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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

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

Title: China
Author: Blake, Sir Henry Arthur
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "China" ***

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

generously made available by Internet Archive/American Libraries

      Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive/American Libraries. See

Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      [)a] represents the character a-breve.

Menpes Crown Series


      *      *      *      *      *


     _Square Demy 8vo._

     _Large Crown 8vo._

     _Square Demy 8vo._

     _Square Demy 8vo._

     6¼ X 4 _inches_

     _Square Demy 8vo._

     _Square Demy 8vo._

     _Square Demy 8vo._







      *      *      *      *      *

  [Illustration: A SHOEMAKER]




Text by


Adam and Charles Black


     Description of China; Her Early History; Tartar Garrisons;
     Chinese Soldiers; Family Life; Power of Parents; Foot-Binding    1


     Marriage Customs; Ancestral Halls; Official Hierarchy;
     Competitive Examinations; Taxation; Punishments; Torture;
     Story of Circumstantial Evidence                                15


     Gradations of Chinese Society; Agriculture; _Fung Sui_;
     Pawn Offices; River Boats and Junks; The Bore at Haining;
     Fishing Industry; Piracy on Rivers; Li Hung Chang; The
     West River; Temples of the Seven Star Hills; Howlick            33


     The Yangtze; Opium; Conclusions of Singapore Commission;
     British and German Trade in the Far East; Town and Country
     Life; Chinese Cities; Peking; Temple of Agriculture;
     Spring Ceremony of Ploughing by the Emperor and his Court       56


     Peasant Cultivators; Religious Beliefs; Theatricals; Famine;
     Life in Coast Cities; Canton; Guild-Houses; Beggar Guild;
     Official Reception by Viceroy; Chinese Writing; Life of
     an Official                                                     72


     Houses of Wealthy Inhabitants; Flower-Boats; Reform
     Movement among Chinese Women; Shanghai Women's
     Convention; Women's Superstitions; Chinese Ladies;
     Fashions; Visiting                                            100


     General Description of Hong Kong; Happy Valley; Peak
     District; Night View of Harbour; Typhoon; Energy of
     Survivors; The Streets; Early Morning Life of the City;
     Chinese Workmen; The Barber; The Sawyer; The Stonecutter;
     The Coolie; Gambling; Some Street Games                       111


     Dragon-Boat Races; Festival at Macao; New Year; New
     Year Customs; Hong Kong Races; Curious Forms of
     Gambling; Charitable Institutions of Hong Kong; The
     Future of China                                               126



     1. A SHOEMAKER                                      _Frontispiece_

                                                            FACING PAGE
     2. A QUIET CANAL                                                 8

     3. A STUDENT                                                    17

     4. SAMPANS                                                      24

     5. CHOPSTICKS                                                   33

     6. ON THE WAY TO MARKET                                         40

     7. A GRANDFATHER                                                49

     8. A SUMMER HOUSE                                               56

     9. A QUIET GAME OF DRAUGHTS                                     65

     10. WAITING FOR CUSTOMERS                                       72

     11. A CHINESE GIRL                                              89

     12. JUNKS AT EVENTIDE                                           96

     13. A TYPICAL STREET SCENE                                     105

     14. A STREET STALL                                             112

     15. ON A BACKWATER                                             121

     16. A TEMPLE                                                   128

     Also 64 Facsimile Reproductions in Black and White

     _These Illustrations were Engraved and Printed by the
     Menpes Printing Company, Ltd., Watford, under the personal
     supervision of Miss Maud Menpes_




In attempting even a slight sketch of China, its physical features, or
some of the manners and customs of the various peoples whom we
designate broadly as the Chinese, the writer is confronted with the
difficulty of its immensity. The continuous territory in Asia over
which China rules or exercises a suzerainty is over 4,200,000 square
miles, but China Proper, excluding Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet, and
Turkestan, consists of eighteen provinces, covering an area of
1,530,000 square miles, with a population of about 410,000,000, or
about twelve and a half times the area of the United Kingdom, and ten
times its population.

This area is bounded on the west by southern spurs from the giant
mountain regions of Eastern Tibet, that stretch their long arms in
parallel ranges through Burma and Western Yunnan, and whose snow-clad
crests send forth the great rivers Salween and Mekong to the south,
the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers to the east, to fertilize the most
productive regions on the surface of the globe.

It is this conformation that has so far presented an insurmountable
barrier to the construction of a railway from Bhamo in Burmese
territory to the high plateau of Yunnan, from whence the province of
Szechwan, richest of all the eighteen provinces in agricultural and
mineral wealth, could be reached. Some day the coal, iron, gold, oil,
and salt of Szechwan will be exploited, and future generations may
find in the millionaires of Szechwan Chinese speculators as able and
far-seeing as the financial magnates who now practically control the
destinies of millions in the Western world.

The portion south of the Yangtze is hilly rather than mountainous, and
the eastern portion north of that great river is a vast plain of rich
soil, through which the Yellow River, which from its periodical
inundations is called China's Sorrow, flows for over five hundred

In a country so vast, internal means of communication are of the first
importance, and here China enjoys natural facilities unequalled by any
area of similar extent. Three great rivers flow eastward and
southward--the Hoang-ho, or Yellow River, in the north, the Yangtze in
the centre, and the Pearl River, of which the West River is the
largest branch, in the south. The Yangtze alone with its affluents is
calculated to afford no less than 36,000 miles of waterways. The river
population of China comprises many millions, whose varied occupations
present some of the most interesting aspects of Chinese life.

The population of China is composed of different tribes or clans,
whose records date back to the dynasty of Fuh-hi, 2800 B.C. Sometimes
divided in separate kingdoms, sometimes united by waves of conquest,
the northern portion was welded into one empire by the conqueror,
Ghengis Khan, in A.D. 1234, and seventy years later the southern
portion was added by his son, Kublai Khan, who overthrew the Sung
dynasty. It was during his reign that China was visited by Marco Polo,
from the records of whose travels we find that even at that time the
financial system of the Far East was so far advanced that paper money
was used by the Chinese, while in the city of Cambaluc--the Peking of
to-day--Christian, Saracen, and Chinese astrologers consulted an
astrolabe to forecast the nature of the weather, thus anticipating the
meteorological bureaux of to-day.


There are, however, still districts in the southern portion of China
where the aboriginal inhabitants have never accepted the position of
complete incorporation with the Chinese neighbours. In the mountain
district between the provinces of Kwangtung and Hunan a tribe exists
known as the Yu people, in whose territory no Chinese officials are
permitted to reside, nor do they allow strangers to enter their towns,
which are built on crags difficult of access and capable of offering a
stubborn resistance to attack. Their chief occupation is forestry, the
timber being cut during the winter and floated down the mountain
streams when in flood. Their customs are peculiar. Among them is the
vendetta, which is practised by the Yu alone of all the people in the
Far East. But no woman is ever injured; and even during the fiercest
fighting the women can continue their work in the fields with safety.
Their original home was in Yunnan and the western part of Kwangsi,
from whence they were driven out by the Chinese in the time of the
Sung dynasty. The Yu, Lolos, Miao-tse, Sy-fans, etc. (all Chinese
names expressive of contempt, like our "barbarians"), are stated by
Ma-tonan-lin and other Chinese historians to have been found
inhabiting the country when, six thousand years ago, it was occupied
by the ancestors of the Chinese, who came from the north-west. The
savage inhabitants were gradually driven into the hills, where their
descendants are still found. Their traditions point to their having
been cannibals. Intermarriage with the Chinese is very rare, the
Chinese regarding such a union as a _mésalliance_, and the aboriginal
peoples as a cowardly desertion to the enemy. The embroideries worked
by the women are different from those of the Chinese and, I am
informed, more resemble the embroideries now worked at Bethlehem. They
are worked on dark cloth in red, or sometimes red and yellow.


After the time of Kublai Khan, succeeding centuries found the various
divisions of the Chinese again disunited, in accordance with a very
old Chinese proverb frequently heard at the present day, "Long united
we divide: long divided we unite"; but the final welding took place
under Shun-chi, who established the Tsing dynasty in 1644, and imposed
upon all Chinese people, as a permanent and evident mark of
subjection, the shaving of the front portion of the head and braiding
of the back hair into a queue after the Tartar fashion--an order at
first resented bitterly, but afterwards acquiesced in as an old
custom. To this day the removal of the queue and allowing the hair to
grow on the front portion of the head is regarded as a casting off of
allegiance to the dynasty. In the Taiping rebellion that raged in the
southern provinces from 1850 to 1867, and which down to its
suppression by Gordon and Li Hung Chang is computed to have cost the
lives of twenty-two and a half millions of people, the removal of the
queue and allowing the hair to grow freely was the symbol adopted by
the rebels.

To secure the empire against future risings, the Manchu conquerors
placed Tartar garrisons in every great city, where separate quarters
were allotted to them, and for two hundred and sixty years these
so-called Tartar soldiers and their families have been supported with
doles of rice. They were not allowed to trade, nor to intermarry with
the Chinese. The consequence was inevitable. They have become an idle
population in whom the qualities of the old virile Manchus have
deteriorated, and supply a large proportion of the elements of
disorder and violence. Of late, the prohibition against entering into
business and intermarrying with the Chinese has been removed, and they
will ultimately be absorbed into the general population.

From the point of view of a trained soldier these Tartar "troops" were
no more than armed rabble, with the most primitive ideas of military
movements; but in the north the exigencies of the situation have
compelled the adoption of Western drill, adding immensely to the
efficiency but sadly diminishing the picturesqueness of the
armies--for there is no homogeneous territorial army, each province
supplying its own independent force, the goodness or badness of which
depends upon the energy and ability of the viceroy.

The pay of a Chinese soldier is ostensibly about six dollars a month,
which would be quite sufficient for his support were it not reduced to
about half that amount by the squeezes of the officers and
non-commissioned officers through whose hands it passes. He receives
also one hundred pounds of rice, which is not always palatable, the
weight being made up by an admixture of sand and mud to replace the
"squeeze" by the various hands through which the rice tribute has

While under arms he is clothed in a short Chinese jacket of scarlet,
blue, or black, on the front and back of which are the name and symbol
of his regiment. The sleeves are wide and the arms have free play. The
shape of the hat varies in every corps, the small round Chinese hat
being sometimes worn, or a peakless cap, while some regiments wear
immense straw hats, which hang on the back except when the sun is
unduly hot. The trousers are dark blue of the usual Chinese pattern,
tied round the ankles. The costume is not unsoldierlike, and when in
mass the effect is strikingly picturesque; but it must not be inferred
that all the men on a large parade are drilled soldiers. An order to
the officer commanding to parade his corps for inspection not seldom
interferes seriously with the labour force of the day. He draws the
daily pay of, say, two thousand men, but his average muster may not
exceed three hundred. This is a kind of gambling with Fortune at which
China is disposed to wink as being merely a somewhat undue extension
of the principle of squeeze that is the warp and woof of every Chinese
employee, public or private. But he must not be found out; therefore
seventeen hundred coolies are collected by hook or by crook, and duly
attired in uniform, possibly being shown how to handle their rifles at
the salute. The muster over, the coolies return to their work, and the
arms and uniform are replaced in store until the next occasion.

  [Illustration: A QUIET CANAL.]


The officers are chosen from the better classes, except when a more
than usually ferocious robber is captured, when sometimes his supposed
bravery is utilized by giving him an army command. The young officers
undergo some kind of elementary training. In Canton it was until
lately the custom to have an annual examination of their proficiency
in riding and archery. In a field outside the city a curved trench
about five feet wide and two feet deep was cut for about two hundred
and fifty yards. At intervals of fifty yards were erected close to the
trench three pillars of soft material each six feet high by two feet
in diameter. Into each of these pillars the candidate, who was
mounted on a small pony and seated in a saddle to fall out of which
would require an active effort, was required to shoot an arrow as he
passed at a gallop. With bow ready strung and two spare arrows in his
girdle, he was started to gallop along the trench that was palpably
dug to prevent the ponies from swerving, as the reins were flung upon
his neck. As the candidate passed within two or three feet of the
pillar targets the feat would not appear to have been difficult. If
all three arrows were successfully planted the candidate was at the
end of the course received with applause, and his name favourably
noted by the mandarins, who sat in state in an open pavilion close by.
But this description would not at present apply to the northern
provinces, where some of the armies are apparently as well drilled,
armed, and turned out as European troops. That Chinese troops are not
wanting in bravery has been proved; and if properly led a Chinese
drilled army of to-day might prove as formidable as were the hosts of
Ghengis Khan, when in the thirteenth century they swept over Western
Asia and into Europe as far as Budapest.


It has been stated that the empire has been welded together by its
conquerors, but perhaps it would be more correct to say that it
coheres by the almost universal acceptance of the ethics of
Confucius, whose wise precepts--delivered five hundred years before
the birth of Christ--inculcated all the cardinal virtues, and included
love and respect for parents; respect for the Prince; respect for and
obedience to superiors; respect for age, and courteous manners towards
all. He held that at their birth all men were by nature radically
good, but "as gems unwrought serve no useful end, so men untaught will
never know what right conduct is."

The bedrock upon which the stability of China has rested for over two
thousand years is the family life, the patriarchal system reaching
upwards in ever-widening circles, from the hut of the peasant to the
palace of the Sovereign. The house is ruled by the parents, the
village by the elders, after which the officials step in, and the
districts are governed by mandarins, whose rank of magistrate,
prefect, taotai, governor, or viceroy indicate the importance of the
areas over which they rule, each acting on principles settled by
ancient custom, but with wide latitude in the carrying out of details.
Nothing is more charming in respectable Chinese families than the
reverential respect of children for their parents, and this respect is
responded to by great affection for the children. It is a very pretty
sight to see a young child enter the room and gravely perform the
kotow to his father and mother. No young man would dare to eat or
drink in the presence of his father or mother until invited to do so.
Among the princely families the etiquette is so rigid that if a son is
addressed by his father while at table he must stand up before

It is sometimes assumed that the custom of wealthy Chinese having two,
three, or more "wives" must lead to much confusion in questions of
inheritance, but there is no real difficulty in the matter, for
although the custom allows the legalized connection with a plurality
of wives, there is really but one legal wife acknowledged as being the
head of the house. She is called the kit-fat, or first wife, and
though she may be childless all the children born of the other "wives"
are considered as being hers, and to her alone do the children pay the
reverence due to a parent, their own mothers being considered as being
in the position of aunts. Strange though it may appear to Western
ideas, this position seems to be accepted by the associated wives with
equanimity. The custom probably originated in the acknowledged
necessity to have a son or sons to carry on the worship at the family
ancestral hall, where the tablets of deceased members are preserved.
Sometimes instead of taking to himself a plurality of wives a man
adopts a son, who is thenceforth in the position of eldest son, and
cannot be displaced, even though a wife should afterwards bear a son.
A daughter is on a different plane. She is not supposed to be capable
of carrying out the family worship, and cannot perpetuate the family
name. A daughter, too, means a dower in days to come, so sometimes a
father determines, if he has already a daughter, that no more shall be
permitted to live. This determination is always taken before the birth
of the infant daughter, the child in that case being immersed in a
bucket of water at the instant of its birth, so that from the Chinese
point of view it has never existed; but female children who have
practically begun a separate existence are never destroyed. In such
cases the father is quite as fond of the daughter as of the sons, and
in families where tutors are engaged the girls pursue their studies
with their brothers.


The power of the parents is practically unlimited, extending even to
life or death. A mother might kill her son without fear of legal
punishment, but if, in defending himself, he killed his parent, he
would be put to death by the lin-chi--or death by a thousand cuts--a
horrible punishment reserved for traitors, parricides, or husband
murderers. Indeed, while theoretically the woman is in China
considered inferior, the kit-fat, or principal wife, is really the
controller of the family, including the wives of her sons. She rules
the household with a rod of iron, and has considerable, if not a
paramount, influence in the conduct of the family affairs. The wife of
an official is entitled to wear the ornaments and insignia of her
husband's rank, and in the Imperial Palace the Dowager-Empress of the
day is probably the most important personage in the empire after the


In a Hong Kong paper a short time ago there appeared a paragraph
reciting that a wealthy young Chinese, whose mother controlled a large
business in Canton, had been spending the money of the firm too
lavishly, the attraction of motor-cars and other vehicles of
extravagance being too powerful for him. After various endeavours to
control him, the mother at length prepared chains and fetters, and had
him locked up. He, however, escaped, and the irate mother announced
her intention to exercise her maternal rights on his return by cutting
the tendons of his ankles and thus crippling him. The account
proceeded to say that this treatment is often resorted to by irate
parents with prodigal sons.

The most incomprehensible custom among Chinese women of family is that
of foot-binding, which is generally begun at the age of three or four,
the process being very slow. Gradually the toes, other than the great
toe, are forced back under the sole, so that when the operation is
complete the girl is only able to hobble about on the great toes. When
a Chinese lady goes out, not using her sedan chair, she is either
carried by a female slave pick-a-back, or walks supported on either
side by two female attendants. Nevertheless, Chinese women of the
humbler classes are sometimes to be seen working in the fields with
bound feet. Why their mothers should have inflicted the torture upon
them, or why, when they had come to years of discretion, they did not
attempt to gradually unbind their feet, seems incomprehensible. The
explanation is that not alone would the unbinding inflict as much
torture, but slaves and their descendants are not permitted to bind
the feet; the deformity is therefore a badge of a free and reputable
family, and a girl with bound feet has a better prospect of being well
married than her more comfortable and capable sister, upon whom no
burden of artificial deformity has been placed. The origin of the
custom is lost in the mists of antiquity. One would imagine that the
example of the Imperial family ought to have had an effect in changing
it, for the Manchu ladies do not bind their feet; but though several
edicts have been issued forbidding it, the custom still continues. To
Western eyes, bound feet are as great a deformity as is the
tight-lacing of European ladies to the Chinese; but physically the
former is much less injurious than the latter, which not alone deforms
the skeleton, but displaces almost every one of the internal organs.



