a time. Large sums are continually won and
lost, it being a common thing to see gamblers, both men and women,
after staking their last cash hand over watches, jewellery and other
valuables to the shroff for valuation, and hazard all on a final throw
to retrieve their losses.

This standing temptation of the fantan shops is a fertile source of
crime, especially amongst domestic servants, for apart from the
Chinaman's inborn love of gambling, in the event of their being in
financial straits, as is frequently the case, a possible way out of
such difficulties is by stealthily taking certain objects from their
master's house, say a clock and a dozen silver spoons, pledging them
at one of the numerous pawn-shops and gambling with the proceeds. If
fortune be favourable the clock and spoons are immediately redeemed
and returned before being missed, while the servant has found an easy
way out of his difficulties. On the other hand, should luck be against
the player, he either bolts to another part of the country or brazens
out the theft by declaring that the house has been broken into by

Trusted servants who have been many years in one employ frequently
yield to this alluring but hazardous appeal to chance.

One morning as I was leaving Macao for Hongkong by the daily steamer a
Chinese passenger suddenly leaped overboard. The ship was stopped and
a boat quickly lowered, while a Portuguese police launch also dashed
to the rescue, but although we could see the suicide's head above
water for some time he sank before help arrived. Having ruined himself
at fantan he dared not return to Hongkong.

And such is the fate of many.

A Chinese banquet is a weird festivity, and once gone through will
never be forgotten.

On the occasion which I will attempt to describe invitations were
issued for 10 a.m., but in accordance with celestial custom the guests
did not arrive till about 11.30, when, after waiting half an hour,
during which the company chatted, drank tea and smoked, we were
ushered into a large hall with brick floor and paper windows, where
the repast was spread on three round tables, at each of which were
three Europeans and five or six Chinese, our hosts, clad in their
beautiful silk official robes, while we wore black morning coats.

The tables were of plain wood and without table-cloths, while the
luxuriously-cushioned divans of Far East imaginings were hard wooden

Numbers of little dishes containing dried fruits, sweets, pickles,
slices of ham, preserved eggs (more than a year old, black and highly
offensive), vegetables, etc., loaded the festive boards.

Each feaster was provided with a pair of chopsticks and two small
sheets of brown paper with which to wipe them after each course.

Warm yellow wine of a peculiar musty flavour and sadly lacking in
potency, was poured by attendants from pewter kettles into small
wine-cups, to be tossed off in bumpers all round with great frequency,
each guest immediately presenting his empty cup to the gaze of his
neighbours to show that there had been no heel-taps. It looked as
though we were simultaneously levelling revolvers at each other's

At a given signal the fray began. All the Chinese rose up, took their
chopsticks, and plunging them into various dishes began helping us,
the guests of honour. On my one small plate were quickly deposited
some sweets, sour pickles, dried fruit, slices of ham, and one of the
notorious eggs.

Now we in turn were expected to rise up and return the compliment by
helping our helpers. I clutched my sticks, drove them into a piece of
fish and dropped it into my neighbour's wine. Tableau! Never mind, I
tried pickles and preserves in detail with about an average success.
No good came of my efforts, but neither did any harm, for our
entertainers smiled and bowed and rose from their seats in gracious
acknowledgment of our strenuous but futile attempts to do the correct

All this was but a preliminary canter taking the place of our dessert,
albeit coming before the meal instead of at the end.

Hot courses were now placed on the table, our Chinese friends helping
us from them with their chopsticks, which they manipulated with
marvellous dexterity.

   1. Puddings of several kinds              Too sweet.
   2. Fresh-water Fish (boiled)              Insipid.
   3. Chickens (boiled)                      Fair.
   4. Sea Slugs                              Passed.
   5. Shrimps                                Nasty.
   6. White Mushrooms                        Good.
   7. Eels                                   First-rate.
   8. Sea-weed                               Tough as leather.
   9. White Bait                             Good.
  10. Interiors of Fish                      Good heavens!!!
  11. Lotus Nuts and Milk                    Very good.
  12. Chicken (boiled in different manner)   Passed.
  13. Rissoles of Frogs                      Je ne sais pas.
  14. Pork and Rice Flour                    A curious mixture.
  15. Sugared Rice                           Too sweet.
  16. Duck (boiled)                          Excellent, the best dish.
  17. Shark's Fins                           Very good.
  18. Porridge                               No thanks.
  19. Soup                                   Passed.
  20. Opium, cigars, etc.                    On this occasion opium
                                               was not smoked.

This long _menu_ was gone through accompanied with an abundance of
talk, compliments, jokes and the emission of various sounds peculiar
to the Chinese while feeding.

Immediately on rising from table we donned our hats, saluted _à la
Chinoise_ by shaking our clasped hands in each other's faces, "Nin
ching. Poo sung, poo sung," and took our departure, bowing repeatedly
and walking backwards.



The translation of the word Peking is "capital of the North," and is
so called in contradistinction to Nanking[1] or "capital of the

Peking is not a Chinese city at all, although generally supposed to be
so, but a Tartar city, which, instead of the jumble of narrow, paved
streets habitually found in all Chinese towns, was originally designed
and laid out on a plan probably excelling in grandeur that of any
other city in the world. That the result, as seen in the city of
to-day, is but a mockery of the magnificent idea which possessed the
master mind that conceived it, is due to that trait of the Mongolian
temperament which exhausts itself in the conception and completion of
some gigantic undertaking, leaving it thenceforth to moulder and
decay, until in succeeding ages it stands gaunt witness of human
wisdom, folly and neglect. Such are Peking, the Great Wall and the
Grand Canal.

Although adjoining the Tartar, there is a Chinese city, it is so
squalid and of such mean pretensions that with the exception of a
single street it is of but little interest to Europeans, so that when
speaking of Peking it is the Tartar city alone that one has in mind.

Surrounded by an immense rectangular wall, some sixty feet in height,
with a width of twenty feet at the top and forty feet at the base, and
pierced at regular intervals by picturesque and towering gateways,
between which wide boulevards traverse the city from end to end and
from side to side, but which, instead of being paved and lighted, are
but lanes of filth, ankle deep in dust during dry weather, to be
quickly changed by rain into rivers of black mud, continuously churned
up by the wheels of springless carts, and spattered far and wide by
the plunging feet of straining quadrupeds.

On either side of, and frequently several feet below, these highways
are mud paths, along which pedestrians wend a varied way, avoiding
cesspools, stepping over transverse timbers or circumventing
squatters' huts, showered on the while by splashings from the highroad
or blinded by clouds of refuse-laden dust.

The only attempt at lighting is by means of lanterns, which, with
heavy wooden frames covered with paper instead of glass and placed at
intervals of perhaps a quarter of a mile, throw out rays to the
extent of one candle-power each.

From the streets very few buildings of any pretensions can be
discerned, while from the dominating eminence of the city wall a sea
of roofs monotonous in equality of height and greyness of colour meets
the eye, which sameness is mostly due to the facts that but few upper
storeys exist, and that the residences of the wealthy, besides being
screened by high outer walls, are so blended with shops and hovels
that it is difficult to discriminate them.

In the heart of Peking, and surrounded by a twenty-foot wall coped
with tiles glazed yellow and green, is the forbidden city, where the
imperial palaces are grouped and from which Europeans were until
recently jealously excluded.

The city walls; a few temples in varying stages of magnificence,
tawdriness and decay; the remains of sewers which, built of solid
blocks of stone and large enough to admit a donkey, show that formerly
a scheme of drainage and sanitation existed although to-day there is
nothing of the kind; an insignificant canal and a hill rumoured to be
made of coal heaped there as a supply in case of siege; and one has
seen the architectural wonders of the capital.

"Legation Quarter" prior to the Boxer troubles was but an indefinite
area of the city in which the legations "happened" from time to time
amongst a squalid entourage of native buildings, and connected one
with another by means of impossible thoroughfares which passed for

A Russian diplomat once said to me that he considered Peking "dirty
but nice," and this description exactly coincides with my own idea.
This wasted body on a majestic frame carries one back with a single
step to civilisation of a thousand years ago. Not the remnants
displayed to tourists in Greece or Rome but the real thing, over which
the Western spirit of change has as yet worked but little alteration.

In this vast museum of antiquities one finds at every turn objects of
engrossing interest, and personally it seemed to me that many of the
scenes depicted in Prescott's enchanting book, _The Conquest of
Mexico_, might almost as well have been laid in this far-famed capital
of the North. Great antiquity, isolation from the Western world, pride
of race and empire, veneration for their own colossal literature,
arrested civilisation and profound contempt for all things foreign,
create a picture rich in detail, very mournful in subject and
marvellous in perspective.

The means of getting about are by cart, on horseback or afoot, the
sedan chair, which in other places furnishes the most comfortable
conveyance, being here reserved for members of the Imperial family
and for high officials both native and foreign.

The carts, which ply for hire like cabs, are massive, springless
tumbrils covered with a wain. In fine weather the passenger, with a
view to less discomfort, usually sits on the splashboard with his back
rubbing against the hind-quarters of the pony or mule and his feet
dangling in front of the wheel, which plays on to them a continuous
stream of dirt and dust. In windy weather one must crawl inside and
sit on the floor tailor fashion, there being no seat, and then let
down the curtain, thus effectually blocking all view but keeping out
most of the dust, which, flying in blinding clouds, would quickly
reduce one to a state of absolute filth, filling the clothes, hair,
ears and mouth and guttering down from the nose and eyes. To this foul
dust is due the terrible amount of ophthalmia and consequent blindness
so prevalent throughout the East.

In rainy weather carts sink up to the axle in black liquid mud, which
flies in all directions from the wheels, and at each footfall of horse
or mule, splattering pedestrians and shop-fronts on the sidewalks and
smothering other vehicles as they pass.

To such an indescribable state are the streets reduced by heavy rains
that I actually remember a mule being drowned in the shafts by the
side of one of the main thoroughfares in the very heart of the city.

Luckily for all concerned there is a large percentage of beautiful
weather, when mud and dust alike are absent and when one can canter
noiselessly along the soft, yielding roads, which are then in much the
same condition for riding as is Rotten Row.

On such mornings as these Peking is delightful, with its bright sun,
cool, bracing air and interesting sights, while through the cloudless
sky flocks of pigeons, having whistles of wood or clay fastened to
their feet and tails, make strange yet pleasing sounds varied with
every twist and turn of flight.

A noticeable trait of Chinese character, and one fostered, if not
generated, by Buddhistic teaching, is an undemonstrative fondness for
animals, or, I might rather say, a passive admission of their right to
considerate treatment, and strangely enough animals, both wild and
domesticated, appear to comprehend this sentiment, for while greatly
scared at the approach of a European they usually take but little heed
of the presence of Chinese.

It is a common thing to see a well-dressed Chinaman sauntering along
holding up a bent stick to which a bird is attached by a string some
four feet or so in length, so that the little prisoner can make short
flights to the limit of its tether and return again to its perch,
gaily chirping and singing the while.

Another stroller will be carrying a wicker bird-cage on the hand, bent
back and upraised to the shoulder, much as a waiter carries dishes,
containing generally a Tientsin lark or other celebrated songster, and
on arriving at some open spot will place the cage on the ground, and
retiring to a short distance whistle to the bird, which will shortly
burst into song, to the evident delight of both owner and bystanders.

Outside one of the gateways is a kind of bazaar, which we foreigners
generally called "Bird-cage walk," for there the bird-fanciers lived,
and birds of many different kinds were exposed for sale, not in cages,
but quite tame, and quietly sitting on perches--parrots, larks, Java
sparrows, etc., some of them tied by the leg, but not all.

Here, too, were to be seen wicker baskets, much resembling orange
crates, full of common sparrows, representing a regular supply for a
regular demand. Benevolent old Chinamen, _flâneurs_ and _literati_
would visit this bazaar of an afternoon with the sole object of buying
a few of these little birds for two or three cash each and then
letting them fly away, a beatific smile betraying the salve to inward
feelings generated by a knowledge of merit acquired, any miseries
inflicted on the sparrows by capture and confinement counting for
nothing in the balance against the good work accomplished by their
purchase and release.

The Chinese ideas of life and death are very dissimilar to our own.

With us, the responsibility of parents for the bringing up and
well-being of the children is paramount, the fulfilment of such
obligations being enforced both by legal and social pressure, while
the responsibility of children for the care of their aged parents is
almost _nil_.

Amongst the Chinese, children are considered to be the absolute
chattels of the parents, with whose treatment of their offspring
neither public opinion nor the country's laws have any right of
interference. Infanticide can be, and undoubtedly is to a certain
extent, practised, while the father is even said to be legally
entitled to punish his grown-up children with death.

Children, on the other hand, are bound by every tie to obey, respect,
support and even worship the authors of their being. Filial duty is
the greatest of all virtues, and the man who fails in this respect is
despised by everyone and takes rank with worthless characters and

Our view of life is very finite. We are born, we die, are relegated to
the unknown and quickly forgotten.

A Chinaman regards himself as a disseverable part of the stream of
life, by which he is borne into this world to live his life here, and
then is borne on again to the abode of departed spirits without
continuity of existence having been interrupted. At his death he is
mourned with a whole-hearted sincerity by his entire family, who
perform the obsequies with great respect and as much display as is
compatible with their station in life. An imposing grave is built in a
spot facing a pleasant prospect, while trees are planted, and
sometimes even artificial pieces of water made, so that the
disembodied spirit may be able to enjoy shady groves and cooling
breezes. Sacrifices are offered at this shrine not once, but year
after year, and by his children's children, with an absolute certainty
of the spirit's existence and approving knowledge. This is the
practice of ancestral worship, and greatly to be pitied is the man who
leaves no son to perform sacrifices at his grave.

