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: Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of 2)
Author: Pu, Songling, 1640-1715
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 "Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of 2)" ***

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





  _Of H.M.’s Consular Service_.


  VOL. II.





  INTRODUCTION                         Vol. I., pp. xiii-xxxii.


                                             VOL. I.   VOL. II.

                                              PAGE       PAGE

  Adulteration Punished                         --        332

  Alchemist, The                                --        313

  Boat-girl Bride, The                          --        149

  Boatmen of Lao-lung, The                      --        348

  Boon Companion, The                          165         --

  Bribery and Corruption                        --        170

  Buddhist Priest of Ch‘ang-ch‘ing, The         22         --

  Buddhist Priests, Arrival of                  --        231

  Butterfly’s Revenge, The                      --        289

  Carrying a Corpse                             --        181

  Cattle Plague, The                            --        253

  Censor in Purgatory, The                      --        238

  Chang Pu-liang                                --        177

  Chang’s Transformation                       237         --

  Chou K‘o-ch‘ang and his Ghost                 --        106

  Clay Image, The                               --        276

  Cloth Merchant, The                           --        127

  Collecting Subscriptions                      --        220

  Considerate Husband, The                     158         --

  Country of the Cave Men, The                 397         --

  Courage Tested                                --        116

  Cruelty Avenged                               --        267

  Dead Priest, The                              --        247

  Death by Laughing                            352         --

  Disembodied Friend, The                       --        119

  Dishonesty Punished                           --        279

  Doctor, The                                   --        290

  Donkey’s Revenge, The                         --         64

  Dr. Tsêng’s Dream                            387         --

  Dreaming Honours                              --        327

  Dutch Carpet, The                             --        179

  Dwarf, A                                     224         --

  Earthquake, An                                --        263

  Elephants and the Lion, The                   --        343

  Engaged to a Nun                             262         --

  Examination for the Post of Guardian Angel     1         --

  Faithful Dog, The                             --        261

  Faithful Gander, The                          --        342

  Faithless Widow, The                          --         39

  Feasting the Ruler of Purgatory               --        284

  Fêng-shui                                     --        322

  Fight with the Foxes, The                    251         --

  Fighting Cricket, The                         --         17

  Fighting Quails, The                          66         --

  Fisherman and his Friend, The                 --        197

  Flood, A                                     350         --

  Flower-nymphs, The                           285         --

  Flying Cow, The                               --        249

  Foot-ball on the Tung-t‘ing Lake             408         --

  Foreign Priests                              343         --

  Fortune-hunter Punished, The                  --        272

  Forty Strings of Cash, The                    --        211

  Friendship with Foxes                         --        300

  Gambler’s Talisman, The                      419         --

  Grateful Dog, The                             --        308

  Great Rat, The                                --        303

  Great Test, The                               --        310

  Hidden Treasure, The                          --        345

  His Father’s Ghost                            --        142

  Hsiang-ju’s Misfortunes                      225         --

  Husband Punished, The                        422         --

  Incorrupt Official, The                       --        358

  Infernal Regions, In the                      --         95

  Ingratitude Punished                          --        138

  Injustice of Heaven, The                      --        111

  Invisible Priest, The                         --        235

  Jen Hsiu, The Gambler                        196         --

  Joining the Immortals                         53         --

  Jonah, A Chinese                              --        176

  Judge Lu                                      92         --

  Justice for Rebels                            --        184

  Killing a Serpent                             --        190

  King, The                                    257         --

  Life Prolonged                                --        273

  Lingering Death, The                          --        325

  Little Chu                                   143         --

  Lo-ch‘a Country and the Sea Market, The       --          1

  Lost Brother, The                            203         --

  Mad Priest, The                               --        282

  Magic Mirror, The                             --        114

  Magic Path, The                               --         36

  Magic Sword, The                             124         --

  Magical Arts                                  47         --

  Magnanimous Girl, The                        160         --

  Making Animals                                --        265

  Man who was changed into a Crow, The         278         --

  Man who was thrown down a Well, The          365         --

  Marriage Lottery, The                        428         --

  Marriage of the Fox’s Daughter, The           26         --

  Marriage of the Virgin Goddess, The           --        257

  Master-thief, The                            347         --

  Metempsychosis                                --        207

  “Mirror and Listen” Trick, The                --        251

  Miss Chiao-no                                 33         --

  Miss Lien-hsiang, The Fox-girl               168         --

  Miss Quarta Hu                               152         --

  Miss Ying-ning; or, the Laughing Girl        106         --

  Mr. Tung; or, Virtue Rewarded                 --        244

  Mr. Willow and the Locusts                    --        242

  Mysterious Head, The                          --        135

  Painted Skin, The                             76         --

  Painted Wall, The                              9         --

  Performing Mice, The                         218         --

  Perseverance Rewarded                        186         --

  Picture Horse, The                            --        286

  Pious Surgeon, The                            --        351

  Planchette                                    --        295

  Planting a Pear-tree                          14         --

  Playing at Hanging                           354         --

  Priest’s Warning, The                         --        205

  Princess Lily, The                            --         56

  Princess of the Tung-t‘ing Lake               --         43

  Quarrelsome Brothers, The                    313         --

  Raising the Dead                              --        318

  Rat Wife, The                                355         --

  Resuscitated Corpse, The                      --        193

  Rip van Winkle, A Chinese                     --         85

  Roc, The                                      --        340

  Salt Smuggler, The                            --        215

  Saving Life                                   --        213

  Sea-serpent, The                              --        113

  Self-punished Murderer, The                  345         --

  She-wolf and the Herd-boys, The               --        330

  Shui-mang Plant, The                         136         --

  Singing Frogs, The                           217         --

  Singular case of Ophthalmia                   --        102

  Singular Verdict                              --        307

  Sisters, The                                 336         --

  Smelling Essays                               --        139

  Snow in Summer                                --        294

  Solomon, A Chinese                            --        335

  Solomon, Another                              --        355

  Spirit of the Hills, The                      --        137

  Spirits of the Po-yang Lake, The              --        109

  Spiritualistic Séances                        --        131

  Stolen Eyes, The                              --        233

  Strange Companion, A                          --        130

  Stream of Cash, The                           --        110

  Supernatural Wife, A                          --        166

  Taking Revenge                                --         25

  Talking Pupils, The                            5         --

  Ta-nan in Search of his Father               296         --

  Taoist Devotee, A                             --        183

  Taoist Miracles                               --        226

  Taoist Priest, A                             246         --

  Taoist Priest of Lao-shan, The                17         --

  Theft of the Peach                            --        186

  Three Genii, The                             214         --

  Three States of Existence, The                --         90

  Thunder God, The                             413         --

  Tiger Guest, The                             330         --

  Tiger of Chao-ch‘êng, The                    219         --

  Tipsy Turtle, The                             --         28

  Trader’s Son, The                             85         --

  Two Brides, The                               --        158

  Unjust Sentence, The                          --         80

  Virtuous Daughter-in-law, The                374         --

  Wei-ch‘i Devil, The                           --        268

  Wine Insect, The                              --        259

  Wolf Dream, The                               --         73

  Wolves                                        --        305

  Wonderful Stone, The                         306         --

  Young Gentleman who couldn’t spell, The      326         --

  Young Lady of the Tung-t‘ing Lake, The       271         --

  APPENDIX A                                    --        361

      „    B                                    --        389






Once upon a time there was a young man, named Ma Chün, who was also
known as Lung-mei. He was the son of a trader, and a youth of
surpassing beauty. His manners were courteous, and he loved nothing
better than singing and playing. He used to associate with actors, and
with an embroidered handkerchief round his head the effect was that of
a beautiful woman. Hence he acquired the sobriquet of the Beauty. At
fourteen years of age he graduated and began to make a name for
himself; but his father, who was growing old and wished to retire from
business, said to him, “My boy, book-learning will never fill your
belly or put a coat on your back; you had much better stick to the old
thing.” Accordingly, Ma from that time occupied himself with scales
and weights, with principle and interest, and such matters.

He made a voyage across the sea, and was carried away by a typhoon.
After being tossed about for many days and nights he arrived at a
country where the people were hideously ugly. When these people saw Ma
they thought he was a devil and all ran screeching away. Ma was
somewhat alarmed at this, but finding that it was they who were
frightened at him, he quickly turned their fear to his own advantage.
If he came across people eating and drinking he would rush upon them,
and when they fled away for fear, he would regale himself upon what
they had left. By-and-by he went to a village among the hills, and
there the people had at any rate some facial resemblance to ordinary
men. But they were all in rags and tatters like beggars. So Ma sat
down to rest under a tree, and the villagers, not daring to come near
him, contented themselves with looking at him from a distance. They
soon found, however, that he did not want to eat them, and by degrees
approached a little closer to him. Ma, smiling, began to talk; and
although their language was different, yet he was able to make himself
tolerably intelligible, and told them whence he had come. The
villagers were much pleased, and spread the news that the stranger was
not a man-eater. Nevertheless, the very ugliest of all would only take
a look and be off again; they would not come near him. Those who did
go up to him were not very much unlike his own countrymen, the
Chinese. They brought him plenty of food and wine. Ma asked them what
they were afraid of. They replied, “We had heard from our forefathers
that 26,000 _li_ to the west there is a country called China. We had
heard that the people of that land were the most extraordinary in
appearance you can possibly imagine. Hitherto it has been hearsay; we
can now believe it.” He then asked them how it was they were so poor.
They answered, “You see, in our country everything depends, not on
literary talent, but on beauty. The most beautiful are made ministers
of state; the next handsomest are made judges and magistrates; and the
third class in looks are employed in the palace of the king. Thus
these are enabled out of their pay to provide for their wives and
families. But we, from our very birth, are regarded by our parents as
inauspicious, and are left to perish, some of us being occasionally
preserved by more humane parents to prevent the extinction of the
family.” Ma asked the name of their country, and they told him it was
Lo-ch‘a. Also that the capital city was some 30 _li_ to the north. He
begged them to take him there, and next day at cock-crow he started
thitherwards in their company, arriving just about dawn. The walls of
the city were made of black stone, as black as ink, and the city
gate-houses were about 100 feet high. Red stones were used for tiles,
and picking up a broken piece Ma found that it marked his finger-nail
like vermilion. They arrived just when the Court was rising, and saw
all the equipages of the officials. The village people pointed out
one who they said was Prime Minister. His ears drooped forward in
flaps; he had three nostrils, and his eye-lashes were just like bamboo
screens hanging in front of his eyes. Then several came out on
horseback, and they said these were the privy councillors. So they
went on, telling him the rank of all the ugly uncouth fellows he saw.
The lower they got down in the official scale the less hideous the
officials were. By-and-by Ma went back, the people in the streets
marvelling very much to see him, and tumbling helter-skelter one over
another as if they had met a goblin. The villagers shouted out to
re-assure them, and then they stood at a distance to look at him. When
he got back, there was not a man, woman, or child in the whole nation
but knew that there was a strange man at the village; and the gentry
and officials became very desirous to see him. However, if he went to
any of their houses the porter always slammed the door in his face,
and the master, mistress, and family, in general, would only peep at,
and speak to him through the cracks. Not a single one dared receive
him face to face; but, finally, the village people, at a loss what to
do, bethought themselves of a man who had been sent by a former king
on official business among strange nations. “He,” said they, “having
seen many kinds of men, will not be afraid of you.” So they went to
his house, where they were received in a very friendly way. He seemed
to be about eighty or ninety years of age; his eye-balls protruded,
and his beard curled up like a hedge-hog. He said, “In my youth I was
sent by the king among many nations, but I never went to China. I am
now one hundred and twenty years of age, and that I should be
permitted to see a native of your country is a fact which it will be
my duty to report to the Throne. For ten years and more I have not
been to Court, but have remained here in seclusion; yet I will now
make an effort on your behalf.” Then followed a banquet, and when the
wine had already circulated pretty freely, some dozen singing girls
came in and sang and danced before them. The girls all wore white
embroidered turbans, and long scarlet robes which trailed on the
ground. The words they uttered were unintelligible, and the tunes they
played perfectly hideous. The host, however, seemed to enjoy it very
much, and said to Ma, “Have you music in China?” He replied that they
had, and the old man asked for a specimen. Ma hummed him a tune,
beating time on the table, with which he was very much pleased,
declaring that his guest had the voice of a phœnix and the notes of a
dragon, such as he had never heard before. The next day he presented a
memorial to the Throne, and the king at once commanded Ma to appear
before him. Several of the ministers, however, represented that his
appearance was so hideous it might frighten His Majesty, and the king
accordingly desisted from his intention. The old man returned and told
Ma, being quite upset about it. They remained together some time until
they had drunk themselves tipsy. Then Ma, seizing a sword, began to
attitudinize, smearing his face all over with coal-dust. He acted the
part of Chang Fei,[2] at which his host was so delighted that he
begged him to appear before the Prime Minister in the character of
Chang Fei. Ma replied, “I don’t mind a little amateur acting, but how
can I play the hypocrite[3] for my own personal advantage?” On being
pressed he consented, and the old man prepared a great feast, and
asked some of the high officials to be present, telling Ma to paint
himself as before. When the guests had arrived, Ma was brought out to
see them; whereupon they all exclaimed, “Ai-yah! how is it he was so
ugly before and is now so beautiful?” By-and-by, when they were all
taking wine together, Ma began to sing them a most bewitching song,
and they got so excited over it that next day they recommended him to
the king. The king sent a special summons for him to appear, and asked
him many questions about the government of China, to all of which Ma
replied in detail, eliciting sighs of admiration from His Majesty. He
was honoured with a banquet in the royal guest-pavilion, and when the
king had made himself tipsy he said to him, “I hear you are a very
skilful musician. Will you be good enough to let me hear you?” Ma then
got up and began to attitudinize, singing a plaintive air like the
girls with the turbans. The king was charmed, and at once made him a
privy councillor, giving him a private banquet, and bestowing other
marks of royal favour. As time went on his fellow-officials found out
the secret of his painted face,[4] and whenever he was among them they
were always whispering together, besides which they avoided being near
him as much as possible. Thus Ma was left to himself, and found his
position anything but pleasant in consequence. So he memorialized the
Throne, asking to be allowed to retire from office, but his request
was refused. He then said his health was bad, and got three months’
sick leave, during which he packed up his valuables and went back to
the village. The villagers on his arrival went down on their knees to
him, and he distributed gold and jewels amongst his old friends. They
were very glad to see him, and said, “Your kindness shall be repaid
when we go to the sea-market; we will bring you some pearls and
things.” Ma asked them where that was. They said it was at the bottom
of the sea, where the mermaids[5] kept their treasures, and that as
many as twelve nations were accustomed to go thither to trade. Also
that it was frequented by spirits, and that to get there it was
necessary to pass through red vapours and great waves. “Dear Sir,”
they said, “do not yourself risk this great danger, but let us take
your money and purchase these rare pearls for you. The season is now
at hand.” Ma asked them how they knew this. They said, “Whenever we
see red birds flying backwards and forwards over the sea, we know that
within seven days the market will open.” He asked when they were
going to start, that he might accompany them; but they begged him not
to think of doing so. He replied, “I am a sailor: how can I be afraid
of wind and waves?” Very soon after this people came with merchandise
to forward, and so Ma packed up and went on board the vessel that was

This vessel held some tens of people, was flat-bottomed with a railing
all round, and, rowed by ten men, it cut through the water like an
arrow. After a voyage of three days they saw afar off faint outlines
of towers and minarets, and crowds of trading vessels. They soon
arrived at the city, the walls of which were made of bricks as long as
a man’s body, the tops of its buildings being lost in the Milky
Way.[6] Having made fast their boat they went in, and saw laid out in
the market rare pearls and wondrous precious stones of dazzling
beauty, such as are quite unknown amongst men. Then they saw a young
man come forth riding upon a beautiful steed. The people of the market
stood back to let him pass, saying he was the third son of the king;
but when the Prince saw Ma, he exclaimed, “This is no foreigner,” and
immediately an attendant drew near and asked his name and country. Ma
made a bow, and standing at one side told his name and family. The
prince smiled, and said, “For you to have honoured our country thus is
no small piece of good luck.” He then gave him a horse and begged him
to follow. They went out of the city gate and down to the sea-shore,
whereupon their horses plunged into the water. Ma was terribly
frightened and screamed out; but the sea opened dry before them and
formed a wall of water on either side. In a little time they reached
the king’s palace, the beams of which were made of tortoise-shell and
the tiles of fishes’ scales. The four walls were of crystal, and
dazzled the eye like mirrors. They got down off their horses and went
in, and Ma was introduced to the king. The young prince said, “Sire, I
have been to the market, and have got a gentleman from China.”
Whereupon Ma made obeisance before the king, who addressed him as
follows:--“Sir, from a talented scholar like yourself I venture to ask
for a few stanzas upon our sea-market. Pray do not refuse.” Ma
thereupon made a _kot‘ow_ and undertook the king’s command. Using an
ink-slab of crystal, a brush of dragon’s beard, paper as white as
snow, and ink scented like the larkspur,[7] Ma immediately threw off
some thousand odd verses, which he laid at the feet of the king. When
His Majesty saw them, he said, “Sir, your genius does honour to these
marine nations of ours.” Then, summoning the members of the royal
family, the king gave a great feast in the Coloured Cloud pavilion;
and, when the wine had circulated freely, seizing a great goblet in
his hand, the king rose and said before all the guests, “It is a
thousand pities, Sir, that you are not married. What say you to
entering the bonds of wedlock?” Ma rose blushing, and stammered out
his thanks; upon which the king looking round spoke a few words to the
attendants, and in a few moments in came a bevy of court ladies
supporting the king’s daughter, whose ornaments went tinkle, tinkle,
as she walked along. Immediately the nuptial drums and trumpets began
to sound forth, and bride and bridegroom worshipped Heaven and Earth
together.[8] Stealing a glance Ma saw that the princess was endowed
with a fairy-like loveliness. When the ceremony was over she retired,
and by-and-by the wine-party broke up. Then came several
beautifully-dressed waiting-maids, who with painted candles escorted
Ma within. The bridal couch was made of coral adorned with eight kinds
of precious stones, and the curtains were thickly hung with pearls as
big as acorns. Next day at dawn a crowd of young slave-girls trooped
into the room to offer their services; whereupon Ma got up and went
off to Court to pay his respects to the king. He was then duly
received as royal son-in-law and made an officer of state. The fame of
his poetical talents spread far and wide, and the kings of the various
seas sent officers to congratulate him, vying with each other in their
invitations to him. Ma dressed himself in gorgeous clothes, and went
forth riding on a superb steed, with a mounted body-guard all
splendidly armed. There were musicians on horseback and musicians in
chariots, and in three days he had visited every one of the marine
kingdoms, making his name known in all directions. In the palace there
was a jade tree, about as big round as a man could clasp. Its roots
were as clear as glass, and up the middle ran, as it were, a stick of
pale yellow. The branches were the size of one’s arm; the leaves like
white jade, as thick as a copper cash. The foliage was dense, and
beneath its shade the ladies of the palace were wont to sit and sing.
The flowers which covered the tree resembled grapes, and if a single
petal fell to the earth it made a ringing sound. Taking one up, it
would be found to be exactly like carved cornelian, very bright and
pretty to look at. From time to time a wonderful bird came and sang
there. Its feathers were of a golden hue, and its tail as long as its
body. Its notes were like the tinkling of jade, very plaintive and
touching to listen to. When Ma heard this bird sing, it called up in
him recollections of his old home, and accordingly he said to the
princess, “I have now been away from my own country for three years,
separated from my father and mother. Thinking of them my tears flow
and the perspiration runs down my back. Can you return with me?” His
wife replied, “The way of immortals is not that of men. I am unable to
do what you ask, but I cannot allow the feelings of husband and wife
to break the tie of parent and child. Let us devise some plan.” When
Ma heard this he wept bitterly, and the princess sighed and said, “We
cannot both stay or both go.” The next day the king said to him, “I
hear that you are pining after your old home. Will to-morrow suit you
for taking leave?” Ma thanked the king for his great kindness, which
he declared he could never forget, and promised to return very
shortly. That evening the princess and Ma talked over their wine of
their approaching separation. Ma said they would soon meet again; but
his wife averred that their married life was at an end. Then he wept
afresh, but the princess said, “Like a filial son you are going home
to your parents. In the meetings and separations of this life, a
hundred years seem but a single day; why, then, should we give way to
tears like children? I will be true to you; do you be faithful to me;
and then, though separated, we shall be united in spirit, a happy
pair. Is it necessary to live side by side in order to grow old
together? If you break our contract your next marriage will not be a
propitious one; but if loneliness[9] overtakes you then choose a
concubine. There is one point more of which I would speak, with
reference to our married life. I am about to become a mother, and I
pray you give me a name for your child.” To this Ma replied, “If a
girl I would have her called Lung-kung; if a boy, then name him
Fu-hai.”[10] The princess asked for some token of remembrance, and Ma
gave her a pair of jade lilies that he had got during his stay in the
marine kingdom. She added, “On the 8th of the 4th moon, three years
hence, when you once more steer your course for this country, I will
give you up your child.” She next packed a leather bag full of jewels
and handed it to Ma, saying, “Take care of this; it will be a
provision for many generations.” When the day began to break a
splendid farewell feast was given him by the king, and Ma bade them
all adieu. The princess, in a car drawn by snow-white sheep, escorted
him to the boundary of the marine kingdom, where he dismounted and
stepped ashore. “Farewell!” cried the princess, as her returning car
bore her rapidly away, and the sea, closing over her, snatched her
from her husband’s sight. Ma returned to his home across the ocean.
Some had thought him long since dead and gone; all marvelled at his
story. Happily his father and mother were yet alive, though his former
wife had married another man; and so he understood why the princess
had pledged him to constancy, for she already knew that this had taken
place. His father wished him to take another wife, but he would not.
He only took a concubine. Then, after the three years had passed away,
he started across the sea on his return journey, when lo! he beheld,
riding on the wave-crests and splashing about the water in playing,
two young children. On going near, one of them seized hold of him and
sprung into his arms; upon which the elder cried until he, too, was
taken up. They were a boy and girl, both very lovely, and wearing
embroidered caps adorned with jade lilies. On the back of one of them
was a worked case, in which Ma found the following letter:--

“I presume my father and mother-in-law are well. Three years have
passed away and destiny still keeps us apart. Across the great ocean,
the letter-bird would find no path.[11] I have been with you in my
dreams until I am quite worn out. Does the blue sky look down upon any
grief like mine? Yet Ch‘ang-ngo[12] lives solitary in the moon, and
Chih Nü[13] laments that she cannot cross the Silver River. Who am I
that I should expect happiness to be mine? Truly this thought turns my
tears into joy. Two months after your departure I had twins, who can
already prattle away in the language of childhood, at one moment
snatching a date, at another a pear. Had they no mother they would
still live. These I now send to you, with the jade lilies you gave me
in their hats, in token of the sender. When you take them upon your
knee, think that I am standing by your side. I know that you have kept
your promise to me, and I am happy. I shall take no second husband,
even unto death. All thoughts of dress and finery are gone from me; my
looking-glass sees no new fashions; my face has long been unpowdered,
my eyebrows unblacked. You are my Ulysses, I am your Penelope;[14]
though not actually leading a married life, how can it be said that
we are not husband and wife. Your father and mother will take their
grandchildren upon their knees, though they have never set eyes upon
the bride. Alas! there is something wrong in this. Next year your
mother will enter upon the long night. I shall be there by the side of
the grave as is becoming in her daughter-in-law. From this time forth
our daughter will be well; later on she will be able to grasp her
mother’s hand. Our boy, when he grows up, may possibly be able to come
to and fro. Adieu, dear husband, adieu, though I am leaving much
unsaid.” Ma read the letter over and over again, his tears flowing all
the time. His two children clung round his neck, and begged him to
take them home. “Ah, my children,” said he, “where is your home?” Then
they all wept bitterly, and Ma, looking at the great ocean stretching
away to meet the sky, lovely and pathless, embraced his children, and
proceeded sorrowfully to return. Knowing, too, that his mother could
not last long, he prepared everything necessary for the ceremony of
interment, and planted a hundred young pine-trees at her grave.[15]
The following year the old lady did die, and her coffin was borne to
its last resting-place, when lo! there was the princess standing by
the side of the grave. The lookers-on were much alarmed, but in a
moment there was a flash of lightning, followed by a clap of thunder
and a squall of rain, and she was gone. It was then noticed that many
of the young pine-trees which had died were one and all brought to
life. Subsequently, Fu-hai went in search of the mother for whom he
pined so much, and after some days’ absence returned. Lung-kung, being
a girl, could not accompany him, but she mourned much in secret. One
dark day her mother entered and bid her dry her eyes, saying, “My
child, you must get married. Why these tears?” She then gave her a
tree of coral eight feet in height, some Baroos camphor,[16] one
hundred valuable pearls, and two boxes inlaid with gold and precious
stones, as her dowry. Ma having found out she was there, rushed in and
seizing her hand began to weep for joy, when suddenly a violent peal
of thunder rent the building, and the princess had vanished.