The marriages are arranged in a somewhat similar manner to that of the
Irish peasants. The negotiations are usually begun by a go-between
instructed by the young man's family, the etiquette of the entire
proceeding being rigidly adhered to. There is one insurmountable
objection to unrestricted choice--the bridegroom and bride must not
bear the same name, except in the province of Honan, where the
prohibition is disregarded. The extent of this restriction will be
realized when we remember that among the four hundred millions of
Chinese there are not much over a hundred family names. There may be
four millions of Wongs, but no man of that name may marry any one of
the four millions. As marriage is the principal event of a Chinese
woman's life, she has crowded into it as much gorgeous ceremonial as
the circumstances of her parents will allow. The day before she
leaves her ancestral home her trousseau and presents are forwarded to
her new home. At the wedding of a daughter of a wealthy gentleman in
Canton a few years ago, seven hundred coolies were engaged in
transporting in procession all these belongings, some of the presents
being of great beauty and value. The next day the bridegroom arrived
with his procession of two hundred men--some on horseback, some armed
and in military array--trays of sweetmeats, and numbers of children
representing good fairies. The inevitable red lanterns, with a band,
led the procession, which was brought up by a dragon thirty feet long,
the legs being supplied by boys, who carried their portion on sticks,
and jumping up and down gave life and motion to the monster.

The bridal chair in which the bride was carried was elaborately carved
and decorated. Its colour was red, picked out with blue feathers of
the kingfisher carefully gummed on, which has the effect of enamel. On
arrival at her new home, the bride was met with the usual ceremonies,
and was carried over the threshold on which was a fire lighted in a
pan, lest she should by any chance be accompanied by evil influences.

This carrying of the bride over the threshold is sometimes practised
in the Highlands of Scotland, the ceremony having been observed when
Her Royal Highness Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, first entered
Inveraray Castle as a bride.

The day after the wedding it is the custom for the bride to cook her
husband's rice, the fire being made from wood, which forms part of her
trousseau, as she is supposed to bring everything necessary for the
purpose to her new home. At a wedding at Macao not long ago, on
proceeding to perform the usual ceremony, it was found to the
consternation of the bride that no firewood had been sent. Her
mother-in-law good-naturedly offered to give her the wood, but this
the proud bride would by no means permit. Calling her amah, she
directed her to fetch two rolls of silk, each worth about forty
dollars, and with them she cooked the rice. When next her father came
to see her she told him of the occurrence. He said, "You did right, my
daughter; you have saved your father's face"; and on his return he
promptly dispatched a hundred coolies laden with firewood, which was
more than the bridegroom's house could hold.

  [Illustration: A STUDENT.]

The ceremony of the "teasing of the bride" is sometimes trying for
her, but in good families propriety is rarely outraged. Here is an
account of such a ceremony which took place in the house of one of our
friends the day after her marriage. The ladies' dinner was over when
we arrived; the gentlemen had not yet come up from their dinner at
the restaurant. This evening the bride had gone round the tables
pouring out samshu, a ceremony that her mother-in-law had performed on
the previous evening. The bride came into the room wearing a gorgeous
and elaborate costume of red, the long ribbon-like arrangements over
her skirt, huge open-work collar of red and gold, and the bridal crown
on her head. The veil of pearls was looped back from her face, and she
looked arch and smiling. It was quite a relief to see her after the
shrinking, downcast girl of the previous evening. When the gentlemen
came the "teasing" of the bride began. She was given various puzzles
to solve, two or three of which she undid very deftly. An intricate
Japanese puzzle was produced, but the mother-in-law would not allow it
to be given to the bride to solve, as she said it was too difficult.
The bridegroom came in, and the gentlemen present demanded that he and
the bride should walk round the room together, which they did, and
were then made to repeat the peregrination. There was a demand that
the pearl veil, which had been let down, should be hooked back that
all present might see her face. This was done. Then a sort of poetic
category was put to her, a gentleman of the family standing near to
judge if she answered correctly. The bride was told to ask her husband
to take her hand; to ask him what he had gained in marrying her, and
so on. The bride had to go round the room saluting and offering tea
to the various gentlemen. To one or two relatives she kotowed, and one
or two kotowed to her. This, of course, was a question of seniority.
Some of the questions and remarks made on the bride must have been
trying and unpleasant to any young lady, but being in Chinese they
were incomprehensible to us. The idea of the custom is to test the
temper, character, and cleverness of the bride.


In the case of people of the lower orders, the ceremony must be more
than unpleasant, as there is sometimes rough horseplay, the
unfortunate bride being insulted, and now and again pinched severely.
But she must show no display of temper or resentment at the rough
process, as it would be taken as an indication that she did not
possess the qualification of non-resisting submission to her husband.

Each family possesses an ancestral "hall," where are kept the tablets
of every defunct member of the family, before which incense sticks are
burnt daily, and where once or twice a year all the members of the
family within reach attend to lay offerings before the tablets in a
spirit of reverence. Should a man disgrace his family he is often
repudiated as a member, and at his death no tablet will be placed for
him in the ancestral hall. The consequence is that his descendants
cannot present themselves for the competitive examinations upon which
all official position depends.

The family lands are apportioned annually, and from one particular
portion the contribution must be paid towards the expenses of the
local temple, including the theatrical performances that cost
considerable sums. This portion of the family land is cultivated by
each member of the family in turn. If the tenant be a Christian he
declines to pay the money for purposes to which he claims to have a
conscientious objection. Increased expense therefore falls upon the
other members of the family, who feel that the secession has placed an
additional burden upon them. The result is a feeling of antagonism to
Christianity; otherwise religious intolerance is not characteristic of
the Chinese.

The official hierarchy in China is peculiarly constituted. China is,
like all democracies, intensely autocratic, and, within certain
bounds, each official is a law unto himself. To become an official is
therefore the ambition of every clever boy. At the triennial
examinations held in the capitals of provinces, from 150,000 to
200,000 candidates present themselves, who have passed successfully
preliminary competitive examinations held annually at various places.
To compete in these examinations a certificate must be produced by the
candidate that he is a member of a known family. If unsuccessful, he
may go on competing at every triennial examination held during his
life. Here we see the importance of family tablets in the ancestral
hall. No barber, or actor, or member of the boat population may

At Canton, and also at Nanking and other great cities, may be seen the
examination halls and the rows of cells in which the candidates--after
being rigidly searched to ensure that no scrap of paper or writing is
retained that could assist them in the tremendous pending effort of
memory--are strictly confined during the time that the examinations
last. In Canton there are over eleven thousand; in Nanking there are
many more. The lean-to cells are built in rows, and measure three feet
eight inches in width by five feet nine inches in length, being six
feet high in front and nine feet in the back. From this cell the
candidate may not stir, except as an acknowledgment of failure, and
many die during the trial. At Nanking during an examination an average
of twenty-five deaths occurred daily.

Those who win the prizes are at once appointed to office, and are
received at their homes with great honour. Of those who have passed
lower down, some are allocated to different provinces, where they
remain in waiting at the expense of the viceroy until some situation
becomes vacant. Once appointed they are eligible for promotion to the
position of prefect or taotai, or governor, or even viceroy. In all
these promotions money plays no inconsiderable part, and a wealthy man
may purchase mandarin's rank without the drudgery of examination, as
is not unknown in countries that boast of more advanced civilization.
In some cases, if a boy shows great intelligence and aptitude for
learning, a syndicate is formed by his family, and no expense is
spared upon his education. Should he be successful and attain a
position of importance, his family rise with him in wealth and
influence, and the syndicate turns out a productive speculation. The
whole system of examination is one of cramming, which, with
competitive examinations, was adopted by England from the Chinese.


The Chinaman who has passed the examination and received what we
colloquially term his B.A. degree, even though he obtains no official
employment, holds himself above all manual labour, and however poor he
may be he belongs thereafter to the body of _literati_ known as the
gentry, who are consulted on all matters affecting the district in
which they reside. It is not easy to know how they live, but the
Chinese, like all Easterns, have a great respect for men of letters,
and have not yet become so civilized as to abandon higher ideals for
the degrading worship of wealth. There is probably found for such men
suitable employment in their localities that works into the social
economy. There are, of course, among them some lazy ones who, for want
of regular work, abandon themselves to the solace of opium-smoking;
but the class is a valuable leaven in the mass of the population.

The viceroy of a province is really semi-independent. His nominal
salary in a province of possibly sixty millions of inhabitants is
£1000 or £2000 a year, out of which he must supply an army, possibly a
navy, internal customs, and civil service.

The taxes are very much at his discretion, with the exception of the
settled duty paid by the cultivators on seed corn, that being the way
in which the land tax is levied. That paid, the small cultivator is
practically free from official interference, and such a man in China
if quiet and honest is as free as any man of his position elsewhere.

This method of levying a land tax is most ingenious, and has existed
from time immemorial. The land is taxed, not proportionate to its
area, but to its productive capacity. Of two plots of equal area one
may produce a return from two bushels, while the other being poorer
soil will require wider sowing and take but one bushel. All seed must
be procured through the official, who levies an equal rate upon it.
The same idea governs the computation of distance. A road to the top
of a hill may be counted and carriage paid for ten li, the return
down hill being measured as five or six, it being assumed that the
muscular exertion and time are in both cases being paid for at the
same rate.

There are, besides the seed tax, likin, or internal customs, levied on
transport of all commodities between districts, and various imposts
upon traders. When a man has amassed any wealth he is bled pretty
freely. Should a loan be requested it could only be refused at a risk
that he would not care to face, and any idea of its repayment is out
of the question. But should the demands exceed the bounds of custom
there is a check. The people of all classes know pretty well how far
the cord may be drawn before it breaks. Should the demands be
excessive the people put up their shutters, refusing to do any
business, and memorial the Throne. Should such a state of affairs
continue for any time even a viceroy would be recalled. Such a state
of affairs existed a few years ago in Canton over a proposal to
collect a new tax. The people resisted, and at length the viceroy

The principles on which the viceroy acts are adopted in a lesser
degree by all officials, but the people seem to understand the custom
and accept it, and in the ordinary business of life justice is on the
whole administered satisfactorily.

  [Illustration: SAMPANS.]

There are, of course, exceptions. In the province of Kwangtung the
house of a well-to-do man living in the country was attacked by a
numerous band of armed robbers. The owner stoutly defended his house
and having killed three of the assailants the robbers decamped. But
this was not the end of it, for the indignant robbers lodged a
complaint with the magistrate, who summoned the owner of the assailed
house to appear, which he did with fear and trembling. He was obliged
to pay a hundred and fifty dollars before he was admitted to the
presence of the magistrate, who, instead of commending him for his
bravery, scolded him roundly, and ordered him to pay the funeral
expenses of the three dead robbers. The system of payments to
everybody connected with the court, from the judge downwards, would
appear to be destructive of every principle of justice; but a highly
educated Chinese official, who held the degree of a Scotch university
and who had experience of the colony of Hong Kong, when speaking on
the subject, declared that he would rather have a case tried in a
Chinese court than in a British, for while he knew what he would pay
in the first, in the colonial court the lawyers would not let him off
while he had a dollar to spend.

When the territory of Kowloon was leased from China and added to the
colony of Hong Kong (after some armed resistance by the inhabitants,
who had been led to believe that with the change of the flag terrible
things would happen to them), local courts were established giving
summary jurisdiction to their head-men sitting with a British
magistrate, but a proviso was inserted that no lawyer or solicitor
should practise in these courts. The result was peaceful settlement of
disputes, generally by the arbitration of the British magistrate, at
the joint request of both parties to the dispute.

The punishments inflicted in Chinese courts are severe, and sometimes
very terrible. The ordinary punishment for minor offences is the
cangue and the bastinado. The cangue is a three-inch board about three
feet square, with a hole in the centre for the neck. When this is
padlocked on the neck of the culprit he is placed outside the door of
the court, with his offence written upon the cangue, or is sometimes
allowed to walk through the town. In this position he cannot feed
himself, as his hands cannot reach his head, nor can he lie down or
rest in comfort. Sometimes the hands are fastened to the cangue. The
punishment is more severe than that of our old parish stocks, but the
idea is the same. Were it in the power of a troublesome fly to
irritate a Chinaman, which it is not, he might suffer grave discomfort
if the insects were active.


The bastinado is a different matter. This is administered by placing
the prisoner on his face, his feet being held by one man and his head
by another. The blows are inflicted with a large bamboo or with two
small ones. The large bamboo looks more formidable, but though the
strokes are heavy they break no bones, and do but little injury. The
small bamboos are used in a different manner. Taking one in each hand,
the operator sits down and strikes the culprit rapidly with alternate
strokes, apparently mere taps. These are hardly felt for the first
fifty or sixty taps, and the skin is not broken; but after this phase
the flesh below the skin becomes regularly broken up, and the agony is
very great. The recovery from this severe punishment is slow, as the
tissues are destroyed for the time being.

These are, however, the light punishments; torture for the purpose of
extracting evidence is still inflicted, and in pursuance of a custom
that down to a late period had acquired the force of a law, that no
person should be executed except he had confessed his crime, the
palpable difficulty of that apparently beneficent rule was surmounted
by the administration of torture, until the victim was reduced to such
a state of mutilation and despair that he was prepared to state
anything that would secure for him relief from his sufferings by a
speedy death. It must be acknowledged that the pressure of the torture
has now and again secured valuable evidence from unwilling witnesses
that may have been capable of independent proof, but as a rule such
evidence was utterly untrustworthy.

The following story was told to me by a Chinese gentleman who had
personal knowledge of some of the persons concerned.

A son and daughter of two wealthy families were married. At the
conclusion of the first evening's ceremonies the bride and bridegroom
retired to their apartments, which were separated from the main house.
Some time after they had retired, hearing a noise overhead, the
bridegroom got up and putting on his red bridal dress he lit a candle
and went up to the loft. Here he found a robber, who had entered
through a hole in the roof, and who, seeing himself detected, after a
short struggle plunged a knife into the bridegroom and killed him. He
then assumed the bridegroom's dress, and taking the candle in his hand
he boldly went down to the chamber where the bride awaited the return
of her husband. As Chinese brides do not see their husbands before
marriage, and as she was somewhat agitated, she did not perceive that
the robber was not her newly married spouse. He told her that he had
found that a robber had entered the house, but had made his escape on
his appearance. He then said that as there were robbers the bride had
better hand her jewels to him, and he would take them to his father's
apartments and place them in the safe. This she did, handing over
jewels to the value of several thousand taels. The robber walked out,
and he and the jewels disappeared.


Early next morning the father of the bridegroom came to visit his son,
and on entering the apartment was told by the bride that she had not
seen her husband since he took the jewels to have them deposited in
safe keeping. The father on hearing the story went up to the loft,
where he found the dead body of his son. He searched about and in one
of the courtyards outside he found a strange shoe.

For the wedding a number of the friends of the family had assembled
who were, as usual, accommodated in the house. Among them was a young
man, a B.A., and most respectably connected. The father taking the
strange shoe went round all the guests, who had just arisen. On
comparing the shoe he found that it belonged to the young B.A., who
was wearing its fellow, the other shoe being that of his murdered son.
The father was a cautious man, so instead of taking immediate action
he returned to the young widow and questioned her closely. He asked if
she could identify the man whom she had mistaken for her husband. She
said that she could not. He begged her to think if there was any mark
by which identification was possible, and after thinking for a time
she answered "Yes," that she now remembered having remarked that he
had lost a thumb. The father returned to the guest chamber and asked
the B.A. for explanation of his wearing the son's shoe, for which he
accounted by the statement that having occasion to go out during the
night he had stumbled in crossing one of the courtyards and lost his
shoe in the dark, and groping about had found and put on what he
thought was his own. Upon examining his hands he was found to be minus
a thumb. The father having no further doubt caused him to be forthwith
arrested and taken before the prefect. The young man denied all
knowledge of the murder, saying that he had a wife and child, was well
off, and was a friend of the murdered bridegroom. He was put to the
torture and under its pressure he confessed that he was the murderer.
The body had been examined and the extent of the wound carefully
measured and noted. Asked to say how he had disposed of the knife with
which the murder had been committed, and what had become of the
jewels, he professed his inability to say, though tortured to the last
extremity. He was then beheaded. His uncle, however, and his widow
would not believe in his guilt, and they presented to all the superior
authorities in turn petitions against the action of the prefect, who
ought not to have ordered the execution until corroborative proof of
the confession had been secured by the production of the knife and
the jewels, but the officials refused to listen to them. At length
they appealed to the viceroy, who, seeing their persistence, concluded
that there must be something in a belief that braved the gravest
punishment by petitioning against a mandarin of prefect rank. He sent
for the father and widow of the murdered man, who repeated the story,
which seemed almost conclusive evidence of the young man's guilt. He
asked the widow if she remembered from which hand the thumb was
missing of the robber to whom she had given the jewels. She replied,
"Yes, perfectly. It was the right." He then sent for the petitioning
widow and asked her from which hand her husband had lost a thumb. She
answered, "The left." Then recalling the father of the murdered man he
bade him try to recollect if he had ever known any other man wanting a
thumb. He said that there was such a man, a servant of his whom two
years before he had dismissed for misconduct. Asked if he had noticed
the dismissed man during the time of the wedding the answer was that
he had, but he had not seen him since.


The viceroy then had inquiry made, and the man was traced to another
province, where he was living in affluence, with a good shop, etc. He
was arrested, and under torture confessed the crime and told where he
had concealed the knife and disposed of the jewels. The knife had a
wide blade that coincided with the width of the wound, and a portion
of the jewels were recovered, some having been pawned, some sold. The
prefect was degraded and punished for culpable want of due care in
having executed the man without securing complete proof by the
production of the knife and the jewels.

The case is curious as showing the danger that lurks in all cases of
circumstantial evidence, and also, from a purely utilitarian point of
view, the failure and success of the system of torture. It will always
be to me a source of deep gratification that during my administration
of the government of Hong Kong, in the case of two murderers
surrendered from that colony and convicted after a fair trial and on
reliable evidence, I induced the then viceroy to break through the
immemorial custom, and have the criminals executed without the
previous application of torture, though they refused to confess to the
last. The precedent once made, this survival of barbarous times will
no longer operate in cases of culprits surrendered from under the
folds of the Union Jack, and awakening China may, I hope, in such
matters of criminal practice soon find herself in line with the other
civilized nations of the world, to the relief of cruel injustice and
much human suffering.

  [Illustration: CHOPSTICKS.]



In China the gradations of the social fabric as generally accepted are

     First.--The _literati_; for mind is superior to matter.

     Second.--The agriculturist; for he produces from the soil.

     Third.--The artisan; for he is a creator from the raw

     Fourth.--The merchant; for he is a distributor.

     Fifth.--The soldier; for he is but a destroyer.