In Peking funeral processions assume gigantic proportions.

I have seen them more than a mile in length, and of such barbaric
magnificence that they must have cost many thousands of ounces of

Life-sized horses, camels, ostriches and other animals made of
cardboard or cotton wool, houses of lath and paper, as well as strings
of imitation gold and silver money to be burnt at the grave and so
wafted to the next world for use of the departed spirit, tablets
embossed with golden Chinese characters, and lanterns of varied size
and shape are carried in advance by an army of riffraff. A band of
priests chanting, or playing weird dirges on instruments much
resembling bagpipes in sound, immediately precedes the catafalque, an
immense edifice from ten to fifteen feet in height, containing the
coffin and covered with beautiful hangings of embroidered silk, and
which is carried bodily on massive red poles some nine inches in
diameter, by as many as forty or fifty bearers. Mourners with
dishevelled hair and clothed in long white gowns follow on foot, in
carts or in chairs, according to the rank held by the deceased.

Winter in Northern China is extremely severe, and Tientsin, the port
of Peking, is yearly closed to navigation for six or eight weeks
through the sea and river being frozen. The thermometer frequently
falls below zero, but owing to a bright atmosphere the cold is not
felt so much as might be expected. At night the stars blink and blaze
with intense brilliancy, and the still, frosty air seems almost to
ring with a metallic voice. Beggars and homeless wanderers are nightly
frozen by the dozen, and the whole land lies powerless in the grip of
King Frost.

My bedroom I could keep fairly warm by means of a large American
stove heated up till it was white, but in the mornings, on passing
into my bathroom, which boasted a brick floor and paper windows, I
found the temperature almost coinciding with that of the open air,
albeit a small stove roared in the corner, while steam from the hot
water in a wooden bath was so thick as to make the daylight dim.
Ablutions were a hurried function, ending in precipitate retreat to
the warmth of the bedroom. The small stove would burn itself out, the
steam would congeal and disappear, and the bath water, unless removed,
would be quickly frozen.

As winter wore on the sides of my bath-tub became coated with ice,
which increased with every splash until there was a thickness of three
or four inches, for it would have injured the bath to keep breaking it
off, so that, ultimately, I took my morning tub in a nest of ice, only
the bottom of which was completely thawed by the daily supply of hot

Along the streets, well-to-do Chinese appear swelled to double their
usual proportions by furs and successive layers of wadded clothes,
which are of such thickness as to hold the arms propped out at almost
right angles to the bodies, while their heads are enveloped in
bright-coloured hoods buttoning tight under the chin. Poor, half-naked
beggars, clasping their rice-bowls and bent double by the cold,
shamble along, muttering and moaning, while their starving, rolling
eyes scan the faces of passers-by in mute appeal for help or pity.

One evening, as I was riding along one of the principal streets, I saw
a Chinaman carrying home a hot, steaming cake, something like a
Yorkshire pudding with raisins in it, which he had just bought at a
wayside cook-shop, when a beggar suddenly seized him by both wrists,
and taking as large a mouthful as he could bite out of the pastry,
shuffled off, heedless of the blows rained on him by the irate

On the coldest days I have seen beggars collected in groups and
gambling for the few cash they possessed, the total sum probably not
exceeding a halfpenny. Naked, hungry and frozen, they watched with
tense features and straining eyes the fatal issue of their throw for
either a meal or death that night by cold and starvation.

Accustomed to want and misery, they appear pleased with any trifle
that may fall into their hands, and on a bitter, windy day I have seen
grown-up beggars on a waste patch flying a kite and enjoying the
pastime with a gusto denied to more _blasé_ pursuers of this aerial

Ice in Northern China is seldom good, as owing to the frequent winds
it is generally covered with dust, although occasionally at the
beginning of winter it is possible to get some fair skating before
the first dust-storm.

At Peking an enormous mat shed is erected to keep out the dust, while
the ground inside is flooded daily so as to secure good ice. This rink
is a favourite afternoon resort of the European community, but the
space is too limited and the attendance too crowded to admit of any
really enjoyable skating by the light of a few oil lamps.

I have skated on the moat outside the city wall but it was not very
good, the chief attraction being to watch Chinese performers. As a
rule they wear only one skate, on which they propel themselves by
striking the ice with the other foot until a certain speed has been
attained, when they spread out their arms, bend forward until their
noses almost touch the ice and raise the skateless foot high over
their backs. This bird-like skim on one leg seems to be their ideal of
graceful skating.

At this season the stately, two-humped camels, with beautiful coats of
brown wool a foot in length, come down from Mongolia, bearing loads of
meat and furs, together with frozen game and fish from Manchuria and
the Amoor river, and coal from the mines north of Peking.

The Mongol teamster, clad in skins with the hair inside, trudges in
front, leading the first camel by a string attached to its nose, while
a cord tied to its tail links it with the nose of the second camel,
and so on, till the whole team of eight or ten are securely connected.
They move along with graceful, easy stride, the only sound being the
dull clanking of a heavy bell suspended from the leader's neck.

On one of the animals the Mongol's whole family is sometimes carried
in two immense panniers, and the round, yellow faces of tiny children
peer down from their lofty nursery on a strange and passing world.

I have also seen a calf camel, evidently cast by the way, being
carried in a litter strapped to the back of its dam.

It has been told me by reliable Chinese that in winter upwards of ten
thousand camels daily pass in and out of the gates of Peking. They are
beautiful animals, of great height, and appear to be very meek and

On one occasion, when returning at daylight from duck shooting near
Marco Polo's bridge, I was tightly wedged in by several hundreds which
were waiting to enter the western gateway. They looked down at me with
their patient eyes as I shouted and prodded them with my whip in order
to clear a way for my pony, but attempted neither to bite nor kick.

In spring their wool peels off in large flakes, giving them a ragged
appearance, and is collected and woven into the celebrated Tientsin

In summer, like the wildfowl, they disappear and go north to seek cool
pastures in the Mongolian highlands.

Peking not being a seaport, and as yet but little influenced by
foreign trade, the European community settled there is solely composed
of the _corps diplomatique_ and the legation guards, of the
inspectorate of maritime customs, of professors of the various
colleges, of missionaries and a few storekeepers.

During winter, when communication with the outer world is a matter of
considerable difficulty, Peking society, which is naturally of a
highly cosmopolitan order, amuses itself by a constant round of
dinners, balls and receptions carried out with lavish hospitality, and
to which the novelty of Oriental surroundings supplies an additional

In company with a French friend, who lived in Dry Flour Alley, I made
an expedition to the Great Wall, which is two days' journey from the

Mounted on ponies, with provisions and bedding packed into a cart
drawn by two mules, we started while it was yet dark on a cold
winter's morning.

Slowly making our way along frozen roads outside the walls of the
forbidden city, we arrived at one of the gateways by daylight and
passed out of Peking, following a wide and dusty road, where we
presently met streams of camels, mules, ponies, donkeys, carts and
coolies, each bearing a load of some kind of produce wherewith to
supply the markets of the great city.

It was early and bitterly cold, while everyone was too intent on his
own business to do more than bestow a cursory glance on passers-by, so
that our little caravan, freed from importuning curiosity, made good

At about eleven o'clock we were scourged by a blinding dust-storm
raised by a strong wind, to avoid which we were not sorry to take
refuge in a wayside inn and there discuss an early tiffin. It was now
discovered that the supply of bread necessary for our three days' trip
had been left behind, so that we were obliged to content ourselves
with native dough cakes, sticky and heavy as lead.

The room we occupied opened on to the courtyard of the inn, and being
doorless, a small crowd of interested spectators quickly assembled to
watch our every movement. This crowd continuing to grow until it
consisted of several tens, my friend went out to expostulate with the
innkeeper, but found that worthy busily engaged at the outer gate
granting admission at five cash per head to all and sundry desirous of
seeing the Europeans feed.

The wind having suddenly dropped and the sand-storm subsided we
continued our journey, arriving by nightfall at the village of Yang
Fang, where we had arranged to sleep.

It was here that I came very near to shuffling off my mortal coil.

Throughout the North of China brick beds called _kangs_ are universal.
They are built about two feet in height, are oblong in shape and
hollow inside, with a small aperture at one end, while the top is
covered with grass matting. During the day a charcoal fire is lighted
in this aperture, the hot air from which fills the interior of the
structure and gradually warms the brickwork, which retains its heat
throughout the night. The fire is then allowed to die down, when a
wadded quilt, a thick blanket and a pillow will be found sufficient to
make a most comfortable couch.

I had not seen one of these kangs before and the method of heating it
had not been explained to me, so, the cold being intense, I placed
fresh fuel on the smouldering embers the last thing before turning in.
How long I had been asleep I do not know before I became conscious of
a frightful nightmare. I was very hot and had lost all power to move.
My tongue felt swollen and heavy, and my throat so dry and sore that
when I tried to cry out it refused to utter a sound. My eyes were
smarting, and having once opened them they would not close again. My
senses were clear and I knew that I was being asphyxiated, but was
powerless to help myself. Horror-stricken, I watched the bright
moonlight shining on the paper window until I lost consciousness.

The next thing I remember was cold air beating on my face, water in my
mouth and trickling down my neck and chest, strong arms supporting me
and the voice of my friend's mafoo calling to his master for a light,
the moon having set.

I owed deliverance to the fortunate breaking of my pony's halter, as,
having been freshly clipped, he had become restive from the cold,
thereby causing the mafoo to enter my room for a spare one, which I
always carried with me. The following morning I felt very shaky and
had a splitting headache, but was able to continue the journey,
gradually recovering as the day wore on.

It is perhaps needless to add that putting fresh charcoal on the fire
was the cause of this _contretemps_, but I was then unaware of there
being no flue to carry off the fumes.

Leaving our ponies and the cart at Yang Fang, and mounted on mules as
being more surefooted, though the high wooden saddles and short
stirrups were most uncomfortable, we started betimes.

After crossing a plain about ten miles in width, strewn with rocks and
boulders, we reached Nan K'ow, or Southern Pass, where we entered the

The road was fairly good for pack-animals, although crossed at
frequent intervals by the beds of partially-frozen streams, the
swift-flowing waters of which were sweet and clear as crystal.
Mountains shut us in on either side, while we met an unending
procession of men and beasts conveying loads of merchandise from
Mongolia to Peking.

The scenery was lovely, and all along the route were to be seen
crumbling forts and walls built many centuries ago to defend this, the
principal pass, against invading enemies.

We saw three or four pheasants and heard several more, so that there
probably is good sport to be had amongst these rugged hills. After
halting for tiffin under a fine archway of Indian architecture we
arrived at Pa-Ta-Ling (eight lofty peaks), where we obtained a good
view of the Great Wall.

Scrambling to the top at a place where it was partly in ruins, my
friend was soon busy with his camera, whilst I proceeded to
investigate this world-famed structure.

My feet are rather long and it was just fourteen of them across the
top, which is evenly paved with square bricks, while the height of the
wall I judged to be between twenty and thirty feet. At irregular
intervals there are towers, in one of which was a pile of antique
carronades about two feet long, of equal size all the way down and
bound round with iron hoops for additional strength. Much resembling
old rain-pipes, they had not a very formidable appearance, and were
probably more dangerous to those who fired them than to the enemy.

Built two hundred years before Christ, and upwards of thirteen hundred
miles in length, the wall is certainly a gigantic monument, well
constructed of large bricks, and here, at any rate, in good
preservation and by no means whatsoever a mass of stones and rubbish
as asserted by some describers.

Instead of winding along the line of least resistance it follows the
sinuosities of the country, surmounting crags and delving into
valleys, so that it can be seen topping height after height as it
climbs the mountain range until it becomes a mere thread and finally
is lost to view in the far distance. Walking along it for some little
way I found that it scaled almost perpendicular cliffs, up one of
which I passed, the top of the wall here taking the form of steps,
while down the opposite side the descent was so steep that for greater
security I made it backwards on hands and knees.

The wall was built with the object of protecting China from the
inroads of wild Tartars, who came down in hordes from Manchuria,
Mongolia and the steppes of Northern Asia to seek plunder in the

   [Illustration: THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA.
   _To face page 158._]

Chinawards there is a low parapet, while stone stairs built into the
middle of the wall lead from the top through doorless gateways to the
ground, giving means of ingress and exit to defenders, but on the side
facing towards Mongolia the wall is crowned with battlements some four
and a half feet in height, affording ample protection and pierced
about every five feet with loopholes and embrasures.

One of the wonders of the world, its construction lasted ten years,
and at the date of completion was probably as futile to bar the
advance of a resolute foe as it would be to-day _vis-à-vis_ modern

Wishing to secure a suitable souvenir of my visit I selected a
well-preserved brick, which, by means of knotted handkerchiefs, I
slung over my shoulder and so commenced the return journey. For three
or four miles all went well, but after that the brick commenced to get
rapidly heavier, until it became almost insupportable, while its
constant tapping in the small of my back, caused by the jerky trot of
the mule, was well-nigh intolerable. I tried to fasten it to the
saddle, but, simple as it may seem, it would not hold, besides making
the mule altogether unmanageable, so that after a desperate struggle
for a few miles further I cast it from me with mingled feelings of
disgust and thankfulness, and in all probability it remains in the
same spot to this very day.

We reached Yang Fang before dark and much enjoyed a rest and some
dinner, but as it was full moon and we were anxious to be back in
Peking early next day, my friend proposed that we should press on for
a couple of hours that evening.