[1] The term “sea-market” is generally understood in the sense of
_mirage_, or some similar phenomenon.

[2] A famous General who played a leading part in the wars of the
Three Kingdoms. See No. XCIII., note 127.

[3] A hit at the hypocrisy of the age.

[4] Shewing that hypocrisy is bad policy in the long run.

[5] The tears of Chinese mermaids are said to be pearls.

[6] See No. XIX., note 135.

[7] Good ink of the kind miscalled “Indian,” is usually very highly
scented; and from a habit the Chinese have of sucking their
writing-brushes to a fine point, the phrase “to eat ink” has become a
synonym of “to study.”

[8] This all-important point in a Chinese marriage ceremony is the
equivalent of our own “signing in the vestry.”

[9] Literally, “if you have no one to cook your food.”

[10] “Dragon Palace” and “Happy Sea,” respectively.

[11] Alluding to an old legend of a letter conveyed by a bird.

[12] See No. V., note 49.

[13] The “Spinning Damsel,” or name of a star in Lyra, connected with
which there is a celebrated legend of its annual transit across the
Milky Way.

[14] These are of course only the equivalents of the Chinese names in
the text.

[15] To keep off the much-dreaded wind, which disturbs the rest of the

[16] For which a very high price is obtained in China.



During the reign of Hsüan Tê,[17] cricket fighting was very much in
vogue at court, levies of crickets being exacted from the people as a
tax. On one occasion the magistrate of Hua-yin, wishing to make
friends with the Governor, presented him with a cricket which, on
being set to fight, displayed very remarkable powers; so much so that
the Governor commanded the magistrate to supply him regularly with
these insects. The latter, in his turn, ordered the beadles of his
district to provide him with crickets; and then it became a practice
for people who had nothing else to do to catch and rear them for this
purpose. Thus the price of crickets rose very high; and when the
beadle’s[18] runners came to exact even a single one, it was enough
to ruin several families.

Now in the village of which we are speaking there lived a man named
Ch‘êng, a student who had often failed for his bachelor’s degree; and,
being a stupid sort of fellow, his name was sent in for the post of
beadle. He did all he could to get out of it, but without success; and
by the end of the year his small patrimony was gone. Just then came a
call for crickets, and Ch‘êng, not daring to make a like call upon his
neighbours, was at his wits’ end, and in his distress determined to
commit suicide. “What’s the use of that?” cried his wife. “You’d do
better to go out and try to find some.” So off went Ch‘êng in the
early morning, with a bamboo tube and a silk net, not returning till
late at night; and he searched about in tumble-down walls, in bushes,
under stones, and in holes, but without catching more than two or
three, do what he would. Even those he did catch were weak creatures,
and of no use at all, which made the magistrate fix a limit of time,
the result of which was that in a few days Ch‘êng got one hundred
blows with the bamboo. This made him so sore that he was quite unable
to go after the crickets any more, and, as he lay tossing and turning
on the bed, he determined once again to put an end to his life.

About that time a hump-backed fortune-teller of great skill arrived at
the village, and Ch‘êng’s wife, putting together a trifle of money,
went off to seek his assistance. The door was literally blocked
up--fair young girls and white-headed dames crowding in from all
quarters. A room was darkened, and a bamboo screen hung at the door,
an altar being arranged outside at which the fortune-seekers burnt
incense in a brazier, and prostrated themselves twice, while the
soothsayer stood by the side, and, looking up into vacancy, prayed for
a response. His lips opened and shut, but nobody heard what he said,
all standing there in awe waiting for the answer. In a few moments a
piece of paper was thrown from behind the screen, and the soothsayer
said that the petitioner’s desire would be accomplished in the way he
wished. Ch‘êng’s wife now advanced, and, placing some money on the
altar, burnt her incense and prostrated herself in a similar manner.
In a few moments the screen began to move, and a piece of paper was
thrown down, on which there were no words, but only a picture. In the
middle was a building like a temple, and behind this a small hill, at
the foot of which were a number of curious stones, with the long,
spiky feelers of innumerable crickets appearing from behind. Hard by
was a frog, which seemed to be engaged in putting itself into various
kinds of attitudes. The good woman had no idea what it all meant; but
she noticed the crickets, and accordingly went off home to tell her
husband. “Ah,” said he, “this is to shew me where to hunt for
crickets;” and, on looking closely at the picture, he saw that the
building very much resembled a temple to the east of their village. So
he forced himself to get up, and, leaning on a stick, went out to seek
crickets behind the temple. Rounding an old grave, he came upon a
place where stones were lying scattered about as in the picture, and
then he set himself to watch attentively. He might as well have been
looking for a needle or a grain of mustard-seed; and by degrees he
became quite exhausted, without finding anything, when suddenly an old
frog jumped out. Ch‘êng was a little startled, but immediately pursued
the frog, which retreated into the bushes. He then saw one of the
insects he wanted sitting at the root of a bramble; but on making a
grab at it, the cricket ran into a hole, from which he was unable to
move it until he poured in some water, when out the little creature
came. It was a magnificent specimen, strong and handsome, with a fine
tail, green neck, and golden wings; and, putting it in his basket, he
returned home in high glee to receive the congratulations of his
family. He would not have taken anything for this cricket, and
proceeded to feed it up carefully in a bowl. Its belly was the colour
of a crab’s, its back that of a sweet chestnut; and Ch‘êng tended it
most lovingly, waiting for the time when the magistrate should call
upon him for a cricket.

Meanwhile, a son of Ch‘êng’s, aged nine, one day took the opportunity
of his father being out to open the bowl. Instantaneously the cricket
made a spring forward and was gone; and all efforts to catch it again
were unavailing. At length the boy made a grab at it with his hand,
but only succeeded in seizing one of its legs, which thereupon broke,
and the little creature soon afterwards died. Ch‘êng’s wife turned
deadly pale when her son, with tears in his eyes, told her what had
happened. “Oh! won’t you catch it when your father comes home,” said
she; at which the boy ran away, crying bitterly. Soon after Ch‘êng
arrived, and when he heard his wife’s story he felt as if he had been
turned to ice, and went in search of his son, who, however, was
nowhere to be found, until at length they discovered his body lying at
the bottom of a well. Their anger was thus turned to grief, and death
seemed as though it would be a pleasant relief to them as they sat
facing each other in silence in their thatched and smokeless[19] hut.
At evening they prepared to bury the boy; but, on touching the body,
lo! he was still breathing. Overjoyed, they placed him upon the bed,
and towards the middle of the night he came round; but a drop of
bitterness was mingled in his parents’ cup when they found that his
reason had fled. His father, however, caught sight of the empty bowl
in which he had kept the cricket, and ceased to think any more about
his son, never once closing his eyes all night; and as day gradually
broke, there he lay stiff and stark, until suddenly he heard the
chirping of a cricket outside the house door. Jumping up in a great
hurry to see, there was his lost insect; but, on trying to catch it,
away it hopped directly. At last he got it under his hand, though,
when he came to close his fingers on it, there was nothing in them. So
he went on, chasing it up and down, until finally it hopped into a
corner of the wall; and then, looking carefully about, he espied it
once more, no longer the same in appearance, but small, and of a dark
red colour. Ch‘êng stood looking at it, without trying to catch such a
worthless specimen, when all of a sudden the little creature hopped
into his sleeve; and, on examining it more nearly, he saw that it
really was a handsome insect, with well-formed head and neck, and
forthwith took it indoors. He was now anxious to try its prowess; and
it so happened that a young fellow of the village, who had a fine
cricket which used to win every bout it fought, and was so valuable to
him that he wanted a high price for it, called on Ch‘êng that very
day. He laughed heartily at Ch‘êng’s champion, and, producing his own,
placed it side by side, to the great disadvantage of the former.
Ch‘êng’s countenance fell, and he no longer wished to back his
cricket; however, the young fellow urged him, and he thought that
there was no use in rearing a feeble insect, and that he had better
sacrifice it for a laugh; so they put them together in a bowl. The
little cricket lay quite still like a piece of wood, at which the
young fellow roared again, and louder than ever when it did not move
even though tickled with a pig’s bristle. By dint of tickling it was
roused at last, and then it fell upon its adversary with such fury,
that in a moment the young fellow’s cricket would have been killed
outright had not its master interfered and stopped the fight. The
little cricket then stood up and chirped to Ch‘êng as a sign of
victory; and Ch‘êng, overjoyed, was just talking over the battle with
the young fellow, when a cock caught sight of the insect, and ran up
to eat it. Ch‘êng was in a great state of alarm; but the cock luckily
missed its aim, and the cricket hopped away, its enemy pursuing at
full speed. In another moment it would have been snapped up, when, lo!
to his great astonishment, Ch‘êng saw his cricket seated on the cock’s
head, holding firmly on to its comb. He then put it into a cage, and
by-and-by sent it to the magistrate, who, seeing what a small one he
had provided, was very angry indeed. Ch‘êng told the story of the
cock, which the magistrate refused to believe, and set it to fight
with other crickets, all of which it vanquished without exception. He
then tried it with a cock, and as all turned out as Ch‘êng had said,
he gave him a present, and sent the cricket in to the Governor. The
Governor put it into a golden cage, and forwarded it to the palace,
accompanied by some remarks on its performances; and when there, it
was found that of all the splendid collection of His Imperial Majesty,
not one was worthy to be placed alongside of this one. It would dance
in time to music, and thus became a great favourite, the Emperor in
return bestowing magnificent gifts of horses and silks upon the
Governor. The Governor did not forget whence he had obtained the
cricket, and the magistrate also well rewarded Ch‘êng by excusing him
from the duties of beadle, and by instructing the Literary Chancellor
to pass him for the first degree. A few months afterwards Ch‘êng’s son
recovered his intellect, and said that he had been a cricket, and had
proved himself a very skilful fighter.[20] The Governor, too, rewarded
Ch‘êng handsomely, and in a few years he was a rich man, with flocks,
and herds, and houses, and acres, quite one of the wealthiest of


[17] Of the Ming dynasty; reigned A.D. 1426-1436.

[18] These beadles are chosen by the officials from among the
respectable and substantial of the people to preside over a small area
and be responsible for the general good behaviour of its inhabitants.
The post is one of honour and occasional emolument, since all
petitions presented to the authorities, all mortgages, transfers of
land, &c., should bear the beadle’s seal or signature in evidence of
their _bonâ fide_ character. On the other hand, the beadle is punished
by fine, and sometimes bambooed, if robberies are too frequent within
his jurisdiction, or if he fails to secure the person of any
malefactor particularly wanted by his superior officers. And other
causes may combine to make the post a dangerous one; but no one is
allowed to refuse acceptance of it point-blank.

[19] A favourite Chinese expression, signifying the absence of food.

[20] That is to say, his spirit had entered, during his period of
temporary insanity, into the cricket which had allowed itself to be
caught by his father, and had animated it to fight with such
extraordinary vigour in order to make good the loss occasioned by his
carelessness in letting the other escape.



Hsiang Kao, otherwise called Ch‘u-tan, was a T‘ai-yüan man, and deeply
attached to his half-brother Shêng. Shêng himself was desperately
enamoured of a young lady named Po-ssŭ,[21] who was also very fond of
him: but the mother wanted too much money for her daughter. Now a rich
young fellow named Chuang thought he should like to get Po-ssŭ for
himself, and proposed to buy her as a concubine. “No, no,” said Po-ssŭ
to her mother, “I prefer being Shêng’s wife to becoming Chuang’s
concubine.” So her mother consented, and informed Shêng, who had only
recently buried his first wife; at which he was delighted and made
preparations to take her over to his own house. When Chuang heard this
he was infuriated against Shêng for thus depriving him of Po-ssŭ; and
chancing to meet him out one day, set to and abused him roundly.
Shêng answered him back, and then Chuang ordered his attendants to
fall upon Shêng and beat him well, which they did, leaving him
lifeless on the ground. When Hsiang heard what had taken place he ran
out and found his brother lying dead upon the ground. Overcome with
grief, he proceeded to the magistrate’s, and accused Chuang of murder;
but the latter bribed so heavily that nothing came of the accusation.
This worked Hsiang to frenzy, and he determined to assassinate Chuang
on the high road; with which intent he daily concealed himself, with a
sharp knife about him, among the bushes on the hill-side, waiting for
Chuang to pass. By degrees, this plan of his became known far and
wide, and accordingly Chuang never went out except with a strong
body-guard, besides which he engaged at a high price the services of a
very skilful archer, named Chiao T‘ung, so that Hsiang had no means of
carrying out his intention. However, he continued to lie in wait day
after day, and on one occasion it began to rain heavily, and in a
short time Hsiang was wet through to the skin. Then the wind got up,
and a hailstorm followed, and by-and-by Hsiang was quite numbed with
the cold. On the top of the hill there was a small temple wherein
lived a Taoist priest, whom Hsiang knew from the latter having
occasionally begged alms in the village, and to whom he had often
given a meal. This priest, seeing how wet he was, gave him some other
clothes, and told him to put them on; but no sooner had he done so
than he crouched down like a dog, and found that he had been changed
into a tiger, and that the priest had vanished. It now occurred to him
to seize this opportunity of revenging himself upon his enemy; and
away he went to his old ambush, where lo and behold! he found his own
body lying stiff and stark. Fearing lest it should become food for
birds of prey, he guarded it carefully, until at length one day Chuang
passed by. Out rushed the tiger and sprung upon Chuang, biting his
head off, and swallowing it upon the spot; at which Chiao T‘ung, the
archer, turned round and shot the animal through the heart. Just at
that moment Hsiang awaked as though from a dream, but it was some time
before he could crawl home, where he arrived to the great delight of
his family, who didn’t know what had become of him. Hsiang said not a
word, lying quietly on the bed until some of his people came in to
congratulate him on the death of his great enemy Chuang. Hsiang then
cried out, “I was that tiger,” and proceeded to relate the whole
story, which thus got about until it reached the ears of Chuang’s son,
who immediately set to work to bring his father’s murderer to justice.
The magistrate, however, did not consider this wild story as
sufficient evidence against him, and thereupon dismissed the case.


[21] This is the term used by the Chinese for “Persia,” often put by
metonymy for things which come from that country, _sc._ “valuables.”
Thus, “to be poor in Persia” is to have but few jewels, gold and
silver ornaments, and even clothes.



At Lin-t‘iao there lived a Mr. Fêng, whose other name the person who
told me this story could not remember; he belonged to a good family,
though now somewhat falling into decay. Now a certain man, who caught
turtles, owed him some money which he could not pay, but whenever he
captured any turtles he used to send one to Mr. Fêng. One day he took
him an enormous creature, with a white spot on its forehead; but Fêng
was so struck with something in its appearance, that he let it go
again. A little while afterwards he was returning home from his
son-in-law’s, and had reached the banks of the river,[22] when in the
dusk of the evening he saw a drunken man come rolling along, attended
by two or three servants. No sooner did he perceive Fêng than he
called out, “Who are you?” to which Fêng replied that he was a
traveller. “And haven’t you got a name?” shouted out the drunken man
in a rage, “that you must call yourself a traveller?” To this Fêng
made no reply, but tried to pass by; whereupon he found himself seized
by the sleeve and unable to move. His adversary smelt horribly of
wine, and at length Fêng asked him, saying, “And pray who are you?”
“Oh, I am the late magistrate at Nan-tu,” answered he; “what do you
want to know for?” “A nice disgrace to society you are, too,” cried
Fêng; “however, I am glad to hear you are only _late_ magistrate, for
if you had been present magistrate there would be bad times in store
for travellers.” This made the drunken man furious, and he was
proceeding to use violence, when Fêng cried out, “My name is
So-and-so, and I’m not the man to stand this sort of thing from
anybody.” No sooner had he uttered these words than the drunken man’s
rage was turned into joy, and, falling on his knees before Fêng, he
said, “My benefactor! pray excuse my rudeness.” Then getting up, he
told his servants to go on ahead and get something ready; Fêng at
first declining to go with him, but yielding on being pressed. Taking
his hand, the drunken man led him along a short distance until they
reached a village, where there was a very nice house and grounds,
quite like the establishment of a person of position. As his friend
was now getting sober, Fêng inquired what might be his name. “Don’t be
frightened when I tell you,” said the other; “I am the Eighth Prince
of the T‘iao river. I have just been out to take wine with a friend,
and somehow I got tipsy; hence my bad behaviour to you, which please
forgive.” Fêng now knew that he was not of mortal flesh and blood;
but, seeing how kindly he himself was treated, he was not a bit
afraid. A banquet followed, with plenty of wine, of which the Eighth
Prince drank so freely that Fêng thought he would soon be worse than
ever, and accordingly said he felt tipsy himself, and asked to be
allowed to go to bed. “Never fear,” answered the Prince, who perceived
Fêng’s thoughts; “many drunkards will tell you that they cannot
remember in the morning the extravagances of the previous night, but I
tell you this is all nonsense, and that in nine cases out of ten those
extravagances are committed wittingly and with malice prepense.[23]
Now, though I am not the same order of being as yourself, I should
never venture to behave badly in your good presence; so pray do not
leave me thus.” Fêng then sat down again and said to the Prince,
“Since you are aware of this, why not change your ways?” “Ah,” replied
the Prince, “when I was a magistrate I drank much more than I do now;
but I got into disgrace with the Emperor and was banished here, since
which time, ten years and more, I have tried to reform. Now, however,
I am drawing near the wood,[24] and being unable to move about much,
the old vice has come upon me again; I have found it impossible to
stop myself, but perhaps what you say may do me some good.” While they
were thus talking, the sound of a distant bell broke upon their ears;
and the Prince, getting up and seizing Fêng’s hand, said, “We cannot
remain together any longer; but I will give you something by which I
may in part requite your kindness to me. It must not be kept for any
great length of time; when you have attained your wishes, then I will
receive it back again.” Thereupon he spit out of his mouth a tiny man,
no more than an inch high, and scratching Fêng’s arm with his nails
until Fêng felt as if the skin was gone, he quickly laid the little
man upon the spot. When he let go, the latter had already sunk into
the skin, and nothing was to be seen but a cicatrix well healed over.
Fêng now asked what it all meant, but the Prince only laughed, and
said, “It’s time for you to go,” and forthwith escorted him to the
door. The prince here bade him adieu, and when he looked round,
Prince, village, and house had all disappeared together, leaving
behind a great turtle which waddled down into the water, and
disappeared likewise. He could now easily account for the Prince’s
present to him; and from this moment his sight became intensely keen.
He could see precious stones lying in the bowels of the earth, and was
able to look down as far as Hell itself; besides which he suddenly
found that he knew the names of many things of which he had never
heard before. From below his own bedroom he dug up many hundred ounces
of pure silver, upon which he lived very comfortably; and once when a
house was for sale, he perceived that in it lay concealed a vast
quantity of gold, so he immediately bought it, and so became immensely
rich in all kinds of valuables. He secured a mirror, on the back of
which was a phœnix, surrounded by water and clouds, and portraits of
the celebrated wives of the Emperor Shun,[25] so beautifully executed
that each hair of the head and eyebrows could easily be counted. If
any woman’s face came upon the mirror, there it remained indelibly
fixed and not to be rubbed out; but if the same woman looked into the
mirror again, dressed in a different dress, or if some other woman
chanced to look in, then the former face would gradually fade away.

Now the third princess in Prince Su’s family was very beautiful; and
Fêng, who had long heard of her fame, concealed himself on the
K‘ung-tung hill, when he knew the Princess was going there. He waited
until she alighted from her chair, and then getting the mirror full
upon her, he walked off home. Laying it on the table, he saw therein a
lovely girl in the act of raising her handkerchief, and with a sweet
smile playing over her face; her lips seemed about to move, and a
twinkle was discernible in her eyes.[26] Delighted with this picture,
he put the mirror very carefully away; but in about a year his wife
had let the story leak out, and the Prince, hearing of it, threw Fêng
into prison, and took possession of the mirror. Fêng was to be
beheaded; however, he bribed one of the Prince’s ladies to tell His
Highness that if he would pardon him all the treasures of the earth
might easily become his; whereas, on the other hand, his death could
not possibly be of any advantage to the Prince. The Prince now thought
of confiscating all his goods and banishing him; but the third
princess observed, that as he had already seen her, were he to die ten
times over it would not give her back her lost face, and that she had
much better marry him. The Prince would not hear of this, whereupon
his daughter shut herself up and refused all nourishment, at which the
ladies of the palace were dreadfully alarmed, and reported it at once
to the Prince. Fêng was accordingly liberated, and was informed of the
determination of the Princess, which, however, he declined to fall in
with, saying that he was not going thus to sacrifice the wife of his
days of poverty,[27] and would rather die than carry out such an
order. He added that if His Highness would consent, he would purchase
his liberty at the price of everything he had. The Prince was
exceedingly angry at this, and seized Fêng again; and meanwhile one of
the concubines got Fêng’s wife into the palace, intending to poison
her. Fêng’s wife, however, brought her a beautiful present of a coral
stand for a looking-glass, and was so agreeable in her conversation,
that the concubine took a great fancy to her, and presented her to the
Princess, who was equally pleased, and forthwith determined that they
would both be Fêng’s wives.[28] When Fêng heard of this plan, he said
to his wife, “With a Prince’s daughter there can be no distinctions of
first and second wife;” but Mrs. Fêng paid no heed to him, and
immediately sent off to the Prince such an enormous quantity of
valuables that it took a thousand men to carry them, and the Prince
himself had never before heard of such treasures in his life. Fêng was
now liberated once more, and solemnized his marriage with the

One night after this he dreamt that the Eighth Prince came to him and
asked him to return his former present, saying that to keep it too
long would be injurious to his chances of life. Fêng asked him to
take a drink, but the Eighth Prince said that he had forsworn wine,
acting under Fêng’s advice, for three years. He then bit Fêng’s arm,
and the latter waked up with the pain to find that the cicatrix on his
arm was no longer there.


[22] The name here used is the _Hêng_ or “ceaseless” river, which is
applied by the Chinese to the Ganges. A certain number, extending to
fifty-three places of figures, is called “Ganges sand,” in allusion to
a famous remark that “Buddha and the Bôdhisatvas knew of the creation
and destruction of every grain of dust in Jambudwipa (the universe);
how much more the number of the sand-particles in the river Ganges?”

[23] Drunkenness is not recognised in China as an extenuating
circumstance; neither, indeed, is insanity,--a lunatic who takes
another man’s life being equally liable with ordinary persons to the
forfeiture of his own.