However superficially logical this division is, the Chinese have
failed to realize that the army is an insurance and protection,
wanting which all other classes may be destroyed; but the fallacy has
had an unfortunate influence upon China, for until within a few years
the various so-called armies were simply hordes of undisciplined men,
whose officers were, as I have before said, sometimes robbers
reprieved on account of supposed courage and given command of
so-called soldiers. But this is now changed, and such armies as those
of Yuan Shi Kai and Chang Chi Tung (viceroy at Hankow) are well
disciplined and officered. This viceroy adopted an effective method of
combating the contempt with which the army was regarded by the
_literati_. He established a naval and agricultural college, and
colleges for the teaching of geography, history, and mathematics, and
formed all the students into a cadet corps. When I was in Hankow the
viceroy invited me to see his army of eight thousand men, who were
then on manoeuvres in the neighbourhood, and on my arrival I was
received by a guard of honour of one hundred of these cadets, whose
smart turn-out and soldierly appearance impressed me very favourably.
They were well clothed and well armed, as indeed were all the troops,
whom I had an opportunity of inspecting during the manoeuvres under
the guidance of a German captain in the viceroy's service, who was
told off to accompany me. I have no doubt that many of those cadets
are now officers, and will tend to raise the character of the army.

The importance of agriculture is emphasized by the annual ceremony of
ploughing three furrows by the Emperor at the Temple of Agriculture in
the presence of all the princes and high officials of Peking. Furrows
are afterwards ploughed by the princes and the high officers of the
Crown. Agriculture is the business of probably nine-tenths of the
population, and in no country in the world is the fertility of the
soil preserved more thoroughly. In the portions of China visited by me
no idle land was to be seen, but everywhere the country smiled with
great fields of grain or rape or vegetables, alternating with
pollarded mulberry trees in the silk-producing districts, while
extensive tracts of the beautiful pink or white lotuses are grown, the
seeds of which as well as the tuberous roots are used for food and the
large leaves for wrappers. Nothing in the shape of manure is lost in
city, town, or village; everything goes at once back to the fields,
and nowhere in China is a river polluted by the wasted wealth of city
sewers. On the banks of the canals the cultivators even dredge up the
mud and distribute it over their fields by various ingenious devices.

The rural population is arranged in village communities, each village
having its own head-man and elders, to whom great respect is shown.
Sometimes there is a feud between two villages over disputed
boundaries or smaller matters, in which case, if the elders cannot
arrange matters, the quarrel may develop into a fight in which many
lives are lost. Nobody interferes and the matter is settled _vi et


But this absence of local government control has its drawbacks; for
as sugar attracts ants, so unprotected wealth attracts robbers, and
gang robberies are frequent, generally by armed men, who do not
hesitate to add murder to robbery. Nor are these attacks confined to
distant rural districts. Only a few months ago an attack was made upon
a strongly built and fortified country house belonging to one of the
wealthiest silk merchants in Canton, who had specially designed and
built the house to resist attack, and had armed his retainers with
repeating rifles. Twenty-five boats, containing about three hundred
men, came up the river, and an attack was made at six p.m. that lasted
for seven hours. At length the fortified door was blown in by dynamite
and the house taken. Eighty thousand dollars' worth of valuables was
carried off, and the owner and his two sons were carried away for
ransom. Several of the retainers were killed and thirteen of the

The country people are very superstitious and dislike extremely any
building or work that overlooks the villages, as they say that it has
an unlucky effect upon their _fung sui_, a term that means literally
wind and water, but may be translated freely as elemental forces. This
superstitious feeling sometimes creates difficulty with engineers and
others laying out railways or other works. The feeling is kept alive
by the geomancers, whose mysterious business it is to discover and
point out lucky positions for family graves, a body of an important
person sometimes remaining unburied for years pending definite advice
from the geomancer as to the best position for the grave, which is
always made on a hill-side. They also arrange the lucky days for
marriages, etc. When the telegraph was being laid between Hong Kong
and Canton, the villagers at one point protested loudly against the
erection of a pole in a particular position, as they were informed
that it would interfere with the _fung sui_ of the village. The
engineer in charge, who fortunately knew his Chinese, did not attempt
to oppose them; but taking out his binoculars he looked closely at the
ground and said, "You are right; I am glad the geomancer pointed that
out. It is not a favourable place." Then again apparently using the
glasses, he examined long and carefully various points at which he had
no intention of placing the pole. At length he came to a spot about
twenty yards away, which suited him as well as the first, when after a
lengthened examination he said, with an audible sigh of deep relief,
"I am glad to find that this place is all right," and the pole was
erected without further objection.

While gang robberies are frequent, there is not much petty theft, as
in small towns the people appoint a local policeman, who is employed
under a guarantee that if anything is stolen he pays the damage. In
small matters this is effective.


The necessity for making villages secure against ordinary attack is
palpable, and many villages in country districts are surrounded by
high walls that secure them from such attack. In some, guns of ancient
pattern are mounted on the walls.

The prosperity of a town is shown by the number of pawnshops, which
are always high towers solidly built and strongly fortified. The
Chinese pawnshop differs from those of Western nations, as it is not
merely a place for the advance of money upon goods deposited, but also
the receptacle for all spare valuables. Few Chinese keep their winter
clothing at home during summer, or vice versa. When the season changes
the appropriate clothing is released, and that to be put by pawned in
its place. This arrangement secures safe keeping, and if any balance
remains in hand it is turned over commercially before the recurring
season demands its use for the release of the pawned attire. Sometimes
very valuable pieces of jewellery or porcelain remain on the hands of
the pawnshop keeper, and interesting objects may from time to time be
procurable from his store.

Next to agriculture in general importance is the fishing industry, in
which many millions of the population are engaged, the river boat
population forming a class apart, whose home is exclusively upon their
boats. To describe the variety of boats of all kinds found in Chinese
waters would require a volume. The tens of thousands of junks engaged
in the coasting trade and on the great rivers vary from five to five
hundred tons capacity, while every town upon ocean river or canal has
its house boats, flower boats, or floating restaurants and music
halls, passenger boats, fishing boats, trading boats, etc. On these
boats the family lives from the cradle to the grave, and while the
mother is working the infant may be seen sprawling about the boat, to
which it is attached by a strong cord, while a gourd is tied to its
back, so that if it goes overboard it may be kept afloat until
retrieved by the anchoring cord. In Hong Kong, where it is computed
that there are about thirty thousand boat people in the harbour, the
infant is strapped to the mother's back while she sculls the boat, the
child's head--unprotected in the blazing sun--wagging from side to
side until one wonders that it does not fly off.


The large junks, with their great high sterns and bold curves, and
with the setting sun glinting on their yellow sails of matting, are a
sight to stir the soul of an artist. Many of these carry guns, as the
dangers of gang robberies on shore are equalled by that of piracy on
sea or river, the West River having the most evil reputation in this
respect. The unwillingness of junks to carry lights at night, lest
their position should invite piratical attack, adds to the dangers of
collision, and necessitates extreme caution after sunset in navigating
the southern coasts of China. These junks convey all the cargo from
the coast and riverside towns to the treaty ports, through which all
trade between China and foreign nations is exchanged. The high square
stern affords accommodation for the crew, but no man dares to
desecrate the bow by sitting down there. On one occasion when we went
by canal to Hangchow we stopped at Haining to observe the incoming of
the great bore that at the vernal equinox sweeps up the river from the
bay, and affords one of the most striking sights in the world. While
preparing to measure the height of the wave by fixing a marked pole to
the bow of a junk lying high and dry alongside, which was most civilly
permitted by the junkowner, one of the gentlemen sat down on the bow,
upon which the junkowner tore him away in a fury of passion and made
violent signs to him to leave the ship. Our interpreter coming up at
the moment heard from the irate junkman what had occurred. He pointed
out that the bow was sacred to his guardian deity, and such an insult
as sitting down on the place where his incense sticks were daily burnt
was sure to bring bad luck, if not destruction. Explanations and
apologies on the score of ignorance followed, and a coin completed the
reconciliation. The origin of touching the cap to the quarter-deck on
our ships originated in the same idea, the crucifix being carried at
the stem in the brave days of old.

  [Illustration: ON THE WAY TO MARKET.]

The great wave or bore that I have just mentioned formed about six
miles out in the bay, and we heard the roar and saw the advancing wall
of water ten minutes before it arrived. The curling wave in front was
about ten feet high and swept past at the rate of fourteen miles an
hour, but the vast mass of swirling sea that rose behind the advancing
wall was a sight more grand than the rapids above Niagara. I measured
accurately its velocity and height. In one minute the tide rose nine
feet nine inches on the sea wall that runs northward from Haining for
a hundred miles. It is seventeen feet high, splendidly built with cut
stone, and with the heavy stones on top (four feet by one foot)
dovetailed to each other by iron clamps, similar to those I afterwards
saw at the end of the great wall of China, where it abuts on the sea
at Shan-hai-kwan.


If the land is thoroughly cultivated the same may be said of the
waters, for in sea, river, lake, or pond, wherever water rests or
flows, there is no device that ingenuity can conceive that is not used
for the capture of fish, which enters largely into the food of the
people; and no cultivation is more intensive than pisciculture, a
fishpond being more valuable than ten times its area of cultivated
land. Sometimes the pond belongs to a village, and nothing comes amiss
that may serve to feed the fish, from the grass round the borders of
the pond to the droppings of the silkworms in silk-producing
districts. In such cases the village latrine is generally built over
the pond; it may, therefore, be understood that Europeans generally
eschew the coarse pond fish and prefer fresh or salt sea fish. These
pond fish grow very rapidly, and are taken by nets of all shapes and
sizes. Sometimes a net forty feet square is suspended from bamboo
shears and worked by ropes and pulleys, the net being lowered and
after a short time, during which fish may be driven towards it, slowly
raised, the fish remaining in the net, the edges of which leave the
waters first. In ponds of large area forty or fifty men may be seen,
each with a net twelve to fifteen feet square suspended from a bamboo
pole, all fishing at the same time. The entire pond is gone over, and
as the fish are kept on the move large numbers are thus taken. They
are then if near a river placed in well boats and sent alive to
market. During the summer months the bays around the coast are covered
by thousands of these large square nets. A net sometimes eighty feet
square is fastened at each corner to poles, long in proportion to the
depth of the water, the other ends of which are anchored by heavy
weights. The men who work the nets live in a hut built upon long poles
similarly weighted, and securely stayed by cables anchored at the four
cardinal points of the compass. From the hut platform the net is
manipulated by a bridle rope worked by a windlass. When the net is
raised the fish fall into a purse in the centre, from which they are
removed by men who row under the now suspended net and allow the fish
to drop from the purse into the boat. These nets are set up sometimes
in nine to ten fathoms. I have never seen them used in any other bays
than those on the coast of China, where, it may be observed
incidentally, there is hardly any perceptible growth of seaweed, and
one never perceives the smell of the sea or feels the smack of salt
upon the lips, as we do on our coasts.


I have said that the devices for the capture of fish are endless, from
the large nets just described to the small fish trap set in every
trench or gap through which water flows. But they do not end here, for
about Ichang, on the Yangtze, otters are trained to drive fish into
the nets; and on the lakes and canals a not unusual sight is a boat or
raft with eight cormorants, who at the word of command go overboard
and dive in pursuit of the fish. Sometimes the bird is recalcitrant,
but a few smart strokes on the water close beside it with a long
bamboo sends the bird under at once. When a fish is caught and
swallowed the cormorant is taken on board and being held over a basket
the lower mandible is drawn down, when out pops the fish uninjured,
the cormorant being prevented from swallowing its prey by a cord tied
round the lower part of the neck.

But the most curious device for the capture of fish is practised on
the Pearl and West Rivers, where one sees poor lepers seated in the
stern of a long narrow canoe along the side of which is a hinged board
painted white. This they turn over the side at an angle during the
night, and the fish jumping on to it are dexterously jerked into the
boat. In the Norwegian fjords, baskets are sometimes hung or nets
fastened under the splashes of whitewash marking the position of rings
let into the rocky cliff where the yachts may tie up in an adverse
wind. The fish jumping at the white mark, which possibly they mistake
for a waterfall, are caught in the net or basket suspended below.


The boat population of the inland waters are liable to the same
dangers from armed robbery as are their brothers on land, for the
river pirates are a constant source of trouble. Even the large river
steamers of the American pattern plying on the West River under the
command of European officers are not always safe, though great
precautions are taken, as the robbers sometimes embark as passengers
if they know of any specie or valuables being on board, and at a
given point produce revolvers and hold up the captain and crew,
carrying off their booty in a confederate boat. On this account
launches are not permitted to tow lighters with passengers alongside
lest they should step on board, and in all large steamers the lower
deck used by Chinese is separated from the upper by a companion-way
with iron railings and locked door, or with an armed sentry standing
beside it. About six years ago two stern-wheel passenger boats left
Hong Kong for the West River one evening, to enter which the course
was usedly laid north of Lintin, an island in the estuary of the Pearl
River. The leading boat number one for some reason took a course to
the south of Lintin, whereupon the captain of number two came to the
conclusion that she was being pirated, so changing his course and
blowing his whistle loudly he pressed on with a full head of steam and
opened fire upon number one with rifles. Number one returned the fire,
assuming that number two had been pirated and was attacking him. He
steered back to Hong Kong and made a running fight, a hot fire being
maintained until the boats had actually entered the harbour, when they
were met by a police launch and the mistake was discovered. Over three
hundred shots were fired, but happily nobody was hit. It is not a year
since a train of seven or eight house-boats, full of passengers and
towed by a steam launch that plies between Hangchow and Suchow on the
Grand Canal, was held up by river pirates, who rifled the train as
American trains are now and again held up in the Western States of
America. These evidences of lawlessness are only the natural
consequences of the neglect of the primary duty of a government to
make effective police arrangements for the due protection of life and
property, for Chinese under proper control are naturally law-abiding
and peaceable. The Chinese system does not contemplate any police
arrangements outside the principal cities. The small village
communities arrange their own police, but there is no official means
of combating the more serious offences short of a military expedition.
The salutary principle of prevention is ignored and the fitful efforts
of government devoted to punishment. This system doubtless acts as a
deterrent when the punishment follows the crime so frequently as to
impress upon evildoers the sense of its probability. Therefore it is
that a strong viceroy makes a quiet province. When pointing out to Li
Hung Chang the advisability of controlling a town well known as a
headquarters of pirates, his Excellency answered quietly, "We will
exterminate them." He ruled the province of the two Kwangs with a rod
of iron, and left Canton to the profound regret of every man who had
property exposed to attack.


Li Hung Chang was the most able of the many able officials of China.
He was supposed to have had strong Russian sympathies, but had he been
in Tientsin or Peking instead of Canton when the Boxer trouble was
brewing, it is probable that the dangerous conspiracy would never have
been allowed to come to a head. The viceroys at Nanking and Hankow
maintained peace in their provinces, though the "big knife" movement
had its origin in their districts, and Li Hung Chang was as strong a
man as either, or stronger. When he left Canton to try to reach Peking
it was too late, and the issue had been joined between the Chinese
Court and the foreign Powers. He would have done better had he
remained in the turbulent southern province that he had ruled so
sternly and efficiently. Dangerous as was the Boxer movement, it
showed clearly the want of cohesion between the different portions of
the Chinese empire. When the trouble broke out in the north, there
were a large number of Cantonese students at Tientsin College, whose
lives were as unsafe as if they were foreigners. Some Chinese
gentlemen waited upon me on the subject. They were in great distress,
as they had no means of getting their sons away. They begged me to
endeavour to get the young men sent down by the British Consul, and
undertook to pay any amount up to ten thousand dollars for the expense
of chartering a ship. I telegraphed, guaranteeing the amount, to the
British Consul, who kindly chartered a ship for the transit of the
young men. The bill of over nine thousand dollars was at once paid by
the Chinese gentlemen who had requested my good offices.

The fact is that between different provinces, speaking different
patois, there exists in many cases a settled antipathy that has been
handed down from the feuds and wars of bygone centuries. To this day
the junks from Swatow land their cargoes in Hong Kong at a wharf where
Swatow coolies are employed; did they land it at a wharf worked by
Cantonese, there would certainly be disorder, and possibly fighting,
before the discharge of the cargo.

The traveller in China is impressed with the vastness of its extent,
the fertility of its various countries, the grandeur of its rivers,
the beauty and boldness of its bridges, the strength of its city
walls, the contrast of wealth and squalor in the cities, the untiring
industry of the people. A more detailed knowledge compels admiration
for their proficiency in arts and crafts.

  [Illustration: A GRANDFATHER.]

A journey up the West River leads through the gorges, which gives one
an idea of the teeming life of the Chinese water world. The West River
is, next to the Yangtze, the one most often coming under the notice of
foreigners, for the river is the principal scene of piratical attacks.
Indeed, no native boat known to have valuable property on board was,
some years ago, safe from attack if it did not pay blackmail, and
carry a small flag indicating that it had done so. Perhaps the most
curious craft on the river is the stern-wheel boats, worked by man
power. Sixteen coolies work the wheel after the manner of a treadmill,
four more standing by as a relief. The work is very hard, and coolies
engaged in this occupation do not live long; but in China that is a
consideration that does not count, either with workman or master.
Rafts float slowly down the yellow waters of the broad river-rafts
three to four hundred yards long, with the "navigators" comfortably
encamped; great junks, with their most picturesque fan-shaped sails;
at every town a crowd of "slipper" boats, as sampans are called, which
have a movable hood over the forepart, under which passengers sit. At
Sam-shui, the principal station of the Imperial Customs in the river,
a dragon-boat shoots out with twelve men. In it are carried a large
red umbrella and a green flag, the umbrella being a symbol of honour,
while around the sides are painted the honorific titles of the owner
or person to whom it is dedicated. From here comes the matting made at
Taiking that is sold by retail at ten dollars for a roll of forty

Beyond Kwongli Island the gorges begin, through which the West River
debouches on the plains on its journey to the sea. From the island one
hundred and fifty acute sugar-loaf summits can be counted, and the
tortuous gorges wind past a succession of steep valleys that must have
been scored out when the mountain range was upheaved at a period of
very great torrential rains.