With fresh ponies in place of the jaded mules, and feeling much
happier on our doeskin saddles, we went along gaily for some distance,
but the extreme cold and our own weariness soon began to tell, and we
became so drowsy that we determined to off-saddle at the next inn. We
had reckoned, however, without our host, for the inn was crammed full
and we were obliged to take to the road once more, and that in no very
amiable frame of mind. The next inn was if anything more crowded
still, and the next, and the next. For five mortal hours we plodded
on, more asleep than awake, and I retain but a misty recollection of
the snow-covered ground, of my pony slipping while crossing a frozen
ford, and of my continual efforts to keep in the saddle. At one in the
morning we hammered at the doors of yet another inn, only to be again
repelled with the frightful words, "All full."

My friend, who spoke the vernacular fluently, was now doing his best,
and with such effect that the door was cautiously opened a few inches,
when with one bound I was inside, and seeing a kang with only one man
on it I tumbled him off and flung myself down, just conscious of acrid
opium smoke, a great uproar and streams of the most insulting

   _To face page 161._]

On awaking I found my friend by my side still asleep and the morning
well aired. The squalid inn was almost deserted, for the overnight
lodgers had departed with their carts and pack-animals before dawn, so
that I had not to face the individual whom I had so unceremoniously
dispossessed of his bed, although I left a dollar for him with the
innkeeper, knowing full well it would never reach him, but choosing
thus to ease a somewhat guilty conscience.

We had not much further to go and were easily back in Peking before

Another expedition I made that winter was to a burial-place of
emperors of the late Ming dynasty, commonly known as the "Ming Tombs,"
consisting of several immense temples or pagodas possessing but little
architectural beauty and now considerably dilapidated.

One of these temples is approached by an avenue of gigantic figures
representing warriors, statesmen, horses, camels, elephants, etc.,
each figure apparently cut from a single block of stone.

As two hundred and sixty years ago the Chinese Mings were dispossessed
by the present ruling Manchu dynasty, no attempt is now made to
preserve these interesting monuments.

In summer the heat is often very great during the day, the
thermometer frequently registering between ninety and a hundred
degrees in the shade, and is rendered more trying by the unsanitary
and neglected condition of the thoroughfares.

At night, however, it is so pleasantly cool that one can sleep under a
blanket, while punkahs over the bed are never necessary as in the
central provinces. Riding outside the city walls in the cool of early
morning or late afternoon is then most enjoyable, many interesting
sights affording constant diversion.

Acrobats practising their _tours de force_, tragedians with tense
faces declaiming in a high falsetto to imaginary audiences,
rag-pickers sorting their fulsome wares with iron-pointed sticks,
herds of coarse, black swine being bought and sold, while in the
shelter of the enormous buttresses archers erect paper targets some
eight inches square and exercise their art with solemn dignity,
elaborate posturing and considerable dexterity.

A good deal of tennis is played at the club and on the various private
courts, though most of the diplomatic body as well as missionaries
migrate during the great heat to temples in the Western Hills, which
are about twelve miles from Peking, or, now that there is railway
communication, to the seaside resort of Pei-Tai-Ho.

One afternoon another European and I rode some ten miles out of Peking
to inspect the ruins of the celebrated Summer Palace, which, since
its destruction in 1860 by the English and French forces, had remained
a desolate and overgrown wilderness. Having put up the ponies at an
inn, where an inquisitive old native wished to know whether our bright
stirrups and bits were made of silver--the Chinese never dreaming of
polishing their own--we proceeded on foot to the chief entrance, but
as the work of restoration was then being commenced the gatekeeper
refused us admission. Nothing daunted we strolled round to another
side, and passing unobserved through a gap in the wall made careful
inspection of a partially-destroyed pavilion overlooking a lake,
interrupted only by a venerable guardian, who hobbled after us mildly
requesting that we should depart. This we were preparing to do for
another part of the extensive grounds, when suddenly we came into view
of some scores of workmen who were engaged on the repairs. They
stopped work and gazed at us but made no hostile move, and we could
still have withdrawn in peace had not my companion, overcome by a
desire to practise his Chinese, and in opposition to my urgent
warning, advanced towards them with a beaming smile. No sooner was he
within range than a shower of bricks and stones filled the air and we
were both constrained to turn tail and make for the gap at full speed,
closely followed by the howling mob. We did not pause before reaching
the inn, and then only to secure our ponies and continue our
undignified flight. I was uninjured, but my companion had received a
nasty blow on the head, at which I secretly rejoiced, as owing to his
action we had not only been exposed to considerable danger but had
been prevented from further investigating a historical spot since
strictly closed to all Europeans.

I left Peking at the close of 1889, and there being then no railway
the ninety miles' journey to Tientsin had to be performed either on
horseback, by cart along cross-country tracks or _via_ the River
Peiho, taking boat at Tungchow, which is fourteen miles from the
capital. I decided on going by boat as being far more comfortable than
the other alternatives.

Winter had begun early and there was already a certain amount of ice,
but from inquiries made the river was still open. My baggage was piled
on to a long, narrow cart drawn by two mules, while I and my boy each
bestrode a very small donkey, and so I passed out from the mighty city
by the stone road which leads to Tungchow, as owing to heavy rains and
subsequent frost the more comfortable country tracks were impassable.

This road, or rather causeway, is another witness to the Chinese
characteristic of constructing costly works and then leaving them
thenceforth to fall into disrepair and ruin.

From twelve to fourteen feet in width, it is built of massive granite
blocks a foot square by perhaps three to seven feet in length, and
originally must have been a magnificent highway of perfect evenness.
Time and the grinding wheels of heavy-laden carts, however, have worn
innumerable ruts seven or eight inches deep into the solid stone, so
that in passing over it a springless cart crashes from side to side
with great violence, almost throwing shaft animals to the ground and
rendering it quite impossible for any European to ride in the vehicle,
while crockery or any other fragile article, however carefully packed,
is doomed to certain destruction.

On arrival at Tungchow I saw a great deal of ice floating down with
the current, but the boatmen declared, and I believe truly, that the
river was still open to the sea, so having transferred the baggage to
one boat, and embarking with my boy and pointer on another, we cast
off at about three o'clock in the afternoon, expecting to reach
Tientsin the following evening.

Before dark the ice greatly increased in quantity, and from the cabin
where, enveloped in rugs, I was having tea, the boatmen's excited
voices could be heard making frequent inquiries of upward-bound junks
as to our prospects of getting through, for they were Tientsin men and
anxious to get their boats home before the river was frozen up. At
six o'clock, however, when we had covered about twelve miles and it
was quite dark, the boats suddenly crashed into a barrier of ice,
which had but just formed, effectually stopping our further progress.
By frantic efforts and with great shoutings both craft were warped to
within a few feet of the bank, and there we lay, each moment becoming
more firmly wedged in by fresh ice hurrying down with the stream, and
which, driven by pressure of the frozen impact, piled up against us
with a horrid grinding noise until large sheets an eighth of an inch
thick and as clear as crystal came gliding, as though alive, on to our

There being no likelihood of our release I presently sent one of the
crew back to Tungchow for carts with which to continue the journey,
but to my dismay he returned at two in the morning with the
intelligence that no carts could be hired.

The position was a disagreeable one, as it was imperative that I
should reach Tientsin in time to catch a steamer for Shanghai before
the close of navigation, so I started off the boy, accompanied by
another boatman, with instructions to get a conveyance of some sort
and at any cost. This attempt was more successful, for at ten o'clock
they returned with a farmer and his truly wonderful cart, drawn by a
pony, a cow and a donkey, but which they had only been able to hire
for the exorbitant sum of forty dollars.

My goods and chattels were again transferred, and after making a
present of five dollars to the disconsolate boatmen, we started off at
something less than two miles an hour.

If I rode on the piled-up baggage I was quickly numbed by the cold. If
I walked I soon left the cart far behind, yet dared not lose sight of
it for fear of its taking another route, so that my time was spent in
walking ahead and then retracing my steps to meet the cart.

Long after dark we halted at one of the usual wayside inns, a
collection of hovels built round a dirty, open yard, filled with carts
and animals, and the home of pigs and fowls, while I found
accommodation on a brick bed in a comfortless room, or rather shed,
with torn paper windows and uneven mud floor.

Swallowing some cold food by the light of a tallow candle guttering in
the draught, I was too tired and too disgusted not to sleep, and by
three o'clock next morning we were again crawling on our way beneath
the blazing stars and chilled by a piercing wind.

All things have an end, and so after four days of absolute misery I
arrived at noon, hungry, footsore and unwashed, at a friend's house in
Tientsin and in time to catch the last steamer, which was sailing
that night.

After a hot bath and a good tiffin I retired gratefully to bed, but,
such is the callousness of human nature, only to be routed out at
three o'clock to play in a football match, which, the Fates be
praised, our side lost.


[1] Pe = North. Nan = South. King = Capital City.



Of the three routes to China:

    1. The overland, by rail through Europe and Siberia;

    2. The westerly, across the Atlantic, North America and the

    3. The easterly, _via_ the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, Red Sea
        and Indian Ocean,

the last is perhaps the most interesting and in many ways the most
comfortable, for it is possible to take a magnificent mail steamer at
an English port and remain on board, surrounded by as much comfort and
luxury as is to be found in a first-class hotel, until you land in
either Hongkong or Shanghai.

The finest of these vessels are veritable floating palaces, the
saloons of which are gilded and decorated regardless of expense,
richly carpeted, illuminated with electric light, cooled by electric
fans, and where meals are served which would not demean any restaurant
in London or Paris. Music-room, library, smoking-room and bar,
laundry, barber's shop and delightful marble baths all find place.

On the crack German boats a band plays at frequent intervals, while I
have actually seen cold stoves in some of the cabins, so that when
passing through great heat in the Red Sea or elsewhere you could close
your cabin door, draw up your chair and have a good cool.

I am not sure how these stoves are worked, but believe they are
connected in some way with the refrigerator, which makes ice for use
on board and provides cold storage for meat and fruits, and that a
current of ether or cold air is pumped through them.

In appearance they resemble a French porcelain furnace, abutting on
one side of the cabin, and by means of a regulator you are able to
reduce the temperature almost to freezing point. Although undoubtedly
very pleasant during intense heat, and invaluable for hospital
purposes, I question if they will come into anything like general use,
for it seems to me that instantaneous changes from a temperature of
perhaps one hundred degrees on deck to say sixty degrees in the cabin
cannot fail to produce bad effects on the health.

Travelling by the easterly route you meet the sun, which causes each
day to be shortened. By the westerly route you go with the sun, which
causes each day to be lengthened.

During the journey round the world the aggregate of these shortenings
or lengthenings will amount to twenty-four hours, so that on arriving
again in England by the easterly route you will have gained a day, and
instead of its being Wednesday, as you might think, it would be
Tuesday, wherefore you would be obliged to have two Wednesdays in one
week. By the westerly route, on the contrary, you would lose a day, so
that returning on a Wednesday by your reckoning you would find
everyone else calling it Thursday, and the following morning you would
be obliged to recognise as Friday.

To avoid such confusion the date is always regulated when crossing the

Going east, the captain notifies that there will be two consecutive
Mondays, or two Thursdays, as the case be, in order to use up the
extra day.

Going west, on the other hand, one of the days in a week must be
omitted, there being no time for it if you are to arrive in port on
the proper date.

A common story told in this connection is that on a certain voyage
from Vancouver to Hongkong some missionary passengers settled to hold
service in the saloon at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, and posted up a notice
to that effect in the usual place at the head of the saloon stairs,
but omitted to previously consult the captain or ask his permission.

The captain, having no desire to be ignored, even unintentionally,
aboard his own ship, quietly regulated dates, the passengers next
morning finding an official notice posted up immediately over that of
the missionaries, saying that it would be Sunday until 10 a.m., after
which it would be Monday, so that missionaries, Sunday and divine
service were all simultaneously suppressed.

The most comfortable and the most restful travelling in the world that
I know of is on board the large river steamers running up the Yangtse
for six hundred miles from Shanghai to Hankow, and then transhipping
to somewhat smaller vessels, for the additional four hundred miles to

Scrupulously clean, good table, jovial captains, excellent Chinese
stewards, electric light, luxurious saloons, state-rooms double the
size of cabins on even the finest ocean liners, few passengers, no
noise and no sea-sickness, you glide on day and night over calm waters
in a dream-like peace, broken only for a short time every few hours by
the necessary stopping at ports of call to work cargo, and at
riverside stations for Chinese passengers, who, however, do not mingle
with the Europeans, but have saloons set apart for their own exclusive
use. Some of these boats were built in the golden days of the early
sixties, upon American models, and were fitted up on a scale
considerably reduced in newer vessels.

The large bathrooms on these older boats are a great feature of
comfort, and so numerous as to be almost bewildering to strangers; in
fact, I have heard that a nervous young man fresh from home was the
victim of an untoward mishap by mistaking the captain's bathroom for
the one belonging to his own cabin, when on dashing in, the door
having evidently been insecurely fastened on the inside, he found
himself face to face with the captain's wife in her bath. Retreat was
naturally instantaneous, but the position was so serious that his only
course was to at once seek the captain and explain. This awkward task
he started to perform, though in considerable trepidation, and found
the husband reading in his cabin, and who, after listening calmly to a
recital of the details, laconically remarked, "Ah, she has a beautiful
figure, has she not?"

And the incident was closed.

The compass has been known for many centuries to the Chinese, but in
accordance with their strange habit of doing so many things in an
exactly contrary manner to Europeans, they "box" it the reverse way to
ourselves, speaking of an east-north or a west-south breeze, and so

The expressions "to the right" and "to the left" I have never heard,
for it is the custom to say "go to the east-south" or to the
"west-north," as the case may be. Even in cities, when asking your
way, the natives will direct you by the points of the compass rather
than by the names of the streets.