[24] A favourite Chinese figure expressive of old age. It dates back
to the celebrated commentary by Tso Ch‘iu Ming on Confucius’ _Spring
and Autumn_ (See No. XLI., note 237):--“Hsi is twenty-three and I am
twenty-five; and marrying thus we shall approach the wood together;”
the “wood” being, of course, that of the coffin.

[25] See No. VIII., note 63.


   “... Move these eyes?
    ... Here are severed lips.”

          --_Merchant of Venice_, Act iii., sc. 2.

[27] See No. LIII., note 288.

[28] This method of arranging a matrimonial difficulty is a common one
in Chinese fiction, but I should say quite unknown in real life.



In the province of Kuangtung there lived a scholar named Kuo, who was
one evening on his way home from a friend’s, when he lost his way
among the hills. He got into a thick jungle, where, after about an
hour’s wandering, he suddenly heard the sound of laughing and talking
on the top of the hill. Hurrying up in the direction of the sound, he
beheld some ten or a dozen persons sitting on the ground engaged in
drinking. No sooner had they caught sight of Kuo than they all cried
out, “Come along! just room for one more; you’re in the nick of time.”
So Kuo sat down with the company, most of whom, he noticed, belonged
to the literati,[29] and began by asking them to direct him on his way
home; but one of them cried out, “A nice sort of fellow you are, to
be bothering about your way home, and paying no attention to the fine
moon we have got to-night.” The speaker then presented him with a
goblet of wine of exquisite bouquet, which Kuo drank off at a draught,
and another gentleman filled up again for him at once. Now, Kuo was
pretty good in that line, and being very thirsty withal from his long
walk, tossed off bumper after bumper, to the great delight of his
hosts, who were unanimous in voting him a jolly good fellow. He was,
moreover, full of fun, and could imitate exactly the note of any kind
of bird; so all of a sudden he began on the sly to twitter like a
swallow, to the great astonishment of the others, who wondered how it
was a swallow could be out so late. He then changed his note to that
of a cuckoo, sitting there laughing and saying nothing, while his
hosts were discussing the extraordinary sounds they had just heard.
After a while he imitated a parrot, and cried, “Mr. Kuo is very drunk:
you’d better see him home;” and then the sounds ceased, beginning
again by-and-by, when at last the others found out who it was, and all
burst out laughing. They screwed up their mouths and tried to whistle
like Kuo, but none of them could do so; and soon one of them observed,
“What a pity Madam Ch‘ing isn’t with us: we must rendezvous here again
at mid-autumn, and you, Mr. Kuo, must be sure and come.” Kuo said he
would, whereupon another of his hosts got up and remarked that, as he
had given them such an amusing entertainment, they would try to shew
him a few acrobatic feats. They all arose, and one of them planting
his feet firmly, a second jumped up on to his shoulders, a third on to
the second’s shoulders, and a fourth on to his, until it was too high
for the rest to jump up, and accordingly they began to climb as though
it had been a ladder. When they were all up, and the topmost head
seemed to touch the clouds, the whole column bent gradually down until
it lay along the ground transformed into a path. Kuo remained for some
time in a state of considerable alarm, and then, setting out along
this path, ultimately reached his own home. Some days afterwards he
revisited the spot, and saw the remains of a feast lying about on the
ground, with dense bushes on all sides, but no sign of a path. At
mid-autumn he thought of keeping his engagement; however, his friends
persuaded him not to go.


[29] This term, while really including all literary men, of no matter
what rank or standing, is more usually confined to that large section
of unemployed scholarship made up of (1) those who are waiting to get
started in an official career, (2) those who have taken one or more
degrees and are preparing for the next, (3) those who have failed to
distinguish themselves at the public examinations, and eke out a small
patrimony by taking pupils, and (4) scholars of sufficiently high
qualifications who have no taste for official life.



Mr. Niu was a Kiangsi man who traded in piece goods. He married a wife
from the Chêng family, by whom he had two children, a boy and a girl.
When thirty-three years of age he fell ill and died, his son Chung
being then only twelve and his little girl eight or nine. His wife did
not remain faithful to his memory, but, selling off all the property,
pocketed the proceeds and married another man, leaving her two
children almost in a state of destitution with their aunt, Niu’s
sister-in-law, an old lady of sixty, who had lived with them
previously, and had now nowhere to seek a shelter. A few years later
this aunt died, and the family fortunes began to sink even lower than
before; Chung, however, was now grown up, and determined to carry on
his father’s trade, only he had no capital to start with. His sister
marrying a rich trader named Mao, she begged her husband to lend Chung
ten ounces of silver, which he did, and Chung immediately started for
Nanking. On the road he fell in with some bandits, who robbed him of
all he had, and consequently he was unable to return; but one day when
he was at a pawnshop he noticed that the master of the shop was
wonderfully like his late father, and on going out and making
inquiries he found that this pawnbroker bore precisely the same names.
In great astonishment, he forthwith proceeded to frequent the place
with no other object than to watch this man, who, on the other hand,
took no notice of Chung; and by the end of three days, having
satisfied himself that he really saw his own father, and yet not
daring to disclose his own identity, he made application through one
of the assistants, on the score of being himself a Kiangsi man, to be
employed in the shop. Accordingly, an indenture was drawn up; and when
the master noticed Chung’s name and place of residence he started, and
asked him whence he came. With tears in his eyes Chung addressed him
by his father’s name, and then the pawnbroker became lost in a deep
reverie, by-and-by asking Chung how his mother was. Now Chung did not
like to allude to his father’s death, and turned the question by
saying, “My father went away on business six years ago, and never came
back; my mother married again and left us, and had it not been for my
aunt our corpses would long ago have been cast out in the kennel.”
Then the pawnbroker was much moved, and cried out, “I am your father!”
seizing his son’s hand and leading him within to see his step-mother.
This lady was about twenty-two, and, having no children of her own,
was delighted with Chung, and prepared a banquet for him in the inner
apartments. Mr. Niu himself was, however, somewhat melancholy, and
wished to return to his old home; but his wife, fearing that there
would be no one to manage the business, persuaded him to remain; so he
taught his son the trade, and in three months was able to leave it all
to him. He then prepared for his journey, whereupon Chung informed his
step-mother that his father was really dead, to which she replied in
great consternation that she knew him only as a trader to the place,
and that six years previously he had married her, which proved
conclusively that he couldn’t be dead. He then recounted the whole
story, which was a perfect mystery to both of them; and twenty-four
hours afterwards in walked his father, leading a woman whose hair was
all dishevelled. Chung looked at her and saw that she was his own
mother; and Niu took her by the ear and began to revile her, saying,
“Why did you desert my children?” to which the wretched woman made no
reply. He then bit her across the neck, at which she screamed to Chung
for assistance, and he, not being able to bear the sight, stepped in
between them. His father was more than ever enraged at this, when, lo!
Chung’s mother had disappeared. While they were still lost in
astonishment at this strange scene, Mr. Niu’s colour changed; in
another moment his empty clothes had dropped upon the ground, and he
himself became a black vapour and also vanished from their sight. The
step-mother and son were much overcome; they took Niu’s clothes and
buried them, and after that Chung continued his father’s business and
soon amassed great wealth. On returning to his native place he found
that his mother had actually died on the very day of the above
occurrence, and that his father had been seen by the whole family.


[30] Unless under exceptional circumstances it is not considered
creditable in China for widows to marry again. It may here be
mentioned that the honorary tablets conferred from time to time by His
Imperial Majesty upon virtuous widows are only given to women who,
widowed before the age of thirty, have remained in that state for a
period of thirty years. The meaning of this is obvious: temptations
are supposed to be fewer and less dangerous after thirty, which is the
equivalent of forty with us; and it is wholly improbable that thirty
years of virtuous life, at which period the widow would be at least
fifty, would be followed by any act that might cast a stain upon the
tablet thus bestowed.



Ch‘ên Pi-chiao was a Pekingese; and being a poor man he attached
himself as secretary to the suite of a high military official named
Chia. On one occasion, while anchored on the Tung-t‘ing lake, they saw
a dolphin[31] floating on the surface of the water; and General Chia
took his bow and shot at it, wounding the creature in the back. A fish
was hanging on to its tail, and would not let go; so both were pulled
out of the water together, and attached to the mast. There they lay
gasping, the dolphin opening its mouth as if pleading for life, until
at length young Ch‘ên begged the General to let them go again; and
then he himself half jokingly put a piece of plaster upon the
dolphin’s wound, and had the two thrown back into the water, where
they were seen for some time afterwards diving and rising again to the
surface. About a year afterwards, Ch‘ên was once more crossing the
Tung-t‘ing lake on his way home, when the boat was upset in a squall,
and he himself only saved by clinging to a bamboo crate, which
finally, after floating about all night, caught in the overhanging
branch of a tree, and thus enabled him to scramble on shore.
By-and-by, another body floated in, and this turned out to be his
servant; but on dragging him out, he found life was already extinct.
In great distress, he sat himself down to rest, and saw beautiful
green hills and waving willows, but not a single human being of whom
he could ask the way. From early dawn till the morning was far
advanced he remained in that state; and then, thinking he saw his
servant’s body move, he stretched out his hand to feel it, and before
long the man threw up several quarts of water and recovered his
consciousness. They now dried their clothes in the sun, and by noon
these were fit to put on; at which period the pangs of hunger began to
assail them, and accordingly they started over the hills in the hope
of coming upon some habitation of man. As they were walking along, an
arrow whizzed past, and the next moment two young ladies dashed by on
handsome palfreys. Each had a scarlet band round her head, with a
bunch of pheasant’s feathers stuck in her hair, and wore a purple
riding-jacket with small sleeves, confined by a green embroidered
girdle round the waist. One of them carried a cross-bow for shooting
bullets, and the other had on her arm a dark-coloured bow-and-arrow
case. Reaching the brow of the hill, Ch‘ên beheld a number of riders
engaged in beating the surrounding cover, all of whom were beautiful
girls and dressed exactly alike. Afraid to advance any further, he
inquired of a youth who appeared to be in attendance, and the latter
told him that it was a hunting party from the palace; and then, having
supplied him with food from his wallet, he bade him retire quickly,
adding that if he fell in with them he would assuredly be put to
death. Thereupon Ch‘ên hurried away; and descending the hill, turned
into a copse where there was a building which he thought would in all
probability be a monastery. On getting nearer, he saw that the place
was surrounded by a wall, and between him and a half-open red-door was
a brook spanned by a stone bridge leading up to it. Pulling back the
door, he beheld within a number of ornamental buildings circling in
the air like so many clouds, and for all the world resembling the
Imperial pleasure-grounds; and thinking it must be the park of some
official personage, he walked quietly in, enjoying the delicious
fragrance of the flowers as he pushed aside the thick vegetation which
obstructed his way. After traversing a winding path fenced in by
balustrades, Ch‘ên reached a second enclosure, wherein were a quantity
of tall willow-trees which swept the red eaves of the buildings with
their branches. The note of some bird would set the petals of the
flowers fluttering in the air, and the least wind would bring the
seed-vessels down from the elm-trees above; and the effect upon the
eye and heart of the beholder was something quite unknown in the world
of mortals. Passing through a small kiosque, Ch‘ên and his servant
came upon a swing which seemed as though suspended from the clouds,
while the ropes hung idly down in the utter stillness that
prevailed.[32] Thinking by this that they were approaching the ladies’
apartments,[33] Ch‘ên would have turned back, but at that moment he
heard sounds of horses’ feet at the door, and what seemed to be the
laughter of a bevy of girls. So he and his servant hid themselves in a
bush; and by-and-by, as the sounds came nearer, he heard one of the
young ladies say, “We’ve had but poor sport to-day;” whereupon another
cried out, “If the princess hadn’t shot that wild goose, we should
have taken all this trouble for nothing.” Shortly after this, a number
of girls dressed in red came in escorting a young lady, who went and
sat down under the kiosque. She wore a hunting costume with tight[34]
sleeves, and was about fourteen or fifteen years old. Her hair looked
like a cloud of mist at the back of her head, and her waist seemed as
though a breath of wind might snap it[35]--incomparable for beauty,
even among the celebrities of old. Just then the attendants handed her
some exquisitely fragrant tea, and stood glittering round her like a
bank of beautiful embroidery. In a few moments the young lady arose
and descended the kiosque; at which one of her attendants cried out,
“Is your Highness too fatigued by riding to take a turn in the swing?”
The princess replied that she was not; and immediately some supported
her under the shoulders, while others seized her arms, and others
again arranged her petticoats, and brought her the proper shoes.[36]
Thus they helped her into the swing, she herself stretching out her
shining arms, and putting her feet into a suitable pair of slippers;
and then--away she went, light as a flying-swallow, far up into the
fleecy clouds. As soon as she had had enough, the attendants helped
her out, and one of them exclaimed, “Truly, your Highness is a
perfect angel!” At this the young lady laughed, and walked away, Ch‘ên
gazing after her in a state of semi-consciousness, until, at length,
the voices died away, and he and his servant crept forth. Walking up
and down near the swing, he suddenly espied a red handkerchief near
the paling, which he knew had been dropped by one of the young ladies;
and, thrusting it joyfully into his sleeve, he walked up and entered
the kiosque. There, upon a table, lay writing materials, and taking
out the handkerchief he indited upon it the following lines:--

       “What form divine was just now sporting nigh?--
   ’Twas she, I trow of ‘golden lily’ fame;
    Her charms the moon’s fair denizens might shame,
        Her fairy footsteps bear her to the sky.”

Humming this stanza to himself, Ch‘ên walked along seeking for the
path by which he had entered; but every door was securely barred, and
he knew not what to do. So he went back to the kiosque, when suddenly
one of the young ladies appeared, and asked him in astonishment what
he did there. “I have lost my way,” replied Ch‘ên; “I pray you lend me
your assistance.” “Do you happen to have found a red handkerchief?”
said the girl. “I have, indeed,” answered Ch‘ên, “but I fear I have
made it somewhat dirty;” and, suiting the action to the word, he drew
it forth, and handed it to her. “Wretched man!” cried the young lady,
“you are undone. This is a handkerchief the princess is constantly
using, and you have gone and scribbled all over it; what will become
of you now?” Ch‘ên was in a great fright, and begged the young lady
to intercede for him; to which she replied, “It was bad enough that
you should come here and spy about; however, being a scholar, and a
man of refinement, I would have done my best for you; but after this,
how am I to help you?” Off she then ran with the handkerchief, while
Ch‘ên remained behind in an agony of suspense, and longing for the
wings of a bird to bear him away from his fate. By-and-by, the young
lady returned and congratulated him, saying, “There is some hope for
you. The Princess read your verses several times over, and was not at
all angry. You will probably be released; but, meanwhile, wait here,
and don’t climb the trees, or try to get through the walls, or you may
not escape after all.” Evening was now drawing on, and Ch‘ên knew not,
for certain, what was about to happen; at the same time he was very
empty, and, what with hunger and anxiety, death would have been almost
a happy release. Before long, the young lady returned with a lamp in
her hand, and followed by a slave-girl bearing wine and food, which
she forthwith presented to Ch‘ên. The latter asked if there was any
news about himself; to which the young lady replied that she had just
mentioned his case to the Princess who, not knowing what to do with
him at that hour of the night, had given orders that he should at once
be provided with food, “which, at any rate,” added she, “is not bad
news.” The whole night long Ch‘ên walked up and down unable to take
rest; and it was not till late in the morning that the young lady
appeared with more food for him. Imploring her once more to intercede
on his behalf, she told him that the Princess had not instructed them
either to kill or to release him, and that it would not be fitting for
such as herself to be bothering the Princess with suggestions. So
there Ch‘ên still remained until another day had almost gone, hoping
for the welcome moment; and then the young lady rushed hurriedly in,
saying, “You are lost! Some one has told the Queen, and she, in a fit
of anger, threw the handkerchief on the ground, and made use of very
violent language. Oh dear! oh dear! I’m sure something dreadful will
happen.” Ch‘ên threw himself on his knees, his face as pale as ashes,
and begged to know what he should do; but at that moment sounds were
heard outside, and the young lady waved her hand to him, and ran away.
Immediately a crowd came pouring in through the door, with ropes ready
to secure the object of their search; and among them was a slave-girl,
who looked fixedly at our hero, and cried out, “Why, surely you are
Mr. Ch‘ên, aren’t you?” at the same time stopping the others from
binding him until she should have reported to the Queen. In a few
minutes she came back, and said the Queen requested him to walk in;
and in he went, through a number of doors, trembling all the time with
fear, until he reached a hall, the screen before which was ornamented
with green jade and silver. A beautiful girl drew aside the bamboo
curtain at the door, and announced, “Mr. Ch‘ên;” and he himself
advanced, and fell down before a lady, who was sitting upon a dais at
the other end, knocking his head upon the ground, and crying out,
“Thy servant is from a far-off country; spare, oh! spare his life.”
“Sir!” replied the Queen, rising hastily from her seat, and extending
a hand to Ch‘ên, “but for you, I should not be here to-day. Pray
excuse the rudeness of my maids.” Thereupon a splendid repast was
served, and wine was poured out in chased goblets, to the no small
astonishment of Ch‘ên, who could not understand why he was treated
thus. “Your kindness,” observed the Queen, “in restoring me to life, I
am quite unable to repay; however, as you have made my daughter the
subject of your verse, the match is clearly ordained by fate, and I
shall send her along to be your handmaid.” Ch‘ên hardly knew what to
make of this extraordinary accomplishment of his wishes, but the
marriage was solemnized there and then; bands of music struck up
wedding-airs, beautiful mats were laid down for them to walk upon, and
the whole place was brilliantly lighted with a profusion of coloured
lamps. Then Ch‘ên said to the Princess, “That a stray and unknown
traveller like myself, guilty of spoiling your Highness’s
handkerchief, should have escaped the fate he deserved, was already
more than could be expected; but now to receive you in marriage--this,
indeed, far surpasses my wildest expectations.” “My mother,” replied
the Princess, “is married to the King of this lake, and is herself a
daughter of the River Prince. Last year, when on her way to visit her
parents, she happened to cross the lake, and was wounded by an arrow;
but you saved her life, and gave her plaster for the wound. Our
family, therefore, is grateful to you, and can never forget your good
act. And do not regard me as of another species than yourself; the
Dragon King has bestowed upon me the elixir of immortality, and this I
will gladly share with you.” Then Ch‘ên knew that his wife was a
spirit, and by-and-by he asked her how the slave-girl had recognised
him; to which she replied, that the girl was the small fish which had
been found hanging to the dolphin’s tail. He then inquired why, as
they didn’t intend to kill him, he had been kept so long a prisoner.
“I was charmed with your literary talent,” answered the Princess, “but
I did not venture to take the responsibility upon myself; and no one
saw how I tossed and turned the livelong night.” “Dear friend,” said
Ch‘ên; “but, come, tell me who was it that brought my food.” “A trusty
waiting-maid of mine,” replied the Princess; “her name is A-nien.”
Ch‘ên then asked how he could ever repay her, and the Princess told
him there would be plenty of time to think of that; and when he
inquired where the king, her father, was, she said he had gone off
with the God of War to fight against Ch‘ih-yu,[37] and had not
returned. A few days passed, and Ch‘ên began to think his people at
home would be anxious about him; so he sent off his servant with a
letter to tell them he was safe and sound, at which they were all
overjoyed, believing him to have been lost in the wreck of the boat,
of which event news had already reached them. However, they were
unable to send him any reply, and were considerably distressed as to
how he would find his way home again. Six months afterwards Ch‘ên
himself appeared, dressed in fine clothes, and riding on a splendid
horse, with plenty of money, and valuable jewels in his
pocket--evidently a man of wealth. From that time forth he kept up a
magnificent establishment; and in seven or eight years had become the
father of five children. Every day he kept open house, and if any one
asked him about his adventures, he would readily tell them without
reservation. Now a friend of his, named Liang, whom he had known since
they were boys together, and who, after holding an appointment for
some years in Nan-fu, was crossing the Tung-t‘ing Lake, on his way
home, suddenly beheld an ornamental barge, with carved wood-work and
red windows, passing over the foamy waves to the sound of music and
singing from within. Just then a beautiful young lady leant out of one
of the windows, which she had pushed open, and by her side Liang saw a
young man sitting, in a _négligé_ attitude, while two nice-looking
girls stood by and shampooed[38] him. Liang, at first, thought it
must be the party of some high official, and wondered at the scarcity
of attendants;[39] but, on looking more closely at the young man, he
saw it was no other than his old friend Ch‘ên. Thereupon he began
almost involuntarily to shout out to him; and when Ch‘ên heard his own
name, he stopped the rowers, and walked out towards the
figure-head,[40] beckoning Liang to cross over into his boat, where
the remains of their feast was quickly cleared away, and fresh
supplies of wine, and tea, and all kinds of costly foods spread out by
handsome slave-girls. “It’s ten years since we met,” said Liang, “and
what a rich man you have become in the meantime.” “Well,” replied
Ch‘ên, “do you think that so very extraordinary for a poor fellow like
me?” Liang then asked him who was the lady with whom he was taking
wine, and Ch‘ên said she was his wife, which very much astonished
Liang, who further inquired whither they were going. “Westwards,”
answered Ch‘ên, and prevented any further questions by giving a signal
for the music, which effectually put a stop to all further
conversation.[41] By-and-by, Liang found the wine getting into his
head, and seized the opportunity to ask Ch‘ên to make him a present
of one of his beautiful slave-girls. “You are drunk,[42] my friend,”
replied Ch‘ên; “however, I will give you the price of one as a pledge
of our old friendship.” And, turning to a servant, he bade him present
Liang with a splendid pearl, saying, “Now you can buy a Green
Pearl;[43] you see I am not stingy;” adding forthwith, “but I am
pressed for time, and can stay no longer with my old friend.” So he
escorted Liang back to his boat, and, having let go the rope,
proceeded on his way. Now, when Liang reached home, and called at
Ch‘ên’s house, whom should he see but Ch‘ên himself drinking with a
party of friends. “Why, I saw you only yesterday,” cried Liang, “upon
the Tung-t‘ing. How quickly you have got back!” Ch‘ên denied this, and
then Liang repeated the whole story, at the conclusion of which, Ch‘ên
laughed, and said, “You must be mistaken. Do you imagine I can be in
two places at once?” The company were all much astonished, and knew
not what to make of it; and subsequently when Ch‘ên, who died at the
age of eighty, was being carried to his grave, the bearers thought the
coffin seemed remarkably light, and on opening it to see, found that
the body had disappeared.


[31] Literally, a “pig old-woman dragon.” Porpoise (Fr.
_porc-poisson_) suggests itself at once; but I think fresh-water
dolphin is the best term, especially as the Tung-t‘ing lake is many
hundred miles inland. The commentator explains it by _t‘o_, which
would be “alligator” or “cayman,” and is of course out of the
question. My friend, Mr. L. C. Hopkins, has taken the trouble to make
some investigations for me on this subject. He tells me that this
fish, also called the “river pig,” has first to be surrounded and
secured by a strong net. Being too large to be hauled on board a boat,
it is then driven ashore, where oil is extracted from the carcase and
used for giving a gloss to silk thread, &c.

[32] Literally, in the utter absence of anybody.

[33] In passing near to the women’s quarters in a friend’s house, it
is etiquette to cough slightly, that inmates may be warned and
withdraw from the doors or windows in time to escape observation. Over
and over again at interviews with mandarins of all grades I have heard
the rustling of the ladies’ dresses from some coigne of vantage,
whence every movement of mine was being watched by an inquisitive
crowd; and on one occasion I actually saw an eye peering through a
small hole in the partition behind me.

[34] Literally, “bald”--_i.e._, without the usual width and
ornamentation of a Chinese lady’s sleeve.