Above the gorges the old town of Sui-hing is rather featureless, but
is a landing-place for the Buddhist monasteries, built at various
elevations on the precipitous sides of seven masses of white marble
rising from the plain and called the Seven Stars. These old
monasteries here and elsewhere are marvellously picturesque, perched
as they usually are in situations that can only be reached by steep
climbing. The temple is at the base of the cliff, and contains fine
bronze figures of Kunyam, the goddess of mercy, with two guardians in
bronze at her side. The figures are about ten feet high, and are
supposed to be over one thousand years old. There is also a bronze
bell said to be of still older date.

Through a great cave and up marble steps the marble temple is
approached in which is a seated figure of the Queen of Heaven. The
sculptured figure, like the temple itself, is hewn from the solid
rock, the statue of the Queen of Heaven being in a shrine close by an
opening through which the light strikes upon the well carved statue
and drapery of white marble with a fine effect. The country round the
Seven Stars is perfectly flat, and devoted to the growth of rice,
fish, and lotus plants. In a large pond beneath the temple a water
buffalo is feeding on the floating leaves of lilies, while its calf
calmly swims beside the mother, now and again resting its head upon
her quarter. One realizes how large a part the water buffalo plays in
Chinese economy, for without it the cultivation of rice would be
seriously curtailed. The buffalo ploughs the inundated field, wading
in the mud literally up to its belly, when no other animal could draw
the primitive plough through the deep mud. In the town of Sui-hing
excellent pewter work is made, and here also are fashioned various
articles from the white marble of the Seven Stars, the carving of
which shows excellent workmanship.


West of Sui-hing lies the city of Wuchow, where the Fu-ho River joins
the West River. Once a suspension bridge existed over the Fu-ho, and
two cast-iron pillars about nine feet high and twelve inches in
diameter are still standing, and have stood for several centuries. The
pillars have both been welded at about four feet from the ground. I do
not know if cast-iron can now be welded; if not, it is a lost art that
certainly was known to the Chinese.

Below Wuchow, on the right bank of the river, is a district that will
one day attract the big game sportsman. Here the tigers are so
plentiful and so dangerous that the inhabitants do not dare to leave
their homes after four or five o'clock in the afternoon. Farther down,
on the left bank, is one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in
China--Howlick--which accommodates about two hundred monks, and can
take in an equal number of guests, who at certain seasons retire to
the monastery for rest and reflection. It is situated about two miles
from the river at an elevation of fifteen hundred feet. Approached by
a steep pathway, at the entrance of which stand or sit two grey-robed
monks armed with spears so as to be able to repel bad characters, and
which as it approaches the monastery is formed into long flights of
steps, Howlick is built upon a terraced plateau in the midst of
primeval forest and close by a most picturesque gorge. The monastery
is the resort of a large number of pilgrims, and Buddhist services
take place daily in the temple, which, unlike most temples in China,
is perfectly clean and well appointed. When I visited it the service
was being intoned in strophe and antistrophe, the chanters at each
recurrent verse kneeling and touching the ground with their foreheads.
The only accompaniment was drums and gongs, the time being marked by
tapping a wooden drum of the Buddhist shape, but all was very subdued.
One monk played two or three gongs of different sizes, one being only
about six inches in diameter. The two long tables on which the books
of the readers were placed were loaded with cakes and fruit. The
fronts were hung with rich embroideries. Such a service is paid for by
the pilgrims, who receive the food placed upon the tables and
distribute it to their friends.

I had subsequently a long conversation with the abbot, who was most
kind and hospitable. He said the monks had their own ritual, and so
far as I could see Howlick is an independent community. In the
monastery were many shrines, at each of which was a regular sale of
sticks, beads, etc., in which a roaring trade was being done by the
monks. In the lower reception room was a number of women, who
purchased prayers written by a monk while they waited. For each prayer
they paid from sixty cents to a dollar.

The difference in the level of the West River in the wet and dry
seasons is about forty feet in its narrow parts. As the waters recede
a considerable amount of land is left on the banks available for
cultivation and enriched by the deposit from the heavily laden flood
waters. These river borders are not allowed to lie idle, for as the
river recedes they are carefully cultivated, and crops of vegetables
and mulberry leaves taken off before the next rising of the waters.
The river banks are then a scene of great activity. In the district
about Kumchuk, in which sericulture is a considerable industry, the
banks of the river are all planted with mulberry, which ratoons
annually and bears three crops of leaves, at each stripping six or
seven leaves being left at the top. The worms are fed at first on
finely shredded leaves, which have to be changed at least twice daily,
the minute young worms being removed to the fresh leaves with the end
of a feather. The worms begin to spin in thirty-seven days and
continue spinning for seven days. Along the river are many apparently
wealthy towns, some showing by a perfect forest of poles like masts
with inverted pyramids near the top that a large number of the
inhabitants had successfully passed the examinations and received
degrees, which entitled them to raise these poles as an honorific
distinction before their houses. All mandarins have two such poles
erected in front of their yamens.


The West River is at present the principal approach to the province
of Yunnan, from which province and from the western portions of
Kwangsi a large cattle trade is water-borne to Canton and Hong Kong.
From time to time these supplies are intercepted by the river pirates,
who sometimes meet their deserts. On one occasion the inhabitants of a
certain town, incensed at the murder of one of their people, turned
out _en masse_ and followed the piratical boat down the river, firing
upon her until every one of the robber gang was killed.




The West River sinks into insignificance when compared with the
Yangtze, the great river over which is carried the greater portion of
the commerce of China. From Wusung, the port of Shanghai, to
Hankow--six hundred miles inland--battleships can be navigated, and
some direct foreign trade is carried on by the cities upon its banks,
though Shanghai is the great centre of foreign trade for all the
Yangtze region. The history of the Yangtze is given annually by that
most complete and interesting epitome of statistical knowledge--the
returns of trade and trade reports by the various Commissioners of the
Imperial Maritime Customs. Here everything is dealt with that bears
upon the general condition of the country, and one can read at a
glance the causes of fluctuations in supply, demand, and prices. In
one report we read that production was interfered with by rebellion
following a drought. The insurgents, to the number of ten thousand,
had armed themselves with hollowed trees for guns, and jingals as well
as swords and spears. In the first encounters the insurgents got the
better of the Government "troops," who were probably of the ancient
type, but on the appearance of two thousand foreign drilled troops
they were dispersed. The hollowed trees that did duty for guns was a
device not uncommon in old China. The same substitute for cast-iron
was tried by the Philippine insurgents in the uprising against Spain;
but they had taken the precaution of adding iron rings. They had also
large numbers of wooden imitations of Snider rifles, beautifully made,
that must have looked formidable, so long as no pretence was made to
shoot. The jingal is still in common use in remote districts in China,
and was used against our troops in the slight engagements that took
place when, under agreement with the Imperial Chinese Government, we
proceeded to take over the leased territory of Kowloon. It is a
matchlock, the barrel being ten feet long and the bore one inch. In
the event of the spherical ball finding its billet, the wound would be
of no light matter; but the chances in favour of the target are many,
for the jingal requires three men for its manipulation, two of whom
act as supports for the barrel, which rests on their shoulders, while
the third primes the pan and manipulates the match. When the gun is
fired, and the crew of three recover from the shock, it is carried to
the rear for reloading, an operation that cannot be performed in a
hurry. In the event of a rapid retreat the jingal remains to become
the spoil of the captor. At short range, and used against a crowd, a
number of jingals would probably be effective, and would present a
formidable appearance; but the heroic days of short ranges, waving
flags, cheering masses, and flashing steel have passed, and the
trained soldier of to-day looks to his sights and to his cover.

  [Illustration: A SUMMER HOUSE.]


If one could follow the ramifications of our trade through the coast
ports and rivers and creeks of China, the various products of cotton
and velvets, woollen goods, copper, iron, tinned plates, cement, dyes,
machinery, oil, railway materials, pepper, sugar, and tea dust, with a
host of other things, what an immense mass of useful and interesting
information one would acquire. From the ship to the junk, from the
junk to the boat, from the boat to the wheelbarrow, or the mule, and,
lastly, to the toiling coolie, who alone can negotiate the dizzy paths
of the more remote villages, or the frail means of transport over the
raging torrents of the mountain districts. I have said that seaweed is
almost unknown on the Chinese coast, and, curiously enough, seaweed
is imported in considerable quantities, being used as a food, as in
Ireland. The rock seaweed (called dillisk) and carrageen moss are
used. For these imports are exchanged a long list of commodities,
including eggs, hides (cow and buffalo), skins of all animals (from
ass to weazel), silk, tea, tobacco, wood, sesamum, and opium, the
latter, mainly from the provinces of Shensi, Szechwan, and Yunnan,
being among the most important of the exports. I find on looking over
the annual returns of trade for the Yangtze ports for 1906, that the
imports of opium for the year amounted to sixty-two thousand one
hundred and sixty-one piculs, while the quantity exported amounted to
six hundred and forty-three thousand three hundred and seventy-seven
piculs. It would be interesting to know if the arrangement entered
into by the British Government, that the export of opium from India
shall diminish by one-tenth annually until it has ceased, is
reciprocal, in so far that not alone shall the exports of the drug
from China be diminished in the same proportion, but the area under
poppy cultivation be similarly controlled. If no such arrangement has
been made, China will have once more demonstrated her astuteness in
dealing with unconsidered outbursts of European sentiment. The
statements made from time to time by anti-opium enthusiasts have been
made in all sincerity, and generally with a desire to approach
accuracy as nearly as possible; but, nevertheless, they are merely
general statements, made under no authority of reliable statistics,
and not seldom unconsciously coloured by an intense desire to
emphasize an evil that they consider it impossible to exaggerate. But
while it would be extremely difficult to examine systematically into
the actual state of opium consumption and its effects upon the
population as regards moral degradation and physical deterioration in
any Chinese district, these inquiries have been made and reliable
statistics obtained in Hong Kong and Singapore, and calculations based
on the known consumption of opium in China have been made by competent
persons, the result being to show that the statements so loosely made
as to the destructive effects of opium-smoking in moderation are not
borne out on close examination. My own observation of the Chinese in
Hong Kong--a practically Chinese city where every man was free to
smoke as much opium as he could afford to purchase--tallies with the
conclusion of the exhaustive inquiries since undertaken by order of
the home Government. The mass of the Chinese population are very poor,
and can support themselves and their families only by incessant
labour. When the day's work is done, the coolie who indulges in
opium--a very small percentage of the whole--goes to an opium shop,
where, purchasing a small quantity of the drug, he retires to a bench
or couch, sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend, in which case they
lie down on either side of a small lamp and proceed to enjoy their
smoke, chatting the while. The pipe is a peculiar shape, looking
like an apple with a small hole scooped in it, and stuck on the
mouth orifice of a flute. Taking with a long pin looking like a
knitting-needle a small quantity (about the size of a pea) of the
viscous-prepared opium from the box in which it is sold, the
smoker roasts it over the flame of the small lamp until it is of a
consistency fit to be placed in the bowl of the pipe, on the outer
portion of which the pellet has been kneaded during the heating
process. Then placing the bowl to the flame, two or three deep whiffs
are taken and swallowed, which exhausts the pellet, when the bowl is
cleared out and the process repeated until a state of dreamy slumber
or complete torpor is reached, on awaking from which the smoker leaves
the place.



When one remembers the exhausting nature of coolies' work in a seaport
town it is clear that if opium were smoked to excess the results would
be apparent in opium-sodden loafers and beggars; but the contrary is
the case, for in no town on earth is the population more efficient and

A valuable report has lately been issued by the Commission appointed
by the governor, to whom the following questions were referred.

(1) The extent to which excessive indulgence in the smoking of opium
prevails in the Straits Settlements.

(2) Whether the smoking of opium

     (a) in moderation
     (b) in excess

has increased in the said Settlements.

(3) The steps that should be taken ... to eradicate the evils arising
from the smoking of opium in the said Settlements.

The Commission included a bishop, three members of the Legislative
Council, including the Chinese member, and three independent
gentlemen. They examined seventy-five witnesses, including every class
in the population, twenty-one of whom were nominated by the anti-opium
societies, and presented a report of three hundred and forty-three
paragraphs, from which I cull the following excerpts.

     Par. 76. We are firmly convinced that the main reason for
     taking to the habit of smoking opium is the expression
     among the Chinese of the universal tendency of human nature
     to some form of indulgence.

     Par. 77. The lack of home comforts, the strenuousness of
     their labour, the severance from family association, and
     the absence of any form of healthy relaxation in the case
     of the working classes in Malaya, predispose them to a form
     of indulgence which, both from its sedative effects and in
     the restful position in which it must be practised, appeals
     most strongly to the Chinese temperament.

     Par. 91. In the course of the inquiry it has transpired
     that life insurance companies with considerable experience
     of the insurance of Chinese lives are willing, _ceteris
     paribus_, to accept as first-class risks Chinese who smoke
     two chees (116 grains) of chandu a day, an amount that is
     by no means within the range of light smoking, and we are
     informed that these insurance companies are justified in
     taking these risks. It appears therefore that, in the view
     of those remarkably well qualified to judge, the opium
     habit has little or no effect on the duration of life, and
     there is no evidence before us which would justify our
     acceptance of the contrary view.

     Par. 96. We consider that the tendency of the evidence
     supports us in the opinion we have formed, as the result of
     our investigations, that the evils arising from the use of
     opium are usually the subject of exaggeration. In the
     course of the evidence it has been pointed out to us that
     it is difficult even for a medical man to detect the
     moderate smoker, and it is improbable that the moderate
     smoker would obtrude himself upon the attention of
     philanthropists on whose notice bad cases thrust
     themselves. The tendency of philanthropists to give undue
     prominence to such bad cases, and to generalize from the
     observation of them, is undoubtedly a great factor in
     attributing to the use of opium more widely extended evils
     than really exist.

     Par. 106. The paralysis of the will that is alleged to
     result from opium-smoking we do not regard as proved, many
     smokers of considerable quantities are successful in
     business, and there is no proof that smokers cannot fill
     positions of considerable responsibility with credit and


Referring to statements made that the dose must inevitably be
constantly increased, the report observes as follows in

     Par. 112. We have, further, evidence given in many concrete
     cases that the dose has not been increased during
     considerable periods, and we have the remarkable absence of
     pauperism that should be strikingly prevalent if the
     theories mentioned above were reasonably applicable to
     local indulgence in opium.

On the question of enforcing prohibitive legislation, the report
observes in

     Par. 133. The poppy is at present cultivated in India,
     China, Turkey, and Persia, and it may, we consider, be
     assumed that short of universal suppression of the
     cultivation effectively carried out, prohibition in one
     would lead to extended cultivation in others.

The report goes on to deal with the substitution of morphia for opium
as demanding the gravest consideration, its effects being infinitely
more deleterious than the smoking of opium.

It will be interesting to see how the International Commission that
has recently met at Shanghai has dealt with the question. The Imperial
Chinese Government has issued drastic regulations, and an Imperial
edict has decreed that the growing of the poppy and the smoking of
opium shall cease; but the people of China have a way of regarding
Imperial edicts that clash with their customs as pious aspirations. If
it succeeds, it will have effected a change more complete than any
that has taken place since the adoption of the shaved head and the
queue at the command of the Manchu conquerors.

  [Illustration: A QUIET GAME OF DRAUGHTS.]


The proportion of the volume of trade under the various foreign flags
shows of late years a considerable diminution of our trade and an
increase of that carried in German bottoms; but this difference in the
supply of commodities, while it shows a loss to our shipping, is more
apparent than real as regards the commodities themselves. For the last
half century or more a large quantity of cotton and other goods
ordered through British houses was procured in Germany and shipped
from English ports. But with the passing of the Merchandise Marks Act,
a change was soon observed. When the astute Chinese trader saw printed
upon his cotton cloth the advertisement that it was made in Germany,
he asked the German Consul about it, and concluded that it would be
better business to order it from the maker direct, which he did. The
equally astute German arrived at the conclusion that as this large
direct trade had developed it would be well to build the ships to
carry it under its own flag, and save the transport and turnover in
England. The result was a great increase of German shipping to the
East, and with the increase of German argosies came the proposal, as a
natural sequence, that a German navy should be created to ensure
their protection. Thus the Act that was hailed with such appreciation
became the greatest and most valuable advertisement ever given by one
nation to another, and German technical knowledge, thoroughness, and
business capacity have taken full advantage of the situation. Ten
years ago the German flag in Hong Kong harbour was comparatively
infrequent. To-day the steamers of Germany frequently outnumber our
own in that great port.

The life of town and country is more sharply divided in China than in
Europe, for the absence of local protection drives all wealthy men to
the security of the walled towns and cities. The aspect of all the
great cities south of the Yangtze is pretty much the same, and there
is not much difference in the life of the communities. The cities are
encircled by walls about twenty-five feet high and from fifteen to
twenty feet on top, with square towers at intervals, and great
gateways at the four cardinal points. The north gate at Hangchow, at
the extremity of the Grand Canal, is the most beautiful that I have
seen in China. Eight stone monoliths supported an elaborate structure
of three stories narrowing to the summit that was finished by a
boat-shaped structure with ornamental ends and a curved roof. Every
portion of the great structure of stone was beautifully carved, the
upper portions being perforated. The carved work was exquisite,
figures standing in bold relief, and flowers and foliage being
undercut so that a stick could have been passed behind them. The walls
of Nanking and Suchow are each thirty-six miles in circumference, but
within the walls are large areas that have probably never been built
over. The vacant spaces may always have been used for agricultural
purposes, the crops enabling the inhabitants to withstand a siege.
Many of the splendid buildings of these old cities have disappeared or
are now in ruins, but here and there the tiled roofs, beautiful in
their curved design and brilliant glaze of green or yellow enamel,
remain to testify to the innate artistic feeling of the Chinese
people. The Ming tombs at Nanking, with the mile-long approach through
a double row of elephants, camels, chitons, horses, etc., each ten and
a half feet high and carved from a single block, are monuments that,
unlike the great bronze astronomical instruments that erstwhile
adorned the walls of Peking, no conquering host could carry away. On
the back of each of the elephants is a heap of stones, every Chinese
who passes feeling it a religious duty to wish, generally either for
wealth or a son, when he casts up a stone. If it remains, the answer
is favourable; if not, he continues his course in sadness, but not
without hope. The porcelain tower of Nanking has disappeared, but the
bronze summit, fifteen feet in diameter, remains on its site.