Chinese screws turn from right to left, which is the opposite way to
our own, and of this I had a practical demonstration when, on
returning one morning from the mountains, a chair-coolie
surreptitiously abstracted my flask from the tiffin-basket and tried
to unscrew the stopper to get at the whisky, but being ignorant of the
different method, he in reality screwed it on tighter, till at last it
broke off, and when some hours later, on board the steamer, I
discovered my ruined flask, an array of teeth-marks deeply imbedded in
the metal plainly told the guilty tale.

At Peking, when studying Chinese, my teacher would often come after
dinner during the long winter evenings, when seated by a roaring fire
we discussed for practice in talking any subjects of interest. Amongst
many curious things which I thus heard the following has always
puzzled me with the conjecture, "Can there possibly be any truth in

I had that day purchased some fur rugs of no particular value, and not
being sure whether they were of dog-skin or goat-skin, asked the
teacher his opinion. What his reply was I do not remember, but the
conversation having turned on the subject of furs in general, he told
me that some rare wolf-skins were exceedingly costly from the fact
that the wolves, after being caught by Mongol hunters, had been
skinned alive and the skins dressed in a particular manner. Rugs made
of these, he declared, on the approach to the house of wild animals,
robbers or of any threatening danger, would bristle up as if still on
the back of the live animal when angered, and so give timely warning
to the inmates; for which reason they were so highly valued.

I have never seen what purposed to be such a skin, but repeat the
story if only for its Oriental weirdness.

Water buffaloes are a striking feature in Chinese rural life, more
especially in the central and southern provinces. With a carcase almost
as large and devoid of hair as that of an elephant, they have very
short legs, and are consequently but little taller than the ordinary
ox. Carrying on their heavy skulls enormous, semi-circular horns, they
have a ferocious aspect, but strangely enough are exceedingly timid and
docile. In summer, for the sake of coolness and to avoid mosquitoes,
they plunge into streams or mud-holes, and lie there for hours with
only their muzzles and eyes above water. It is rather a pleasing sight
to see one of these unwieldy, dangerous-looking brutes being led
quietly along, by means of a thin string attached to its nose, by a wee
native girl, who, when tired of walking, stops the animal, draws its
head down by the string, places her tiny foot on the massive horn and
is slowly raised from the ground by the buffalo and placed gently on
his back, which is so broad that she can kneel and play about on it
while her charge is grazing. These buffaloes are chiefly employed in
the cultivation of rice, and as the flesh of oxen is but rarely eaten
by the Chinese, they usually die of old age.

On one occasion I saw a large family of natives returning mournfully
to their village from a neighbouring meadow, and on making inquiries
was told that they had been to bury their water buffalo, which had
just died after a faithful service of more than twenty years.

When on a shooting trip far up the River Han I saw a large buffalo
with four boys on his back, grazing by the side of a water-ditch,
which lay between him and a steep bank some ten feet high. The grass
being very soft, my close approach was unobserved, until a hare
getting up I fired off my gun. Instantly the buffalo dashed through
the ditch and up the bank, when the boys, having nothing to hold on to
except one another, were shot off backwards into the water, where they
formed a perfect heap of struggling arms and legs, to my great

Chinese farm-houses are very different from the substantial,
comfortable dwellings obtaining in this country, being primitive clay
hovels with no upper storeys, having tile roofs, windows of oiled
paper, and mud floors, while the furniture is home-made and of the
roughest description. No walks or gardens surround the house, which
stands in the centre of the farm-yard, outbuildings and cesspools,
with the threshing-floor, as a rule, immediately outside the front
door. Pigs, dogs, fowls and goats roam at will through the dwelling
and about the premises, while the two or three buffaloes and oxen used
for ploughing and threshing are tethered to neighbouring trees.

   [Illustration: A TYPICAL FARM-HOUSE.
   _To face page 177._]

Although wheat, maize, barley and millet are largely cultivated in the
north, rice is the principal crop wherever it can be grown, much water
being necessary. It is first sown in quite a small, dry patch, to be
subsequently transplanted, and comes up as thick as grass and of a
most brilliant green. The fields, which rarely exceed half an acre,
and are generally very much less, are now tilled. First, they are
flooded by a careful system of irrigation to a depth of three or four
inches, and when sufficiently soft turned over with a primitive,
wooden plough, shod with a small iron blade or tip, and drawn by one
water buffalo. After this they are harrowed, the farmer standing on
the harrow and driving the buffalo as it wades along, until they are
masses of rich, liquid mud. The young plants are now pricked out by
hand, about six inches apart, and the fields kept just flooded by a
constant stream of running water. When ripe the crop stands about two
and a half feet in height, and the water having been cut off some
time previously, reaping commences with the sickle.

Into the harvest-field is often brought a large wooden tub about four
feet in diameter by three feet high, and the reaper, having cut an
armful of rice, takes it by the straw end and threshes the ears five
or six times with great force over the side, so that the grain falls
into the tub, which, when thus filled, is replaced by an empty one and
taken to the threshing-floor, where the contents are thrown up by
shovels-full into the air, the breeze blowing the chaff to one side
and the winnowed rice falling in a heap by itself. When the crop is
not thus threshed in the harvest-field it is stacked at the farm, and
sometimes in the low forks of large trees to remove it from the danger
of possible floods, subsequently to be trodden out by oxen on the
threshing-floor or beaten out by the farmer and his family with light
basket-work flails on bamboo shafts.

In villages and small towns where many houses adjoin, it is a common
practice to paint or dye young chickens as soon as they are hatched,
so that each housewife may know her own. One woman will colour hers a
bright red, another will use blue, another green, and so on, the
appearance of these strikingly-coloured little creatures intermingled
in the streets being exceedingly droll and novel to Europeans.

Amongst all classes of Chinese, from beggars to Academicians, belief
in ghosts, dreams and the supernatural generally is absolute and

If you express doubt or scepticism they will readily agree with you
from a certain nervousness of being thought ridiculous, as well as
from a feeling of the futility of any attempt to persuade Europeans of
the soundness of such convictions.

In the autumn of 1899, when at Shasi, which is an unthriving town nine
hundred miles up the Yangtse, and where another Englishman and I were
the then only Europeans residing amongst a dense, hostile population,
which only a few weeks previously had burnt down all foreign houses
and forced the inmates to flee for their lives in small boats, two of
the most remarkable cases of this universal superstition came directly
under my notice.

At that time one of those rebellions which are a chronic feature of
Chinese Society was in full bloom in the neighbouring province of
Szechwan, where an individual named Yü Man-tze was heading a crusade
against Christians and foreign influence, when at least one French
father was slain and another held in prolonged captivity, despite all
efforts of the local officials to effect his release.

The doings of this redoubtable brigand were naturally our chief topic
of daily conversation, and a very intelligent and highly-educated
Chinese gentleman, who kept me informed of local events, said that the
natives generally credited him with mystic powers. "Of course," he
added, eyeing me suspiciously, "it cannot be true, still, it is
current gossip in all the tea-shops."

After a short pause I informed him confidentially that whatever other
foreigners might or might not believe, I personally had considerable
doubts as to the non-existence of supernatural agencies.

Without looking up I could feel that his eyes were critically scanning
my face in search of ridicule or sarcasm, but I managed to preserve a
stolid demeanour, and purposely dropping further discussion of the
matter, went in search of cigars and stimulants to help us while away
the afternoon. At length he again broached the subject, which I could
see was of great interest to him, and warming to his theme under the
influence of a sympathetic listener and good cheer, he finally told me
in a burst of confidence and with low, excited voice, the following
_fact_ relative to Yü Man-tze.

At the outset of his lawless career this supernaturally gifted
desperado, having collected a band of followers, fastened round their
ankles such heavy weights that they were at first totally unable to
move; but, as the fruit of continual exertions, they by-and-by managed
to creep a few paces, later on they were able to walk easily, and
finally even to run with their loaded feet.

The time for action having come, Yü Man-tze removed the weights, when
his disciples were so buoyant that they could all _fly_, and so were
able to pass rapidly between places far apart, and to successfully
avoid all attempts at capture.

For those unacquainted with the East it is doubtless well-nigh
impossible to credit that such rubbish as this could be implicitly
believed by any considerable number of people, yet such was the case,
and the fact that the Chinese government eventually bribed Yü Man-tze
with official rank and a large sum of money to desist from his evil
ways by no means tended to diminish the illusion.

For several weeks we were continually threatened with a visitation
from some predatory band of Yü Man-tze's followers, so that when one
stormy night two large fires simultaneously broke out in different
parts of the town we thought trouble was at hand. Our anticipations,
however, were happily unfulfilled, the storm having prevented the
rebels from descending the river as intended, though the fires, which
evidently had been previously planned and timed, were ignited.

Next morning my compatriot brought in word that he had visited the
scenes of the conflagrations, and that three victims, who had been
fearfully burnt, were lying in the street covered with straw mats, but
still alive. Being without medical comforts of any description I was
powerless to render assistance, so refrained from even quitting the

An hour later my countryman again rushed in, followed by two or three
Chinese, to say that relatives of the sufferers had brought them to a
piece of waste ground hard by, had heaped wood round them, had poured
petroleum over them, and were now burning them as a sacrifice to the
god of fire, he having already established his claim over them.

What could be done in the face of such horrifying circumstances?
Nothing, for the poor wretches were already beyond any human aid, and
to have interfered would have brought on us instant vengeance from the
excited mob, but never, to the end of my days, shall I forget that
sickening feeling of enforced inaction.

I especially record this incident as it is the only one of so extreme
a nature that I have ever heard of as taking place amongst the
Chinese, although it is a matter of common knowledge that they
frequently refuse to rescue drowning persons for fear of displeasing
the river god.

We subsequently learnt with much satisfaction that the rebels, to the
number of two or three hundred, on being turned aside by the storm,
crossed the border into the province of Hunan, and there, after
murdering an official, his women-folk and some servants, were
surrounded in a swamp on the shores of the Tongting lake by Government
troops and butchered to a man.

Native breeds of swine are very coarse and always coal black, so that
when a French friend of mine imported for the first time into Peking
two white, foreign-bred pigs, they were objects of immense curiosity
to the local Chinese, who thought them exceedingly uncanny, and
considered it far from improbable that the departed spirits of former
friends might well have migrated into forms so passing fair.

After they had been carefully fattened, a kiddier was sent for to give
them the happy dispatch, but no sooner had he set eyes on his quarry
than he scuttled off in alarm, and nothing would induce him to return,
nor could any other butcher be prevailed upon to officiate, so that,
my friend declared, he was obliged to roll up his sleeves and perform
the gruesome, though necessary operation himself.

"Old custom" is almost a religion with the celestials, to subvert
which requires great caution, persistency and strength. If anything
can be justified by old custom, or even precedent, it is considered to
be unassailable, no matter how harmful or irrational it may be.

Take the matter of foot-binding.

Laws have been passed, and are still extant, expressly forbidding this
cruel and senseless habit, and the ruling race, the Manchus, have
never practised it, still the Chinese, and the women more than the
men, cling to it with fanatical stubbornness for the sole reason that
it is old custom, and that if girls' feet were not bandaged it would
outrage the universal sense of propriety.

I have frequently talked the subject over with Chinamen, who readily
acknowledge that it is useless, besides being extremely painful to
young children, but they say if their daughters had natural feet they
would most probably fail to get husbands, as no man wishes his wife to
be in any way extraordinary or different from other women. "In any
case," they frequently retort, "we do not know that foot-binding gives
much more pain than do the tight-laced stays of foreign women, and
certainly it is not so ugly or prejudicial to the health."

The Chinese, contrary to ourselves, look back to the past for
inspiration and guidance, and to concern oneself about novelty or
change appears to them as savouring strongly of shiftiness and want of

A curious instance of how quickly precedent can be established, and of
its binding force, came to my notice some years ago at Peking.

At a certain point the now shallow waters of the moat encircling the
city wall had for long years been spanned by a foot-bridge, but which,
having become rotten and weak, duly crumbled away.

With Oriental dilatoriness no attempt was made to rebuild it for some
months, and it was then found that two men, who during the interval
had been earning a livelihood by wading to and fro carrying
pedestrians between the opposite banks, strongly objected to a new
bridge on the ground that it would take away their occupation now
fairly established. Backed by numerous relatives and by public
opinion, these two miserable coolies had successfully resisted the
proposed reconstruction when I left the capital, and it is highly
probable that they or their sons still monopolise passenger traffic at
the ford.

To many even in this country, and to far more on the Continent, where
Christmas is observed solely as a religious festival, the New Year
with its train of bills, gifts, junketings and holidays is a period of
abomination, when all business is dislocated and servants run mad.

At such places in the East as Hankow, where a considerable Russian
colony exists, there are three New Years of progressive virulence. The
first of January is observed by all Europeans as a general holiday,
when the ladies stay at home to preside over elaborate teas, at which
all gentlemen of their acquaintance are expected to appear if only for
a few minutes, while the men, both married and single, taking a large
supply of cards, sally forth to call at the house of each lady in turn
to wish her a Happy New Year, a proceeding which takes up several
hours and necessitates a surprising amount of endurance. Dinners,
dances, complimentary visits from Chinese friends, and other social
functions help to swell the list of New Year obligations.

Things have scarcely settled down again when the Russian New Year is
at hand, for in the dominions of the White Czar time is still reckoned
by the old style, and as Russians are particularly keen and very
pronounced in their observance of anniversaries and _fêtes_, the place
is again turned topsy-turvy for several days beneath floods of
excellent sweet champagne.