[35] Small waists are much admired in China, but any such artificial
aids as stays and tight lacing are quite unknown. A certain Prince Wei
admitted none but the possessors of small waists into his harem; hence
his establishment came to be called the _Palace of Small Waists_.

[36] Probably of felt or some such material, to prevent the young lady
from slipping as she stood, not sat, in the swing.

[37] A rebel chieftain of the legendary period of China’s history, who
took up arms against the Emperor Huang Ti (B.C. 2697-2597), but was
subsequently defeated in what was perhaps the first decisive battle of
the world.

[38] This favourite process consists in gently thumping the person
operated upon all over the back with the soft part of the closed
fists. Compare Lane, _Arabian Nights_, Vol. I., p. 551:--“She then
pressed me to her bosom, and laid me on the bed, and continued gently
kneading my limbs until slumber overcame me.”

[39] See No. LVI., note 315. A considerable number of the attendants
there mentioned would accompany any high official, some in the same,
the rest in another barge.

[40] Generally known as the “cut-wave God.”

[41] At all great banquets in China a theatrical troupe is engaged to
perform while the dinner, which may last from four to six hours, drags
its slow length along.

[42] See No. LIV., note 292.

[43] The name of a celebrated beauty.



At Chiao-chou there lived a man named Tou Hsün, otherwise known as
Hsiao-hui. One day he had just dropped off to sleep when he beheld a
man in serge clothes standing by the bedside, and apparently anxious
to communicate something to him. Tou inquired his errand; to which the
man replied that he was the bearer of an invitation from his master.
“And who is your master?” asked Tou. “Oh, he doesn’t live far off,”
replied the other; so away they went together, and after some time
came to a place where there were innumerable white houses rising one
above the other, and shaded by dense groves of lemon-trees. They
threaded their way past countless doors, not at all similar to those
usually used, and saw a great many official-looking men and women
passing and repassing, each of whom called out to the man in serge,
“Has Mr. Tou come?” to which he always replied in the affirmative.
Here a mandarin met them and escorted Tou into a palace, upon which
the latter remarked, “This is really very kind of you; but I haven’t
the honour of knowing you, and I feel somewhat diffident about going
in.” “Our Prince,” answered his guide, “has long heard of you as a
man of good family and excellent principles, and is very anxious to
make your acquaintance.” “Who is your Prince?” inquired Tou. “You’ll
see for yourself in a moment,” said the other; and just then out came
two girls with banners, and guided Tou through a great number of doors
until they came to a throne, upon which sat the Prince. His Highness
immediately descended to meet him, and made him take the seat of
honour; after which ceremony exquisite viands of all kinds were spread
out before them. Looking up, Tou noticed a scroll, on which was
inscribed, _The Cassia Court_, and he was just beginning to feel
puzzled as to what he should say next, when the Prince addressed him
as follows:--“The honour of having you for a neighbour is, as it were,
a bond of affinity between us. Let us, then, give ourselves up to
enjoyment, and put away suspicion and fear.” Tou murmured his
acquiescence; and when the wine had gone round several times there
arose from a distance the sound of pipes and singing, unaccompanied,
however, by the usual drum, and very much subdued in volume. Thereupon
the Prince looked about him and cried out, “We are about to set a
verse for any of you gentlemen to cap; here you are:--‘_Genius seeks
the Cassia Court_.’” While the courtiers were all engaged in thinking
of some fit antithesis,[44] Tou added, “_Refinement loves the Lily
flower_;” upon which the Prince exclaimed, “How strange! Lily is my
daughter’s name; and, after such a coincidence, she must come in for
you to see her.” In a few moments the tinkling of her ornaments and a
delicious fragrance of musk announced the arrival of the Princess, who
was between sixteen and seventeen and endowed with surpassing beauty.
The Prince bade her make an obeisance to Tou, at the same time
introducing her as his daughter Lily; and as soon as the ceremony was
over the young lady moved away. Tou remained in a state of
stupefaction, and, when the Prince proposed that they should pledge
each other in another bumper, paid not the slightest attention to what
he said. Then the Prince, perceiving what had distracted his guest’s
attention, remarked that he was anxious to find a consort for his
daughter, but that unfortunately there was the difficulty of
_species_, and he didn’t know what to do; but again Tou took no notice
of what the Prince was saying, until at length one of the bystanders
plucked his sleeve, and asked him if he hadn’t seen that the Prince
wished to drink with him, and had just been addressing some remarks to
him. Thereupon Tou started, and, recovering himself at once, rose from
the table and apologized to the Prince for his rudeness, declaring
that he had taken so much wine he didn’t know what he was doing.
“Besides,” said he, “your Highness has doubtless business to transact;
I will therefore take my leave.” “I am extremely pleased to have seen
you,” replied the Prince, “and only regret that you are in such a
hurry to be gone. However, I won’t detain you now; but, if you don’t
forget all about us, I shall be very glad to invite you here again.”
He then gave orders that Tou should be escorted home; and on the way
one of the courtiers asked the latter why he had said nothing when the
Prince had spoken of a consort for his daughter, as his Highness had
evidently made the remark with an eye to securing Tou as his
son-in-law. The latter was now sorry that he had missed his
opportunity; meanwhile they reached his house, and he himself awoke.
The sun had already set, and there he sat in the gloom thinking of
what had happened. In the evening he put out his candle, hoping to
continue his dream; but, alas! the thread was broken, and all he could
do was to pour forth his repentance in sighs. One night he was
sleeping at a friend’s house when suddenly an officer of the court
walked in and summoned him to appear before the Prince; so up he
jumped, and hurried off at once to the palace, where he prostrated
himself before the throne. The Prince raised him and made him sit
down, saying that since they had last met he had become aware that Tou
would be willing to marry his daughter, and hoped that he might be
allowed to offer her as a handmaid. Tou rose and thanked the Prince,
who thereupon gave orders for a banquet to be prepared; and when they
had finished their wine it was announced that the Princess had
completed her toilet. Immediately a bevy of young ladies came in with
the Princess in their midst, a red veil covering her head, and her
tiny footsteps sounding like rippling water as they led her up to be
introduced to Tou. When the ceremonies were concluded, Tou said to
the Princess, “In your presence, Madam, it would be easy to forget
even death itself; but, tell me, is not this all a dream?” “And how
can it be a dream,” asked the Princess, “when you and I are here

Next morning Tou amused himself by helping the Princess to paint her
face,[45] and then, seizing a girdle, began to measure the size of her
waist[46] and the length of her fingers and feet. “Are you crazy?”
cried she, laughing; to which Tou replied, “I have been deceived so
often by dreams, that I am now making a careful record. If such it
turns out to be, I shall still have something as a souvenir of you.”
While they were thus chatting a maid rushed into the room, shrieking
out, “Alas, alas! a great monster has got into the palace: the Prince
has fled into a side chamber: destruction is surely come upon us.” Tou
was in a great fright when he heard this, and rushed off to see the
Prince, who grasped his hand and, with tears in his eyes, begged him
not to desert them. “Our relationship,” cried he, “was cemented when
Heaven sent this calamity upon us; and now my kingdom will be
overthrown. What shall I do?” Tou begged to know what was the matter;
and then the Prince laid a despatch upon the table, telling Tou to
open it and make himself acquainted with its contents. This despatch
ran as follows:--“The Grand Secretary of State, Black Wings, to His
Royal Highness, announcing the arrival of an extraordinary monster,
and advising the immediate removal of the Court in order to preserve
the vitality of the empire. A report has just been received from the
officer in charge of the Yellow Gate stating that, ever since the 6th
of the 5th moon, a huge monster, 10,000 feet in length, has been lying
coiled up outside the entrance to the palace, and that it has already
devoured 13,800 and odd of your Highness’s subjects, and is spreading
desolation far and wide. On receipt of this information your servant
proceeded to make a reconnaissance, and there beheld a venomous
reptile with a head as big as a mountain and eyes like vast sheets of
water. Every time it raised its head, whole buildings disappeared down
its throat; and, on stretching itself out, walls and houses were alike
laid in ruins. In all antiquity there is no record of such a scourge.
The fate of our temples and ancestral halls is now a mere question of
hours; we therefore pray your Royal Highness to depart at once with
the Royal Family and seek somewhere else a happier abode.”[47] When
Tou had read this document his face turned ashy pale; and just then a
messenger rushed in, shrieking out, “Here is the monster!” at which
the whole Court burst into lamentations as if their last hour was at
hand. The Prince was beside himself with fear; all he could do was to
beg Tou to look to his own safety without regarding the wife through
whom he was involved in their misfortunes. The Princess, however, who
was standing by bitterly lamenting the fate that had fallen upon them,
begged Tou not to desert her; and, after a moment’s hesitation, he
said he should be only too happy to place his own poor home at their
immediate disposal if they would only deign to honour him. “How can we
talk of _deigning_,” cried the Princess, “at such a moment as this? I
pray you take us there as quickly as possible.” So Tou gave her his
arm, and in no time they had arrived at Tou’s house, which the
Princess at once pronounced to be a charming place of residence, and
better even than their former kingdom. “But I must now ask you,” said
she to Tou, “to make some arrangement for my father and mother, that
the old order of things may be continued here.” Tou at first offered
objections to this; whereupon the Princess said that a man who would
not help another in his hour of need was not much of a man, and
immediately went off into a fit of hysterics, from which Tou was
trying his best to recall her, when all of a sudden he awoke and found
that it was all a dream. However, he still heard a buzzing in his ears
which he knew was not made by any human being, and, on looking
carefully about he discovered two or three bees which had settled on
his pillow. He was very much astonished at this, and consulted with
his friend, who was also greatly amazed at his strange story; and then
the latter pointed out a number of other bees on various parts of his
dress, none of which would go away even when brushed off. His friend
now advised him to get a hive for them, which he did without delay;
and immediately it was filled by a whole swarm of bees, which came
flying from over the wall in great numbers. On tracing whence they had
come, it was found that they belonged to an old gentleman who lived
near, and who had kept bees for more than thirty years previously. Tou
thereupon went and told him the story; and when the old gentleman
examined his hive he found the bees all gone. On breaking it open he
discovered a large snake inside of about ten feet in length, which he
immediately killed, recognising in it the “huge monster” of Tou’s
adventure. As for the bees, they remained with Tou, and increased in
numbers every year.


[44] In this favourite pastime of the literati in China the important
point is that each word in the second line should be a due and proper
antithesis of the word in the first line to which it corresponds.

[45] See No. LXII., note 349.

[46] See No. LXIX., note 35.

[47] The language in which this fanciful document is couched is
precisely such as would be used by an officer of the Government in
announcing some national calamity; hence the value of these
tales,--models as they are of the purest possible style.



Chung Ch‘ing-yü was a scholar of some reputation, who lived in
Manchuria. When he went up for his master’s degree, he heard that
there was a Taoist priest at the capital who would tell people’s
fortunes, and was very anxious to see him; and at the conclusion of
the second part of the examination,[48] he accidentally met him at
Pao-t‘u-ch‘üan.[49] The priest was over sixty years of age, and had
the usual white beard, flowing down over his breast. Around him stood
a perfect wall of people inquiring their future fortunes, and to each
the old man made a brief reply: but when he saw Chung among the crowd,
he was overjoyed, and, seizing him by the hand, said, “Sir, your
virtuous intentions command my esteem.” He then led him up behind a
screen, and asked if he did not wish to know what was to come; and
when Chung replied in the affirmative, the priest informed him that
his prospects were bad. “You may succeed in passing this examination,”
continued he, “but on returning covered with honour to your home, I
fear that your mother will be no longer there.” Now Chung was a very
filial son; and as soon as he heard these words, his tears began to
flow, and he declared that he would go back without competing any
further. The priest observed that if he let this chance slip, he could
never hope for success; to which Chung replied that, on the other
hand, if his mother were to die he could never hope to have her back
again, and that even the rank of Viceroy would not repay him for her
loss. “Well,” said the priest, “you and I were connected in a former
existence, and I must do my best to help you now.” So he took out a
pill which he gave to Chung, and told him that if he sent it
post-haste by some one to his mother, it would prolong her life for
seven days, and thus he would be able to see her once again after the
examination was over. Chung took the pill, and went off in very low
spirits; but he soon reflected that the span of human life is a matter
of destiny, and that every day he could spend at home would be one
more day devoted to the service of his mother. Accordingly, he got
ready to start at once, and, hiring a donkey, actually set out on his
way back. When he had gone about half-a-mile, the donkey turned round
and ran home; and when he used his whip, the animal threw itself down
on the ground. Chung got into a great perspiration, and his servant
recommended him to remain where he was; but this he would not hear
of, and hired another donkey, which served him exactly the same trick
as the other one. The sun was now sinking behind the hills, and his
servant advised his master to stay and finish his examination while he
himself went back home before him. Chung had no alternative but to
assent, and the next day he hurried through with his papers, starting
immediately afterwards, and not stopping at all on the way either to
eat or to sleep. All night long he went on, and arrived to find his
mother in a very critical state; however, when he gave her the pill
she so far recovered that he was able to go in and see her. Grasping
his hand, she begged him not to weep, telling him that she had just
dreamt she had been down to the Infernal Regions, where the King of
Hell had informed her with a gracious smile that her record was fairly
clean, and that in view of the filial piety of her son she was to have
twelve years more of life. Chung was rejoiced at this, and his mother
was soon restored to her former health.

Before long the news arrived that Chung had passed his examination;
upon which he bade adieu to his mother, and went off to the capital,
where he bribed the eunuchs of the palace to communicate with his
friend the Taoist priest. The latter was very much pleased, and came
out to see him, whereupon Chung prostrated himself at his feet. “Ah,”
said the priest, “this success of yours, and the prolongation of your
good mother’s life, is all a reward for your virtuous conduct. What
have I done in the matter?” Chung was very much astonished that the
priest should already know what had happened; however, he now
inquired as to his own future. “You will never rise to high rank,”
replied the priest, “but you will attain the years of an octogenarian.
In a former state of existence you and I were once travelling
together, when you threw a stone at a dog, and accidentally killed a
frog. Now that frog has re-appeared in life as a donkey, and according
to all principles of destiny you ought to suffer for what you did; but
your filial piety has touched the Gods, a protecting star-influence
has passed into your nativity sheet, and you will come to no harm. On
the other hand, there is your wife; in her former state she was not as
virtuous as she might have been, and her punishment in this life was
to be widowed quite young; you, however, have secured the prolongation
of your own term of years, and therefore I fear that before long your
wife will pay the penalty of death.” Chung was much grieved at hearing
this; but after a while he asked the priest where his second wife to
be was living. “At Chung-chou,” replied the latter; “she is now
fourteen years old.” The priest then bade him adieu, telling him that
if any mischance should befall him he was to hurry off towards the
south-east. About a year after this, Chung’s wife did die; and his
mother then desiring him to go and visit his uncle, who was a
magistrate in Kiangsi, on which journey he would have to pass through
Chung-chou, it seemed like a fulfilment of the old priest’s prophecy.
As he went along, he came to a village on the banks of a river, where
a large crowd of people was gathered together round a theatrical
performance which was going on there. Chung would have passed quietly
by, had not a stray donkey followed so close behind him that he turned
round and hit it over the ears. This startled the donkey so much that
it ran off full gallop, and knocked a rich gentleman’s child, who was
sitting with its nurse on the bank, right into the water, before any
one of the servants could lend a hand to save it. Immediately there
was a great outcry against Chung, who gave his mule the rein and
dashed away, mindful of the priest’s warning, towards the south-east.
After riding about seven miles, he reached a mountain village, where
he saw an old man standing at the door of a house, and, jumping off
his mule, made him a low bow. The old man asked him in, and inquired
his name and whence he came; to which Chung replied by telling him the
whole adventure. “Never fear,” said the old man; “you can stay here,
while I send out to learn the position of affairs.” By the evening his
messenger had returned, and then they knew for the first time that the
child belonged to a wealthy family. The old man looked grave and said,
“Had it been anybody else’s child, I might have helped you; as it is I
can do nothing.” Chung was greatly alarmed at this; however, the old
man told him to remain quietly there for the night, and see what turn
matters might take. Chung was overwhelmed with anxiety, and did not
sleep a wink; and next morning he heard that the constables were after
him, and that it was death to any one who should conceal him. The old
man changed countenance at this, and went inside, leaving Chung to
his own reflections; but towards the middle of the night he came and
knocked at Chung’s door, and, sitting down, began to ask how old his
wife was. Chung replied that he was a widower; at which the old man
seemed rather pleased, and declared that in such case help would be
forthcoming; “for,” said he, “my sister’s husband has taken the vows
and become a priest,[50] and my sister herself has died, leaving an
orphan girl who has now no home; and if you would only marry her....”
Chung was delighted, more especially as this would be both the
fulfilment of the Taoist priest’s prophecy, and a means of extricating
himself from his present difficulty; at the same time, he declared he
should be sorry to implicate his future father-in-law. “Never fear
about that,” replied the old man; “my sister’s husband is pretty
skilful in the black art. He has not mixed much with the world of
late; but when you are married, you can discuss the matter with my
niece.” So Chung married the young lady, who was sixteen years of age,
and very beautiful; but whenever he looked at her he took occasion to
sigh. At last she said, “I may be ugly; but you needn’t be in such a
hurry to let me know it;” whereupon Chung begged her pardon, and said
he felt himself only too lucky to have met with such a divine
creature; adding that he sighed because he feared some misfortune was
coming on them which would separate them for ever. He then told her
his story, and the young lady was very angry that she should have been
drawn into such a difficulty without a word of warning. Chung fell on
his knees, and said he had already consulted with her uncle, who was
unable himself to do anything, much as he wished it. He continued that
he was aware of her power; and then, pointing out that his alliance
was not altogether beneath her, made all kinds of promises if she
would only help him out of this trouble. The young lady was no longer
able to refuse, but informed him that to apply to her father would
entail certain disagreeable consequences, as he had retired from the
world, and did not any more recognise her as his daughter. That night
they did not attempt to sleep, spending the interval in padding their
knees with thick felt concealed beneath their clothes; and then they
got into chairs and were carried off to the hills. After journeying
some distance, they were compelled by the nature of the road to alight
and walk; and it was only by a great effort that Chung succeeded at
last in getting his wife to the top. At the door of the temple they
sat down to rest, the powder and paint on the young lady’s face having
all mixed with the perspiration trickling down; but when Chung began
to apologize for bringing her to this pass, she replied that it was a
mere trifle compared with what was to come. By-and-by, they went
inside; and threading their way to the wall beyond, found the young
lady’s father sitting in contemplation,[51] his eyes closed, and a
servant-boy standing by with a chowry.[52] Everything was beautifully
clean and nice, but before the dais were sharp stones scattered about
as thick as the stars in the sky. The young lady did not venture to
select a favourable spot; she fell on her knees at once, and Chung did
likewise behind her. Then her father opened his eyes, shutting them
again almost instantaneously; whereupon the young lady said, “For a
long time I have not paid my respects to you. I am now married, and I
have brought my husband to see you.” A long time passed away, and then
her father opened his eyes and said, “You’re giving a great deal of
trouble,” immediately relapsing into silence again. There the husband
and wife remained until the stones seemed to pierce into their very
bones; but after a while the father cried out, “Have you brought the
donkey?” His daughter replied that they had not; whereupon they were
told to go and fetch it at once, which they did, not knowing what the
meaning of this order was. After a few more days’ kneeling, they
suddenly heard that the murderer of the child had been caught and
beheaded, and were just congratulating each other on the success of
their scheme, when a servant came in with a stick in his hand, the top
of which had been chopped off. “This stick,” said the servant, “died
instead of you. Bury it reverently, that the wrong done to the tree
may be somewhat atoned for.”[53] Then Chung saw that at the place
where the top of the stick had been chopped off there were traces of
blood; he therefore buried it with the usual ceremony, and immediately
set off with his wife, and returned to his own home.


[48] The examination consists of three bouts of three days each,
during which periods the candidates remain shut up in their
examination cells day and night.

[49] The name of a place.

[50] This interesting ceremony is performed by placing little conical
pastilles on a certain number of spots, varying from three to twelve,
on the candidate’s head. These are then lighted and allowed to burn
down into the flesh, while the surrounding parts are vigorously rubbed
by attendant priests in order to lessen the pain. The whole thing
lasts about twenty minutes, and is always performed on the eve of
Shâkyamuni Buddha’s birthday. The above was well described by Mr. S.
L. Baldwin in the _Foochow Herald_.

[51] There is a room in most Buddhist temples specially devoted to
this purpose.

[52] The Buddhist emblem of cleanliness; generally a yak’s tail, and
commonly used as a fly-brush.

[53] Tree-worship can hardly be said to exist in China at the present
day; though at a comparatively recent epoch this phase of religious
sentiment must have been widely spread. See _The Flower Nymphs_ and
_Mr. Willow_.