Inside the city walls the streets are narrow and sometimes filthy.
Smells abound, but Chinese are apparently oblivious to what we
consider offensive smells; and from a hygienic point of view it is
certain that foul smells are better than sewer-gas, which, though it
cannot be characterized as dirt, is decidedly matter in the wrong


Peking is unlike any of the southern cities. Its streets are wide, and
the mixture of peoples from the north gives variety and colour to the
street scenes. Here one meets long strings of laden camels bearing
their burdens from Mongolia, and issuing grumbling protests as they
follow the bell of their leader. Peking carts with richly ornamented
wheels but no springs ply over the raised centre of the broad but
filthy streets, the mud of winter and the dust of summer assuaging the
jolting of the picturesque but uncomfortable vehicles. Sometimes in
the carts are richly apparelled ladies, who are attended by mounted
servants. Now and again may be seen immense funeral biers bright with
red lacquer and gilding, and resting upon a platform of bamboos large
enough to admit from twenty to fifty or sixty bearers. Should the
funeral be that of a high official, as many as a hundred bearers are
sometimes engaged. This is a form of ostentation impossible in the
narrow streets of the southern cities. Peking is really four cities
within the immense outer walls, which are fifty feet high and
probably thirty or forty feet broad on top. On the portion of the wall
commanding the legations some of the hardest fighting of the siege
took place. The Temple of Heaven and the Temple of Agriculture are
situated to the right and left of the south gate of the outer wall.
Each temple stands in a park, and in the one the Emperor on the first
day of the Chinese New Year offers a sacrifice on the great white
marble terrace, and prays for blessings upon all his people, while in
the Temple of Agriculture the Emperor, attended by all the great
officials, attends on the first day of spring for the performance of
the ceremonies, as laid down by ancient custom. This ceremony in
honour of the opening of spring is one of the principal functions of
the year. The Emperor, with all the Court, attends at the Temple of
Agriculture in state to plough a furrow. The buffalo that draws the
plough is decorated with roses and other flowers, and the plough is
covered with silk of the Imperial yellow. The ground has been
carefully softened, and a hard path arranged on which the Emperor
walks while he guides the plough, before doing which he removes his
embroidered jacket and tucks up the long silk coat round his waist, as
a carpenter does when he wants to get his apron out of the way and
leave his legs free. After his Majesty has ploughed his furrow, three
princes, each with a buffalo and plough decorated with red silk,
plough each three furrows, followed by nine of the principal
officials, whose ploughs and buffaloes are decorated like those of the
princes. A rice is then sown called the red lotus, which when reaped
is presented as an offering--half on the altar at the Temple of
Agriculture, half on that before the tablets of the Imperial family in
the royal ancestral hall.

This ceremony is of very ancient date, and indicates the high position
held by the agriculturist in the estimation of the Chinese. In the
books of Chow, written probably about 1000 B.C., in writing against
luxurious ease, it is written, "King W[)a]n dressed meanly, and gave
himself to the work of tranquillization and to that of husbandry."

To Peking, as the centre of Chinese official life, flock all the
higher mandarins from time to time, each high official--viceroy,
governor, or taotai, or lower ranks--to give an account of their
stewardship at the expiration of their term of office, and to solicit
a renewed appointment. Should a viceroy have acquired, say, three
millions of dollars during his three years' term of office, it will be
necessary for him to disburse at least one million in presents to
various palace officials before he can hope for an audience and for
further employment. Many of the officials put their savings into
porcelain rather than invest them in speculation, or deposit them in
savings banks. Some of this porcelain is buried or concealed in a safe
place, and when the owner requires money he disposes of a piece. It is
thought in England that great bargains of valuable porcelain can be
picked up in any Chinese town. This is a mistake. Of course, great
bargains may possibly be picked up anywhere, but good porcelain is
highly valued in China as in Europe. Shown a very fine vase by the
principal dealer in curiosities of Peking, he quoted the price at
seventeen thousand dollars. The result of the Chinese custom of buying
porcelain as a savings bank investment, and its re-sale when money is
required, is a constant traffic in good porcelain, which can generally
be procured, at its full value.




The peasant cultivator of China spends a life of intermittent
industry. In the north there is but one annual crop, but in the south
two crops are grown. The principal cultivation being rice, he is
perforce constrained to the system of co-operation, as, there being no
fences, all the rice crop of a large flat area, sometimes minutely
subdivided, must be reaped at the same time, so that when the crop has
been removed the cattle and buffaloes may roam over the flat for what
pasturage they can pick up before the flooding of the land and
preparation for the next crop.

  [Illustration: WAITING FOR CUSTOMERS.]

In the event of any farmer being late with his sowing, he must procure
seed of a more rapidly growing kind, some kinds of rice showing a
difference of a month or more in the time that elapses from sowing to
reaping. But even when the crop is down and growing, no grass that
may be found on the edges of the paths or canals is allowed to go
to waste. Small children may then be seen seated sideways on the broad
backs of the buffaloes while the beasts graze upon the skirting
pasture, the children preventing them from injuring the growing crops.


The first crop is sown about April and reaped early in July, the
second late in July and reaped at the end of September. After the
rice, which has generally been sown very thickly in a nursery, has
been transplanted to the flooded fields and taken root, the ground is
gone over and the mud heaped with the feet around each plant. The
ground is manured when the rice is about a foot high with pig manure,
mixed with lime and earth, and scattered by hand at a time when the
water is low. If the crop looks poor the manure is carefully applied
round each plant, and sometimes if it is still very backward, when the
water is around it, the manure is poured over it in a liquid state.
The water is kept on the rice field until a very short time before
reaping, and after the crop is in full ear the Chinese like to have
three days' rain, which they say improves the yield very materially.

When the rice is six or eight inches over the water, which is then
about three inches deep, large flocks of ducks and geese may be seen
feeding on the frogs, etc., to be found in the paddy fields (paddy is
the term for rice before it has been husked), attended by a man or
boy, who carries a long bamboo pole with a bunch of bamboo leaves tied
at the top. When the evening comes a shake of his pole brings all the
flock, sometimes numbering hundreds, out of the field, and as they
emerge on the path the last duck or goose receives a whack of the
bunch of leaves. It is amusing to see how this is realized by the
birds, who waddle along at top speed to avoid being last. Once on the
path the herd goes in front, and, placing his pole against the base of
a bank, all the flock jump over it, being counted as they go. Ducks
are reared in amazing numbers in Southern China, the eggs being
hatched in fermenting paddy husks. Every country shop has displayed a
number of dried ducks, the fowl being cut in half and spread out under
pressure. But as articles of food nothing comes amiss; rats are dried
in the same way and sold, though the house rat is not usually eaten,
the rat of commerce being the rodent found in the rice fields. Besides
rice, the farmer grows crops of rape, fruit, and a large quantity of
vegetables. Mulberry trees are the main crop in the silk regions, and
in the provinces bordering the Yangtze tea is produced, while to the
westward the cultivation of the poppy assumes large proportions. In
the economy of the Chinese farmer the pig plays as prominent a part
as in Ireland, for the pig is a save-all, to which all scraps are
welcome. The Chinese pig is usually black. It has a peculiarly hollow
back, the belly almost trailing on the ground, and it fattens easily.
A roast sucking-pig is always a _pièce de resistance_ at a feast.

The Chinese farmer is thrifty, but he has his distractions in
card-playing and gambling in various ways that could only be devised
by Chinese ingenuity. He loves a quail fight or a cricket fight, the
latter being an amusement that sometimes brings a concourse of
thousands together. A large mat-shed is erected and in this is placed
the cricket pit. The real arena of the fight is a circular bowl with a
flat bottom about seven inches in diameter. Two crickets being placed
in it are excited to fury by having their backs tickled by a rat's
bristle inserted in the end of a small stick, such as a pen handle.
The rival crickets fight with great fury until one turns tail and is
beaten. Many thousands of dollars are wagered at times upon these
contests, and the most intense excitement prevails. When a man has
been fortunate enough to capture a good fighting cricket he feeds it
on special meal. Such a known cricket sometimes changes hands for a
considerable sum. After all, the value of a cricket, like a
race-horse, is what it may be able to win. As the initial expense of
a cricket is only the trouble of catching it, this is a form of
excitement within reach of the poorest, and the villager may have in
gambling for a cash (the tenth part of a cent) as much excitement as
the richer town-dweller who wagers in dollars.


The farmer's house is not luxurious in its furniture, but it is
sufficient for his wants. With the exception of the table almost
everything is made of bamboo, which, with the aid of fire and water,
can be bent to any shape, but there is great diversity in the lamp of
pottery or pewter or brass, the latter being somewhat similar in shape
to the ancient Roman lamp. The bed is simply a flat board, over which
a grass or palm leaf mat is laid. The pillow is a half round piece of
pottery about ten inches long and four inches high. A common form is
that of a figure on hands and knees, the back forming the pillow. The
careful housewife places her needlework inside the pillow, which makes
an effective workbasket. In winter the pottery pillow is replaced by
one of lacquer and leather, which is not so cold. Over his door will
be found a beehive, made of a drum of bamboo two feet long by twelve
inches in diameter and covered with dried clay, while his implements
of husbandry--consisting of a wooden plough of the same shape as may
be seen on Egyptian ancient monuments, and which with the harness he
carries on his shoulder to the field, a hoe, and a wooden "rake" of
plain board to smooth the mud on which the rice will be sown--can be
accommodated in the corner. He is not very clean and has a lofty
contempt for vermin; but sometimes he will indulge in the luxury of a
flea-trap, made of a joint of bamboo three inches in diameter, the
sides cut out, leaving only enough wood to preserve the shape. This he
carries in his sleeve, but what he inserts as a trap I have not been
able to discover.


Apart from his gambling his distractions are a visit to the temple
before or after crop time, a marriage, a funeral, a procession, or a
pilgrimage to one of the seven holy mountains of China. He has not
often more than one wife, who, being entirely at his mercy, rules him
with a rod of iron, and to whom as a rule he leaves the emotional part
of the religion of the family. To her falls all the anxious care of
the children, and horrible fears assail her lest the evil spirits,
against whose machinations all the ingenuity of her religious
superstitions is exerted, should get possession of any of her boys. To
this end she will dress the boys as girls, and indulge in
make-believes that would not puzzle the silliest devil that ever
tormented a Chinese mother. Nor does she neglect religious duties, for
she will be seen in the temple praying devoutly, and then taking up
the two kidney-shaped pieces of wood, flat on one side and round on
the other, that are found on the altar before the god, she will place
the flat sides together between her palms and flinging them up observe
the position in which they fall. If both flat sides come up, it is
good; if the round, then it is evil; if one of each, there is no
answer. This she repeats three times; or going to a bamboo in which
are a number of canes, each bearing a number, she shakes it, as Nestor
shook the helmet of Agamemnon, until one falls out, when she looks for
the corresponding number among a quantity of yellow sheets of paper
hung upon the wall where she reads the mystic answer to her prayer.

It is not easy for the casual inquirer to understand the religious
beliefs of the Chinese. In many ways intensely materialistic, the
people have a living faith, at least in reincarnation or recurring
life; and while their spiritual attitude is rather a fear of evil
demons than a belief in a merciful God, yet there is among them a
spirit of reverence and of thankfulness for favours received. One day
at Chekwan Temple--a very fine and richly ornamented temple on the
Pearl River--I saw a fisherman and his family enter with a basket of
fish and some fruits, which he laid upon the altar. Then, first
striking the drum to call the attention of the god, the family prayed
devoutly, while the father poured a libation seven times upon the
altar. I asked the priest what it meant, and he answered that the man
had had a good take of fish the previous night and was returning
thanks. Sometimes when a member of the family is ill they will go to
the temple and have a prayer written, then burning the paper, they
take home the ashes, and administer them as a medicine. Again, in a
temple in Canton one pillar is covered with paper figures of men,
which are tied to the pillar upside down. Asking the meaning I was
told that these were tied on by the light-o'-loves of young Chinese
who, having taken a wife, had put an end to the temporary arrangements
as common in a Chinese city as in the centres of Western civilization.
The abandoned ones vainly hoped that by timely incantations and tying
on of the figures their protectors might be induced to return to them.
But the great annual excitement to the peasant under normal conditions
is the theatrical performance that takes place in every district. The
company brings its own theatre, an enormous mat-shed erection capable
of accommodating an audience of a thousand people. This is erected in
a few days, and for a week or more historical or social plays are
performed. The actors make up and dress upon the stage, on which the
more prominent members of the audience are sometimes accommodated. All
the actors are men, as women are not allowed to perform; but the men
who take women's parts could not be distinguished from females, and
some are very highly paid. The dresses are very gorgeous. In
historical plays all the actors wear long beards and moustaches which
completely cover the mouth. The bad character of the play is always
distinguished by having the face darkened and with a white patch on
the nose. The play is in the form of an opera in which the singers
intone their parts in a simple recurring time, being accompanied in
unison by a couple of stringed instruments of curious form; but when
an important entry is made or one of the oft-recurring combats take
place, large cymbals clash with deafening noise. This is never done
while the singing dialogue is proceeding. The properties are in a
large box on the stage. If an actor is going over a bridge the
attendants, who are moving about, place a table with a chair at either
side, put over it a cloth, and the bridge is complete. The actor walks
over and the table is removed. Should he mount a horse, or get into a
chair, conventional movements convey the fact to the audience. In the
combats one man is always slain. Then the attendant walks forward and
drops a roll of white paper or cloth before him, when the slain man
gets up and walks out. In Japan matters are somewhat differently
done. There are always two attendants in black with wide flowing
sleeves, who are supposed to be invisible. When a character is slain
one stands in front, spreads his arms, and the defunct walks off, the
invisible attendant moving after him, keeping between him and the


In social plays the actors are no longer in gorgeous historic
costumes, but are clad in modern dress. When a very poor man came on
he indicated his poverty by making the movements of cracking vermin on
his clothes between his nails.

It is singular how little one misses the scenery, and the audience
takes the keenest interest in the plays, sometimes being moved to
tears at the tragic parts.

The position of the actor is very low in the Chinese scale, no actor
or child of an actor being permitted to present himself for public
examination; the brotherhood of the sock and buskin is a very large

When the play is finished, if there are wealthy men present servants
come in laden with strings of copper cash, which are laid upon the

But these are the incidents of country life in normal times. When
rains are short and rivers run low, and the rice crop fails, then
gaunt famine stalks over the arid land, and discontent and misery are
apt to lead to grave local troubles, the people looking upon such a
visitation as a direct intimation that the Emperor, as represented by
the local officials, had incurred the displeasure of heaven and lost
the confidence of the gods. This feeling makes for rebellion, and
rebellion in China, when it is faced by Government, is dealt with in a
manner so ruthless as to make one shudder.

In 1903 a famine with the usual concomitants developed in the province
of Kwangsi, and harrowing descriptions of the condition of affairs
came to Hong Kong, where a relief committee was formed at once. An
official was sent up on behalf of the committee to inquire and report,
and on his return he gave an account of what he had seen. A
troublesome rebellion had broken out, and in the course of its
suppression many prisoners had been taken. These wretches, with large
numbers of criminals, were being executed, a general gaol delivery
being thus effected, the magistrate holding that as there was not
enough food for honest people none could be spared for criminals. The
starving population had been reduced to such extremity that they were
eating the bodies. At the same time the authorities and the gentry
were doing everything in their power to relieve the suffering of the
people; but all were miserably poor, and no taxes were being
collected. The Hong Kong Relief Committee's representative, who had
taken a first consignment of rice with him, was offered every
facility by the magistrate, who not alone gave him a guard, but sent a
launch to tow the rice junk up the river, sending a guard with it. The
state of brutality to which the community had been reduced was shown
by the following occurrence related to the representative by one of
his guards, who told the story with an evident feeling that the
incident redounded to the credit of the "party of order." A short time
before, information having reached the local authority of the
whereabouts of a "robber family," a party, including the narrator,
went to the village and seized the entire family. The man they cut
open, took out the entrails, cooked and ate them in the presence of
the dying wretch. They cut the breasts off the woman, cooked and ate
them in the same way. The woman he described as sobbing during the
operation. The two were then killed. As the "soldiers" did not care to
kill the children themselves, they handed knives to a number of
surrounding children, who hacked the little ones to death.


This is a lurid story, but the sequel shows that even in China danger
lurks in too ferocious exercise of despotic power, however well
intended. The magistrate was unceasing in his efforts to cope with the
famine, with the added troubles of a rebellion, in fighting which the
advantage was not always with his troops. Rice was being poured into
the famine districts by committees established in Hong Kong and
Canton, and every assistance that could be given was afforded to them
by the magistrate, who was an educated gentleman and apparently full
of pity for the famishing people. His unvarying civility to the
working members of the Hong Kong committee who were engaged in the
distribution was at the close of their proceedings duly and gratefully
acknowledged; but the warm thanks of the committee never reached him.
A new viceroy had been appointed to Canton, who, on proceeding to the
famine district to make personal inquiry, found that the magistrate
had not been just, but had executed as criminals innocent people,
among them being a secret agent sent up by the viceroy in advance to
inquire into the real state of affairs. On finding this he degraded
the magistrate, who thereupon committed suicide. When one reads of the
reckless ferocity with which life was taken it is astonishing that he
was not put an end to by poison long before the interference of the
viceroy; for poisoning is not unknown, the plant named in China
muk-tong being used. It is inodorous and tasteless, but if boiled in
water used for tea it is almost certain death.


The life of the coast cities where East meets West is full of
interest. Every treaty port has its foreign concession, where the
consuls reign supreme, and a Western system of police and municipal
arrangements is adopted. Tientsin, Shanghai, Ningpo, Fuchow, Amoy, and
Canton, as well as the Yangtze ports, all have on their borders large
areas over which the Chinese Government has abandoned its territorial
rights, and all offences or disputes are dealt with in European
magistrates' or consular courts with the exception of Shanghai, where
for certain offences the cases are tried in a mixed court, under the
jurisdiction of a Chinese and a European magistrate. The sudden
contrast from the foreign concession at Shanghai to the Chinese city
is most striking; on the one side a splendid bund along the river
bank, well kept public gardens, an excellent police force (mounted and
foot), broad streets in which are fine shops displaying the newest
European patterns, well appointed gharries standing on their appointed
ranks for hire at moderate fares, and for the poorer Chinese the
ubiquitous Chinese wheelbarrow--mentioned by Milton--that is palpably
the one-wheeled progenitor of the Irish jaunting-car. The axle of the
barrow is in the centre, the large wheel working in a high well on
either side of which are two seats. There is no weight on the handles
when the legs are lifted; the barrow coolie has therefore only to
preserve the balance and push. These barrows are used everywhere in
the Yangtze region, and are suitable for carrying heavy loads over
interior tracks too narrow for two wheels. In Shanghai they are not
alone used for transport of heavy burdens, but form the usual means of
locomotion for the Chinese of the labouring class who prefer the
luxury of driving to walking. In the morning, as in the evening, when
going to work or coming from it, as many as six people may be seen
sitting three a side and being pushed along by one coolie with
apparent ease, or now and again one or two men on one side are
balanced by a large pig tied on the other.