The Chinese calendar marches coeval with the moons, which fact
generally places their New Year some time in February, the exact date
fluctuating from year to year to the extent of three or four weeks.

The last few days of the old year is a great time of reckoning, when
all outstanding debts must be paid so as to commence the New Year with
a clean slate, and woe to the man who fails to meet his obligations.

From faces clouded with anxiety during this trying period there is a
sudden revulsion on the stroke of midnight to countenances wreathed in
smiles, as for weal or woe the New Year is ushered in with deafening
fusillades of fire-crackers and a great beating of gongs. In the
morning all China is astir betimes, dressed in gala attire and
interchanging congratulatory visits. Business is entirely suspended
for several days, it being the one great annual holiday, and it is
extremely difficult to get even your own servants to pay so much as a
minimum of attention to their household duties; in fact, I yearly
register a mental vow not to lose my temper with them on any account
during New Year week, for besides being useless it would probably
entail the additional discomfort of having to engage and train new

At this season native officials as well as merchants are in the habit
of making presents indicative of good-will to those foreigners with
whom they have business relations.

Your boy brings in a bright red visiting-card eight inches by three,
coming from an official who begs you will deign to accept his best
wishes for the New Year, together with a few trifling presents.
Immediately three or four coolies arrive, groaning as loudly as
possible beneath the weight of hams, boxes of cigars, jars of dried
fruits, boxes of tea, oranges and champagne. You inspect the presents
with exclamations of appreciation and then privately consult the boy
as to what you should retain, it being the general practice to return
the greater part. A box of tea, a jar or two of dried fruits, some
oranges and perhaps a box of cigars are selected, while a few dollars
are presented to the coolies, by whom you forward in return your own
Chinese card to the official with seasonable wishes and thanks for his
thoughtful kindness.

As I was reading by my fire one afternoon in Shanghai the door was
quietly opened, two hands gently pushed an enormous live turkey into
the room and the door was again closed. The turkey commenced to stalk
about with an occasional gobble. After watching the intruder for a few
seconds I started to catch him, but found it was no easy matter. He
flew on to the sideboard, from there to the mantelpiece and then to
the window-sill, scattering knick-knacks and photographs far and wide.
He ran under the sofa and table, finally escaping into my bedroom,
where, with a desperate effort, I caught him by his legs under the
bed. While dragging him out he beat his wings with great force, and as
the bed had evidently not been swept under for months, drove forth
such a cloud of dust and fluff as to almost choke me, while filling
the whole room.

Round his neck was tied a red label bearing New Year greetings from a
Chinese merchant.

   _To face page 189._]

The entire boating population cease work at New Year, and tying up
their craft in convenient places give themselves up to such few
pleasures as their primitive mode of life allows.

At Macao, hundreds of fishing-boats, which supply the market both
there and at Hongkong, assemble and anchor close together in orderly
rows, both in the inner harbour as well as in the bay facing the Praia
Grande, under strict supervision of the Portuguese authorities. Mat
awnings are erected over the decks, thus forming commodious rooms,
which are decorated with scrolls and lanterns, and in which feastings
and family gatherings take place for several days, after which the
whole fleet, gaily decked with flags, puts again to sea.

Fish of any kind is a favourite article of food, and the methods of
catching them are extremely numerous. Otters, cormorants, nets,
baskets and hooks without bait, all meet with due measure of success,
but by far the most remarkable manner of fishing was that which I saw
from the bows of a steamer made fast to the hulk at Hankow.

It was mid-winter and bitterly cold, the ground being covered with
almost a foot of snow. I had been to tiffin with the captain and was
just coming away when, pointing to some natives in a sampan close
alongside, he said, "Have you ever seen those men dive for fish?"

I never had, and being glad of the opportunity, stopped to watch.
There were three men in the boat, of whom one worked the paddles,
while the other two, stark naked, crouched on the forepart, sheltering
themselves from the biting wind with an old straw mat. Having come to
a suitable spot, where the depth may have been from ten to fifteen
feet, the boat was stopped, and the two divers instantly plunged into
the turbid water, to reappear some seconds later with a live fish in
each hand, while one of them had also a third fish in his mouth. The
diving was repeated several times with varying results before I took
my leave, and the captain assured me that this was a common sight on
the Yangtse in winter, when the fish were probably lying in the mud
torpid from the cold.

When returning to Kiukiang from a fortnight's shooting trip in the
neighbourhood of Ngankin, my boat was much delayed by light and
contrary winds, which frequently obliged us to anchor in order to
avoid being swept back by the strong current. On one of these
occasions three of the crew took the jolly-boat and rowed ashore, a
distance of some hundred yards, and while smoking on deck I could see
them wading along by the bank, groping in the mud and occasionally
putting something into a bucket which they had taken with them.
Questioned as to what they were doing, the lowdah replied, "Fishing,"
and my astonishment was not diminished when they returned on board
with the bucket half-filled with fine perch, varying from perhaps
eight ounces to a pound in weight. Until then I was unaware that perch
existed in Chinese waters, nor have I since seen any.

The nearest approach to this kind of fishing that I know of is down in
my old home amongst the Norfolk broads, where on warm days, when lying
in the weeds, tench can be tickled with the fingers and caught by a
sudden nip behind the gills; but the art requires intimate knowledge
of local waters, much patience and great skill.

One of the most frequent questions that I am asked at home is, "Do not
Chinamen wear the finger-nails very long?" They do. Scholars perform
no manual labour, in visible token of which they allow the nails of
the left hand to grow an inch or an inch and a half in length, but the
nails on the right hand, while also long, are short in comparison with
those on the left.

To be classed with literary or educated men is the greatest of all
considerations, for which reason there is always a tendency for anyone
and everyone to wear a long coat and to don huge tortoise-shell-rimmed
spectacles, such as are affected by the _literati_, as well as to
cultivate the nails of the left hand. As the use of the word _esquire_
has degenerated in this country until not to apply it to all and
sundry is considered to be almost a snub, so the habit of wearing long
finger-nails in China has descended through every rank of Society
until it is now more often the badge of envious imitation than of any
scholarly attainments. So precious to the owners are these claw-like
nails that I have often seen them protected by silver sheaths, and
have heard that for cases of extraordinary growth the whole of the
left hand is even carried in a bag.

There is much outcry in these latter days against the newly-formed
habit of cigarette smoking cultivated by ladies of the West.
Condemnation of the practice seems if anything to act as an incentive,
so, yielding to the pleasant temptation of palliating faults in pretty
women, I would suggest as an excuse that they are but following in the
foot-steps of their sisters of the Far East, where, it may be roughly
stated, the women-folk of a third of the human race smoke pipes.

I cannot say that very young girls appear to indulge much, though
women of all ages do to a great extent, inhaling the smoke and puffing
it through the nose in thick clouds. The pipes in general use are
either small brass ones, having straight wooden stems a foot in
length, with clumsy porcelain mouthpieces, or brass water-pipes, which
when being smoked make an unpleasant gurgling sound. The bowl of
either kind is so tiny that it will only hold a pinch or two of very
fine tobacco, which three or four whiffs consume, when it has to be
refilled and lighted from a slow-match held ready in the hand until
the smokeress has smoked enough. The picture is neither winsome nor

The Chinese have very few amusements corresponding to our outdoor
games, although at treaty-ports, and in those places where there are
any roads, men are taking readily to cycling, albeit, from the flowing
nature of their garments they generally use ladies' bicycles. Of these
few pastimes archery is considered the most _distingué_, while boys
attain to great skill in playing shuttlecock with their feet, being
able to keep up the feathered cork for a dozen or twenty times, and
passing it considerable distances from one to another. Judge then of
my surprise when, on asking a young Chinaman at Peking how he had
spent his holiday of the previous day, he replied quite naturally that
he had passed the afternoon at his cricket club.

I could hardly believe my ears, for as far as I knew a game of cricket
had never been played at Peking, even by Englishmen, there being no
suitable ground, and it was only by plying him with questions that I
elicited it was the cricket of the hearth to which he alluded, and
that his club was a gambling-house to which young men brought their
crickets, there to fight grim duels in a basin for the championship,
while noble owners staked considerable sums on the prowess of their
diminutive gladiators and stimulated their energies by tickling them
with straws.

On all the waterways of China enormous flocks of tame ducks are to be
seen. These flocks generally number several thousands of birds each
and are carefully herded by the duck farmer and his sons, who swim
them about from place to place in search of suitable feeding-grounds.
On the Yangtse I have seen them in mid-stream floating down in compact
masses with the racing current and surrounded by their guardians in
tubs, who, armed with long bamboos, smartly whack any bird which may
happen to stray away from the flock until it rejoins its companions.

These ducks are apparently always of one age, be it a month, three
months or full-grown, which fact had ever been a source of mild
surprise to me, in view of the number of simultaneous broods which
would be necessary to hatch off such swarms, until the matter was

A friend of mine gave a tiffin party of four good men and true on his
stern-wheel house-boat, the motive power for which was supplied by
half-a-dozen coolies driving the wheel with their feet, on the same
principle as the tread-mill, and we were gliding up the Taipa Channel
near Macao at about four knots, when suddenly our craft came into a
sea of egg-shells sailing gaily before the breeze and having at a
short distance much the appearance of water-lilies.

For a quarter of an hour or so we ploughed through these shells, which
must have numbered tens of thousands, making various conjectures as to
their origin, until our host, who had been below superintending the
icing of the champagne, came on deck and explained that they
undoubtedly were from an incubator in which ducks had just been
hatched. This was new to me, so I asked him for details, but he
replied that beyond knowing of the incubators and that they were made
of manure and lime in which eggs were buried until hatched, he had not
been able to procure further information.

Since then I have made many inquiries, but the Chinese will reveal
little beyond the fact that incubators "have always existed" for the
hatching of ducks and geese.

A gentleman whose knowledge of the Chinese and their ways is
unsurpassed has also kindly tried to find out, but with limited
success, for, he says, it is regarded as a trade secret and the duck
farmers will not divulge the process. However, he ascertained that the
hatching takes place in early spring, when "a kind of primitive
incubator is used. The eggs are placed in a big basket covered with
straw or cotton wool, about a thousand eggs in one basket. Under this
basket a charcoal fire is lit to keep the required temperature. The
work is carried on in closed rooms and one man is always in attendance
turning the eggs. Only eggs of ducks and geese are thus treated."

Whether these incubators are made of manure and lime in the open air,
whether they are in rooms heated by charcoal fires, or whether there
are both kinds, the interesting fact is established that incubators
"have always existed" in China, while results, as seen in the huge
flocks of ducks, proclaim them as thoroughly successful. And this,
too, when it has been unreservedly believed that the incubator was a
modern triumph of Western science!

Another little matter has attracted my attention. There have lately
been paragraphs in several papers announcing the excellent results
obtained from a new system of registering criminals by means of

Thumb-marking may be new to Scotland Yard, but in China it is a very
ancient practice. I have seen illiterate men smear their thumbs with
ink and make impressions at the foot of documents, such thumb-marks
being accepted as in every way equivalent to full signatures.



In the province of Kiangsi on the banks of the River Kan, which flows
almost due north to the Poyang lake and so into the Yangtsekiang, is
situate the town of Kanchow, on the outskirts of which dwelt a
merchant named Chin Pao-ting with his wife and infant son.

After the custom of all Chinese merchants, Mr Chin had a shop which,
although used for retail purposes, was in reality the office of his
not inconsiderable wholesale business. Mr Chin had some time previous
to this date, the early spring of 1892, engaged a young man of the
locality named Wang Foo-lin, as accountant and confidential clerk, and
he had proved himself so intelligent and useful that not only did Chin
regard him with feelings of friendship but even conceived the idea of
subsequently taking him into partnership. What Chin's particular
business was I do not know, beyond the fact that each year it took him
away from home for several weeks, and sometimes months at a time, when
he travelled to other provinces. This annual voyage was now at hand.
Four boats were filled with various kinds of merchandise, while a
fifth and smaller craft was selected to convey Chin and his assistant,
who now accompanied his master for the first time. This boat was
fairly comfortable from a Chinese point of view, having benches on
either side of the cabin and a kind of platform at the back, with a
small, low table thereon bearing the customary incense-burner,
containing fragrant joss-sticks, and also on this occasion a small
_joss_ or gilt image of Buddha, which Chin always took with him on his

All preparations having been slowly completed the day for departure
arrived, and Chin, with much bowing and ceremonial posturing, having
wished his wife and little son adieu, embarked with Wang, taking the
equivalent of five thousand dollars[2] in sycee shoes and gold-dust,
and amidst valedictory fusillades of fire-crackers, as well as a
beating of gongs, the flotilla cast off and sailed away down river.

Nothing of particular interest occurred during the voyage of two
hundred miles to the Poyang lake beyond usual delays caused by the
dried-up condition at that season of all waterways connected with
China's mighty river.

The sources of the Yangtse are to be found in the mountain ranges of
Thibet, and as during winter and early spring the deep snows of those
lofty regions lie icebound and the great river is fed only by local
rains, its waters dwindle in volume until they find a level forty feet
below that of summer and autumn, when torrid heat and torrential rains
thaw the snows in Central Asia and fill the river-bed with a thick,
brown current which, after overflowing into and filling all lakes,
tributaries and unprotected lowlands in the Yangtse valley, sweeps
eastwards to the ocean, a foaming torrent of irresistible force.