Mr. Pai was a native of Chi-li, and his eldest son was called Chia.
The latter had been some two years holding an appointment[54] as
magistrate in the south; but because of the great distance between
them, his family had heard nothing of him. One day a distant
connection, named Ting, called at the house; and Mr. Pai, not having
seen this gentleman for a long time, treated him with much cordiality.
Now Ting was one of those persons who are occasionally employed by the
Judge of the Infernal Regions to make arrests on earth;[55] and, as
they were chatting together, Mr. Pai questioned him about the realms
below. Ting told him all kinds of strange things, but Pai did not
believe them, answering only by a smile. Some days afterwards, he had
just lain down to sleep when Ting walked in and asked him to go for a
stroll; so they went off together, and by-and-by reached the city.
“There,” said Ting, pointing to a door, “lives your nephew,” alluding
to a son of Mr. Pai’s elder sister, who was a magistrate in Honan; and
when Pai expressed his doubts as to the accuracy of this statement,
Ting led him in, when, lo and behold! there was his nephew, sitting in
his court dressed in his official robes. Around him stood the guard,
and it was impossible to get near him; but Ting remarked that his
son’s residence was not far off, and asked Pai if he would not like to
see him too. The latter assenting, they walked along till they came to
a large building, which Ting said was the place. However, there was a
fierce wolf at the entrance,[56] and Mr. Pai was afraid to go in. Ting
bade him enter, and accordingly they walked in, when they found that
all the employés of the place, some of whom were standing about and
others lying down to sleep, were all wolves. The central pathway was
piled up with whitening bones, and Mr. Pai began to feel horribly
alarmed but Ting kept close to him all the time, and at length they
got safely in. Pai’s son, Chia, was just coming out; and when he saw
his father accompanied by Ting, he was overjoyed, and, asking them to
sit down, bade the attendants serve some refreshment. Thereupon a
great big wolf brought in in his mouth the carcase of a dead man, and
set it before them, at which Mr. Pai rose up in consternation, and
asked his son what this meant. “It’s only a little refreshment for
you, father,” replied Chia; but this did not calm Mr. Pai’s agitation,
who would have retired precipitately, had it not been for the crowd of
wolves which barred the path. Just as he was at a loss what to do,
there was a general stampede among the animals which scurried away,
some under the couches and some under the tables and chairs; and while
he was wondering what the cause of this could be, in marched two
knights in golden armour, who looked sternly at Chia, and, producing a
black rope, proceeded to bind him hand and foot. Chia fell down before
them, and was changed into a tiger with horrid fangs; and then one of
the knights drew a glittering sword and would have cut off its head,
had not the other cried out, “Not yet! not yet! that is for the fourth
month next year. Let us now only take out its teeth.” Immediately that
knight produced a huge mallet, and, with a few blows, scattered the
tiger’s teeth all over the floor, the tiger roaring so loudly with
pain as to shake the very hills, and frightening all the wits out of
Mr. Pai--who woke up with a start. He found he had been dreaming, and
at once sent off to invite Ting to come and see him; but Ting sent
back to say he must beg to be excused. Then Mr. Pai, pondering on what
he had seen in his dream, despatched his second son with a letter to
Chia, full of warnings and good advice; and lo! when his son arrived,
he found that his elder brother had lost all his front teeth, these
having been knocked out, as he averred, by a fall he had had from his
horse when tipsy; and, on comparing dates, the day of that fall was
found to coincide with the day of his father’s dream. The younger
brother was greatly amazed at this, and took out their father’s
letter, which he gave to Chia to read. The latter changed colour, but
immediately asked his brother what there was to be astonished at in
the coincidence of a dream. And just at that time he was busily
engaged in bribing his superiors to put him first on the list for
promotion, so that he soon forgot all about the circumstance; while
the younger, observing what harpies Chia’s subordinates were, taking
presents from one man and using their influence for another, in one
unbroken stream of corruption, sought out his elder brother, and, with
tears in his eyes, implored him to put some check upon their rapacity.
“My brother,” replied Chia, “your life has been passed in an obscure
village; you know nothing of our official routine. We are promoted or
degraded at the will of our superiors, and not by the voice of the
people. He, therefore, who gratifies his superiors is marked out for
success;[57] whereas he who consults the wishes of the people is
unable to gratify his superiors as well.” Chia’s brother saw that his
advice was thrown away; he accordingly returned home and told his
father all that had taken place. The old man was much affected, but
there was nothing that he could do in the matter, so he devoted
himself to assisting the poor, and such acts of charity, daily praying
the Gods that the wicked son alone might suffer for his crimes, and
not entail misery on his innocent wife and children. The next year it
was reported that Chia had been recommended for a post in the Board of
Civil Office,[58] and friends crowded the father’s door, offering
their congratulations upon the happy event. But the old man sighed and
took to his bed, pretending he was too unwell to receive visitors.
Before long another message came, informing them that Chia had fallen
in with bandits while on his way home, and that he and all his retinue
had been killed. Then his father arose and said, “Verily the Gods are
good unto me, for they have visited his sins upon himself alone;” and
he immediately proceeded to burn incense and return thanks. Some of
his friends would have persuaded him that the report was probably
untrue; but the old man had no doubts as to its correctness, and made
haste to get ready his son’s grave. But Chia was not yet dead. In the
fatal fourth moon he had started on his journey and had fallen in with
bandits, to whom he had offered all his money and valuables; upon
which the latter cried out, “We have come to avenge the cruel wrongs
of many hundreds of victims; do you imagine we want only _that_?” They
then cut off his head, and the head of his wicked secretary, and the
heads of several of his servants who had been foremost in carrying
out his shameful orders, and were now accompanying him to the capital.
They then divided the booty between them, and made off with all speed.
Chia’s soul remained near his body for some time, until at length a
high mandarin passing by asked who it was that was lying there dead.
One of his servants replied that he had been a magistrate at such and
such a place, and that his name was Pai. “What!” said the mandarin,
“the son of old Mr. Pai? It is hard that his father should live to see
such sorrow as this. Put his head on again.”[59] Then a man stepped
forward and placed Chia’s head upon his shoulders again, when the
mandarin interrupted him, saying, “A crooked-minded man should not
have a straight body: put his head on sideways.” By-and-by Chia’s soul
returned to its tenement; and when his wife and children arrived to
take away the corpse, they found that he was still breathing. Carrying
him home, they poured some nourishment down his throat, which he was
able to swallow; but there he was at an out-of-the-way place, without
the means of continuing his journey. It was some six months before his
father heard the real state of the case, and then he sent off the
second son to bring his brother home. Chia had indeed come to life
again, but he was able to see down his own back, and was regarded ever
afterwards more as a monstrosity than as a man. Subsequently the
nephew, whom old Mr. Pai had seen sitting in state surrounded by
officials, actually became an Imperial Censor, so that every detail of
the dream was thus strangely realised.[60]


[54] Literally, “had been allotted the post of Nan-fu magistrate,”
such appointments being always determined by drawing lots.

[55] Such is one common explanation of catalepsy (see No. I., note
40), it being further averred that the proper lictors of the Infernal
regions are unable to remain long in the _light_ of the upper world.

[56] Upon a wall at the entrance to every official residence is
painted a huge fabulous animal, called _Greed_, in such a position
that the resident mandarin must see it every time he goes out of his
front gates. It is to warn him against greed and the crimes that are
sure to flow from it.

[57] Such, indeed, is the case at the present day in China, and

[58] See No. VII., note 54.

[59] The great sorrow of decapitation as opposed to strangulation is
that the body will appear in the realms below without a head. The
family of any condemned man who may have sufficient means always bribe
the executioner to sew it on again.

[60] This story is an admirable _exposé_ of Chinese official
corruption, as rampant at the present day as ever in the long history
of China.



Mr. Chu was a native of Yang-ku, and, as a young man, was much given
to playing tricks and talking in a loose kind of way. Having lost his
wife, he went off to ask a certain old woman to arrange another match
for him; and on the way, he chanced to fall in with a neighbour’s wife
who took his fancy very much. So he said in joke to the old woman,
“Get me that stylish-looking, handsome lady, and I shall be quite
satisfied.” “I’ll see what I can do,” replied the old woman, also
joking, “if you will manage to kill her present husband;” upon which
Chu laughed and said he certainly would do so. Now about a month
afterwards, the said husband, who had gone out to collect some money
due to him, was actually killed in a lonely spot; and the magistrate
of the district immediately summoned the neighbours and beadle[61] and
held the usual inquest, but was unable to find any clue to the
murderer. However, the old woman told the story of her conversation
with Chu, and suspicion at once fell upon him. The constables came
and arrested him; but he stoutly denied the charge; and the magistrate
now began to suspect the wife of the murdered man. Accordingly, she
was severely beaten and tortured in several ways until her strength
failed her, and she falsely acknowledged her guilt.[62] Chu was then
examined, and he said, “This delicate woman could not bear the agony
of your tortures; what she has stated is untrue; and, even should her
wrong escape the notice of the Gods, for her to die in this way with a
stain upon her name is more than I can endure. I will tell the whole
truth. I killed the husband that I might secure the wife: she knew
nothing at all about it.” And when the magistrate asked for some
proof, Chu said his bloody clothes would be evidence enough; but when
they sent to search his house, no bloody clothes were forthcoming. He
was then beaten till he fainted; yet when he came round he still stuck
to what he had said. “It is my mother,” cried he, “who will not sign
the death-warrant of her son. Let me go myself and I will get the
clothes.” So he was escorted by a guard to his home, and there he
explained to his mother that whether she gave up or withheld the
clothes, it was all the same; that in either case he would have to
die, and it was better to die early than late. Thereupon his mother
wept bitterly, and going into the bedroom, brought out, after a short
delay, the required clothes, which were taken at once to the
magistrate’s. There was now no doubt as to the truth of Chu’s story;
and as nothing occurred to change the magistrate’s opinion, Chu was
thrown into prison to await the day for his execution. Meanwhile, as
the magistrate was one day inspecting his gaol, suddenly a man
appeared in the hall, who glared at him fiercely and roared out,
“Dull-headed fool! unfit to be the guardian of the people’s
interests!”--whereupon the crowd of servants standing round rushed
forward to seize him, but with one sweep of his arms he laid them all
flat on the ground. The magistrate was frightened out of his wits, and
tried to escape, but the man cried out to him, “I am one of Kuan
Ti’s[63] lieutenants. If you move an inch you are lost.” So the
magistrate stood there, shaking from head to foot with fear, while his
visitor continued, “The murderer is Kung Piao: Chu had nothing to do
with it.”

The lieutenant then fell down on the ground, and was to all appearance
lifeless; however, after a while he recovered, his face having quite
changed, and when they asked him his name, lo! it was Kung Piao. Under
the application of the bamboo he confessed his guilt. Always an
unprincipled man, he had heard that the murdered man was going out to
collect money, and thinking he would be sure to bring it back with
him, he had killed him, but had found nothing. Then when he learnt
that Chu had acknowledged the crime as his own doing, he had rejoiced
in secret at such a stroke of luck. How he had got into the
magistrate’s hall he was quite unable to say. The magistrate now
called for some explanation of Chu’s bloody clothes, which Chu himself
was unable to give; but his mother, who was at once sent for, stated
that she had cut her own arm to stain them, and when they examined her
they found on her left arm the scar of a recent wound. The magistrate
was lost in amazement at all this; unfortunately for him the reversal
of his sentence cost him his appointment, and he died in poverty,
unable to find his way home. As for Chu, the widow of the murdered man
married him[64] in the following year, out of gratitude for his noble


[61] See No. LXIV., note 18.

[62] Such has, doubtless, been the occasional result of torture in
China; but the singular keenness of the mandarins, as a body, in
recognising the innocent and detecting the guilty,--that is, when
their own avaricious interests are not involved,--makes this
contingency so rare as to be almost unknown. A good instance came
under my own notice at Swatow in 1876. For years a Chinese servant had
been employed at the foreign Custom House to carry a certain sum of
money every week to the bank, and at length his honesty was above
suspicion. On the occasion to which I allude he had been sent as usual
with the bag of dollars, but after a short absence he rushed back with
a frightful gash on his right arm, evidently inflicted by a heavy
chopper, and laying the bone bare. The money was gone. He said he had
been invited into a tea-house by a couple of soldiers whom he could
point out; that they had tried to wrest the bag from him, and that at
length one of them seized a chopper and inflicted so severe a wound on
his arm, that in his agony he dropped the money, and the soldiers made
off with it. The latter were promptly arrested and confronted with
their accuser; but, with almost indecent haste, the police magistrate
dismissed the case against them, and declared that he believed the man
had made away with the money and inflicted the wound on himself. And
so it turned out to be, under overwhelming evidence. This servant of
proved fidelity had given way to a rash hope of making a little money
at the gaming-table; had hurried into one of these hells and lost
everything in three stakes; had wounded himself on the right arm (he
was a left-handed man), and had concocted the story of the soldiers,
all within the space of about twenty-five minutes. When he saw that he
was detected, he confessed everything, without having received a
single blow of the bamboo; but up to the moment of his confession the
foreign feeling against that police-magistrate was undeniably strong.

[63] See No. I., note 39.

[64] See No. LXVIII., note 30. The circumstances which led to this
marriage would certainly be considered “exceptional.”



[The story runs that a Mr. Chia, after obtaining, with the assistance
of a mysterious friend, his master’s degree, became alive to the
vanity of mere earthly honours, and determined to devote himself to
the practice of Taoism, in the hope of obtaining the elixir of

So early one morning Chia and his friend, whose name was Lang, stole
away together, without letting Chia’s family know anything about it;
and by-and-by they found themselves among the hills, in a vast cave
where there was another world and another sky. An old man was sitting
there in great state, and Lang presented Chia to him as his future
master. “Why have you come so soon?” asked the old man; to which Lang
replied, “My friend’s determination is firmly fixed: I pray you
receive him amongst you.” “Since you have come,” said the old man,
turning to Chia, “you must begin by putting away from you your
earthly body.” Chia murmured his assent, and was then escorted by Lang
to sleeping-chamber where he was provided with food, after which Lang
went away. The room was beautifully clean:[67] the doors had no panels
and the windows no lattices; and all the furniture was one table and
one couch. Chia took off his shoes and lay down, with the moon shining
brightly into the room; and beginning soon to feel hungry, he tried
one of the cakes on the table, which he found sweet and very
satisfying. He thought Lang would be sure to come back, but there he
remained hour after hour by himself, never hearing a sound. He
noticed, however, that the room was fragrant with a delicious perfume;
his viscera seemed to be removed from his body, by which his
intellectual faculties were much increased; and every one of his veins
and arteries could be easily counted. Then suddenly he heard a sound
like that of a cat scratching itself; and, looking out of the window,
he beheld a tiger sitting under the verandah. He was horribly
frightened for the moment, but immediately recalling the admonition of
the old man, he collected himself and sat quietly down again. The
tiger seemed to know that there was a man inside, for it entered the
room directly afterwards, and walking straight up to the couch sniffed
at Chia’s feet. Whereupon there was a noise outside, as if a fowl were
having its legs tied, and the tiger ran away. Shortly afterwards a
beautiful young girl came in, suffusing an exquisite fragrance around;
and going up to the couch where Chia was, she bent over him and
whispered, “Here I am.” Her breath was like the sweet odour of
perfumes; but as Chia did not move, she whispered again, “Are you
sleeping?” The voice sounded to Chia remarkably like that of his wife;
however, he reflected that these were all probably nothing more than
tests of his determination, so he closed his eyes firmly for a while.
But by-and-by the young lady called him by his pet name, and then he
opened his eyes wide to discover that she was no other than his own
wife. On asking her how she had come there, she replied that Mr. Lang
was afraid her husband would be lonely, and had sent an old woman to
guide her to him. Just then they heard the old man outside in a
towering rage, and Chia’s wife, not knowing where to conceal herself,
jumped over a low wall near by and disappeared. In came the old man,
and gave Lang a severe beating before Chia’s face, bidding him at once
to get rid of his visitor; so Lang led Chia away over the low wall,
saying, “I knew how anxious you were to consummate your immortality,
and accordingly I tried to hurry things on a bit; but now I see that
your time has not yet come: hence this beating I have had. Good-by: we
shall meet again some day.” He then shewed Chia the way to his home,
and waving his hand bade him farewell. Chia looked down--for he was in
the moon--and beheld the old familiar village and recollecting that
his wife was not a good walker and would not have got very far,
hurried on to overtake her. Before long he was at his own door, but he
noticed that the place was all tumble-down and in ruins, and not as it
was when he went away. As for the people he saw, old and young alike,
he did not recognise one of them; and recollecting the story of how
Liu and Yüan came back from heaven,[68] he was afraid to go in at the
door. So he sat down and rested outside; and after a while an old man
leaning on a staff came out, whereupon Chia asked him which was the
house of Mr. Chia. “This is it,” replied the old man; “you probably
wish to hear the extraordinary story connected with the family? I know
all about it. They say that Mr. Chia ran away just after he had taken
his master’s degree, when his son was only seven or eight years old;
and that about seven years afterwards the child’s mother went into a
deep sleep from which she did not awake. As long as her son was alive
he changed his mother’s clothes for her according to the seasons, but
when he died, her grandsons fell into poverty, and had nothing but an
old shanty to put the sleeping lady into. Last month she awaked,
having been asleep for over a hundred years. People from far and near
have been coming in great numbers to hear the strange story; of late,
however, there have been rather fewer.” Chia was amazed when he heard
all this, and, turning to the old man, said, “I am Chia Fêng-chih.”
This astonished the old man very much, and off he went to make the
announcement to Chia’s family. The eldest grandson was dead; and the
second, a man of about fifty, refused to believe that such a
young-looking man was really his grandfather; but in a few moments out
came Chia’s wife, and she recognised her husband at once. They then
fell upon each other’s necks and mingled their tears together.

[After which the story is drawn out to a considerable length, but is
quite devoid of interest.][69]


[65] This being a long and tedious story, I have given only such part
of it as is remarkable for its similarity to Washington Irving’s
famous narrative.

[66] See No. IV., note 46.

[67] Borrowed from Buddhism.

[68] Alluding to a similar story, related in the _Record of the
Immortals_, of how these two friends lost their way while gathering
simples on the hills, and were met and entertained by two lovely young
damsels for the space of half-a-year. When, however, they subsequently
returned home, they found that ten generations had passed away.

[69] Besides the above, there is the story of a man named Wang, who,
wandering one day in the mountains, came upon some old men playing a
game of _wei-ch‘i_ (see _Appendix_); and after watching them for some
time, he found that the handle of an axe he had with him had mouldered
away into dust. Seven generations of men had passed away in the
interval. Also, a similar legend of a horseman, who, when riding over
the hills, saw several old men playing a game with rushes, and tied
his horse to a tree while he himself approached to observe them. A few
minutes afterwards he turned to depart, but found only the skeleton of
his horse and the rotten remnants of the saddle and bridle. He then
sought his home, but that was gone too; and so he laid himself down
upon the ground and died of a broken heart.



A certain man of the province of Hunan could recall what had happened
to him in three previous lives. In the first, he was a magistrate;
and, on one occasion, when he had been nominated Assistant-Examiner,[70]
a candidate, named Hsing, was unsuccessful. Hsing went home dreadfully
mortified, and soon after died; but his spirit appeared before the
King of Purgatory, and read aloud the rejected essay, whereupon
thousands of other shades, all of whom had suffered in a similar way,
thronged around, and unanimously elected Hsing as their chief. The
Examiner was immediately summoned to take his trial, and when he
arrived the King asked him, saying, “As you are appointed to examine
the various essays, how is it that you throw out the able and admit
the worthless?” “Sire,” replied he, “the ultimate decision rests with
the Grand Examiner; I only pass them on to him.” The King then issued
a warrant for the apprehension of the Grand Examiner, and, as soon as
he appeared, he was told what had just now been said against him; to
which he answered, “I am only able to make a general estimate of the
merits of the candidates. Valuable essays may be kept back from me by
my Associate-Examiners, in which case I am powerless.”[71] But the
King cried out, “It’s all very well for you two thus to throw the
blame on each other; you are both guilty, and both of you must be
bambooed according to law.” This sentence was about to be carried into
effect, when Hsing, who was not at all satisfied with its lack of
severity, set up such a fearful screeching and howling, in which he
was well supported by all the other hundreds and thousands of shades,
that the King stopped short, and inquired what was the matter.
Thereupon Hsing informed His Majesty that the sentence was too light,
and that the Examiners should both have their eyes gouged out, so as
not to be able to read essays any more. The King would not consent to
this, explaining to the noisy rabble that the Examiners did not
purposely reject good essays, but only because they themselves were
naturally wanting in capacity. The shades then begged that, at any
rate, their hearts might be cut out, and to this the King was obliged
to yield; so the Examiners were seized by the attendants, their
garments stripped off, and their bodies ripped open with sharp knives.
The blood poured out on the ground, and the victims screamed with
pain; at which all the shades rejoiced exceedingly, and said, “Here we
have been pent up, with no one to redress our wrongs; but now Mr.
Hsing has come, our injuries are washed away.” They then dispersed
with great noise and hubbub. As for our Associate-Examiner, after his
heart had been cut out, he came to life again as the son of a poor man
in Shensi; and when he was twenty years old he fell into the hands of
the rebels, who were at that time giving great trouble to the country.
By-and-by, a certain official was sent at the head of some soldiers to
put down the insurrection, and he succeeded in capturing a large
number of the rebels, among whom was our hero. The latter reflected
that he himself was no rebel, and he was hoping that he would be able
to obtain his release in consequence, when he noticed that the officer
in charge was also a man of his own age, and, on looking more closely,
he saw that it was his old enemy, Hsing. “Alas!” cried he, “such is
destiny;” and so indeed it turned out, for all the other prisoners
were forthwith released, and he alone was beheaded. Once more his
spirit stood before the King of Purgatory, this time with an
accusation against Hsing. The King, however, would not summon Hsing at
once, but said he should be allowed to complete his term of official
life on earth; and it was not till thirty years afterwards that Hsing
appeared to answer to the charge. Then, because he had made light of
the lives of his people, he was condemned to be born again as a
brute-beast; and our hero, too, inasmuch as he had been known to beat
his father and mother, was sentenced to a similar fate. The latter,
fearing the future vengeance of Hsing, persuaded the King to give him
the advantage of size; and, accordingly, orders were issued that he
was to be born again as a big, and Hsing as a little, dog. The big dog
came to life in a shop in Shun-t‘ien Fu, and was one day lying down in
the street, when a trader from the south arrived, bringing with him a
little golden-haired dog, about the size of a wild cat, which, lo and
behold! turned out to be Hsing. The other, thinking Hsing’s size would
render him an easy prey, seized him at once; but the little one caught
him from underneath by the throat, and hung there firmly, like a bell.
The big dog tried hard to shake him off, and the people of the shop
did their best to separate them, but all was of no avail, and in a few
moments both dogs were dead. Upon their spirits presenting themselves,
as usual, before the King, each with its grievance against the other,
the King cried out, “When will ye have done with your wrongs and your
animosities? I will now settle the matter finally for you;” and
immediately commanded that Hsing should become the other’s son-in-law
in the next world. The latter was then born at Ch‘ing-yün, and when he
was twenty-eight years of age took his master’s degree. He had one
daughter, a very pretty girl, whom many of his wealthy neighbours
would have been glad to get for their sons; but he would not accept
any of their offers. On one occasion, he happened to pass through the
prefectural city just as the examination for bachelor’s degree was
over; and the candidate who had come out at the top of the list,
though named Li, was no other than Mr. Hsing. So he led this man away,
and took him to an inn, where he treated him with the utmost
cordiality, finally arranging that, as Mr. Li was still unmarried, he
should marry his pretty daughter. Everyone, of course, thought that
this was done in admiration of Li’s talents, ignorant that destiny had
already decreed the union of the young couple. No sooner were they
married than Li, proud of his own literary achievements, began to
slight his father-in-law, and often passed many months without going
near him; all of which the father-in-law bore very patiently, and
when, at length, Li had repeatedly failed to get on any farther in his
career, he even went so far as to set to work, by all manner of means,
to secure his success; after which they lived happily together as
father and son.


[70] See _Appendix_ A.

[71] If there is one institution in the Chinese empire which is
jealously guarded and honestly administered, it is the great system of
competitive examinations which has obtained in China now for many
centuries. And yet frauds do take place, in spite of the exceptionally
heavy penalties incurred upon detection. Friends are occasionally
smuggled through by the aid of marked essays; and dishonest candidates
avail themselves of “sleeve editions,” as they are called, of the
books in which they are to be examined. On the whole, the result is a
successful one. As a rule the best candidates pull through; while, in
exceptional cases, unquestionably good men are rejected. Of the latter
class, the author of this work is a most striking instance. Excelling
in literary attainments of the highest order, he failed more than once
to obtain his master’s degree, and finally threw up in disgust.
Thenceforward he became the enemy of the mandarinate; and how he has
lashed the corruption of his age may be read in such stories as _The
Wolf Dream_, and many others, while the policy that he himself would
have adopted, had he been fortunate enough to succeed, must remain for
ever a matter of doubt and speculation.