Along the river front, where the bund is prolonged into Chinese
territory, the Western influence is seen in the police arrangements,
Chinese police, or "lukongs," being similarly attired as their Chinese
brethren in the "Settlements." But inside the walls the scene changes,
and the Chinese city is found, simple but not pure, as Shanghai city
is among the very dirtiest in all China. Yet it has its picturesque
and somewhat imposing spots near the great temples. Outside the city
bounds is the usual burial-place, on the border of the flat plain that
surrounds Shanghai. Here the custom is to deposit the coffins on the
ground, the tombs being sometimes built of brick, or the coffin being
covered with thatch, while in some cases the coffins are simply left
upon the ground without any covering. It must be explained that the
Chinese coffin is a peculiarly solid case, built in a peculiar manner
with very thick slabs of wood In every direction are peach orchards,
which when in blossom present as beautiful a sight as the famed cherry
blossom of Japan. All around the plain is intersected with deep
drains, the muddy bottoms of which the sporting members of the
Shanghai Hunt Club now and again make involuntary acquaintance. The
position of Shanghai, situated as it is near the mouth of the Yangtze,
marks it out as the future emporium of the commerce of Central China,
through which must ebb and flow the ever-growing trade of nine of the
eighteen provinces of the Middle Kingdom. The social intercourse
between the foreign and the Chinese communities is very restricted, a
restriction that cannot be laid entirely at the door of either side;
but until the division becomes less clearly and sharply marked there
can be no well grounded prospect of such community of feeling as will
make trade relations comfortable, when the now blinking eyes of the
sleeping giant have fully opened and he realizes his strength and
power to command attention to his demand for reciprocal rights among
the great nations of the earth.


To a foreigner the most impressive city in China is Canton, with its
teeming population and intense activity. The foreign settlement of
Shameen lies along the bank of the Pearl River, and on the land side
is surrounded by a canal, the only entrance to the settlement being
over two carefully guarded bridges. Here everything is purely
Western--Western architecture, Western lawns, Western games; the flags
of all the foreign nations fly over their respective consulates; and
but for the Chinese domestics that one sees here and there, one might,
if he turned his gaze from the river, with its maze of junks and boats
of every kind, forget that he was not walking in the wealthy
residential suburb of a European town. But once over the bridge and
past the solid rows of stores--once the godowns of the European
hongs--every trace of European influence is gone, and we enter through
the city walls into a scene such as has existed in Chinese cities for
centuries. The streets vary in width from six to ten feet, and are all
flagged with granite slabs, and in these narrow streets is a dense
mass of blue-robed Chinese, all intent upon business except when a
foreigner enters into a shop to make a purchase, which always attracts
a curious and observing crowd. Narrow as are the streets, the effect
is still more contracted by the hanging sign-boards, painted in
brilliant colours and sometimes gilt letters, that hang outside each
shop. These sign-boards are sometimes ten to twelve feet long, and
each trade has its own particular colouring and shape. The effect
of the sign-boards, the colour of the open shops, and the gay lanterns
that hang at almost every door, is very fine, and gives an idea of
wealth and artistic sentiment. Every shop removes its shutters in the
morning, and as there are usually no windows, the effect is that of
moving through an immense bazaar, in which every known trade is being
carried on, while the wares are being sold at an adjoining counter. In
one shop will be found the most expensive silks and other stuffs, or
rather in a row of shops, for each particular business affects certain
parts of the street. Thus at one end may be a succession of shops with
the most delicate and beautiful commodities, while the continuation is
devoted to butchers' stalls, or fishmongers', the sudden transition
being proclaimed to every sense, and outraging our feeling of the
fitness of things. In the shops will be seen men at work upon the
beautiful fans for which Canton is famed; in another the shoemaker or
the hatter ply their more homely trade. Tailors, stocking-makers,
carpenters, blacksmiths, all are diligently at work, while here and
there, poring carefully over a piece of jewellery or brass or silver
work, may be seen the feather-worker attaching the delicate patterns
made with the brilliant feathers of the kingfisher, the work being so
minute that young men and boys only can do it, and so trying that
their eyesight can only stand it for about two years. At the corners
of the streets are seen tea-houses, the entire front being elaborately
carved from ground to roof and glittering with brilliant gilding.
Ivory-cutters carry on their trade, and jade and porcelain are
displayed. A great feature in many of the streets is the bird shops,
filled with singing birds or birds of brilliant plumage, of which the
Chinese are very fond, wealthy Chinese gentlemen giving sometimes
large sums for ivory cages for their favourites. In places the streets
are covered for short distances. These gay shops are not usually found
in the side streets, where the rougher trades--the butcher, the
fishmonger, and the greengrocer--predominate. In these particular
streets the smells are to European sense simply abominable, but
appreciation or otherwise of smells is possibly a racial as well as an
individual peculiarity. Among us musk is the delight of some and the
horror of others.

  [Illustration: A CHINESE GIRL.]


Although too narrow for wheeled traffic, the noise of the streets is
considerable, as coolies, carrying great baskets of goods or perhaps
vegetables, shout panting warnings to the crowd, and all must make way
for the laden coolie. Now and again a mandarin rides past, attended by
his servants, or is carried in his official chair, when everybody
makes way for him with the most surprising alacrity. It is easy to
see that the people recognize the all but despotic power that always
notes the officials of a practically democratic community. The general
idea that strikes a stranger when going for the first time through
these narrow streets with their dense crowds is one of awe, feeling as
if enmeshed in the labyrinths of a human ant-hill, from which there
could be no hope of escape if the crowd made any hostile movement. But
the interests of Canton are not exhausted in her crowded streets, with
the marvellous absence of any jostling--the chair coolies never
touching anybody with their chairs, even though they fill up half the
width of the streets--for there are the various temples that have been
described _ad nauseam_; the water clock that has been going for over
six centuries; the mint, where the Government produces from time to
time coins of not always clearly determined fineness; and the City of
the Dead, where for a moderate payment an apartment may be engaged, in
which a deceased member of a family can be accommodated until such
time as the geomancer can find an auspicious position for the grave.
Some of these apartments, which are all kept admirably clean, have
tables on which are left the pipe of the inmate, while paper figures
stand by to hand him, if necessary, the spiritual aroma of his
favourite food when alive.


The guild-houses of Canton are well built and richly ornamented
structures. These guild-houses are the club-houses of various
provinces, or the local club of the members of different trades. Even
the beggars have their guild in Canton, where strange members of that
ancient and honourable profession may obtain accommodation, and
permission to ply their occupation as mendicants on payment of a fee.
Every beggar so licensed carries a badge, bearing which he has the
right to enter a shop and demand alms. Among the procession of
mandarins with their brilliant entourage who assembled to meet Liu Kun
Yi, the viceroy at Nanking, on his return from Peking, in 1900, was
the mandarin head of the beggars. He was arrayed in the correct and
rich robes of his rank, and had his place in the procession exactly as
the other mandarins, who were each surrounded or followed by their
staff and their troops. The mandarin of the beggars' guild was carried
in his official chair, and around him and following him was the most
extraordinary and motley crowd of beggars, all in their workaday rags
and tatters. Had they but arms of any sort they might have given
points to Falstaff's ragged regiment. Every shopkeeper is visited at
least once daily by a member of the fraternity, and whether by law or
by custom he must contribute some small amount. The system is possibly
a form of outdoor relief, and if one but knew its inner working it
would probably be found to be a fairly satisfactory solution of a
difficulty that is exercising the wits of anxious social investigators
in England.

If the shopkeeper refuses to submit to the customary demand he may
find a beggar, afflicted with some loathsome disease, seated at the
door of his shop, where he will remain until the honour of the guild
has been satisfied by a suitable donation, for there will be no stern
policeman to order the persistent beggar to move on. One of the most
painful sights that I have ever seen was a collection of lepers who
had been allowed to take possession of a small dry patch in the middle
of a deep swamp in the new territory of Kowloon. The only entrance was
by a narrow path roughly raised over the swamp level. Here they had
constructed huts from pieces of boxes, through which the rain entered
freely. Each morning the miserable creatures dragged themselves to the
neighbouring villages, the inhabitants of which charitably placed rice
for them before their doors. I have never seen a more miserable
collection of human beings. I had proper huts erected for them on
neighbouring high ground, where at least they were free from the
danger of being flooded out, and had shelter from rain and wind. There
is a regular leper hospital in Canton.


It must not be assumed that Canton is entirely a town of retail
shops, for there are many important factories there, some of the
houses of business covering large areas, where hundreds of men are
employed in the various manufactures. Crowded as is the business part
of the city, one wonders that it is not devastated by fire; but over
every shop vessels of water are kept upon the roof, ready for instant
service. The value of land is very great, the average value being
fourteen dollars a square foot, which is roughly about sixty thousand
pounds per acre. But the narrow streets of Canton can be very imposing
when a high foreign official is paying a visit of ceremony to the
viceroy. On one side of the street is a continuous line of
soldiers--the streets are too narrow for a double line--each company
with its banner, while the other side is occupied by a dense crowd
that fills the shops and stands silently to see the procession of
official chairs go by. The streets are not alone swept, but carefully
washed, so that they are perfectly clean. At each ward-gate is
stationed half a dozen men with long trumpets, like those upon which
Fra Angelico's angels blew their notes of praise, and from these
trumpets two long notes are sounded--one high, the other low. In the
courtyard of the viceroy's yamen is stationed a special guard of about
one hundred and fifty men, richly dressed and carrying such arms as
one sees in very old Chinese pictures--great curved blades on long
poles, tridents, etc.--while thirty or forty men stand with banners
of purple, yellow, blue, or red silk, each some twelve feet square,
mounted on poles at least twenty feet long. The effect is singularly
picturesque. The viceroy's yamen is situated more than a mile from the
river, so that a large number of troops are required to line the
streets. The yamen is surrounded by an extensive park, in which is
some good timber. Another fine park surrounds the building once
occupied by the British Consul, but now used by the cadets of the
Straits Settlements and Hong Kong, who on appointment to the Colonies
are sent for two years to Canton, there to study Chinese.


However busy the high official in China may be, his daily life is
passed in quiet, if not in peace. With him there are no distracting
sounds of street traffic, no hoot of motor-cars, no roar and rumble of
motor-omnibuses, no earthquake tremors from heavy cart traffic. The
streets are too narrow for this, and the yamen and the office are
separated from any possible interference with business by street
noises. The business of the yamen is, however, rarely done in
solitude, for the yamen "runners," as the crowd of lictors and
messengers are called, overrun the entire place, and the most
important conversations are carried on in the presence of pipe-bearers
and other personal attendants, to say nothing of curious outsiders,
that almost precludes the possibility of inviolable secrecy. It is
possible that where foreigners are not mixed up in the matter there
may not be so many anxious listeners, but there are few things about a
yamen that are not known by those whose interest it is to know them.

The official proceeds with his work upon lines that have been deeply
grooved by custom, and however energetic he may be, he is careful not
to make violent changes, nor will he hastily leave the beaten track.
As a rule, no community becomes violently agitated by inaction on the
part of a government or of an official, however much it may be
deprecated. In China the only fear in such a case would be from the
action of the censors, who are appointed in various parts of the
empire, and who have proved by their denunciation of even the highest
officials for sins of omission, as well as commission, that China
possesses among her officials men whose fearlessness and independence
are equal to that of men of other races, whose honoured names have
come down to us in song and story.

  [Illustration: JUNKS AT EVENTIDE.]


The rigid etiquette of China preserves a dignity in the conduct of all
public business, and it is against the first principles of an educated
Chinaman to use rough or harsh terms that would be considered vulgar.
The written language is so capable of different interpretations that
in treaties with China, which are generally written in three
languages--Chinese, French or English--and the language of the
contracting countries, it is always stipulated that in construing the
terms of the treaty one of the two languages, not the Chinese, is to
be taken as interpreting its true meaning. This does not necessarily
infer dishonest intentions on the part of the Chinese; but the fact is
that as each one of the many thousands of Chinese characters may mean
more than one thing, the real meaning has sometimes to be inferred
from the context, so that there are peculiar difficulties attending
the close and accurate interpretation of a treaty or dispatch. It is
popularly supposed that Sir Robert Hart and Sir J. McLeavy Brown are
the only foreigners who have complete mastery of the art of writing
Chinese so as to ensure the accurate expression of the meaning to be
conveyed. The yamen of a high official, with his residence, covers a
large area, as no house is built more than one story high. Such a
building might by its dominating height interfere disastrously with
the _fung sui_ of even a city, and is always bitterly resented. The
steeples of churches have something to answer for in this way in
keeping alive the spirit of antagonism fostered by the daily
maledictions of the Chinese, who bear patiently with submission rather
than acquiescence the presence of a dominant foreign influence that,
if they have any living superstition on the subject, must convey to
them an impression of evil. The yamen usually consists of a series of
courtyards, off which are built the apartments for the numerous staff
as well as the private apartments of the family, and in one of these,
when the business of the day is concluded, the official receives the
visits of his friends and smokes the calumet of peace, or plays one of
those complicated games of Chinese chess to whose intricate rules and
moves our game of chess is simplicity itself. Sometimes after his work
he indulges in his pipe of opium, after the manner of our own
three-bottle men of the last century. The late Liu Kun Yi, the able
Viceroy of Nanking, who with Chang Chi Tung, his neighbouring viceroy,
kept the Yangtze provinces quiet through the Boxer troubles was a
confirmed opium-smoker. But one thing he never does--he never hurries.
Haste is to him undignified, and he eschews it. In his official
dealings he will adopt methods that would not pass muster in our
courts; but from the Emperor to the coolie those methods are
understood and accepted. Much might be written on the ethics of what
we call official corruption; but let the facts be what they may, the
people understand the system, the Government understand it, and there
is no popular demonstration against it. Nor must we forget that
official "irregularity" is not unknown outside China.

The social side of the life of a Chinese mandarin is not confined to
his own yamen. He is fond of visiting his friends and engaging in
intellectual conversation over a friendly cup of tea--and such tea! We
have no idea in Europe of the exquisite delicacy of the best Chinese
tea as prepared by a Chinese host. The tea is made by himself, the
leaves being only allowed to remain in the freshly boiled water for
four or five minutes. It is then poured into cups of delicate
porcelain, about the size of a liqueur glass, and sipped without the
addition of milk or sugar. After the tea has been drunk, the aroma of
the cup is enjoyed. The perfume is delicious.




The houses of the wealthy inhabitants are on the east side of the
city, and are separated from the streets by high walls. On entering
the grounds, the visitor passes through several courtyards and
reception halls, supported on beautifully carved granite pillars, a
wealthy Chinese gentleman sparing no expense in the lavish and
tasteful decoration of his home. From the courtyards one enters the
gardens, in which there is invariably a pond in which water-flowers--
lilies, lotus, etc.--are grown, and in which there are shoals of
goldfish. A rockery is generally added, with quaintly contrived
approaches and caverns, and a bridge over the pond leads now and again
to a small island on which a decorated tea-house has been erected. The
bridge is always angular, like those that are seen on the old blue
china plates. In one large house, from which the owner was absent,
were some specimens of hammered iron-work that were the very
perfection of artistic workmanship. They were blades of grass, reeds,
and flowers, each specimen being placed in a window between two panes
of glass. These specimens of iron-work were made about four hundred
and fifty years ago by an artist whose name is still held in honour.
Large sums have been offered for them, but the fortunate owner holds
them more precious than gold.

A great feature of Canton is its flower-boats, of which many hundreds
are moored together, and form regular streets. These boats are all
restaurants, and here the wealthy young Chinamen entertain each other
at their sumptuous feasts. The giver of the entertainment always
engages four or five young women for each guest, who sit behind the
gentlemen and assist in their entertainment. As the feast is a long
function, consisting of many courses, it is not necessary for the
guests to be present during the entire function. Sometimes a guest
will put in an appearance for one or two courses. Music is played and
songs are sung, and possibly there may be ramifications of the
entertainment into which one does not pry too closely; but again there
are regulated customs in China openly acknowledged and less harmful
than the ignored but no less existing canker that has eaten into the
heart of Western civilization.

The wives and daughters of officials are in small towns at a certain
disadvantage, for etiquette demands that they shall confine their
visits to their social equals, who are not many. In large cities they
have the ladies of the wealthy merchants to visit, and they are by no
means devoid of subjects of conversation. They take a keen interest in
public affairs, and exercise no small an amount of influence upon
current topics. Many of the Chinese ladies are well educated, and have
no hesitation in declaring their views on matters connected with their
well-being. A very short time ago there was in Canton a public meeting
of women to protest against an unpopular measure. One result of
missionary effort in China has been the education of a large number of
Chinese women of different classes in English, which many Chinese
ladies speak fluently. When Kang Yu Wei, the Chinese reformer, was in
Hong Kong, having taken refuge there after his flight from Peking, his
daughter was a young Chinese lady who spoke only her own language. Two
years later, during which time the family had resided in the Straits
Settlements, this lady passed through Hong Kong, speaking English
fluently. She was on her way to the United States to pursue her

The movement for reform that has begun to agitate China is by no
means confined to the men. In 1900 a women's conference met in
Shanghai, under the presidency of Lady Blake, to consider the question
of the home life of the women of China. The conference sat for four
days, during which papers were read by both European and Chinese
ladies on various social questions and customs affecting all classes
of the women of China. The conference covered a wide range of
subjects:--Treatment of Children; Daughters-in-law; Betrothal of Young
Children and Infants; Girl Slavery in China; Foot-binding; Marriage
Customs; Funeral Customs; Social Customs; and its proceedings contain
valuable accounts at first hand of the conditions and customs of women
from every part of the Middle Kingdom. The following remarks were made
by the president at the conclusion of the conference.


  [Illustration: A TYPICAL STREET SCENE.]