After about twenty days of incessant toil in tracking, poling and
yulowing along the tortuous and mud-bound channel of the Kan, where
sailing, owing to the low water and consequent towering banks which
shut off the wind, was seldom possible, the small fleet emerged on the
Poyang lake. Not, however, the magnificent sheet of water which is
found there in summer, but the lake as it is in winter, contracted to
one tenth of its maximum size, and little more than a wide and
sluggish river flanked by boundless mud tracts swarming with snipe and
wildfowl. Another few days' sailing, for the breeze could now be felt
across the wide marshland, and Hukow (mouth of the lake) was reached,
where the merchandise in the four small lake boats was transferred to
a large and stately junk destined to carry it far up-river towards the
West, while good accommodation was found on board both for Chin and
his assistant. As soon as the transhipment of cargo had been
completed, and Chin had written a letter for transmission to his wife
by the boats returning to Kanchow, sail was made on the junk, and
passing out of the tranquil waters of the lake she was seen to shape
an up-river course reefed close before a rising gale, until lost to
sight in the rain and gathering darkness.

The empty boats arrived in due course at Kanchow, when the letter was
faithfully delivered, and this being the last communication that would
be received from her husband prior to his return, Mrs Chin resigned
herself to many weeks of dreary loneliness.

Weeks lengthened into months, and the waiting woman began to feel
anxious as to the well-being of her lord.

The stifling, burning summer came and went, and still there was
neither sign nor tidings of the absent one.

Inquiries made of passing junks, to the crews of many of which Chin
was well-known, ever elicited the invariable reply that nothing had
been seen or heard of him.

Autumn and winter still brought no tidings, and the poor, saddened
woman yielded to the conviction that some disaster had overtaken her
husband and that she would see him no more.

Early Chinese marriages are almost invariably arranged by the parents,
the young folks, even if old enough, having no voice in the matter.
Later on, plurality of wives, though far from universal, is also quite
common and of good repute.

The lower orders generally have only one wife, not being able to
afford more, although as soon as a man commences to prosper and rise
in the social scale his first thought is to procure by contract or by
purchase an additional helpmeet, who, however, ranks far below the
_first_ or _No. 1_ wife. Similarly _No. 2_ ranks before _No. 3_, and
so on. Four or five wives is a common number in well-to-do households,
though one old friend of mine, since dead, had taken to himself

Husbands regard the marriage tie as binding on them chiefly with
regard to the material well-being of the family, whereas the honour of
the family rests on the wife's steadfastness in maintaining sacred the
nuptial vow, any detected laxity in this respect being visited on her
with remorseless punishment both by her libidinous husband and by the
whole of his clan. Widows seldom marry again, it being the duty and
pride of a virtuous woman to remain faithful to the memory of her dead
husband. Throughout the whole length and breadth of China memorial
arches to widows who have been faithful to their troth till death are
to be seen in almost every village.

Mrs Chin may have been, and probably was, attached to her husband with
that fanatical single-mindedness which belongs to women of the East.
She may have considered it her bounden duty only. Whether love or duty
furnished the motive I cannot tell, but after making all possible
inquiries to no purpose she determined to set out herself and search
for traces of the missing one. The shop and her belongings were sold
to provide money for the way, and the poor woman, forsaking all and
carrying the child strapped to her shoulders, turned with a bitter
heart from her former prosperous home to face the world on her
well-nigh hopeless quest. Of her wanderings I could get no record, and
she would probably, with Oriental inscrutability, have refused to even
talk about them, but wherever else they may have led her, in the
bitter winter of 1893 she was twenty miles up-river from Hukow at the
open port of Kiukiang and alone, her child having perished by the way,
begging food and prosecuting her inquiries. Chance led her to shelter
for a night in the ruined but beautiful pagoda which stands high above
the river on the cliff outside the city wall. To the old Buddhist
hermit in possession she told her oft-repeated tale, only once again
to receive the usual negative reply.

In the morning, however, as she was moving off on her daily trudge,
the hermit appeared, and after the customary Buddhistic salutation,
"O me tor foo,"[3] had been exchanged, he remarked that during the
night it recurred to him that about eighteen moons had passed since he
found the dead body of a man cast up naked on the opposite beach, and
that following the rule of his order for acquiring merit he had
carefully and reverently buried it.

The poor wanderer seemed at last to see some faint possibility of
reward for her dreary pilgrimage. She followed the hermit to the river
side, where his small and leaky sampan was drawn up on the mud. After
considerable effort the boat was launched by the feeble pair, and
taking her place in it she was rowed by the old man across the heaving
river, which is here more than a mile in width, to the opposite beach,
where a little above high-water mark the grave was found. Scraping
aside the loose sand and rubble, and raising the unfastened lid of the
rough coffin, the mouldering skeleton was unrecognisable. Quick as
thought the woman thrust her fingers into the crumbling mass and
raised an arm of the dead, on which was seen to be the half of a jade
bracelet. Immediately baring her own arm to the hermit's gaze she
displayed on it the other half of the same jewel.

A common Chinese practice is for man and wife to have one jade bangle
split so as to form two bangles, and to wear one each, with much the
same idea as our Mizpah rings.

The woman looked as if turned to stone. She moved not a muscle, but
with livid face and hard, glassy eyes kept her position in the open
grave, leaning on one hand across the coffin and grasping with her
other the mouldering arm of the corpse, so that the two bangles were
laid side by side.

Silently and reverently the old hermit stole away, leaving the living
with the dead, and rowed back across the river to his home without
once turning his eyes, for curiosity he had none, but in its place the
Oriental's deep and mystic knowledge of life and death.

In the lonely grave amongst the rank grass and sand mounds the woman
stayed, oblivious of the cold and soaking rain. For a long time she
rested absolutely motionless as if also dead. Then a few upward
movements of the head told of her silent agony. By-and-by a low,
tremulous moan broke from her ashen lips. Almost inaudible at first,
her sobs increased until her whole frame was convulsed. She called
upon her husband, she poured blessings on his name, she craved
blessings from his spirit. Long and loud, with all her soul, with all
her strength and in most absolute sincerity, she bewailed her dead, as
is the custom in the East, until exhaustion overpowered her and she

It was almost dark when the hermit returned and thus found the
faithful woman, sodden by the rain, her hair unbound and trailing in
the sand. Gently rousing her and speaking soothing words he held out
his humble offering of two little bowls containing rice and samshu,
some sticks of incense and a few tiny candles. These the poor woman
took, but without a sign, for her gratitude was too deep to show, and
reverently placed the bowls, the lighted candles and smouldering
incense-sticks in position round the grave.

Then, having kowtowed many times before the corpse, the lid of the
coffin was replaced and covered with a few inches of sand, after which
she turned as one in a trance and followed the hermit to his boat. Her
husband was dead, she had bewailed him and burnt incense at his grave,
and what further could this poor, broken woman do?

What her intentions then were I do not know, but a few days later,
when returning at dusk from Kiukiang to the pagoda, she was stopped in
a lonely alley outside the western gate by a man who said, "Your
husband was murdered eighteen moons ago by Wang Foo-lin, who is now
living in Hankow." It was too dark to see the man's face and the voice
she did not know, but it was probably one of the sailors of the
missing junk who had some grievance to avenge. From the effect these
words had on the woman's fallen strength it might have been a message
from the gods pointing afresh the path of duty. She sought her friend
the hermit and related to him what had befallen her, and explained
that she would now go to Hankow in quest of the murderer, for that her
husband's spirit could never rest until his assassin had been brought
to justice.

How she travelled the one hundred and twenty miles from Kiukiang to
Hankow I do not know, but it is certain that she appeared in the
latter place begging from house to house, and after a time recognised
Wang Foo-lin trading under an assumed name in a shop of considerable
size. Wang on his part did not recognise the feeble and unkempt old
beggar-woman, so changed was she from the prosperous Mrs Chin, and
took but little notice of this one amongst many tens of other
mendicants, so that she was able to stand for some time at the shop
door without attracting undue attention, when she carefully noted the
contents of the store, and amongst other things recognised the gilt
joss which her husband had taken with him. Her next step was to
procure an audience of the local magistrate, and to do this she was
obliged to expend a considerable part of her remaining cash in bribing
the yamên underlings ere they would consent to lay her case before the
official or give her admittance to his court. After waiting many days
the audience was granted, and kneeling on the filthy floor before the
judgment seat she unfolded her story, accusing Wang Foo-lin of the
murder of her husband. The magistrate listened to her tale, but at the
end said, "You accuse this man of murder but produce no evidence in
support of your statements, and your bare word is not sufficient. If
you can bring forward any actual proof I will then take action." Mrs
Chin replied that in Wang's shop she had seen a gilt image of Buddha
which her husband had taken with him on his ill-fated voyage. That
many years ago at Kanchow she had knocked over and broken the nose off
this same image, and that to repair the damage she had melted down one
of her gold earrings and replaced the nose. If, therefore, it were
found that this gilt joss had a gold nose then the magistrate would
know her tale was true. The official replied that he would accept this
as sufficient evidence and would at once put it to the test. Sending
his runners with Mrs Chin to the shop, Wang was arrested, and together
with the gilt joss taken to the yamên, where it was quickly found that
the image actually had a gold nose as declared by the old woman.

Knowing his case to be hopeless, and yielding to the racking torture
which was quickly applied, the guilty wretch made a full confession of
his crime. As a boy he had often heard of Chin Pao-ting's annual
voyages to the West, while local gossip had so enlarged upon the
merchant's wealth that the junk bearing him and his merchandise might
well be a veritable treasure ship, so that when still a youth Wang had
journeyed to Kiukiang with the deliberate intention of forming a
scheme to waylay the annual expedition and thus acquire riches at a
single stroke. As attendant in an opium den near the quay, he had come
in contact with many low and desperate characters, amongst whom was
the lowdah of a certain junk which plied for hire between the Poyang
lake and the provinces of the West.

Gradually an intimacy sprang up between these two, until at length the
diabolical plot was hatched of murdering Chin and levanting with his
goods. Wang now returned to Kanchow, and, as we have seen, not only
contrived to enter the service of Chin Pao-ting but also to gain his
esteem and confidence.

For the next annual voyage a large river-junk to await the merchant at
Hukow was, through Wang's astuteness, chartered on exceptionally
favourable terms.

This junk, needless to say, was that of Wang's confederate, and once
on board the unhappy traveller was a doomed man. On the first night of
the voyage he was pounced on in his sleep, stunned with a blow and
thrown overboard. At Kiukiang, where the vessel stopped, the lowdah
and his men went ashore after receiving the gold dust and sycee shoes
as their share of the plunder, while Wang, taking the junk and cargo
as his portion, shipped a fresh crew and sailed on to Hankow, where he
set up in business with the proceeds of his ill-gotten gains.

His examination finished and released from torture, Wang was led away
in a swooning condition to a foul dungeon, where his silk garments
were quickly stripped off and replaced by crimson clothes, stiff with
clotted human blood and thick with vermin, but such as criminals
condemned to execution are compelled to wear. By an iron ring
mercilessly forced through his flesh and welded round his collar-bone
he was chained to a stone pillar, and so left to await his doom or to
rot on the reeking floor.

After prolonged deliberations amongst the authorities, it was decided
that the prisoner should be beheaded at Kiukiang, that being the
centre of the district in which his crime was committed.

Still clad in crimson clothes, the poor wretch was dragged by the
chain from his cell, too emaciated and broken to even stand. His hands
and feet were bound together with sharp cords and a bamboo pole thrust
between them, and in such manner he was carried through the streets by
two coolies, escorted by a few runners, to be thrown like a bundle of
old clothes into the hold of a police junk, which bore him more dead
than alive on his last voyage.

Owing to information extracted from Wang two further arrests were made
of members of the junk's crew, but the lowdah and one other succeeded
in making good their escape.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was now summer, and the view looking south from Kiukiang city wall
was peaceful and grand. In the distance rose the majestic Lushan
range, the peaks of which were illumined by the setting sun. Nearer,
the low hills, clothed with firs and azaleas, rolled as a carpet to
the lake, which lay between them and the city ramparts. A narrow
causeway from the city to the hills, cut the lake in two. At the far
end of the causeway was a plot of level ground, strewn with potsherds
and heaps of refuse. Here, in contrast to its usual solitude, a dense
crowd had collected in evident anticipation of some interesting event.
Presently two or three horsemen and a motley gang of soldiers emerged
from the city and proceeded quickly along the causeway. Closely
following were coolies carrying three red burdens, on bamboo poles,
and these in turn were followed by more soldiers and a few officials
in sedan chairs. It was an execution. The hurrying cavalcade was
swallowed up in the dense crowd which happily served as a curtain to
hide this ghastly scene of human wrath from Nature's smiling
landscape. Half-an-hour later the official procession returned as
quickly as it went, and gradually the crowd, sauntering by the water's
edge, laughing, joking and making merry of the gruesome spectacle just
witnessed, filtered back through the city gates.

Next morning three wooden baskets on long poles were exposed from the
top of an archway, and in each basket was a human head. Wang and his
companions had met their just rewards.

At Kanchow a pylow, or memorial arch, will eventually be erected in
honour of the widow of Chin Pao-ting, so that to posterity may be
preserved a just record of her virtuous devotion.


[2] Then about £600.

[3] Untranslatable. "Peace be with you," or meaning to that effect.



[Sidenote: PEOPLE.]

"How do you like the Chinese?" is the most common of all queries, yet
each time it is made I have to reflect as to what my answer shall be.

While unable to say that I like them, for, speaking collectively, they
are an untaking, unlikeable people, still they possess many qualities
and traits of character which _per se_ must recommend them to all
unprejudiced observers.