Hsi Fang-p‘ing was a native of Tung-an. His father’s name was Hsi
Lien--a hasty-tempered man, who had quarrelled with a neighbour named
Yang. By-and-by Yang died: and some years afterwards when Lien was on
his death-bed, he cried out that Yang was bribing the devils in hell
to torture him. His body then swelled up and turned red, and in a few
moments he had breathed his last. His son wept bitterly, and refused
all food, saying, “Alas! my poor father is now being maltreated by
cruel devils; I must go down and help to redress his wrongs.”
Thereupon he ceased speaking, and sat for a long time like one dazed,
his soul having already quitted its tenement of clay. To himself he
appeared to be outside the house, not knowing in what direction to go,
so he inquired from one of the passers-by which was the way to the
district city.[72] Before long he found himself there, and, directing
his steps towards the prison, found his father lying outside[73] in a
very shocking state. When the latter beheld his son, he burst into
tears, and declared that the gaolers had been bribed to beat him,
which they did both day and night, until they had reduced him to his
present sorry plight. Then Fang-p‘ing turned round in a great rage,
and began to curse the gaolers. “Out upon you!” cried he; “if my
father is guilty he should be punished according to law, and not at
the will of a set of scoundrels like you.” Thereupon he hurried away,
and prepared a petition, which he took with him to present at the
morning session of the City God; but his enemy, Yang, had meanwhile
set to work, and bribed so effectually, that the City God dismissed
his petition for want of corroborative evidence.[74] Fang-p‘ing was
furious, but could do nothing; so he started at once for the
prefectural city, where he managed to get his plaint received, though
it was nearly a month before it came on for hearing, and then all he
got was a reference back to the district city, where he was severely
tortured, and escorted back to the door of his own home, for fear he
should give further trouble. However, he did not go in, but stole
away and proceeded to lay his complaint before one of the ten Judges
of Purgatory; whereupon the two mandarins who had previously ill-used
him, came forward and secretly offered him a thousand ounces of silver
if he would withdraw the charge. This he positively refused to do; and
some days subsequently the landlord of the inn, where he was staying,
told him he had been a fool for his pains, and that he would now get
neither money nor justice, the Judge himself having already been
tampered with. Fang-p‘ing thought this was mere gossip, and would not
believe it; but, when his case was called, the Judge utterly refused
to hear the charge, and ordered him twenty blows with the bamboo,
which were administered in spite of all his protestations. He then
cried out, “Ah! it’s all because I have no money to give you;” which
so incensed the Judge, that he told the lictors to throw Fang-p‘ing on
the fire-bed. This was a great iron couch, with a roaring fire
underneath, which made it red-hot; and upon that the devils cast
Fang-p‘ing, having first stripped off his clothes, pressing him down
on it, until the fire ate into his very bones, though in spite of that
he could not die. After a while the devils said he had had enough, and
made him get off the iron bed, and put his clothes on again. He was
just able to walk, and when he went back into court, the Judge asked
him if he wanted to make any further complaints. “Alas!” cried he, “my
wrongs are still unredressed, and I should only be lying were I to say
I would complain no more.” The Judge then inquired what he had to
complain of; to which Fang-p‘ing replied that it was of the injustice
of his recent punishment. This enraged the Judge so much that he
ordered his attendants to saw Fang-p‘ing in two. He was then led away
by devils, to a place where he was thrust in between a couple of
wooden boards, the ground on all sides being wet and sticky with
blood. Just at that moment he was summoned to return before the Judge,
who asked him if he was still of the same mind; and, on his replying
in the affirmative, he was taken back again, and bound between the two
boards. The saw was then applied, and as it went through his brain he
experienced the most cruel agonies, which, however, he managed to
endure without uttering a cry. “He’s a tough customer,” said one of
the devils, as the saw made its way gradually through his chest; to
which the other replied, “Truly, this is filial piety; and, as the
poor fellow has done nothing, let us turn the saw a little out of the
direct line, so as to avoid injuring his heart.” Fang-p‘ing then felt
the saw make a curve inside him, which caused him even more pain than
before; and, in a few moments, he was cut through right down to the
ground, and the two halves of his body fell apart, along with the
boards to which they were tied, one on either side. The devils went
back to report progress, and were then ordered to join Fang-p‘ing
together again, and bring him in. This they accordingly did,--the cut
all down Fang-p‘ing’s body hurting him dreadfully, and feeling as if
it would re-open every minute. But, as Fang-p‘ing was unable to walk,
one of the devils took out a cord and tied it round his waist, as a
reward, he said, for his filial piety. The pain immediately ceased,
and Fang-p‘ing appeared once more before the Judge, this time
promising that he would make no more complaints. The Judge now gave
orders that he should be sent up to earth, and the devils, escorting
him out of the north gate of the city, shewed him his way home, and
went away. Fang-p‘ing now saw that there was even less chance of
securing justice in the Infernal Regions than upon the earth above;
and, having no means of getting at the Great King to plead his case,
he bethought himself of a certain upright and benevolent God, called
Erh Lang, who was a relative of the Great King’s, and him he
determined to seek. So he turned about and took his way southwards,
but was immediately seized by some devils, sent out by the Judge to
watch that he really went back to his home. These devils hurried him
again into the Judge’s presence, where he was received, contrary to
his expectation, with great affability; the Judge himself praising his
filial piety, but declaring that he need trouble no further in the
matter, as his father had already been born again in a wealthy and
illustrious family. “And upon you,” added the Judge, “I now bestow a
present of one thousand ounces of silver to take home with you, as
well as the old age of a centenarian, with which I hope you will be
satisfied.” He then shewed Fang-p‘ing the stamped record of this, and
sent him away in charge of the devils. The latter now began to abuse
him for giving them so much trouble, but Fang-p‘ing turned sharply
upon them, and threatened to take them back before the Judge. They
were then silent, and marched along for about half-a-day, until at
length they reached a village, where the devils invited Fang-p‘ing
into a house, the door of which was standing half-open. Fang-p‘ing was
just going in, when suddenly the devils gave him a shove from behind,
and ... there he was, born again on earth as a little girl. For three
days he pined and cried, without taking any food, and then he died.
But his spirit did not forget Erh Lang, and set out at once in search
of that God. He had not gone far when he fell in with the retinue of
some high personage, and one of the attendants seized him for getting
in the way, and hurried him before his master. He was taken to a
chariot, where he saw a handsome young man, sitting in great state;
and thinking that now was his chance, he told the young man, who he
imagined to be a high mandarin, all his sad story from beginning to
end. His bonds were then loosed, and he went along with the young man
until they reached a place where several officials came out to receive
them; and to one of these he confided Fang-p‘ing, who now learnt that
the young man was no other than God himself, the officials being the
nine princes of heaven, and the one to whose care he was entrusted no
other than Erh Lang. This last was very tall, and had a long white
beard, not at all like the popular representation of a God; and when
the other princes had gone, he took Fang-p‘ing into a court-room,
where he saw his father and their old enemy, Yang, besides all the
lictors and others who had been mixed up in the case. By-and-by, some
criminals were brought in in cages, and these turned out to be the
Judge, Prefect, and Magistrate. The trial was then commenced, the
three wicked officers trembling and shaking in their shoes; and when
he had heard the evidence, Erh Lang proceeded to pass sentence upon
the prisoners, each of whom he sentenced, after enlarging upon the
enormity of their several crimes, to be roasted, boiled, and otherwise
put to most excruciating tortures. As for Fang-p‘ing, he accorded him
three extra decades of life, as a reward for his filial piety, and a
copy of the sentence was put in his pocket. Father and son journeyed
along together, and at length reached their home; that is to say,
Fang-p‘ing was the first to recover consciousness, and then bade the
servants open his father’s coffin, which they immediately did, and the
old man at once came back to life. But when Fang-p‘ing looked for his
copy of the sentence, lo! it had disappeared. As for the Yang family,
poverty soon overtook them, and all their lands passed into
Fang-p‘ing’s hands; for as sure as any one else bought them, they
became sterile forthwith, and would produce nothing; but Fang-p‘ing
and his father lived on happily, both reaching the age of ninety and
odd years.[75]


[72] The Infernal Regions are supposed to be pretty much a counterpart
of the world above, except in the matter of light.

[73] The visitor to Canton cannot fail to observe batches of prisoners
with chains on them sitting in the street outside the prisons, many of
them engaged in plying their particular trades.

[74] The judge in a Chinese court is necessarily very much dependent
on his secretaries; and, except in special cases, he takes his cue
almost entirely from them. They take theirs from whichever party to
the case knows best how to “cross the palm.”

[75] The whole story is of course simply a satire upon the venality
and injustice of the ruling classes in China.



A Mr. Ku, of Chiang-nan, was stopping in an inn at Chi-hsia, when he
was attacked by a very severe inflammation of the eyes. Day and night
he lay on his bed groaning, no medicines being of any avail; and when
he did get a little better, his recovery was accompanied by a singular
phenomenon. Every time he closed his eyes, he beheld in front of him a
number of large buildings, with all their doors wide open, and people
passing and repassing in the background, none of whom he recognised by
sight. One day he had just sat down to have a good look, when, all of
a sudden, he felt himself passing through the open doors. He went on
through three court-yards without meeting any one; but, on looking
into some rooms on either side, he saw a great number of young girls
sitting, lying, and kneeling about on a red carpet, which was spread
on the ground. Just then a man came out from behind the building, and,
seeing Ku, said to him, “Ah, the Prince said there was a stranger at
the door; I suppose you are the person he meant.” He then asked Ku to
walk in, which the latter was at first unwilling to do; however, he
yielded to the man’s instances, and accompanied him in, asking whose
palace it was. His guide told him it belonged to the son of the Ninth
Prince, and that he had arrived at the nick of time, for a number of
friends and relatives had chosen this very day to come and
congratulate the young gentleman on his recent recovery from a severe
illness. Meanwhile another person had come out to hurry them on, and
they soon reached a spot where there was a pavilion facing the north,
with an ornamental terrace and red balustrades, supported by nine
pillars. Ascending the steps, they found the place full of visitors,
and then espied a young man seated with his face to the north,[76]
whom they at once knew to be the Prince’s son, and thereupon they
prostrated themselves before him, the whole company rising as they did
so. The young Prince made Ku sit down to the east of him, and caused
wine to be served; after which some singing-girls came in and
performed the Hua-fêng-chu.[77] They had got to about the third scene,
when, all of a sudden, Ku heard the landlord of the inn and his
servant shouting out to him that dinner was ready, and was dreadfully
afraid that the young Prince, too, had heard. No one, however, seemed
to have noticed anything, so Ku begged to be excused a moment, as he
wished to change his clothes, and immediately ran out. He then looked
up, and saw the sun low in the west, and his servant standing by his
bedside, whereupon he knew that he had never left the inn. He was much
chagrined at this, and wished to go back as fast as he could; he,
therefore, dismissed his servant, and on shutting his eyes once more,
he found everything just as he had left it, except that where, on the
first occasion, he had observed the young girls, there were none now
to be seen, but only some dishevelled hump-backed creatures, who cried
out at him, and asked him what he meant by spying about there. Ku
didn’t dare reply, but hurried past them as quickly as he could, and
on to the pavilion of the young Prince. There he found him still
sitting, but with a black beard over a foot in length; and the Prince
was anxious to know where he had been, saying that seven scenes of the
play were already over. He then seized a big goblet of wine, and made
Ku drink it as a penalty, by which time the play was finished, and the
list was handed up for a further selection. The “Marriage of P‘êng
Tsu” was selected, and then the singing-girls began to hand round the
wine in cocoa-nuts big enough to hold about five quarts, which Ku
declined, on the ground that he was suffering from weak eyes, and was
consequently afraid to drink too much. “If your eyes are bad,” cried
the young Prince, “the Court physician is at hand, and can attend to
you.” Thereupon, one of the guests sitting to the east came forward,
and opening Ku’s eyes with his fingers, touched them with some white
ointment, which he applied from the end of a jade pin. He then bade Ku
close his eyes, and take a short nap; so the Prince had him conducted
into a sleeping-room, where he found the bed so soft, and surrounded
by such delicious perfume, that he soon fell into a deep slumber.
By-and-by he was awaked by what appeared to be the clashing of
cymbals, and fancied that the play was still going on; but on opening
his eyes, he saw that it was only the inn-dog, which was licking an
oilman’s gong.[78] His ophthalmia, however, was quite cured; and when
he shut his eyes again he could see nothing.


[76] In Book V. of Mencius’ works we read that Shun, the perfect man,
stood with his face to the south, while the Emperor Yao (see No.
VIII., note 63) and his nobles faced the north. This arrangement is
said to have been adopted in deference to Shun’s virtue; for in modern
times the Emperor always sits facing the south.

[77] Name of a celebrated play.

[78] These are about as big as a cheese-plate and attached to a short
stick, from which hangs suspended a small button of metal in such a
manner as to clash against the face of the gong at every turn of the
hand. The names and descriptions of various instruments employed by
costermongers in China would fill a good-sized volume.



At Huai-shang there lived a graduate named Chou T‘ien-i, who, though
fifty years of age, had but one son, called K‘o-ch‘ang, whom he loved
very dearly. This boy, when about thirteen or fourteen, was a
handsome, well-favoured fellow, strangely averse to study, and often
playing truant from school, sometimes for the whole day, without any
remonstrance on the part of his father. One day he went away and did
not come back in the evening; neither, after a diligent search, could
any traces of him be discovered. His father and mother were in
despair, and hardly cared to live; but after a year and more had
passed away, lo and behold! K‘o-ch‘ang returned, saying that he had
been beguiled away by a Taoist priest, who, however, had not done him
any harm, and that he had seized a moment while the priest was absent
to escape and find his way home again. His father was delighted, and
asked him no more questions, but set to work to give him an education;
and K‘o-ch‘ang was so much cleverer and more intelligent than he had
been before, that by the following year he had taken his bachelor’s
degree and had made quite a name for himself. Immediately all the good
families of the neighbourhood wanted to secure him as a son-in-law.
Among others proposed there was an extremely nice girl, the daughter
of a gentleman named Chao, who had taken his doctor’s degree, and
K‘o-ch‘ang’s father was very anxious that he should marry the young
lady. The youth himself would not hear of it, but stuck to his books
and took his master’s degree, quite refusing to entertain any thought
of marriage; and this so exasperated his mother that one day the good
lady began to rate him soundly. K‘o-ch‘ang got up in a great rage and
cried out, “I have long been wanting to get away, and have only
remained for your sakes. I shall now say farewell, and leave Miss Chao
for any one that likes to marry her.” At this his mother tried to
detain him, but in a moment he had fallen forwards on the ground, and
there was nothing left of him but his hat and clothes. They were all
dreadfully frightened, thinking that it must have been K‘o-ch‘ang’s
ghost who had been with them, and gave themselves up to weeping and
lamentation; however, the very next day K‘o-ch‘ang arrived,
accompanied by a retinue of horses and servants, his story being that
he had formerly been kidnapped[79] and sold to a wealthy trader, who,
being then childless, had adopted him, but who, when he subsequently
had a son born to him by his own wife, sent K‘o-ch‘ang back to his old
home. And as soon as his father began to question him as to his
studies, his utter dulness and want of knowledge soon made it clear
that he was the real K‘o-ch‘ang of old; but he was already known as a
man who had got his master’s degree, (that is, the ghost of him had
got it,) so it was determined in the family to keep the whole affair
secret. This K‘o-ch‘ang was only too ready to espouse Miss Chao; and
before a year had passed over their heads his wife had presented the
old people with the much longed-for grandson.


[79] See No. XXIII., note 154.



An official, named Chai, was appointed to a post at Jao-chou, and on
his way thither crossed the Po-yang lake. Happening to visit the
shrine of the local spirits, he noticed a carved image of the
patriotic Ting P‘u-lang,[80] and another of a namesake of his own, the
latter occupying a very inferior position. “Come! come!” said Chai,
“my patron saint shan’t be put in the background like that;” so he
moved the image into a more honourable place, and then went back on
board his boat again. Soon after, a great wind struck the vessel, and
carried away the mast and sails; at which the sailors, in great alarm,
set to work to howl and cry. However, in a few moments they saw a
small skiff come cutting through the waves, and before long they were
all safely on board. The man who rowed it was strangely like the image
in the shrine, the position of which Chai had changed; but they were
hardly out of danger when the squall had passed over, and skiff and
man had both vanished.


[80] A famous official who lived in the reign of Hung Wu, first
Emperor of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1399). I have not been able to
discover what was the particular act for which he has been celebrated
as “loyal to the death.”



A certain gentleman’s servant was one day in his master’s garden, when
he beheld a stream of cash[81] flowing by, two or three feet in
breadth and of about the same depth. He immediately seized two large
handfuls, and then threw himself down on the top of the stream in
order to try and secure the rest. However, when he got up he found
that it had all flowed away from under him, none being left except
what he had got in his two hands.

[“Ah!” says the commentator, “money is properly a circulating medium,
and is not intended for a man to lie upon and keep all to


[81] See No. II., note 42.

[82] The Chinese, fond as they are of introducing water, under the
form of miniature lakes, into their gardens and pleasure-grounds, do
not approve of a running stream near the dwelling-house. I myself knew
a case of a man, provided with a pretty little house, rent free,
alongside of which ran a mountain-rill, who left the place and paid
for lodgings out of his own pocket rather than live so close to a
stream which he averred _carried all his good luck away_. Yet this man
was a fair scholar and a graduate to boot.



Mr. Hsü was a magistrate at Shantung. A certain upper chamber of his
house was used as a store-room; but some creature managed so
frequently to get in and make havoc among the stores, for which the
servants were always being scolded, that at length some of the latter
determined to keep watch. By-and-by they saw a huge spider as big as a
peck measure, and hurried off to tell their master, who thought it so
strange that he gave orders to the servants to feed the insect with
cakes. It thus became very tame, and would always come forth when
hungry, returning as soon as it had taken enough to eat.[83] Years
passed away, and one day Mr. Hsü was consulting his archives, when
suddenly the spider appeared and ran under the table. Thinking it was
hungry, he bade his servants give it a cake; but the next moment he
noticed two snakes, of about the thickness of a chop-stick, lying one
on each side. The spider drew in its legs as if in mortal fear, and
the snakes began to swell out until they were as big round as an egg;
at which Mr. Hsü was greatly alarmed, and would have hurried away,
when crash! went a peal of thunder, killing every person in the house.
Mr. Hsü himself recovered consciousness after a little while, but only
to see his wife and servants, seven persons in all, lying dead; and
after a month’s illness he, too, departed this life. Now Mr. Hsü was
an upright, honourable man, who really had the interests of the people
at heart. A subscription was accordingly raised to pay his funeral
expenses, and on the day of his burial the air was rent for miles
round with cries of weeping and lamentation.

[Hereon the commentator, I Shih-shih, makes the following
remark:--“That dragons play with pearls[84] I have always regarded as
an old woman’s tale. Is it possible, then, that the story is a fact? I
have heard, too, that the thunder strikes only the guilty man;[85]
and, if so, how could a virtuous official be visited with this dire


[83] That Chinaman thinks his a hard lot who cannot “eat till he is
full.” It may be noticed here that the Chinese seem not so much to
enjoy the process of eating as the subsequent state of repletion. As a
rule, they bolt their food, and get their enjoyment out of it

[84] The full explanation and origin of this saying I have failed to
elucidate. Dragons are often represented with pearls before their
mouths; and these they are supposed to spit out or swallow as fancy
may take them. The pearl, too, is said to be the essence of the
dragon’s nature, without which it would be powerless; but this is all
I know about the subject.

[85] Such is the common belief in China at the present day. There is a
God of Thunder who punishes wicked people; the lightning is merely a
mirror, by the aid of which he singles out his victims.



A trader named Chia was voyaging on the south seas, when one night it
suddenly became as light as day on board his ship. Jumping up to see
what was the matter, he beheld a huge creature with its body half out
of the water, towering up like a hill. Its eyes resembled two suns,
and threw a light far and wide; and when the trader asked the boatmen
what it was, there was not one who could say. They all crouched down
and watched it; and by-and-by the monster gradually disappeared in the
water again, leaving everything in darkness as before. And when they
reached port, they found all the people talking about a strange
phenomenon of a great light that had appeared in the night, the time
of which coincided exactly with the strange scene they themselves had


[86] The “sea-serpent” in this case was probably nothing more or less
than some meteoric phenomenon.



“... But if you would really like to have something that has belonged
to me,” said she, “you shall.” Whereupon she took out a mirror and
gave it to him, saying, “Whenever you want to see me, you must look
for me in your books; otherwise I shall not be visible;”--and in a
moment she had vanished. Liu went home very melancholy at heart; but
when he looked in the mirror, there was Fêng-hsien, standing with her
back to him, gazing, as it were, at some one who was going away, and
about a hundred paces from her. He then bethought himself of her
injunctions, and settled down to his studies, refusing to receive any
visitors; and a few days subsequently, when he happened to look in the
mirror, there was Fêng-hsien, with her face turned towards him, and
smiling in every feature. After this, he was always taking out the
mirror to look at her; however, in about a month his good resolutions
began to disappear, and he once more went out to enjoy himself and
waste his time as before. When he returned home and looked in the
mirror, Fêng-hsien seemed to be crying bitterly; and the day after,
when he looked at her again, she had her back turned towards him as on
the day he received the mirror. He now knew that it was because he had
neglected his studies, and forthwith set to work again with all
diligence, until in a month’s time she had turned round once again.
Henceforward, whenever anything interrupted his progress, Fêng-hsien’s
countenance became sad; but whenever he was getting on well, her
sadness was changed to smiles. Night and morning Liu would look at the
mirror, regarding it quite in the light of a revered preceptor; and in
three years’ time he took his degree in triumph. “Now,” cried he, “I
shall be able to look Fêng-hsien in the face.” And there, sure enough,
she was, with her delicately-pencilled arched eye-brows, and her teeth
just showing between her lips, as happy-looking as she could be, when,
all of a sudden, she seemed to speak, and Liu heard her say, “A pretty
pair we make, I must allow”--and the next moment Fêng-hsien stood by
his side.


[87] The following is merely a single episode taken from a long and
otherwise uninteresting story. Miss Fêng-hsien was a fox; hence her
power to bestow such a singular present as the mirror here described,
the object of which was to incite her lover to success--the condition
of their future union.



Mr. Tung was a Hsü-chou man, very fond of playing broad-sword, and a
light-hearted, devil-may-care fellow, who was often involving himself
in trouble. One day he fell in with a traveller who was riding on a
mule and going the same way as himself; whereupon they entered into
conversation, and began to talk to each other about feats of strength
and so on. The traveller said his name was T‘ung,[88] and that he
belonged to Liao-yang; that he had been twenty years away from home,
and had just returned from beyond the sea. “And I venture to say,”
cried Tung, “that in your wanderings on the Four Seas[89] you have
seen a great many people; but have you seen any supernaturally clever
ones?” T‘ung asked him to what he alluded; and then Tung explained
what his own particular hobby was, adding how much he would like to
learn from them any tricks in the art of broad-sword. “Supernatural,”
replied the traveller, “are to be found everywhere. It needs but that
a man should be a loyal subject and a filial son for him to know all
that the supernaturals know.” “Right you are, indeed!” cried Tung, as
he drew a short sword from his belt, and, tapping the blade with his
fingers, began to accompany it with a song. He then cut down a tree
that was by the wayside, to shew T‘ung how sharp it was; at which
T‘ung smoothed his beard and smiled, begging to be allowed to have a
look at the weapon. Tung handed it to him, and, when he had turned it
over two or three times, he said, “This is a very inferior piece of
steel; now, though I know nothing about broad-sword myself, I have a
weapon which is really of some use.” He then drew from beneath his
coat a sword of a foot or so in length, and with it he began to pare
pieces off Tung’s sword, which seemed as soft as a melon, and which he
cut quite away like a horse’s hoof. Tung was greatly astonished, and
borrowed the other’s sword to examine it, returning it after carefully
wiping the blade. He then invited T‘ung to his house, and made him
stay the night; and, after begging him to explain the mystery of his
sword, began to nurse his leg and sit listening respectfully without
saying a word. It was already pretty late, when suddenly there was a
sound of scuffling next door, where Tung’s father lived; and, on
putting his ear to the wall, he heard an angry voice saying, “Tell
your son to come here at once, and then I will spare you.” This was
followed by other sounds of beating and a continued groaning, in a
voice which Tung knew to be his father’s. He therefore seized a spear,
and was about to rush forth, but T‘ung held him back, saying, “You’ll
be killed for a certainty if you go. Let us think of some other plan.”
Tung asked what plan he could suggest; to which the other replied,
“The robbers are killing your father: there is no help for you; but as
you have no brothers, just go and tell your wife and children what
your last wishes are, while I try and rouse the servants.” Tung agreed
to this, and ran in to tell his wife, who clung to him and implored
him not to go, until at length all his courage had ebbed away, and he
went upstairs with her to get his bow and arrows ready to resist the
robbers’ attack. At that juncture he heard the voice of his friend
T‘ung, outside on the eaves of the house, saying, with a laugh, “All
right; the robbers have gone;” but on lighting a candle, he could see
nothing of him. He then stole out to the front door, where he met his
father with a lantern in his hand, coming in from a party at a
neighbour’s house; and the whole court-yard was covered with the ashes
of burnt grass, whereby he knew that T‘ung the traveller was himself a


[88] Besides the all-important aspirate, this name is pronounced in a
different _tone_ from the first-mentioned “Tung;” and is moreover
expressed in writing by a totally different character. To a Chinese
ear, the two words are as unlikely to be confounded as Brown and

[89] The Four Seas are supposed by the Chinese to bound the habitable
portions of the earth, which, by the way, they further believe to be
square. In the centre of all is China, extending far and wide in every
direction, the eye of the universe, the Middle Kingdom. Away at a
distance from her shores lie a number of small islands, wherein dwell
such barbarous nations as the English, French, Dutch, etc.