"We have now concluded the consideration of the subjects that were
selected for discussion at this conference on the 'Home Life of
Chinese Women.' We have all, I am sure, been keenly interested in the
excellent papers and addresses with which we have been favoured,
containing so much information from all parts of this vast empire that
must have been new to many of us. I regret to find that the lot of
Chinese women, especially of the lower classes, appears on closer
observation even less agreeable than I had thought. The hard fate of
so many of the slave-girls, for example, must excite the pity and
sympathy of all men and women not altogether selfishly insensible to
human sufferings from which they are exempt. But while we have been
gazing on a good deal of the darker side of the lives of the women and
girls of China, we must not forget that shadows cannot exist without
light, so there must be a bright side in life for many Chinese women,
and some of the papers read have shown us that no small number of
Chinese ladies, independently of European influences, extend
noble-minded and practical charity to those amongst their humbler
neighbours who may stand in need of such assistance. Possibly some of
us may be too apt to judge the better classes of the Chinese by the
standards of the lower orders, with whom as a general rule Europeans
are chiefly thrown. How would the denizens of our ancient cathedral
closes, or the occupants of our manor-houses at home, like foreigners
to judge of them by the standard of the inhabitants of the lower
stratum of our society and the waifs and strays, who too often in
other lands bring the reverse of credit to their country? I cannot
help hoping, likewise, that as habit becomes second nature--and that
to which we are accustomed seems less dreadful, even when
intrinsically as bad--so some things that to us would make
existence a purgatory may not be quite so terrible to the women of
China as they appear to us. I would fain hope that even in such a
matter as foot-binding there may be some alleviation to the sufferings
of those who practise it, in the pride that is said to feel no pain.
Of the deleterious effects of the practice--physically and
mentally--there can be no doubt, and it is most satisfactory to find
that the spark of resistance to the fashion of foot-binding has been
kindled in many parts of China. As new ideas permeate the empire, I
have no doubt the women of China will not be greater slaves to
undesirable fashions or customs than are the women of other lands. The
greater number of the ills and discomforts of Chinese women, I cannot
help thinking, must be eradicated by the people of China themselves;
all that outsiders can do is to place the means of doing so within
their reach. As year by year the number increases of cultivated and
enlightened Chinese ladies, trained in Western science and modes of
thought, while retaining their own distinctive characteristics, so
will each of them prove a stronger centre from which rays of good
influence will reach out to their country-women. I was once given a
flower that had rather a remarkable history. I was told that somewhere
in Greece a mine had been found that was supposed to have been worked
by the ancient Greeks. Its site was marked by great heaps of rocks and
refuse. The Greeks of old, great as was their genius, which in some
ways exceeded that of modern days, were not acquainted with a great
deal that science has revealed to us, and in examining these heaps of
stones and rubbish flung out of the mine in days of old, it was found
that most of it contained ore, the presence of which had never before
been suspected, but which was sufficient in amount to make it worth
while submitting the refuse to a process that would extract the latent
wealth. So the great heaps of stone were removed, for smelting or some
such process, and when they were taken away, from the ground beneath
them sprang up plants, which in due time were covered with beautiful
small yellow poppies of a kind not previously known to gardeners. It
is supposed that the seed of the flowers must have lain hidden in the
earth for centuries. May it not be like this with China? In her bosom
have long lain dormant the seeds of what we call progress, which have
been kept from germinating by the superincumbent weight of ideas,
which, while they may contain in themselves some ore worth extracting,
must be refined in order to be preserved, and must be uplifted in
order to enable the flowers of truth, purity, and happiness to
flourish in the land. Two of the heaviest rubbish heaps that crush
down the blossom progress are ignorance and prejudice. I trust that
the conference just held may prove of use in removing them."


Whatever may be thought of the relative prudence of choosing one's own
wife, or having the young lady provided by family diplomacy, as is the
Eastern custom, there is no doubt that Chinese women make affectionate
wives and mothers. A forlorn woman at Macao, day after day wailing
along the shore of the cruel sea that had taken her fisher-husband,
waving his coat over the sea, burning incense, and calling upon him
unceasingly to return to her, was a mournful sight; and I have seen
distracted women passing the clothes of their sick children to and fro
over a brisk fire by a running stream, and calling upon the gods they
worshipped to circumvent the demons to whose evil action all sickness
is attributed. Indeed, the loss of the husband himself would, in the
average Chinese opinion, be better for the family than the loss of an
only son, as without a male descendant the ancestral worship, on which
so much depends for the comfort of the departed members, cannot be
carried out in proper form. That the terrors of superstition enter
largely into the Chinese mind is clearly shown, but there is also
present the saving grace of faith in the possibility of assuaging
whatever may be considered the discomforts of the after life, and
Chinese are particular in ministering to the wants of the departed. I
have seen in Hong Kong two women gravely carrying a small house,
tables, chairs, and a horse, all made of tissue paper and light
bamboo, to a vacant place where they were reverently burnt, no doubt
for the use of a departed husband. This is the same faith that raised
the mounds over the Scandinavian heroes, who with their boats or
war-horses and their arms were buried beneath them.

When a child is born, a boat made similarly of tissue paper and fixed
on a small bundle of straw is launched upon the tide. If it floats
away, all will be well; if flung back upon the shore, there is gloom
in the house, for Fortune is frowning. Or, when members of the family
are lost at sea, similar boats with small figures seated in them, and
with squares of gold and silver paper representing money placed at
their feet, are sent adrift. Such boats are constantly to be seen
floating in the harbour of Hong Kong, each one a sad emblem of
poignant sorrow, with that desperate anxiety of those bereft to reach
behind the veil that lies in the sub-conscious mind of all humanity.


This is the mournful aspect of Chinese life, especially among the
poorer classes. But Chinese ladies, though they take their pleasures
in a different manner, are no less actively engaged in the amenities
of social intercourse than are their Western sisters. Violent
physical exercise does not appeal to them--our compelling muscularity
is a hidden mystery to all Eastern people--but visiting among
themselves is constant, and the preparation for a visit, the powdering
and painting, the hair-dressing, and the careful selection of
embroidered costumes, is as absorbing a business as was the
preparation of the belles of the court of _Le Roi Soleil_. To the
European man the fashion of a Chinese lady's dress seems unchanging--a
beautifully embroidered loose jacket, with long pleated skirt and wide
trousers, in strong crimson or yellow, or in delicate shades of all
colours--but Western women probably know better, as doubtless do the
Chinese husbands and fathers, who are usually most generous to the
ladies of the family. The general shape is unchanging, for in China it
is considered indelicate for a woman to display her figure; but the
Chinese milliner is as careful to change the fashion of the embroidery
at short intervals as is the French _modiste_ to change the form of
the robe. Therefore there are always to be procured in the great towns
beautiful embroidered costumes in excellent order that have been
discarded at the command of tyrant fashion as are the dresses of the
fashion-driven ladies of the West.


The etiquette of the preliminaries of a visit is as rigid as is the
etiquette of all social intercourse in China; the scarlet visiting
card, three or four inches wide and sometimes a foot long--its
dimensions being proportioned to the social position of the
visitor--being first sent in, and returned with an invitation to
enter, while the hostess dons her best attire and meets the visitor at
the first, second, or third doorway, according to the rank of the
latter, and the elaborate ceremonial on entering the room. These
accomplished, the conversation follows the lines that conversation
takes where ladies meet ladies all the world over. The friendly pipe
is not excluded, and probably books, children, cooks, social
incidents, and possibly local politics, form the media of
conversation. The social customs of China do not afford much
opportunity for scandal; but who can say? Cupid even in China is as
ingenious as he is mischievous. Games, too, are indulged in, the
Chinese card games being as mysteriously intricate as is their chess.

Should the guest bring her children, the little ones all receive
presents, these delicate attentions being never neglected; indeed, the
giving of presents at the New Year and other annual festivals is a
settled Chinese custom.



Though Hong Kong, when handed over to Great Britain in 1841, was a
practically uninhabited island, it has now a population of 377,000, of
which 360,000 are Chinese. The city of Victoria is situated round the
southern shore of the harbour, and is, next to London, the greatest
shipping port in the world. Behind the city steep hills rise to the
height of over 1,800 feet, their rugged sides scored by well
constructed roads and dotted over with handsome buildings, while a
cable tramway leads to the Peak (1,200 feet high), where fine houses
and terraces afford in summer accommodation for the European
residents, who find in its cool heights relief from the oppressive
temperature of the sea level. It is hard to say whether Hong Kong is
more beautiful from the harbour or from the Peak. From the one is seen
the city crowded round the shore behind the broad praya or sea front,
and sweeping up the precipitous sides of the hills--spreading as it
climbs from street to terrace, from terrace to villa, up to the very
Peak--terrace and villa nestled in the everlasting verdure of the
luxuriant tropics, varied by blazes of colour from tree, shrub, and
climber, the blue masses of hydrangea at the Peak vying with the
brilliant masses of purple bougainvillia, or yellow alamanda of the
lower levels, the whole bathed in such sunshine as is rarely seen in
temperate regions, while above the blue sky is flecked with light
fleecy clouds. Away to the eastward is the happy valley, a flat oval,
around which the hill-sides are devoted to a series of the most
beautifully kept cemeteries in the world. Here Christian and
Mohammedan, Eastern and Western, rest from their labours, while below
them, in the oval valley, every sport and game of England is in full

From the Peak we look down upon the city and the harbour, and our gaze
sweeps onward over the flat peninsula of Kowloon to the bare and
rugged hills that sweep from east to west. But the interest centres in
the magnificent harbour, on whose blue bosom rest the great steamers
of every nation trading with the Far East, round whose hulls are
flitting the three hundred and fifty launches of which the harbour
boasts, whose movements at full speed in a crowded harbour bear
witness to the splendid nerve of their Chinese coxswains. Out in the
harbour, towards Stonecutter's Island, the tall masts of trim
American schooners may be seen, the master--probably part owner--with
sometimes his wife on board, and with accommodation aft that the
captains of our largest liners might envy, while the thousands of
Chinese boats of all descriptions look like swarms of flies moving
over the laughing waters of the bay. The hum of the city is inaudible,
and even the rasp of the derricks that feed the holds of the
steamships or empty them of their cargoes comes up with a softened
sound, telling its tale of commercial activity.

  [Illustration: A STREET STALL.]

At night the scene is still more enchanting, for spread out beneath
are gleaming and dancing the thousands of lights afloat and ashore.
The outlines of the bay are marked by sweeping curves of light, and
the myriad stars that seem to shine more brightly than elsewhere are
mirrored in the dark waters, mingling with the thousands of lights
from the boats and shipping.

This is normal Hong Kong, and in the warm season, for in winter it is
cold enough to demand the glow of the fire and the cheerful warmth of
furs. But the beautiful harbour lashed to wild fury by the dreaded
typhoon is a different sight. All may look well to the uninitiated,
who wonders to see groups of sampans and lighters, sometimes twenty or
more, being towed by single launches to Causeway Bay, the boat harbour
of refuge; but the gathering clouds in the south-east, the strong
puffy gusts of wind, and the rapidly falling barometer with the
characteristic pumping action, warn the watchful meteorological staff
that the time has come to hoist the warning signal, while in addition
the south-easterly heave of the sea gives notice to the careful
sea-captain that he had better not be caught in narrow waters except
with both anchors down and a full head of steam ready.

With a blackening sky, increasing wind, and troubled sea there is no
longer room for doubt, and active preparations are made ashore and
afloat. While cables are lengthened, top hamper made snug, and steam
got up on sea, all windows are carefully fastened with hurricane bars
on shore, for should a window be blown in when the typhoon is at its
height there is no knowing how far the destruction may extend, the
walls being sometimes blown out and the contents of the house
scattered over the hill-side. I have seen such a typhoon that reached
its maximum in the early morning. The whole harbour was foaming with a
devil's dance of wild waters, hidden by a thick blanket of spray,
through which from time to time great waves were dimly seen dashing
over the high wharf premises, or godowns, of Kowloon, while
minute-guns of distress boomed from out the wrack of sea and mist,
heard as dull thuds in the howling of the mighty typhoon, and calling
for help that none could give. By ten o'clock the typhoon had swept
on to the north, leaving scores of ships and junks sunk in the
harbour, a mile of sampans smashed to pieces at the Kowloon wharves,
and hundreds of victims beneath the now moderating seas, while the
harbour was filled with floating bales of merchandise.


The incident was the means of demonstrating the organizing capacity of
the Chinese. As soon as the sea had moderated sufficiently to allow a
launch to live, I sent for a Chinese gentleman and suggested that
something should be done to relieve the sufferers and rescue those who
still required assistance, and found that already the guild had sent
out two powerful launches, one with coffins for the drowned, the
other, with a doctor on board, equipped with the necessary means of
succour for the injured, and food for those who had lost their all.
Steaming along the Kowloon shore an hour afterwards, where the
wreckage of boats was heaving and falling in a mass of destruction
twenty to thirty feet wide along the sea wall, there was no sign, as
might have been expected, of stunned despair; but the crowd of
boat-people, men and women, who had escaped with their lives were
working with a will and as busy as bees, each endeavouring to save
something from the smashed wreckage of what had been their home, the
men jumping from one heaving mass to another, diving betimes and
struggling with the adverse buffets of fate with an energy none the
less for their stoical acceptance of the inevitable.

Although Hong Kong is a British possession it is essentially a Chinese
city. British supervision has seen to it that the streets are wide and
all the houses well and solidly built, save a few remaining houses of
the era preceding the creation of a sanitary board, and cleanliness of
house and surroundings is secured by careful and unremitting
inspection. The shops are a mixture of European architecture and
Chinese decoration, which runs into rich and elaborate carving and
gilding. Outside are hung the same pendant signs that give such colour
to the streets of Canton. Blue is the predominant colour worn by all
Chinese, save the sweating coolies who toil along the quays of the
great port, and the blue crowd that fills the busy streets harmonizes
with the surrounding colours. The splendid buildings in what are
called the principal streets, where banks, hotels, and counting-houses
of the important European firms are situated, with the shops that
cater more especially for the wants of foreign residents and tourists,
differ but little from the architecture of a European city, while the
shops contain all that purchasers can require of European wares, or
Chinese and Japanese products wherewith to tempt the inquiring
tourist. But the wealthiest part of the city is in the Chinese
quarter, and here property has changed hands at startling figures,
sometimes at a rate equal to one hundred and sixty thousand pounds an
acre. Here the shops are purely Chinese, and every trade may be seen
in operation, while the doctor puts up a sign that he cures broken
legs, or the dentist displays a small board, from which hang five or
six long strings of molars of portentous size showing every phase of
dental decay. Everywhere is seen a teeming population instinct with
ceaseless activity. Rickshaws rush past, these most convenient little
carriages for hire having one coolie in the shafts, while private
rickshaws have one or two in addition pushing behind; or the more
sedate chair swings by, borne by two or four coolies, the men in front
and rear stepping off with different feet so as to prevent the
swinging of the chair. The shops in this quarter have abandoned the
glass front and are open, save when at night they are closed by planks
set up and fastened with a bar behind the last two. The shop is then
secure from any attempt to break in from the outside; but cases are on
record where armed robbers have slipped in at the last moment and,
closing the plank which secured them from observation, produced
revolvers and walked off with the contents of the till, leaving the
terrified owner and his assistants bound and gagged while they made
their escape.


The early life of the city is an interesting study. At five o'clock
the people are astir. The working men apparently take their morning
meal in the streets, where tables are erected on which are large
vessels of rice, and of boiling congee (a mixture of rice flour and
water), piles of vegetables of various sorts chopped fine, dishes of
scraps of meat, including the uncooked entrails of fowls, pieces of
fish, and relishes of soy and other sauces. The hungry customer is
handed a bowl half full of rice, on which is placed small portions of
the various vegetables and a piece of meat, or some scraps of
entrails, over all is poured a ladle full of the boiling congee, and
the repast is ready. With his chopsticks the customer, holding the
bowl to his wide open mouth, shovels in nearly as much rice as it will
hold, then picking from the bowl pieces of the luscious morsels with
which it is garnished, he lays them on the yet untouched rice, when he
closes his mouth and proceeds with the process of mastication and
deglutition. Each mouthful is a course, and the same process is
repeated until the morning meal is complete. Hard by may be seen a
purveyor of whelks, which are a favourite food, especially with boys,
who have all the excitement of gambling in satisfying their hunger.
The whelks are in a basket, to the handle of which a dozen pieces of
wire with crooked ends are attached by long cords. A small boy appears
and lays a cash upon the stall, at the same time drawing from a deep
bamboo joint a bamboo slip, one of the many in the pot. At the end of
the slip is a number, or a blank, and the hungry lover of chance may
find the result of his first venture a blank, or he may be fortunate
enough to draw a prize with a number, which represents the number of
whelks that he is to receive. These he deftly picks out with one of
the crooked wires. They must, of course, be consumed "on the
premises," for the cautious caterer takes no chances by permitting the
wire to be detached from the cord. Boys are active and unscrupulous,
and crooked wires cost money. Balls of rice flour, fried in lard, are
another favourite food of the streets, and sweetmeats of appalling
stickiness and questionable preparation are always to be found in
Chinese quarters. The morning crowd is always good-humoured, chaffing
and laughing with a heartiness that explodes the European idea of
Chinese stolidity and want of expression.


The Chinese workman eats but twice a day. His morning meal is between
six and eight o'clock, and his afternoon meal is at four.

By this time the boats have arrived from Kowloon with their loads of
vegetables, and the small hawkers are busily carrying them from house
to house for the consumption of Chinese households, while the outlying
greengrocers are being supplied with their daily stock, in the setting
out of which great care is exercised, the Chinese greengrocer having
an artistic eye for effect. No small shop does a more flourishing
business than the druggist's and herbalist's, the Chinese having faith
in the use of "simples," though remedies including the calcined teeth
of tigers and vertebræ of serpents are not without their moral effect,
and the mystery of a pill three-quarters of an inch in diameter has
yet to be fathomed. At the Chinese New Year, tied up over every door
will be seen a small bundle of vegetables, consisting of five plants:
the _Acorus calamus_, representing a sword, and the _Euphorbia_, a
fighting-iron, to ward off evil spirits; the onion, to guard against
the spirit of malaria; the _Artemisia vulgaris_ and the _Davallia
tennifolia_. This charm is as efficacious as the house leek that, in
the imaginative pre-national school days, was carefully planted on the
roof of Irish cottages as a sure preservative against fire.