The chief hindrance to a better understanding with them is their
rooted antipathy to ourselves, generated by our pushing, masterful
ways. With but few and unimportant exceptions they do not want us, and
would be glad to see the last of all Europeans, together with their
civilisation, their missionaries and their trade. This is not very
flattering, accustomed as we are to regard ourselves somewhat in the
light of pearls before swine, but it is the truth. On the other hand,
we know that our footing in the country was gained and is maintained
by force, which knowledge, in addition to that pressure of silent
enmity of which we are at all times conscious, brings our minds into
a hostile attitude _vis-à-vis_ the Chinese. We are always in a state
of antagonism, be it defensive or offensive. This mutual dislike,
helped by the utterly different modes of life existing amongst
Europeans and Asiatics, renders all other than business intercourse
not only irksome but well-nigh impossible. Their ways not being our
ways we do not want to know them intimately, and they on their part do
not want to know us, wherefore, by tacit consent, we keep rigidly
apart in social matters.

Many people seem to imagine the Chinese as being romantic, artistic,
quaint, effeminate and uncanny.

Romantic they most certainly are not, but look at things with a brutal
realism, of which their pet quotation is truly emblematical: "A man's
greatest pleasure is found in reading his own essays and in making
love to his neighbours' wives."

Of their artistic qualities there are many favourable critics, though
personally I consider them to be extremely poor. Their music, both
vocal and instrumental, is worse than rubbish; in sketching and
painting they are without sense of perspective; their architecture is
clumsy and coarse; their much-vaunted pottery is full of flaws and
blemishes, for which reason a perfect specimen is almost priceless and
over which connoisseurs hypnotise themselves; dancing, except by
flower-girls, is unknown; while in literature they are safe from
adequate criticism, owing to the impossibilities of their language.
Embroidery, bronzes, carving, and dyeing in both pottery and silks
are, in my opinion, their best artistic productions, although it is
said that the famous colouring of chinaware is now a lost art, as
those clans which held the secrets were almost extirpated during the
Taiping rebellion. Many articles of vertu are undoubtedly valuable,
but is it not rather owing to their antiquity, to their rarity, or to
the fact that they are good specimens of a certain workmanship,
however bad, rather than to any inherent artistic merits?

Quaint they indeed are from a European standpoint, but on more
intimate knowledge this quaintness resolves itself into a slavish
adaptability to the smallest circumstances in their daily struggle for
existence. To a man who has been some years in the country, and who
has tried to understand local conditions, the Chinese live on a dead
level with matters of fact.

To say that they are effeminate would be incorrect. In some things,
from our point of view, they undoubtedly are; in others they are
extremely virile.

The captain of a British man-of-war told me that he considered them to
be the poorest fighters in existence. That they habitually make a
feeble show in battle cannot be gainsaid, but then they are a most
matter-of-fact people, without any craving for military glory, and
knowing beforehand that there is no possible chance of success, take
time by the forelock and run away to escape a useless death.

Select one of our very best regiments and stop their pay for several
months, deprive them of officers, take away all doctors and medical
comforts, half starve them, arm them with flags, pikes and
muzzle-loaders, and then march them against a crack European regiment.
You may be sure the Chinese example would be quickly followed. I do
not say the Chinese are brave, but I do believe that, given a good
training, just treatment and a fair chance of success, they would
prove no mean antagonists.

Possessing great natural aptitude, if it is made worth their while
they will quickly become good riders, good shots, good at billiards
and tennis, good sailors, etc., giving their whole attention to each
matter, though without enthusiasm. It is this dull concentration on
particular callings which has deprived their character of that vital
force, initiative, which, while the greatest of safeguards to rival
nations, has removed from the Chinese mind the power to comprehend and
carry out large and complicated undertakings involving the handling
and direction of modern systems and appliances. The Chinaman is at
present content to supply labour, but whether in time he will be
capable of also supplying the versatile, directing brain is a moot
question. Anyhow, it will not be for long years and until he has lived
under a modernised Government for several generations.

Extreme consideration for infancy and old age, the growing of long
finger-nails, the supposed debilitation arising from opium-smoking,
the universal usage of fans, the wearing of flowing garments and
braided hair, and the discharging of domestic duties which in other
countries fall to the lot of women, are probably largely accountable
for the charges of effeminacy.

As to their uncanniness there is no doubt. We do not, and never shall,
fathom the depth of a Chinaman's brain. After mutually looking at the
same object from widely-different points of view _we_ express our
ideas, talk them over and invite criticism, while _he_--is silent. He
listens to us and agrees, but keeps his own views to himself. We want
to explain everything; he does not, but takes things on faith.

In our inmost hearts we generally do not feel sure whether we believe
or do not believe in spiritualism, in good spirits, bad spirits,
ghosts, dreams, devils and manifestations. He believes in them all
without a suspicion of doubt, but, knowing our wonted thoughtless
scepticism, will frequently say he does not, as the easiest way of
avoiding a useless discussion and condemnation of established facts.

In dealing with educated Chinese many foreigners assume a forced,
artificial manner, as though addressing themselves to an autocrat or a
murderer, and are ever on the lookout for something to find fault
with. My own idea is to maintain a naturally polite bearing and treat
them precisely as you would your own countrymen of whatever rank in
life. They strike me as being extremely responsive, and oftentimes
even grateful for being taken simply as men and not as extraordinary
specimens of another humanity.

The dominating factor of their lives is "face." Whatever happens, so
long as a man can save his face he has always the chance of righting
himself. We continually hear of their commercial integrity, which is
undoubtedly very great, though not springing from any innate
principles of fair-dealing but from a desire to save face. I have very
little doubt but that a Chinese merchant would immediately "do" you if
he could be perfectly sure of not being found out, and so losing face,
and that too without in any way violating his own feelings. "Face," or
otherwise "appearances," is a Chinaman's passport to respectability,
and therefore of great commercial value, but has nothing whatever to
do with the hidden principles of honour and morality. That honesty
pays better than dishonesty is a fact well known and firmly adhered to
by merchants in a large way of business. To those in a small way of
business, honesty does not pay, and consequently does not exist, but
instead ability in squeezing is accepted as the gauge of capacity.

The first essential in dealing with Chinese is control of temper. I do
not mean that one should not possess a temper, on the contrary, it is
a distinct advantage to have one, only it must be kept well in hand. A
man of irritable, rasping temperament quickly loses respect and
weakens control, while he who can keep calm under any circumstances,
and only very rarely gives rein to a fierce outburst at the
psychological moment, invariably compels admiration and obedience,
for, it is reasoned, if a man who has command of his temper gets angry
it is because he has just cause, and the fault must necessarily lie
with those who call his anger forth.

Under no circumstances, except in actual self-defence, strike a
Chinaman. The pain or insult it may cause him is as nothing in
comparison with the lowering effect it will have on your own status in
native eyes. From being well-considered you will at once become an
object of contemptuous dislike.

The empire of China is considerably larger than the whole of Europe,
contains limitless natural resources, and is inhabited by a hardy race
of some four hundred million souls who are bound together by ties of
blood, language, tradition and religion. This race, which until quite
modern times existed as a world apart and was sufficient unto itself
in all things, is highly developed both mentally and physically,
though its government, as judged by Western ideas, is hopelessly

If left to themselves I see no reason why the Chinese should not
slumber on as they now are till the crack of doom, but, the world
having become so reduced in size through the agencies of steam and
electricity, they never will again be left undisturbed, but more and
more subjected to the pressure of other nationalities in the feverish
struggle for domination and wealth. To this pressure they will surely
yield in one way or another. Will they forestall the inevitable by
reforming themselves, or will they for a time fall beneath the foreign
yoke until they have learnt their lesson, and then reassert their
solidarity and independence?

In whatever light we may view these people or animadvert on their
numberless contradictory qualities and failings, it is as certain as
day and night that they are here to stay, if only by force of numbers,
and that no political convulsions will wipe them out. They may be
battered and even sundered for a time, but each successive shock will
only serve to resuscitate their vitality.

Already possessing an equipment of wealth, numbers, thrift, good
physique and high mental power, they only await good government to
start them along the rails of progress. Whatever nations may rise or
fall, the future is big with promise for the children of Han.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: LANGUAGE.]

The Chinese language is like China itself: colossal!

Roughly, the mandarin or official language is spoken by all officials
throughout the empire and by all classes in those provinces which lie
north of the Yangtse, while south of this line Cantonese is the
principal dialect, although the number of others is legion, and so
pronounced are the differences between them that countrymen dwelling
but a few miles apart are frequently at a loss to understand each

On one occasion, when making "a little trip to Japan," I took my
Pekingese boy with me. Having missed the fortnightly mail-boat I made
the passage from Chefoo in a small German collier, and on arrival at
Nagasaki took rickshas to the hotel. In the streets were a goodly
number of Chinese, members of a considerable colony of small traders,
and the sight of compatriots in a foreign land greatly delighted the
boy, who, on my departure after tiffin to make a tour of the town,
asked if he meanwhile might go out to drink tea with his countrymen. I
gave permission, but on returning some hours later to the hotel found
him in a very disappointed frame of mind, which was accounted for by
his explanation that the Chinese residents in Nagasaki were all
Cantonese, and that not being able to understand a word of mandarin
they had perforce been obliged to converse with each other as best
they could in pidgin English. He said, "Looksee b'long all same
Chinaman, no savez talkee."

The Pekingese are very discriminative and frequently condescendingly
refer to all other Chinese as "outside men" or "foreigners."

Pidgin English is a queer jargon composed of a verbatim translation of
Chinese sentences together with a slight admixture of Portuguese and
French, the frequent wrongful substitution of similar sounding words
and a lavish use of the terminals _ee_ and _o_.

"S'pose you wantchee catchee olo chinaware, compradore savez talkee
my," represents, "If you want to get some old chinaware your Chinese
agent will let me know," while I have heard "two times twicee" for
"twice two," and "last day to-night" for "last evening."

The word _pidgin_ means _work_ of any kind, as in "plenty pidgin" or
"no got pidgin," and _pidgin English_ simply means a workable
knowledge of colloquial English as picked up by tradesmen, servants
and coolies, in contradistinction to English as taught in the

On the northern frontiers there is also pidgin Russian.

The written language is the same everywhere, each character, of which
the Chinese say there are between eighty and a hundred thousand,
representing a complete word, so that before being able to read, and
more especially write, a single sentence, each individual character in
it must be closely studied and committed to memory, as we commit to
memory the letters of the alphabet, but with the difference that
whereas the alphabet consists of but twenty-six simple letters,
Chinese caligraphy contains almost a hundred thousand characters of
extreme complexity.

From earliest boyhood to the grave Chinese students never cease, yet
never complete, committing these characters to memory and welding them
into those graceful verses and essays which are the pride of Chinese

Handwriting is accounted a fine art, and for many hours each day, year
in and year out, characters are laboriously copied by means of a
little brush filled with ink, which in the form of a cake or stick
similar to Indian ink is moistened and ground on to a stone slab or
"ink-stone," until the penmanship is frequently of a firmness and
beauty surpassing that of copper-plate. In such veneration is the
written character held that it is accounted wrong to debase in any
way paper on which writing may be inscribed, wherefore conscientious
_literati_ sometimes pass along the streets gathering into baskets
stray pieces of paper bearing written characters, to burn them
reverently in miniature pagodas or towers erected on public ground for
that especial purpose.

The career of a student is considered to be the most honourable of
all, but though chiefly restricted to handwriting, knowledge of
characters, composition and national history, the Chinese admit that
no man has ever yet thoroughly mastered his own language or even
learnt all the characters.

How then about foreigners' knowledge of the language? It is like the
nibblings of a mouse at a mountain.

In the course of two or three years a European by means of hard work,
good memory and facile ear, may succeed in speaking one of the
dialects so as generally to make himself understood, but to the end of
his days his speech, for more than a few sentences, would never be
mistaken in the dark by one Chinaman for that of another Chinaman.

As for the written character, I do not believe it possible for any
European to acquire more than a superficial general, or a mature
one-sided, knowledge of it. Some missionaries, notably Jesuits, have
given their lives to the work and have undoubtedly attained to
considerable erudition in the classics and in subjects pertaining to
religious doctrines, but in place give them some business papers or
other documents in current use and they would be at once hopelessly

A man may have mastered eight or ten thousand characters and may be
able to read or dictate letters on any subject, but he probably would
not be able to read a single line from most of the classics.

I have heard, as a phenomenal thing, of a foreigner being able to
write a letter himself, but the fact of its being phenomenal shows how
unusual it was, and does not prove the absence of either crudities or

All Europeans, even the most competent, are _always_ assisted by
educated Chinamen when engaged on serious Chinese work. Unaided, they
might read much correctly, but they might altogether miss the sense,
and most probably would meet with characters they did not know.

As for writing, it is impossible. Even if unaided one did manage to
compose anything, it would be the work of a tyro and would never pass
muster with literary Chinese, while the penmanship would be laboured
and coarse, for the manner of holding the pen or brush is quite
different from our own, and if not acquired almost from infancy the
knack comes with difficulty when bones and sinews are more firmly

With regard to mastering what is called the running character, which,
by way of illustration, may be said to correspond to our shorthand,
the thing is not to be thought of.

To apply a general test, no European would ever have the slightest
chance of passing even the lowest of the literary examinations.

One may well ask what is the reason of this inability to reach the
attainments of even a moderately well-educated Chinaman.

No European can give his whole time from earliest childhood to the
undivided study of Chinese, and even if he could, I very much question
if the unattractive nature of native literature would satisfy his more
versatile brain, while the absence of social intercourse between the
two races removes the greatest of all incentives to perseverance.