[90] The commentator, I Shih-shih, adds a note to this story which
might be summed up in our own--

   “The [wo]man that deliberates is lost.”



Mr. Ch‘ên, M.A., of Shun-t‘ien Fu, when a boy of sixteen, went to
school at a Buddhist temple.[91] There were a great many scholars
besides himself, and, among others, one named Ch‘u, who said he came
from Shantung. This Ch‘u was a very hard-working fellow; he never
seemed to be idle, and actually slept in the school-room, not going
home at all. Ch‘ên became much attached to him, and one day asked him
why he never went away. “Well, you see,” replied Ch‘u, “my people are
very poor, and can hardly afford to pay for my schooling; but, by dint
of working half the night, two of my days are equal to three of
anybody else’s.” Thereupon Ch‘ên said he would bring his own bed to
the school, and that they would sleep there together; to which Ch‘u
replied that the teaching they got wasn’t worth much, and that they
would do better by putting themselves under a certain old scholar
named Lü. This they were easily able to do, as the arrangement at the
temple was monthly, and at the end of each month anyone was free to go
or to come. So off they went to this Mr. Lü, a man of considerable
literary attainments, who had found himself in Shun-t‘ien Fu without a
cash in his pocket, and was accordingly obliged to take pupils. He was
delighted at getting two additions to his number and, Ch‘u showing
himself an apt scholar, the two soon became very great friends,
sleeping in the same room and eating at the same table. At the end of
the month Ch‘u asked for leave of absence, and, to the astonishment of
all, ten days elapsed without anything being heard of him. It then
chanced that Ch‘ên went to the T‘ien-ning temple, and there he saw
Ch‘u under one of the verandahs, occupied in cutting wood for
lucifer-matches.[92] The latter was much disconcerted by the arrival
of Ch‘ên, who asked him why he had given up his studies; so the latter
took him aside, and explained that he was so poor as to be obliged to
work half a month to scrape together funds enough for his next month’s
schooling. “You come along back with me,” cried Ch‘ên, on hearing
this, “I will arrange for the payment,” which Ch‘u immediately
consented to do on condition that Ch‘ên would keep the whole thing a
profound secret. Now Ch‘ên’s father was a wealthy tradesman, and from
his till Ch‘ên abstracted money wherewith to pay for Ch‘u; and
by-and-by, when his father found him out, he confessed why he had done
so. Thereupon Ch‘ên’s father called him a fool, and would not let him
resume his studies; at which Ch‘u was much hurt, and would have left
the school too, but that old Mr. Lü discovered what had taken place,
and gave him the money to return to Ch‘ên’s father, keeping him still
at the school, and treating him quite like his own son. So Ch‘ên
studied no more, but whenever he met Ch‘u he always asked him to join
in some refreshment at a restaurant, Ch‘u invariably refusing, but
yielding at length to his entreaties, being himself loth to break off
their old acquaintanceship.

Thus two years passed away, when Ch‘ên’s father died, and Ch‘ên went
back to his books under the guidance of old Mr. Lü, who was very glad
to see such determination. Of course Ch‘ên was now far behind Ch‘u;
and in about six months Lü’s son arrived, having begged his way in
search of his father, so Mr. Lü gave up his school and returned home
with a purse which his pupils had made up for him, Ch‘u adding nothing
thereto but his tears. At parting, Mr. Lü advised Ch‘ên to take Ch‘u
as his tutor, and this he did, establishing him comfortably in the
house with him. The examination was very shortly to commence, and
Ch‘ên felt convinced that he should not get through; but Ch‘u said he
thought he should be able to manage the matter for him. On the
appointed day he introduced Ch‘ên to a gentleman who he said was a
cousin of his, named Liu, and asked Ch‘ên to accompany this cousin,
which Ch‘ên was just proceeding to do when Ch‘u pulled him back from
behind,[93] and he would have fallen down but that the cousin pulled
him up again, and then, after having scrutinized his appearance,
carried him off to his own house. There being no ladies there, Ch‘ên
was put into the inner apartments; and a few days afterwards Liu said
to him, “A great many people will be at the gardens to-day; let us go
and amuse ourselves awhile, and afterwards I will send you home
again.” He then gave orders that a servant should proceed on ahead
with tea and wine, and by-and-by they themselves went, and were soon
in the thick of the fête. Crossing over a bridge, they saw beneath an
old willow tree a little painted skiff, and were soon on board,
engaged in freely passing round the wine. However, finding this a
little dull, Liu bade his servant go and see if Miss Li, the famous
singing-girl, was at home; and in a few minutes the servant returned
bringing Miss Li with him. Ch‘ên had met her before, and so they at
once exchanged greetings, while Liu begged her to be good enough to
favour them with a song. Miss Li, who seemed labouring under a fit of
melancholy, forthwith began a funeral dirge; at which Ch‘ên was not
much pleased, and observed that such a theme was hardly suitable to
the occasion. With a forced smile, Miss Li changed her key, and gave
them a love-song; whereupon Ch‘ên seized her hand, and said, “There’s
that song of the Huan-sha river,[94] which you sang once before; I
have read it over several times, but have quite forgotten the words.”
Then Miss Li began--

   “Eyes overflowing with tears, she sits gazing into her glass,
    Lifting the bamboo screen, one of her comrades approaches;
    She bends her head and seems intent on her bow-like slippers,
    And forces her eyebrows to arch themselves into a smile.
    With her scarlet sleeve she wipes the tears from her perfumed cheek,
    In fear and trembling lest they should guess the thoughts that
        o’erwhelm her.”[95]

Ch‘ên repeated this over several times, until at length the skiff
stopped, and they passed through a long verandah, where a great many
verses had been inscribed on the walls,[96] to which Ch‘ên at once
proceeded to add a stanza of his own. Evening was now coming on, and
Liu remarked that the candidates would be just about leaving the
examination-hall;[97] so he escorted him back to his own home, and
there left him. The room was dark, and there was no one with him; but
by-and-by the servants ushered in some one whom at first he took to be
Ch‘u. However, he soon saw that it was not Ch‘u, and in another moment
the stranger had fallen against him and knocked him down. “Master’s
fainted!” cried the servants, as they ran to pick him up; and then
Ch‘ên discovered that the one who had fallen down was really no other
than himself.[98] On getting up, he saw Ch‘u standing by his side; and
when they had sent away the servants the latter said, “Don’t be
alarmed: I am nothing more than a disembodied spirit. My time for
re-appearing on earth[99] is long overdue, but I could not forget your
great kindness to me, and accordingly I have remained under this form
in order to assist in the accomplishment of your wishes. The three
bouts[100] are over, and your ambition will be gratified.” Ch‘ên then
inquired if Ch‘u could assist him in like manner for his doctor’s
degree; to which the latter replied, “Alas! the luck descending to you
from your ancestors is not equal to that.[101] They were a niggardly
lot, and unfit for the posthumous honours you would thus confer on
them.” Ch‘ên next asked him whither he was going; and Ch‘u replied
that he hoped, through the agency of his cousin, who was a clerk in
Purgatory, to be born again in old Mr. Lü’s family. They then bade
each other adieu; and, when morning came, Ch‘ên set off to call on
Miss Li, the singing-girl; but on reaching her house he found that she
had been dead some days.[102] He walked on to the gardens, and there
he saw traces of verses that had been written on the walls, and
evidently rubbed out, so as to be hardly decipherable. In a moment it
flashed across him that the verses and their composers belonged to the
other world. Towards evening Ch‘u re-appeared in high spirits, saying
that he had succeeded in his design, and had come to wish Ch‘ên a long
farewell. Holding out his open palms, he requested Ch‘ên to write the
word _Ch‘u_ on each; and then, after refusing to take a parting cup,
he went away, telling Ch‘ên that the examination-list would soon be
out, and that they would meet again before long. Ch‘ên brushed away
his tears and escorted him to the door, where a man, who had been
waiting for him, laid his hand on Ch‘u’s head and pressed it downwards
until Ch‘u was perfectly flat. The man then put him in a sack and
carried him off on his back. A few days afterwards the list came out,
and, to his great joy, Ch‘ên found his name among the successful
candidates; whereupon he immediately started off to visit his old
tutor, Mr. Lü.[103] Now Mr. Lü’s wife had had no children for ten
years, being about fifty years of age, when suddenly she gave birth to
a son, who was born with both fists doubled up so that no one could
open them. On his arrival Ch‘ên begged to see the child, and declared
that inside its hands would be found written the word Ch‘u. Old Mr. Lü
laughed at this; but no sooner had the child set eyes on Ch‘ên than
both its fists opened spontaneously, and there was the word as Ch‘ên
had said. The story was soon told, and Ch‘ên went home, after making a
handsome present to the family; and later on, when Mr. Lü went up for
his doctor’s degree[104] and stayed at Ch‘ên’s house, his son was
thirteen years old, and had already matriculated as a candidate for
literary honours.


[91] Buddhist priests not unusually increase the revenue of their
monastery by taking pupils; and it is only fair to them to add that
the curriculum is strictly secular, the boys learning precisely what
they would at an ordinary school and nothing else.

[92] These consist simply of thin slips of wood dipped in brimstone,
and resemble those used in England as late as the first quarter of the
present century. They are said to have been invented by the people of
Hang-chou, the capital of Chekiang; but it is quite possible that the
hint may have first reached China from the west. They were called _yin
kuang_ “bring light,” (_cf._ _lucifer_), _fa chu_ “give forth
illumination,” and other names. Lucifer matches are now generally
spoken of as _tzŭ lai huo_ “self-come fire,” and are almost
universally employed, except in remote parts where the flint and steel
still hold sway.

[93] The whole point of the story hinges on this.

[94] Beside which lived Hsi Shih, the famous beauty of the fifth
century after Christ.

[95] I fear that the translation of this “Singing-girl’s Lament” falls
so considerably below the pathetic original as to give but a poor idea
of the real merit of the latter as a lyric gem.

[96] The Chinese have precisely the same mania as our Browns, Joneses,
and Robinsons, for scribbling and carving their names and compositions
all over the available parts of any place of public resort. The
literature of inn walls alone would fill many ponderous tomes.

[97] The examination, which lasts nine days, has been going on all
this time.

[98] That is, his own body, into which Ch‘u’s spirit had temporarily
passed, his own occupying, meanwhile, the body of his friend.

[99] That is, for being born again, the sole hope and ambition of a
disembodied shade.

[100] See No. LXXI., note 48.

[101] See No. LXI., note 346.

[102] His own spirit in Ch‘u’s body had met her in a disembodied

[103] Such is the invariable custom. Large presents are usually made
by those who can afford the outlay, and the tutor’s name has ever
afterwards an honourable place in the family records.

[104] See No. XLVIII., note 274.



A certain cloth merchant went to Ch‘ing-chou, where he happened to
stroll into an old temple, all tumble-down and in ruins. He was
lamenting over this sad state of things, when a priest who stood by
observed that a devout believer like himself could hardly do better
than put the place into repair, and thus obtain favour in the eyes of
Buddha. This the merchant consented to do; whereupon the priest
invited him to walk into the private quarters of the temple, and
treated him with much courtesy; but he went on to propose that our
friend the merchant should also undertake the general ornamentation of
the place both inside and out.[105] The latter declared he could not
afford the expense, and the priest began to get very angry, and urged
him so strongly that at last the merchant, in terror, promised to give
all the money he had. After this he was preparing to go away, but the
priest detained him, saying, “You haven’t given the money of your own
free will, and consequently you’ll be owing me a grudge: I can’t do
better than make an end of you at once.” Thereupon he seized a knife,
and refused to listen to all the cloth merchant’s entreaties, until at
length the latter asked to be allowed to hang himself, to which the
priest consented; and, showing him into a dark room, told him to make
haste about it.

At this juncture, a Tartar-General[106] happened to pass by the
temple; and from a distance, through a breach in the old wall, he saw
a damsel in a red dress pass into the priest’s quarters. This roused
his suspicions,[107] and dismounting from his horse, he entered the
temple and searched high and low, but without discovering anything.
The dark room above-mentioned was locked and double-barred, and the
priest refused to open it, saying the place was haunted. The General
in a rage burst open the door, and there beheld the cloth merchant
hanging from a beam. He cut him down at once, and in a short time he
was brought round and told the General the whole story. They then
searched for the damsel, but she was nowhere to be found, having been
nothing more than a divine manifestation. The General cut off the
priest’s head and restored the cloth merchant’s property to him, after
which the latter put the temple in thorough repair and kept it well
supplied with lights and incense ever afterwards.

Mr. Chao, M.A., told me this story with all its details.[108]


[105] The elaborate gilding and wood-work of an ordinary Chinese
temple form a very serious item in the expense of restoration. Public
subscriptions are usually the means employed for raising sufficient
funds, the names of subscribers and amount given by each being
published in some conspicuous position. Occasionally devout
priests--black swans, indeed, in China--shut themselves up in boxes
studded with nails, one of which they pull out every time a certain
donation is given, and there they remain until every nail is
withdrawn. But after all it is difficult to say whether they endure
these trials so much for the faith’s sake as for the funds from which
they derive more of the luxuries of life, and the temporary notoriety
gained by thus coming before the public. A Chinese proverb says, “The
image-maker doesn’t worship Buddha. He knows too much about the idol;”
and the application of this saying may safely be extended to the
majority of Buddhist priests in China.

[106] This is the title generally applied to the Manchu commanders of
Manchu garrisons, who are stationed at certain of the most important
points of the Chinese Empire, and whose presence is intended as a
check upon the action of the civil authorities.

[107] See No. VI., note 52.

[108] The moral being, of course, that Buddha protects those who look
after his interests on earth.



Han Kung-fu, of Yü-ch‘êng, told me that he was one day travelling
along a road with a man of his village, named P‘êng, when all of a
sudden the latter disappeared, leaving his mule to jog along with an
empty saddle. At the same moment, Mr. Han heard his voice calling for
assistance, and apparently proceeding from inside one of the panniers
strapped across the mule’s back; and on looking closely, there indeed
he was in one of the panniers, which, however, did not seem to be at
all displaced by his weight. On trying to get him out the mouth of the
pannier closed itself tightly; and it was only when he cut it open
with a knife that he saw P‘êng curled up in it like a dog. He then
helped him out, and asked him how he managed to get in; but this he
was unable to say. It further appeared that his family was under fox
influence, many strange things of this kind having happened before.



It is customary in Shantung, when any one is sick, for the womenfolk
to engage an old sorceress or medium, who strums on a tambourine and
performs certain mysterious antics. This custom obtains even more in
the capital, where young ladies of the best families frequently
organize such _séances_ among themselves. On a table in the hall they
spread out a profusion of wine and meat, and burn huge candles which
make the place as light as day. Then the sorceress, shortening her
skirts, stands on one leg and performs the _shang-yang_,[109] while
two of the others support her, one on each side. All this time she is
chattering unintelligible sentences,[110] something between a song
and a prayer, the words being confused but uttered in a sort of tune;
while the hall resounds with the thunder of drums, enough to stun a
person, with which her vaticinations are mixed up and lost. By-and-by
her head begins to droop, and her eyes to look aslant; and but for her
two supporters she would inevitably fall to the ground. Suddenly she
stretches forth her neck and bounds several feet into the air, upon
which the other women regard her in terror, saying, “The spirits have
come to eat;” and immediately all the candles are blown out and
everything is in total darkness. Thus they remain for about a quarter
of an hour, afraid to speak a word, which in any case would not be
heard through the din, until at length the sorceress calls out the
personal name of the head of the family[111] and some others;
whereupon they immediately relight the candles and hurry up to ask if
the reply of the spirits is favourable or otherwise. They then see
that every scrap of the food and every drop of the wine has
disappeared. Meanwhile, they watch the old woman’s expression, whereby
they can tell if the spirits are well disposed; and each one asks her
some question, to which she as promptly replies. Should there be any
unbelievers among the party, the spirits are at once aware of their
presence; and the old sorceress, pointing her finger at such a one,
cries out, “Disrespectful mocker! where are your trousers?” upon which
the mocker alluded to looks down, and lo! her trousers are gone--gone
to the top of a tree in the court-yard, where they will subsequently
be found.[112]

Manchu women and girls, especially, are firm believers in
spiritualism. On the slightest provocation they consult their medium,
who comes into the room gorgeously dressed, and riding on an imitation
horse or tiger.[113] In her hand she holds a long spear, with which
she mounts the couch[114] and postures in an extraordinary manner, the
animal she rides snorting or roaring fiercely all the time. Some call
her Kuan Ti,[115] others Chang Fei, and others again Chou Kung, from
her terribly martial aspect, which strikes fear into all beholders.
And should any daring fellow try to peep in while the _séance_ is
going on, out of the window darts the spear, transfixes his hat, and
draws it off his head into the room, while women and girls, young and
old, hop round one after the other like geese, on one leg, without
seeming to get the least fatigued.


[109] It is related in the _Family Sayings_, an apocryphal work which
professes to give conversations of Confucius, that a number of
one-legged birds having suddenly appeared in Ch‘i, the Duke of Ch‘i
sent off to ask the Sage what was the meaning of this strange
phenomenon. Confucius replied, “The bird is the _shang-yang_, and
portends beneficial rain.” And formerly the boys and girls in Shantung
would hop about on one leg, crying, “The _shang-yang_ has come;” after
which rain would be sure to follow.

[110] Speaking in the unknown tongue, like the Irvingites and others.

[111] This is a clever hit. The “personal” name of a man may not be
uttered except by his father or mother, grandfather, grandmother,
uncles, etc. Thus, the mere use of the personal name of the _head of a
family_ proves conclusively that the spirit of someone of his
ancestors must be present.

[112] I consider the whole of the above a curious story to be found in
a Chinese work exactly 200 years old, but no part of it more so than
the forcible removal of some part of the clothing, which has been so
prominent a feature in the _séances_ of our own day. It may be added
that in many a court-yard in Peking will be found one or more trees,
which cause the view from the city wall to be very pleasing to the
eye, in spite of the filth and ruins which a closer inspection

[113] The arrangement being that of the hobby-horse of by-gone days.

[114] The couches of the north of China are brick beds, heated by a
stove underneath, and covered with a mat. Upon one of these is
generally a dwarf table and a couple of pillows; and here it is that
the Chinaman loves to recline, his wine-kettle, opium-pipe, or teapot
within reach, and a friend at his side, with whom he may converse far
into the night.

[115] See No. LXXIII., note 63. Chang Fei was the bosom-friend of the
last, and was his associate-commander in the wars of the Three
Kingdoms. Chou Kung was the first Emperor of the Chou dynasty, and a
pattern of wisdom and virtue. He is said by the Chinese to have
invented the mariner’s compass; but the legend will not bear



Several traders who were lodging at an inn in Peking, occupied a room
which was divided from the adjoining apartment by a partition of
boards from which a piece was missing, leaving an aperture about as
big as a basin. Suddenly a girl’s head appeared through the opening,
with very pretty features and nicely dressed hair; and the next moment
an arm, as white as polished jade. The traders were much alarmed, and,
thinking it was the work of devils, tried to seize the head, which,
however, was quickly drawn in again out of their reach. This happened
a second time, and then, as they could see no body belonging to the
head, one of them took a knife in his hand and crept up against the
partition underneath the hole. In a little while the head re-appeared,
when he made a chop at it and cut it off, the blood spurting out all
over the floor and wall. The traders hurried off to tell the landlord,
who immediately reported the matter to the authorities, taking the
head with him, and the traders were forthwith arrested and examined;
but the magistrate could make nothing of the case, and, as no one
appeared for the prosecution, the accused, after about six months’
incarceration, were accordingly released, and orders were given for
the girl’s head to be buried.



A man named Li, of I-tu, was once crossing the hills when he came upon
a number of persons sitting on the ground engaged in drinking. As soon
as they saw Li they begged him to join them, and vied with each other
in filling his cup. Meanwhile, he looked about him and noticed that
the various trays and dishes contained all kinds of costly food; the
wine only seemed to him a little rough on the palate. In the middle of
their fun up came a stranger with a face about three feet long and a
very tall hat; whereupon the others were very much alarmed, and cried
out, “The hill spirit! the hill spirit!” running away in all
directions as fast as they could go. Li hid himself in a hole in the
ground; and when by-and-by he peeped out to see what had happened, the
wine and food had disappeared, and there was nothing there but a few
dirty potsherds and some pieces of broken tiles with efts and lizards
crawling over them.[116]


[116] Mr. Li had, doubtless, taken a “drop too much” before he started
on his mountain walk.



K‘u Ta-yu was a native of the Yang district, and managed to get a
military appointment under the command of Tsu Shu-shun.[117] The
latter treated him most kindly, and finally sent him as Major-General
of some troops by which he was then trying to establish the dynasty of
the usurping Chows. K‘u soon perceived that the game was lost, and
immediately turned his forces upon Tsu Shu-shun, whom he succeeded in
capturing, after Tsu had been wounded in the hand, and whom he at once
forwarded as a prisoner to headquarters. That night he dreamed that
the Judge of Purgatory appeared to him, and, reproaching him with his
base ingratitude, bade the devil-lictors seize him and scald his feet
in a cauldron of boiling oil. K‘u then woke up with a start, and found
that his feet were very sore and painful; and in a short time they
swelled up, and his toes dropped off. Fever set in, and in his agony
he shrieked out, “Ungrateful wretch that I was indeed,” and fell back
and expired.


[117] Of whom I can learn nothing.



Now as they wandered about the temple they came upon an old blind
priest sitting under the verandah, engaged in selling medicines and
prescribing for patients. “Ah!” cried Sung, “there is an extraordinary
man who is well versed in the arts of composition;” and immediately he
sent back to get the essay they had just been reading, in order to
obtain the old priest’s opinion as to its merits. At the same moment
up came their friend from Yü-hang, and all three went along together.
Wang began by addressing him as “Professor;” whereupon the priest, who
thought the stranger had come to consult him as a doctor, inquired
what might be the disease from which he was suffering. Wang then
explained what his mission was; upon which the priest smiled and said,
“Who’s been telling you this nonsense? How can a man with no eyes
discuss with you the merits of your compositions?” Wang replied by
asking him to let his ears do duty for his eyes; but the priest
answered that he would hardly have patience to sit out Wang’s three
sections, amounting perhaps to some two thousand and more words.
“However,” added he, “if you like to burn it, I’ll try what I can do
with my nose.” Wang complied, and burnt the first section there and
then; and the old priest, snuffing up the smoke, declared that it
wasn’t such a bad effort, and finally gave it as his opinion that Wang
would probably succeed at the examination. The young scholar from
Yü-hang didn’t believe that the old priest could really tell anything
by these means, and forthwith proceeded to burn an essay by one of the
old masters; but the priest no sooner smelt the smoke than he cried
out, “Beautiful indeed! beautiful indeed! I do enjoy this. The light
of genius and truth is evident here.” The Yü-hang scholar was greatly
astonished at this, and began to burn an essay of his own; whereupon
the priest said, “I had had but a taste of that one; why change so
soon to another?” “The first paragraph,” replied the young man, “was
by a friend; the rest is my own composition.” No sooner had he uttered
these words than the old priest began to retch violently, and begged
that he might have no more, as he was sure it would make him sick. The
Yü-hang scholar was much abashed at this, and went away; but in a few
days the list came out and his name was among the successful ones,
while Wang’s was not. He at once hurried off to tell the old priest,
who, when he heard the news, sighed and said, “I may be blind with my
eyes but I am not so with my nose, which I fear is the case with the
examiners. Besides,” added he, “I was talking to you about
composition: I said nothing about _destiny_.”[119]


[118] The following extract from a long and otherwise tedious story
tells its own tale. Wang is the modest man, and the young man from
Yü-hang the braggart. Sung is merely a friend of Wang’s.