  [Illustration: ON A BACKWATER.]

But the busiest man in the early morning is the barber, for the
Chinese workman does not shave his own head, and small crowds assemble
in each barber's shop, where tongues wag freely, and some read the
morning papers while awaiting their turn. However great the crowd,
there is no sign of hurry in the manipulation of the placid barber.
Not alone is the front of the head shaved, but the eyebrows and
eyelashes are attended to; then the ears are explored and cleaned with
minute care; and, lastly, the client is massaged and shampooed while
he sits bent forward, the hammering upon back and sides being by no
means gentle, and ending with a resounding smack with the hollowed
palm of the barber's hand. The constant manipulation of the ears is
supposed to be injurious as tending to produce deafness, but without
it the customer would not consider that he had value for his thirty
cash, the usual fee--about one-third of a cent. The end of the
operation is the plaiting of the long queue, which between the real
and the false hair freely used reaches nearly to the heels, and is
finished by a silk tassel plaited into the end. Sometimes a man may be
seen plaiting his own queue, which he does by taking it over the rung
of a ladder, and moving backwards so as to preserve the strain.

Among the skilled workmen, the sawyer and the stonecutter are most in
evidence to the ordinary visitor, who is astonished to see a squared
log two feet in diameter being sawn by a single man. Having got the
log into position, one man with a frame-saw does the whole business.
He stands on top, and the work is extremely arduous; but an enormous
amount of timber is sawn in this way. The stonecutter has a lighter
job. The Chinese are very expert quarrymen, and cut out by iron or
wooden wedges great blocks of granite, the wedge-holes having been
prepared by iron chisel-headed bolts. Wooden wedges are then driven in
and wetted, the expansion of the wedge forcing out the block, which
requires but little squaring, so carefully is the cleavage effected.

One generic difference between the physical formation of Western and
Eastern races is the facility with which the latter can sit upon their
heels. An Asiatic will sink down upon his heels with as much ease and
with as restful comfort as can a European upon a chair; and in
stonecutting the workman may be seen sitting upon the stone on which
he is working, sometimes seated on the edge while chiselling the
perpendicular side below him. In this position a row of workmen look
at a distance like a row of vultures sitting upon a ledge.

The lowest form of labour in Hong Kong is the work of the coolies, who
carry coals and building materials to the Peak district; and here we
have a striking evidence of the patient industry and extraordinary
ingenuity with which the piece-work labourer secures the largest
possible amount of result from the day's labour. Up the steep
hill-side every brick or basket of sand and lime that has gone to
build the houses and barracks of the Peak district has been carried up
in the double baskets, suspended from the bamboo carrying-pole of a
working coolie, who is paid by the load. Now a heavy load, sometimes
weighing a hundredweight, carried up very steep roads for two miles or
so, means slow progress, with many rests. The coolie manages to reduce
the intervals of rest to the smallest compass. Placing two loads
together, he carries one for fifty yards and there deposits it,
returning for the second, which is carried up one hundred yards.
Dropping that, he--or she, for the matter of that, for the coolie
hill-carriers are sometimes women, not seldom old and feeble--returns
to the first load and carries the burden fifty yards beyond the
second, which is in turn taken up in the same way. There is no
standing idle or sitting down to rest, the only relief being that of
dropping the load and walking back down hill to take up the one left
behind. This system of overlapping saves all the time that otherwise
must be lost in resting, as no human being could carry up a load to
the Peak without frequent intervals of rest.


After the day's work is ended the workman does not affect a tavern. He
dearly loves a game, or, more strictly speaking, a gamble; and while
all gambling-houses are put down with a strong hand, no conceivable
official ingenuity could circumvent the gambling propensities of a
people whose instruments of games of chance are not confined to cards
or dice. The number of seeds in a melon, or any other wager on
peculiarities of natural objects will do as well, and afford no
damning evidence should an officious member of the police force
appear. The game of chi-mooe is not confined to the working people,
but is a favourite game with all classes, and the shouts and laughter
that accompany it now and again bring complaints from the neighbours
whose rest is disturbed. The game is simple and is played by two. One
suddenly flings out his hand with one, two, or more fingers extended,
at the same moment the other must guess the number. Curling has been
called the roaring game, but no curler ever made a greater racket than
two excited chi-mooe players. One would imagine that the guessing of
the number of fingers extended must be a matter of pure chance, but a
Chinese gentleman assured me that in the flinging forward of the hand
there is a muscular difference in the form if one, two, three, or more
fingers are to be extended, and this difference is observed with
lightning rapidity by an expert player.

However content the adult Chinaman may be with sedentary amusements,
the energy of youth is in full force in the Chinese schoolboy. He is
rapidly acquiring a taste for European games, such as cricket and
football, but he has always played the game of hopscotch, but little
differing from the game played in an English village. Where a ring can
be formed he also plays a game of shuttlecock, the only instrument
being a cork or piece of light wood with two or three feathers to
regulate its flight and fall. This is played solely with the feet, the
shuttlecock being kicked from one to the other with extraordinary
dexterity. The shuttlecock is often kept up for five or even ten
minutes at a time, foot and eye working together with wonderful




There is one sport in which the adult Chinaman shines. Each year in
the month of June the boatmen and fishermen hold a festival at which
the great feature is the dragon-boat races. The dragon-boat is about
ninety feet long and only wide enough to admit of two men with paddles
sitting side by side on each thwart. In this boat from sixty to eighty
men are seated, while in the centre stands a man with a drum or gong
before him on which he beats the time. A man stands at the stern with
a long steering paddle, and a boy sits in front with two lines in his
hands attached to a large dragon's head with which the bow is adorned,
and which moves from side to side as the lines are pulled. Two
contending boats paddle to the starting-buoy and at a signal they are
off. The frantic encouragement of the men beating time, the furious
but rhythmic splash of nearly two hundred paddles in the onrushing
boats, and the natural movement from side to side of the brightly
coloured dragons' heads, is one of the finest and most inspiriting
sights imaginable. Every muscle is strained, and no sport on earth
shows for the time a more tremendous effort of muscular energy.
Sometimes in the excitement of the race the boats collide, in which
event the race must be run again, for the mixture of paddles makes it
impossible to disentangle without a dead stop. But such a
_contretemps_ leads to no mischief or quarrelling. The accident is
treated good-humouredly all round, and it only means another race. On
the river at Canton literally thousands of boats make a line to see
the races paddled. There are no police and no stewards of the course,
but no boat ever attempts to break the line or cause any obstruction.

The Chinese delight in festivals and spectacular effects, in which
they give proof of organizing capacity. A very striking festival was
that in honour of a son of the god of war, held at Macao every tenth
year in the intercalary moon. It was a guild procession--watchmakers,
tailors, shoemakers, etc. Each guild had carried before it a great
triangular, richly embroidered banner, also an umbrella of honour.
Many had also a long piece of embroidery carried horizontally on
poles. There were ornamental chairs of the usual type, some with
offerings to the gods, some with wooden drums. Each guild had its
band; some string bands, some reeds and gongs, some Chinese viols and
mandolins, the latter being frequently played while held over the head
or resting on the back of the neck. Each guild marched two and two
behind the band, the members being dressed in mauve silk coats and
broad red or yellow sash tied round the waist with richly embroidered
ends down each leg. The watchmakers' guild all carried watches on the
right breast. Children, richly dressed in mediæval costume, were
mounted on caparisoned ponies, and some guilds had cars on which were
allegorical groups of children. In some cases, by an ingenious
arrangement of an iron frame, a child held a sword at length which,
apparently, pierced another child through back and breast. The variety
of these groups was very great. From time to time the procession
stopped, and then the children were taken down for a rest, the iron
frames being disconnected from their easily detachable sockets. In the
meantime each group was attended by men who held umbrellas over the
children to protect them from the sun.

Each guild had its attendant coolies carrying stools, and when the
procession stopped the members at once sat down, starting up at once
on the sound of a gong that regulated the halting and starting, when
the stools were taken up by the coolies.

  [Illustration: A TEMPLE.]

The procession finished with a dragon carried by twenty-six men. It
was a hundred and forty feet long, the back of green and silver
scales, the sides being stripes of red, green, pink, and yellow silk.
This dragon was preceded by a man, who danced before it with a large
ball representing the moon. At this the dragon made dashes from one
side of the street to the other, but was staved off by another, who
carried a ball surrounded by gilt rays. This probably represented the
sun saving the moon from being swallowed by the dragon, as is supposed
to take place in an eclipse. The dragon went along the street with
sinuous rushes from side to side. Where there was room it wound round
and round, but uncoiled on the touch upon its tail of the gilt ball
with the golden rays. The procession took an hour and a half to pass a
given point. The most perfect order prevailed, the crowd keeping a
clear space. At the finish each guild went to its own district, and
the decorations were carefully stowed away for future use.


Such a festival is, of course, a local holiday; but the only legal
Chinese holidays are at the New Year, when all business is suspended.
The viceroy puts his seal away; the governor and the magistrate follow
suit; the merchant closes his place of business and squares his books,
while his employees take the opportunity to revisit their homes in
the country. The shopkeeper generally has a feast for all his people,
at the conclusion of which he makes a speech, wishing each and all a
"Happy New Year," in certain cases adding, "and I hope that you, and
you," mentioning the names, "will obtain good situations." This is a
delicate intimation to the persons named that their services are
dispensed with. In ordinary Chinese business affairs all accounts are
closed and balanced and all debts paid at the New Year.

In Hong Kong the cessation from business lasts for ten days. At this
time booths are erected on either side of several streets in the
Chinese quarter, on which are displayed everything that appeals to the
fancy of the crowds with which the streets are thronged day and night.
There is an enormous sale of a white bell-shaped flower, something
like a large erica, known as the New Year flower; goldfish in glass
globes are a favourite purchase, and on the stalls rigged up under
cover are thousands of articles to suit the fancy of all classes. The
heterogeneous stocks-in-trade are evidently got together by roving
pedlars or collectors, who find their annual harvest at New Year. Here
may be purchased everything, from a piece of bronze or porcelain to a
small clay figure, of which a dozen may be bought for a couple of
cents. Sometimes an article of real value may be picked up by a seeker
after second-hand chances, while eager children spend their cents in
smaller investments; but the annual bazaar has one peculiarity that
speaks well for the masses of the Chinese people. In all the thousands
of articles and pictures exhibited for sale there is not to be seen
the slightest indication of even a suspicion of immodesty.

Over every door is now found a small ornament of peacock's feathers,
that being a lucky emblem. The social ceremonies are many and
elaborate. New Year visits of congratulation are paid; the family
graves are visited, and due honours paid to the dead; and presents are
offered and accepted. During the holidays immense quantities of
fire-crackers are exploded, a string costing many dollars being
sometimes hung from an upper balcony, the explosion of the crackers,
with loud sounding bombs at intervals, lasting for several minutes,
and filling the street with apparently the sharp crackle of musketry
and the boom of heavy guns. At the end of the festival the streets are
filled with the vermilion paper that covered the exploded fireworks.


Next to the New Year's fair, the most interesting study in Hong Kong
was the crowds who came down from Canton and the outlying districts of
Kwangtung province for the annual race-meeting--a European institution
that flourishes at every coast port in China, the horses being hardy
little Mongolian ponies, and the sport excellent. During the three
days' racing it was the custom practically to allow a Saturnalia, and
the police closed their eyes to offences against the gambling laws,
only pouncing upon faked pu-chee boxes, loaded dice, or other unfair
instruments of gambling. On the race-course these gamblers plied their
trade between the races, and afforded an opportunity of seeing the
most diverse and curious games of chance and skill. One game I do not
remember to have seen elsewhere. Round a flat stone was drawn a circle
with a diameter of about five feet, divided into spaces radiating from
centre to circumference. On the stone the proprietor placed a heap of
copper coin. The players placed their stakes in any division chosen;
then the proprietor placed a weight on his head, from which he jerked
it at a distance of about twelve feet. If the weight hit the heap of
coin he took the stakes, but if it fell on one of the divisions, the
player who staked on that division took the heap of coin on the stone.

Again, on a board was painted a number of Chinese characters, on any
one of which the players placed their stakes. The proprietor then
handed a bag to a player, who took out a handful of disks, like
draughtsmen, on each of which was a character. The handful was placed
on the table and sorted, each character being placed on the
corresponding character on the board. The player received as many
times his stakes as there were characters drawn corresponding to that
on which he had placed his money. If no corresponding character was
drawn, then he lost.

In pursuance of a determined effort to stop the ravages of plague, the
custom of winking at what were undoubtedly irregularities was
abandoned, so as to check the influx of the many thousands of
"sporting" vermin to Hong Kong at race time, and once stopped the
custom could not be permitted to again establish itself.

It must not be assumed that all the interests of Hong Kong are
exhausted by a cursory or even a lengthened examination of its streets
and outdoor amusements. Hong Kong boasts of excellent schools, the
Queen's College and St. Joseph's Schools being the largest. There is
an excellent boarding-school for the sons and daughters of Chinese
gentlemen, where the utmost care is exercised in the supervision of
the pupils; a medical college exists in which the entire course of
medical education can be taken; and it is now proposed to establish a
university that may yet be the centre of higher education for Chinese

The charities of China are not sufficiently realized; but while there
is no general organization of charitable societies, as in European
countries, individual charity is widespread. The poor receive gifts
of clothing in winter; in times of famine or of scarcity rice is often
distributed free, or sold under cost price, or coffins are supplied to
the poor. In Hong Kong the Chinese community have built a well
equipped hospital for general patients, and also a plague hospital for
the reception of the victims of this scourge that has annually visited
the city for the past fifteen years.

There is also in connection with the "Tung Wa" hospital an institution
called the Pow-li-un-kok, where orphan children are taken, as are also
received the children who from time to time are rescued by the police
from harpies who are carrying them through Hong Kong for the purpose
of selling them as domestic slaves. These children are brought up, and
the boys placed in situations where they can earn their living, while
arrangements are made for the marriage of the girls when they reach a
marriageable age. Chinese frequently take girls from the institution
as wives. It is also used as a rescue home for fallen and friendless
girls for whom also husbands are often found.


These are but brief sketches of phases of Chinese life as it presents
itself to one who has had no opportunity for the study of cause and
effect that would require long years of careful observation. We know
but little of the real China. The average European, if he thinks of
China at all, sets her down as a nation just emerging from barbarism,
untruthful, deceitful, and having more than her share of original sin.
On the other hand, the Chinese who have come in contact with foreign
Powers regard them as bullies, who have by their destructive prowess
forced themselves upon the Middle Kingdom and deprived the Emperor and
his government of their sovereignty over the various concessions at
the treaty ports. No definite complaint has been formulated on this
matter so far; but it must not be assumed that there is no feeling of
irritation on the subject in the minds of many of the educated
Chinese. The phenomenal successes of Japan in war, and the rapidity
with which she has compelled her acceptance on terms of equality by
foreign nations, has set the Chinese a-thinking, and we know not how
soon the demand for reconsideration of foreign relations may become
inconveniently pressing.

The death of the late Dowager-Empress and of the young Emperor, whose
sudden and mysterious death was the crowning tragedy of years of
sorrow and restraint, has placed upon the Imperial throne an infant
whose father (the Regent) is a prince of enlightened and progressive
views. Already great changes have been made, and greater still are
projected. The isolation of centuries is being modified, and in nearly
three thousand schools in China the English language is being taught,
and Western methods of instruction are being introduced. Many internal
reforms are being considered, and the principle of the training to
arms of all young men has been decided upon. If we take even one-tenth
of the population as being liable to military training, it would give
a crop of recruits of forty millions! It remains to be seen if such an
evidence of power will set in motion the military instinct, or if a
different system of education may not result in a demand for drastic
changes in the whole system and constitution of government. There is
in the Southern Provinces a strong leaven of opinion formed by
students who have been trained in the colleges of the United States.
Their aspirations are mainly on Republican lines; but I do not find
that this solution commends itself to the people of the Northern


The establishment of local councils has been decided upon, the
inevitable result of which will be the lessening of the autocratic
power of provincial officials. Whether the change will result in the
increase of efficiency or the decrease of corruption time alone will
tell; but we may rest assured that however loudly reformers may demand
changes of system and custom, the present generation will be very slow
to move. When the Chinese people do move the advance will be probably
steady, and will certainly be maintained. Should a military instinct
be evolved, an alliance with Japan might at a future period form the
strongest combination in the world, and when that time arrives the
present system of extra-territoriality of the concessions, so
convenient for foreigners, will go by the board.

At present, however, China offers in her markets an object for the
keen competition of the manufacturing nations of the world, in which
the British manufacturer bids fair to be beaten, especially by our
friends in Germany, whose watchword in commerce, as in everything
besides, is "thorough."

The awakening of China means her entrance into strong competition for
her full share of the trade of the world. With her great commercial
capacity and enormous productive power she will be able to a large
extent to supply her own wants, and will certainly reach out to
distant foreign markets. Exploration discloses the fact that in bygone
ages Chinese influence has reached to the uttermost parts of the
globe. It is to be found in the ornaments of the now extinct Bæthucs
of Newfoundland, and in the buried pottery of the Incas of Peru, while
in Ireland a number of Chinese porcelain seals have been discovered at
different times and in some cases at great depths, the period, judging
from the characters engraved upon them, being about the ninth century
A.D. It may be that with the increase of commercial activity, wages
will rise to such an extent as to bring the cost of production in
China to the level of that of other nations; if not, then the future
competition may produce results for the wage-earners of Liverpool,
Birmingham, and Manchester evoking bitter regret that the policy of
coaxing, worrying, bullying, and battering the Far Eastern giant into
the path of commercial energy has been so successful. Given machinery,
cheap labour, unsurpassed mineral deposits, and educated determination
to use them, and China will prove a competitor before whom all but the
strongest may quail.

The only competition for which she will never enter is a competition
in idleness. Every man works to the full extent of his capacity, and
the virile vigour of the nation is intact.

With the coming change in her educational system that will strike off
the fetters of competitive memorizing and substitute rational
reflection, China must be a potent factor in the affairs of the world.
When that time comes let us hope that the relations between China and
the British Empire will be the outcome of mutual confidence and

_Printed by the Menpes Printing Co., Ltd., Watford._


      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have
been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "China" ***

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

We also ask that you:

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

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

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

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