On the other hand, the Chinese are saturated with a hereditary
instinct for their own language and literature, which instinct,
besides assiduous cultivation for thousands of years, is fostered from
infancy by their surroundings, and is so exactly suited to their
patient, phlegmatic temperament that it comes to them as naturally as
the air they breathe, and even if unable to read but a few characters
in a phrase, they will arrive at the meaning as surely as a well-bred
hound will follow a trail.

And so it follows that although Europeans of most brilliant intellect
may devote long years and infinite labour to the study of Chinese,
lacking this native instinct, they can never attain to that ripened
and fluent knowledge which is a heritage of the Mongol race alone.

       *       *       *       *       *


What to say anent missionaries?

In England alone the proselytising spirit is strong, and every parish
subscribes liberally to missionary funds in order that labourers in
the vineyard may not be wanting, and that the ends of the earth may
know the tidings of joy.

Most European residents in China are adverse to missionaries and
express their opinions with such vehemence as to generally obscure
criticisms of a more temperate nature. According to this majority the
missionaries do nothing but harm. Frequently of poor education, and
lacking altogether in tact and discretion, they thrust themselves in
where they are not wanted, they interfere in local matters, ignore
local customs, offend local susceptibilities, and by allowing young
unmarried ladies without experience and frequently without suitable
escort to wander about the country, to outrage all sense of decency,
thus generating ill-will which not infrequently leads to riots,
bloodshed and diplomatic trouble, while the good they do is
microscopic and the number of converts or "rice-Christians" coincides
with the amount of alms distributed, and who, when nothing further is
to be acquired, revert to the faith, or indifference, of their
forefathers. Building fine residences with the funds provided by
gullible folks at home, and constructing diminutive churches with the
few remaining bricks, drawing fat salaries which increase _pari passu_
with the number of their children, and taking long summer holidays in
Japan or in the mountains when business men must be hard at work,
nothing but condemnation is heard for the whole system which, they
say, should be forcibly suppressed by the various Governments

While enough of this loud-voiced deprecation may be true to lend a
colouring to the whole, I have no hesitation in saying that the
opinions of most of the critics are absolutely worthless. In fact,
they know nothing whatever about either the missionaries or their
work, but simply repeat, with their own additions, things they have
heard from any and every source without ever troubling to verify them
personally. Never was there a clearer case of "giving a dog a bad
name," etc.

We civilians in China frequently lead far from model lives and are in
no position to throw stones, for which reason, probably, the mere
sight of a professional good man is worse than the proverbial red rag,
and the tendency is strong, I own, to disparage him and all his
works, while serenely forgetful of our own palpable shortcomings.

I have known one or two missionaries commit shady actions. I have
known several civilians commit crimes.

Missionaries, like ourselves, it must not be forgotten, are very
human, and contain in their ranks men widely differing in degrees of

In various remote places I have met missionaries of many
denominations--Jesuits, Anglicans, Non-conformists, etc.--and on
closer acquaintance I have almost invariably found them at heart,
whatever their methods, attainments or achievements, to be men of
sterling worth, of lofty ideals, leading noble, self-denying lives,
and fighting the good fight for love of God and man, and for the faith
that is in them.

From the militant nature of their calling they cannot avoid
interesting themselves in the lives and customs of the natives, and
that their message to the heathen, inviting them to forsake the gods
of their fathers and embrace the only true faith, arouses hostility in
the most conservative people on earth, is in no sense to be wondered

Of medical missionaries who found hospitals and heal the sick, as well
as of those who devote their lives to teaching the blind to read and
the dumb to speak, adverse comment by anyone speaking with
sincerity and briefest knowledge of the facts would be impossible.
These missions of mercy shine as great beacons of Christianity through
the gloom of heathen darkness.

   _To face page 228._]

The greatest fault brought home to several missions is, in my opinion,
their interference in legal quarrels between native Christians and
their unconverted fellow-citizens. This interference has undoubtedly
frequently occurred and with marked success, thereby causing extreme
irritation to the Chinese officials, who dread possible complications
with foreign consuls, and arousing the bitter resentment of the
populace, not only against all Christians, but also against all

Indiscretion and want of tact are usually the fruit of enthusiastic
inexperience, for veteran missionaries have generally tempered zeal
with both suavity and cautiousness.

That young, unmarried women, brought up in the pure atmosphere of
Western homes and unaccustomed to the nauseous sights and insanitary
surroundings of Eastern cities, should be allowed to ruin their
healths, risk death by indescribable tortures, and in Chinese eyes to
forfeit their reputations, for the sake of doing a very problematical
amount of good is, I cannot help feeling, a great mistake and too
heavy a price to pay. If there must be missionaries, at least let them
be men, and it would be far better and much more in accordance with
the divine will if these girls settled in some one of our many
colonies, married, and gave sons to the world, who then in due time
might take up the cross of missionary endeavour.

On the whole, I should say that while missionaries are greatly
over-condemned by Europeans residing in China, the good they do is
over-estimated by people at home.

Putting aside all criticism of missionaries themselves, the vital
question is--"Will they succeed in converting China to Christianity?"

I am not sufficiently versed in the necessary statistics to offer a
very valuable opinion, but, such as it is, it tends to the conviction
that they will not.

It is a mistake to believe that persecution is an unfailing help to a
religious cause. It is so only when the persecution is sporadic and
fitful: storms succeeded by sunshine. When persecution partakes of a
stern, unrelenting nature, such as has recently been meted out to
Chinese converts, it certainly destroys, or at least stultifies,

Despite remonstrances from the great Powers and despite all treaties,
I greatly fear that these persecutions will be more bitter and more
general in the future than they have been in the past.

While the progress of conversion is thus delayed and Christianity by
drawing the fire of hate and intolerance absorbs all attention,
Mohammedanism is silently making considerable strides, favoured by a
period of bright sunshine, and unless storms of persecution soon burst
again to roll back the tide, as after the last Mohammedan rising,
when, it is said, loads of human ears were forwarded to Peking in
token of successful repression, followers of the Prophet bid fair to
establish a position in China which cannot be coerced and must be
recognised, and which would oppose to Christianity an even stronger
and keener influence than is exerted now.

I have often heard the question asked--"Would the Chinese be any the
better for becoming Christians?" and the reply has usually been that
they would not.

Personally, I believe that Christianity would supply the Chinaman's
character with an element which it now altogether lacks--chivalry, and
which, added to his many excellent qualities, would place him in the
very forefront of the peoples of this earth.

If China accepted Christianity her moral and material regeneration
would be assured, stagnation would yield to progress, darkness to
light and hostility to friendliness. Instead of the unwieldy mass now
lying sulking at the feet of other nations, China would become a
strong, self-reliant, prosperous state, fearing none, but held in
respect and friendship by all.

Heathen China may possibly fall under the yoke of foreign powers, but
the spirit of Christianity, bringing with it reformation and progress,
having once been breathed into her nostrils, it would be just as
possible to chain the waters of the ocean as to hold her in lasting
bondage, and Christian China would be free.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: CHANCES.]

Forty odd years ago, at the close of the second great war, China was a
veritable Eldorado for Europeans, where all turned to gold beneath the
lightest touch of alien hands. Fortunes were made with startling
rapidity, and money came in so freely that the standard of living
amongst foreign merchants and their _employés_ reached to such
preposterous heights of luxuriousness, that when the inevitable
reaction set in, want, and even ruin, supervened where plenty should
have been found.

From that date to this the descent from an inflated prosperity to a
mean working level has been gradual and sure.

What has been the cause of this descent?

Forty years ago the foreign trade was practically monopolised by
Englishmen, who had only to place their goods on the market of any
newly-opened port for them to be snapped up at almost any price by
Chinese merchants, who then possessed but little knowledge of foreign
wares and were exceedingly timid of their own officials. As time wore
on this ignorance and timidity grew less and less, until the Chinese
purchaser came to close quarters with the English importer,
eliminating middlemen at the small ports and transferring operations
chiefly to the great emporiums of Hongkong and Shanghai. Americans and
Continentals of all nationalities arrived in rapidly-increasing
numbers, bringing merchandise for the Chinese market, thus giving
native buyers a much larger variety of goods from which to choose, and
introducing a competition fatal to the former enormous profits.

Although the volume of both import and export trade shows a continuous
yearly increase, it tends more and more to centre in the hands of a
comparatively few large European firms with which Chinese merchants
from all parts of the Empire directly negotiate, to the exclusion of
foreigners in a small way of business.

Another reason for the decrease of profitable commercial openings is
the practical extinction of China's tea trade with England, Ceylon and
India now supplying the home-market, and although as great a quantity
of tea is still exported from China as formerly, it nearly all goes to
Russia, and this trade being in the hands of Russian monopolists,
there is but little employment for other nationalities, while even
here it probably will not be many years before the Russians largely
follow our example in abandoning Chinese tea in preference for that of
Ceylon and India.

Similarly the steam shipping, which originally was almost exclusively
British-owned, is gradually passing to the credit of Chinese
capitalists, if not in name yet in reality, and any new development in
this line is almost sure to be mainly financed from native sources.

The opinion is largely held that accordingly as China is opened up by
railways, by steam navigation on the inland waters, and by
simplification of inland duties, foreigners will reap such advantages
as may again enable them to quickly amass fortunes. Let there be no
delusion on this point.

Wherever openings for trade occur there will instantly be found shrewd
Chinese business men backed by a plentiful supply of native capital,
and the Westerner will get but little that is worth having.

When the West River was thrown open to steamer traffic a few years
since it was confidently predicted on all sides that it would cause a
considerable development in foreign shipping. Nothing of the kind. On
a recent trip to Wuchow I saw scores, and possibly hundreds, of small
steamers and launches crammed with cargo and passengers, or towing
strings of deep-laden junks, but they were all Chinese-owned, while
the only foreign-owned vessels to be seen were a few gun-boats and
less than half-a-dozen steamers, which it is generally believed barely
earn enough to cover expenses.

The descent thus accounted for has chiefly then been caused by the
competition amongst Westerners allowing Chinese merchants to get on
even terms with them, when, being extremely good business men, holding
absolute command of the native markets, and able to live much more
cheaply than Europeans, they have generally ousted small foreign
traders from the out-ports by carrying operations over their heads
direct to well-known houses at the great centres of trade.

Firms doing a large import and export business should prosper,
although harassed by continual fluctuations in the value of silver,
but their prosperity will redound to the direct advantage of a few
only, while the chances of a man who comes out from home with a small
capital being able to make for himself a successful commercial career
are woefully meagre. Even representatives of wealthy syndicates, after
investigating prospects on the spot, generally come to the conclusion
that capital can be more profitably invested elsewhere than in China.

On the other hand there are a considerable number of official
appointments to be obtained, carrying with them comfortable
remuneration, but these are mostly filled up in England and in the
several countries concerned.

Professional men, such as doctors, lawyers and dentists, working both
for Chinese clients and foreign residents, have capital opportunities,
while for captains, officers and engineers for steamers, engineers and
directors for docks and factories, professors for various colleges,
mining experts and railroad constructors, there is an increasing
demand at fair salaries, but, considering the trying climate, the
banishment from home and the persistent decline in the value of
silver, residence in the Far East, even on a large income, is a
doubtful advantage.

The collapse of silver has been so great that whereas twenty or thirty
years ago four silver dollars would purchase a sovereign, and a salary
of four hundred dollars a month represented twelve hundred pounds a
year, now it takes more than twelve dollars to purchase a sovereign,
so that a similar salary of four hundred dollars a month represents
less than four hundred pounds a year.

It is a common belief at home that fluctuations in the value of silver
are not felt when purchases are confined to a silver-using country.
This is quite a mistake. China is a silver-using country, yet the
standard of value maintained by her four hundred million souls is
neither silver nor gold but copper cash, and the ultimate cost of
_everything_ of native origin is regulated by its value in cash.

A coolie's wages a few years ago may have been six thousand cash a
month, and a dollar being then purchasable for say a thousand cash,
you gave him six dollars a month. To-day his wages may still be six
thousand cash but a dollar being now worth only five hundred cash, you
are obliged to give him twelve dollars a month. Precisely the same
rule applies to meat, coals, vegetables, etc.

For all imported foreign articles, such as clothes, stores, wines,
etc., you must give enough in silver dollars to make up the price as
reckoned at home, that is, in gold, and as you now have to give three
times as many dollars for a sovereign as formerly your imported goods
are three times dearer, or, in other words, the value of silver has
fallen and its purchasing power is very much less than it used to be
the whole world over.

For a man drawing his salary in dollars the cost of living in the Far
East is more than double what it was twenty-five years ago. For those
who direct big businesses the earnings of which are in silver and the
expenses largely in gold, as well as for those who had already
invested their fortunes in shares prior to the utter collapse of
silver, the past few years have been a period of crushing losses,
while the future must be fraught with grave anxiety.

In short, but few fortunes are to be made in China, while money is
very easily lost, and unless a man before leaving home secures a
definite position in a good business firm, in Government employ or in
some profession, it would be most unwise of him to go out on the
chance of finding employment after his arrival.


       *       *       *       *       *

_Colston & Coy. Limited, Printers, Edinburgh._

       *       *       *       *       *

    | Typographical errors corrected in text:                   |
    |                                                           |
    | Page  47: per excellence replaced with par excellence     |
    | Page  76: averge replaced with average                    |
    | Page 174: dogs-kin replaced with dog-skin                 |
    | Page 193: bicyles replaced with bicycles                  |
    |                                                           |
    | Note to Readers:                                          |
    | 'Forrard' is a legitimate word, meaning "at or to or      |
    | toward the front".                                        |
    | On page 83, the word powed is a legitimate word, meaning  |
    | "polled".                                                 |
    |                                                           |

       *       *       *       *       *

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