[119] This is one of our author’s favourite shafts--a sneer at
examiners in general, and those who rejected him in particular.



A man named T‘ien Tzŭ-ch‘êng, of Chiang-ning, was crossing the
Tung-t‘ing lake, when the boat was capsized, and he was drowned. His
son, Liang-ssŭ, who, towards the close of the Ming dynasty, took the
highest degree, was then a baby in arms; and his wife, hearing the bad
news, swallowed poison forthwith,[120] and left the child to the care
of his grandmother. When Liang-ssŭ grew up, he was appointed
magistrate in Hu-pei, where he remained about a year. He was then
transferred to Hu-nan, on military service; but, on reaching the
Tung-t‘ing lake, his feelings overpowered him, and he returned to
plead inability as an excuse for not taking up his post. Accordingly,
he was degraded to the rank of Assistant-Magistrate, which he at first
declined, but was finally compelled to accept; and thenceforward gave
himself up to roaming about on the lakes and streams of the
surrounding country, without paying much attention to his official

One night he had anchored his boat alongside the bank of a river, when
suddenly the cadence of a sweetly-played flageolet broke upon his ear;
so he strolled along by the light of the moon in the direction of the
music, until, after a few minutes’ walking, he reached a cottage
standing by itself, with a few citron-trees round it, and
brilliantly-lighted inside. Approaching a window, he peeped in, and
saw three persons sitting at a table, engaged in drinking. In the
place of honour was a graduate of about thirty years of age; an old
man played the host, and at the side sat a much younger man playing on
the flageolet. When he had finished, the old man clapped his hands in
admiration; but the graduate turned away with a sigh, as if he had not
heard a note. “Come now, Mr. Lu,” cried the old man, addressing the
latter, “kindly favour us with one of your songs, which, I know, must
be worth hearing.” The graduate then began to sing as follows:--

   “Over the river the wind blows cold on lonely me:
     Each flow’ret trampled under foot, all verdure gone.
    At home a thousand _li_ away, I cannot be;
     So towards the Bridge my spirit nightly wanders on.”

The above was given in such melancholy tones that the old man smiled
and said, “Mr. Lu, these must be experiences of your own,” and,
immediately filling a goblet, added, “I can do nothing like that; but
if you will let me, I will give you a song to help us on with our
wine.” He then sung a verse from “Li T‘ai-poh,”[121] and put them all
in a lively humour again; after which the young man said he would just
go outside and see how high the moon was, which he did, and observing
Liang-ssŭ outside, clapped his hands, and cried out to his companions,
“There is a man at the window, who has seen all we have been doing.”
He then led Liang-ssŭ in; whereupon the other two rose, and begged him
to be seated, and to join them in their wine. The wine, however, was
cold,[122] and he therefore declined; but the young man at once
perceived his reason, and proceeded to warm some for him. Liang-ssŭ
now ordered his servant to go and buy some more, but this his host
would not permit him to do. They next inquired Liang-ssŭ’s name, and
whence he came, and then the old man said, “Why, then, you are the
father and mother[123] of the district in which I live. My name is
River: I am an old resident here. This young man is a Mr. Tu, of
Kiang-si; and this gentleman,” added he, pointing to the graduate, “is
Mr. Rushten,[124] a fellow-provincial of yours.” Mr. Rushten looked
at Liang-ssŭ in rather a contemptuous way, and without taking much
notice of him; whereupon Liang-ssŭ asked him whereabouts he lived in
Chiang-ning, observing that it was strange he himself should never
have heard of such an accomplished gentleman. “Alas!” replied Rushten,
“it is many a long day since I left my home, and I know nothing even
of my own family. Alas, indeed!” These words were uttered in so
mournful a tone of voice that the old man broke in with, “Come, come,
now! talking like this, instead of drinking when we’re all so jolly
together; this will never do.” He then drained a bumper himself, and
said, “I propose a game of forfeits. We’ll throw with three dice; and
whoever throws so that the spots on one die[125] equal those on the
other two shall give us a verse with a corresponding classical
allusion in it.” He then threw himself, and turned up an ace, a two,
and a three; whereupon he sang the following lines:--

   “An ace and a deuce on one side, just equal a three on the other:
    For Fan a chicken was boiled, though three years had passed, by
        Chang’s mother.[126]
                               Thus friends love to meet!”

Then the young musician threw, and turned up two twos and a four;
whereupon he exclaimed, “Don’t laugh at the feeble allusion of an
unlearned fellow like me:--

   ‘Two deuces are equal to a four:
    Four men united their valour in the old city.[127]
                      Thus brothers love to meet!’”

Mr. Rushten followed with two aces and a two, and recited these

   “Two aces are equal to a two:
    Lu-hsiang stretched out his two arms and embraced his father.[128]
                          Thus father and son love to meet!”

Liang then threw, and turned up the same as Mr. Rushten; whereupon he

   “Two aces are equal to a two:
    Mao-jung regaled Lin-tsung with two baskets.[129]
                Thus host and guest love to meet!”

When the _partie_ was over Liang-ssŭ rose to go, but Mr. Rushten
said, “Dear me! why are you in such a hurry; we haven’t had a moment
to speak of the old place. Please stay: I was just going to ask you a
few questions.” So Liang-ssŭ sat down again, and Mr. Rushten
proceeded. “I had an old friend,” said he, “who was drowned in the
Tung-t‘ing lake. He bore the same name as yourself; was he a
relative?” “He was my father,” replied Liang-ssŭ; “how did you know
him?” “We were friends as boys together; and when he was drowned, I
recovered and buried his body by the river-side.”[130] Liang-ssŭ here
burst into tears, and thanked Mr. Rushten very warmly, begging him to
point out his father’s grave. “Come again to-morrow,” said Mr.
Rushten, “and I will shew it to you. You could easily find it
yourself. It is close by here, and has ten stalks of water-rush
growing on it.” Liang-ssŭ now took his leave, and went back to his
boat, but he could not sleep for thinking of what Mr. Rushten had told
him; and at length, without waiting for the dawn, he set out to look
for the grave. To his great astonishment, the house where he had spent
the previous evening had disappeared; but hunting about in the
direction indicated by Mr. Rushten, he found a grave with ten
water-rushes growing on it, precisely as Mr. Rushten had described. It
then flashed across him that Mr. Rushten’s name had a special meaning,
and that he had been holding converse with none other than the
disembodied spirit of his own father. And, on inquiring of the people
of the place, he learnt that twenty years before a benevolent old
gentleman, named Kao, had been in the habit of collecting the bodies
of persons found drowned, and burying them in that spot. Liang then
opened the grave, and carried off his father’s remains to his own
home, where his grandmother, to whom he described Mr. Rushten’s
appearance, confirmed the suspicion he himself had formed. It also
turned out that the young musician was a cousin of his, who had been
drowned when nineteen years of age; and then he recollected that the
boy’s father had subsequently gone to Kiang-si, and that his mother
had died there, and had been buried at the Bamboo Bridge, to which Mr.
Rushten had alluded in his song. But he did not know who the old man


[120] This would be regarded as a very meritorious act by the Chinese.

[121] The Byron of China.

[122] Chinese wine--or, more correctly, _spirits_--is always taken
hot; hence the term wine-kettle, which frequently occurs in these

[123] The Magistrate; who is supposed to be towards the people what a
father is to his children.

[124] This singularly un-Chinese surname is employed to keep up a
certain play upon words which exists in the original, and which is
important to the _dénouement_ of the story. “River” is the simple
translation of a name actually in use.

[125] Chinese dice are the exact counterpart of our own, except that
the ace and the four are coloured red: the ace because the combination
of black and white would be unlucky, and the four because this number
once turned up in response to the call of an Emperor of the T‘ang
dynasty, who particularly wanted a four to win him the _partie_. All
letters, despatches, and such documents, have invariably something
_red_ about them, this being the lucky colour, and to the Chinese,
emblematic of prosperity and joy.

[126] Alluding to an ancient story of a promise by a Mr. Fan that he
would be at his friend Chang’s house that day three years. When the
time drew near, Chang’s mother ridiculed the notion of a man keeping a
three years’ appointment; but, acceding to her son’s instances,
prepared a boiled chicken, which was barely ready when Fan arrived to
eat of it.

[127] Alluding to the celebrated oath of confederation sworn in the
peach garden between Kuan Yü, or Kuan Ti (see No. I., note 39), Chang
Fei (see No. LXIII., note 2), Liu Pei, who subsequently proclaimed
himself Emperor, A.D. 221, and Chu-ko Liang, his celebrated minister,
to whose sage counsels most of the success of the undertaking was due.
The whole story is one of the best known of Chinese historical
romances, bringing about, as it did, the downfall of the famous Han
dynasty, which had endured for over 400 years.

[128] Alluding to the story of a young man who went in search of his
missing father.

[129] Lin-tsung saw his host kill a chicken which he thought was
destined for himself. However, Mao-jung served up the dainty morsel to
his mother, while he and his guest regaled themselves with two baskets
of common vegetables. At this instance of filial piety, Lin-tsung had
the good sense to be charmed.

[130] The Chinese recognise no act more worthy a virtuous man than
that of burying stray bones, covering up exposed coffins, and so
forth. By such means the favour of the Gods is most surely obtained,
to say nothing of the golden opinions of the living.

[131] This is merely our author’s way of putting the question of the
old man’s identity. He was the Spirit of the Waters--his name, it will
be recollected, was River--just, in fact, as we say Old Father Thames.



Wang Kuli-ngan was a young man of good family. It happened once when
he was travelling southwards, and had moored his boat to the bank,
that he saw in another boat close by a young boat-girl embroidering
shoes. He was much struck by her beauty, and continued gazing at her
for some time, though she took not the slightest notice of him.
By-and-by he began singing--

   “The Lo-yang lady lives over the way:
    [Fifteen years is her age I should say].”[132]

to attract her attention, and then she seemed to perceive that he was
addressing himself to her; but, after just raising her head and
glancing at him, she resumed her embroidery as before. Wang then threw
a piece of silver towards her, which fell on her skirt; however she
merely picked it up, and flung it on to the bank, as if she had not
seen what it was, so Wang put it back in his pocket again. He
followed up by throwing her a gold bracelet, to which she paid no
attention whatever, never taking her eyes off her work. A few minutes
after her father appeared, much to the dismay of Wang, who was afraid
he would see the bracelet; but the young girl quietly placed her feet
over it, and concealed it from his sight. The boatman let go the
painter, and away they went down stream, leaving Wang sitting there,
not knowing what to do next. And, having recently lost his wife, he
regretted that he had not seized this opportunity to make another
match; the more so, as when he came to ask the other boat-people of
the place, no one knew anything about them. So Wang got into his own
boat, and started off in pursuit; but evening came on, and, as he
could see nothing of them, he was obliged to turn back and proceed in
the direction where business was taking him. When he had finished
that, he returned, making inquiries all the way along, but without
hearing anything about the object of his search. On arriving at home,
he was unable either to eat or to sleep, so much did this affair
occupy his mind; and about a year afterwards he went south again,
bought a boat, and lived in it as his home, watching carefully every
single vessel that passed either up or down, until at last there was
hardly one he didn’t know by sight. But all this time the boat he was
looking for never reappeared.

Some six months passed away thus, and then, having exhausted all his
funds, he was obliged to go home, where he remained in a state of
general inaptitude for anything. One night he dreamed that he entered
a village on the river-bank, and that, after passing several houses,
he saw one with a door towards the south, and a palisade of bamboos
inside. Thinking it was a garden, he walked in and beheld a beautiful
magnolia, covered with blossoms, which reminded him of the line--

   “And Judas-tree in flower before her door.”[133]

A few steps farther on was a neat bamboo hedge, on the other side of
which, towards the north, he found a small house, with three columns,
the door of which was locked; and another, towards the south, with its
window shaded by the broad leaves of a plaintain-tree. The door was
barred by a clothes-horse,[134] on which was hanging an embroidered
petticoat; and, on seeing this, Wang stepped back, knowing that he had
got to the ladies’ quarters; but his presence had already been noticed
inside, and, in another moment, out came his heroine of the boat.
Overjoyed at seeing her, he was on the point of grasping her hand,
when suddenly the girl’s father arrived, and, in his consternation,
Wang waked up, and found that it was all a dream. Every incident of
it, however, remained clear and distinct in his mind, and he took care
to say nothing about it to anybody, for fear of destroying its

Another year passed away, and he went again to Chinkiang, where lived
an official, named Hsü, who was an old friend of the family, and who
invited Wang to come and take a cup of wine with him. On his way
thither, Wang lost his way, but at length reached a village which
seemed familiar to him, and which he soon found, by the door with the
magnolia inside, to be identical, in every particular, with the
village of his dream. He went in through the doorway, and there was
everything as he had seen it in his dream, even to the boat-girl
herself. She jumped up on his arrival, and, shutting the door in his
face, asked what his business was there. Wang inquired if she had
forgotten about the bracelet, and went on to tell her how long he had
been searching for her, and how, at last, she had been revealed to him
in a dream. The girl then begged to know his name and family; and when
she heard who he was, she asked what a gentleman like himself could
want with a poor boat-girl like her, as he must have a wife of his
own. “But for you,” replied Wang, “I should, indeed, have been married
long ago.” Upon which the girl told him if that was really the case,
he had better apply to her parents, “although,” added she, “they have
already refused a great many offers for me. The bracelet you gave me
is here, but my father and mother are just now away from home; they
will be back shortly. You go away now and engage a match-maker, when I
dare say it will be all right if the proper formalities are observed.”
Wang then retired, the girl calling after him to remember that her
name was Mêng Yün, and her father’s Mêng Chiang-li. He proceeded at
once on his way to Mr. Hsü’s, and after that sought out his intended
father-in-law, telling him who he was, and offering him at the same
time one hundred ounces of silver, as betrothal-money for his
daughter. “She is already promised,” replied the old man; upon which
Wang declared he had been making careful inquiries, and had heard, on
all sides, that the young lady was not engaged, winding up by begging
to know what objection there was to his suit. “I have just promised
her,” answered her father, “and I cannot possibly break my word;” so
Wang went away, deeply mortified, not knowing whether to believe it or
not. That night he tossed about a good deal; and next morning, braving
the ridicule with which he imagined his friend would view his
wished-for alliance with a boat-girl, he went off to Mr. Hsü, and told
him all about it. “Why didn’t you consult me before?” cried Mr. Hsü;
“her father is a connection of mine.” Wang then went on to give
fuller particulars, which his friend interrupted by saying, “Chang-li
is indeed poor, but he has never been a boatman. Are you sure you are
not making a mistake?” He then sent off his elder son to make
inquiries; and to him the girl’s father said, “Poor I am, but I don’t
_sell_ my daughter.[135] Your friend imagined that I should be tempted
by the sight of his money to forego the usual ceremonies, and so I
won’t have anything to do with him. But if your father desires this
match, and everything is in proper order, I will just go in and
consult with my daughter, and see if she is willing.” He then retired
for a few minutes, and when he came back he raised his hands in
congratulation, saying, “Everything is as you wish;” whereupon a day
was fixed, and the young man went home to report to his father. Wang
now sent off betrothal presents, with the usual formalities, and took
up his abode with his friend, Mr. Hsü, until the marriage was
solemnized, three days after which he bade adieu to his father-in-law,
and started on his way northwards. In the evening, as they were
sitting on the boat together, Wang said to his wife, “When I first met
you near this spot, I fancied you were not of the ordinary
boating-class. Where were you then going?” “I was going to visit my
uncle,” she replied. “We are not a wealthy family, you know, but we
don’t want anything through an improper channel; and I couldn’t help
smiling at the great eyes you were making at me, all the time trying
to tempt me with money. But when I heard you speak, I knew at once you
were a man of refinement, though I guessed you were a bit of a rake;
and so I hid your bracelet, and saved you from the wrath of my
father.” “And yet,” replied Wang, “you have fallen into my snare after
all;” adding, after a little pressure, “for I can’t conceal from you
much longer the fact that I have already a wife, belonging to a high
official family.” This she did not believe, until he began to affirm
it seriously; and then she jumped up and ran out of the cabin. Wang
followed at once, but, before he could reach her, she was already in
the river; whereupon he shouted out to boats to come to their
assistance, causing quite a commotion all round about; but nothing was
to be seen in the river, save only the reflection of the stars shining
brightly on the water. All night long Wang went sorrowfully up and
down, and offered a high reward for the body, which, however, was not
forthcoming. So he went home in despair, and then, fearing lest his
father-in-law should come to visit his daughter, he started on a visit
to a connection of his, who had an appointment in Honan. In the course
of a year or two, when on his homeward journey, he chanced to be
detained by bad weather at a roadside inn of rather cleaner appearance
than usual. Within he saw an old woman playing with a child, which, as
soon as he entered, held out its arms to him to be taken. Wang took
the child on his knee, and there it remained, refusing to go back to
its nurse; and, when the rain had stopped, and Wang was getting ready
to go, the child cried out, “Pa-pa gone!” The nurse told it to hold
its tongue, and, at the same moment, out from behind the screen came
Wang’s long-lost wife. “You bad fellow,” said she, “what am I to do
with this?” pointing to the child; and then Wang knew that the boy was
his own son. He was much affected, and swore by the sun[136] that the
words he had uttered had been uttered in jest, and by-and-by his
wife’s anger was soothed. She then explained how she had been picked
up by a passing boat, the occupant of which was the owner of the house
they were in, a man of sixty years of age, who had no children of his
own, and who kindly adopted her.[137] She also told him how she had
had several offers of marriage, all of which she had refused, and how
her child was born, and that she had called him Chi-shêng, and that he
was then a year old. Wang now unpacked his baggage again, and went in
to see the old gentleman and his wife, whom he treated as if they had
actually been his wife’s parents. A few days afterwards they set off
together towards Wang’s home, where they found his wife’s real father
awaiting them. He had been there more than two months, and had been
considerably disconcerted by the mysterious remarks of Wang’s
servants; but the arrival of his daughter and her husband made things
all smooth again, and when they told him what had happened, he
understood the demeanour of the servants which had seemed so strange
to him at first.


[132] From a poem by Wang Wei, a noted poet of the T‘ang dynasty. The
second line is not given in the text.

[133] From a poem by P‘an T‘ang-shên, which runs:--

   “Her rustic home stands by the Tung-t‘ing lake.
      Ye who would there a pure libation pour,
    Look for mud walls--a roof of rushy make--
      And Judas-tree in flower before the door.”

The Chinese believe that the Judas-tree will only bloom where
fraternal love prevails.

[134] I have already observed that men and women should not let their
hands touch when passing things to each other (see No. XL., note 233);
neither is it considered proper for persons of different sexes to hang
their clothes on the same clothes-horse. (See _Appendix_, note 381.)

With regard to shaking hands, I have omitted to mention how hateful
this custom is in the eyes of the Chinese, as in vogue among
foreigners, without reference to sex. They believe that a bad man
might easily secrete some noxious drug in the palm of his hand, and so
convey it into the system of any woman, who would then be at his

[135] Alluding to Wang’s breach of etiquette in visiting the father
himself, instead of sending a go-between, who would have offered the
same sum in due form as the usual dowry or present to the bride’s

[136] Witnesses in a Chinese court of justice take no oath, in our
sense of the term. Their written depositions, however, are always
ended with the words “the above evidence is the truth!” In ordinary
life people call heaven and earth to witness, or, as in this case, the
sun; or they declare themselves willing to forfeit their lives; and so
on, if their statements are not true. “Saucer-breaking” is one of
those pleasant inductions from probably a single instance, which may
have been the fancy of a moment; at any rate, it is quite unknown in
China as a national custom. “Cock-killing” usually has reference to
the ceremonies of initiation performed by the members of the numerous
secret societies which exist over the length and breadth of the
Empire, in spite of Government prohibitions, and the penalty of death
incurred upon detection.

[137] Adoption is common all over China, and is regulated by law. For
instance, an adopted son excludes all the daughters of the family. A
man is not allowed to marry a girl whom he has adopted until he shall
have given her away to be adopted in a family of a _different surname
from his own_; after which fictitious ceremony, his marriage with her
becomes legal (see No. XV., note 109); for the child adopted takes the
same surname as that of the family into which he is adopted, and is so
far cut off from his own relations, that he would not venture even to
put on mourning for his real parents without first obtaining the
consent of those who had adopted him. A son or daughter may be sold,
but an adopted child may not; neither may the adopted child be given
away in adoption to any one else without the specific consent of his
real parents. The general object in adopting children is to leave some
one behind at death to look after the duties of ancestral worship. For
this boys are preferred; but the _Fortunate Union_ gives an instance
in which these rites were very creditably performed by the heroine of
the tale.



Now Chi-shêng, or Wang Sun, was one of the cleverest young fellows in
the district; and his father and mother, who had foreseen his ability
from the time when, as a baby in long clothes, he distinguished them
from other people, loved him very dearly. He grew up into a handsome
lad; at eight or nine he could compose elegantly, and by fourteen he
had already entered his name as a candidate for the first degree,
after which his marriage became a question for consideration. Now his
father’s younger sister, Erh-niang, had married a gentleman named
Chêng Tzŭ-ch‘iao, and they had a daughter called Kuei-hsiu, who was
extremely pretty, and with whom Chi-shêng fell deeply in love, being
soon unable either to eat or to sleep. His parents became extremely
uneasy about him, and inquired what it was that ailed him; and when he
told them, they at once sent off a match-maker to Mr. Chêng. The
latter, however, was rather a stickler for the proprieties, and
replied that the near relationship precluded him from accepting the
offer.[139] Thereupon Chi-shêng became dangerously ill, and his
mother, not knowing what to do, secretly tried to persuade Erh-niang
to let her daughter come over to their house; but Mr. Chêng heard of
it, and was so angry that Chi-shêng’s father and mother gave up all
hope of arranging the match.

At that time there was a gentleman named Chang living near by, who had
five daughters, all very pretty, but the youngest, called Wu-k‘o, was
singularly beautiful, far surpassing her four sisters. She was not
betrothed to any one, when one day, as she was on her way to worship
at the family tombs, she chanced to see Chi-shêng, and at her return
home spoke about him to her mother. Her mother guessed what her
meaning was, and arranged with a match-maker, named Mrs. Yü, to call
upon Chi-shêng’s parents. This she did precisely at the time when
Chi-shêng was so ill, and forthwith told his mother that her son’s
complaint was one she, Mrs. Yü, was quite competent to cure; going on
to tell her about Miss Wu-k‘o and the proposed marriage, at which the
good lady was delighted, and sent her in to talk about it to Chi-shêng
himself. “Alas!” cried he, when he had heard Mrs. Yü’s story, “you are
bringing me the wrong medicine for my complaint.” “All depends upon
the efficacy of the medicine,” replied Mrs. Yü; “if the medicine is
good, it matters not what is the name of the doctor who administers
the draught; while to set your heart on a particular person, and to
lie there and die because that person doesn’t come, is surely foolish
in the extreme.” “Ah,” rejoined Chi-shêng, “there’s no medicine under
heaven that will do me any good.” Mrs. Yü told him his experience was
limited, and proceeded to expatiate by speaking and gesticulating on
the beauty and liveliness of Wu-k‘o. But all Chi-shêng said was that
she was not what he wanted, and, turning round his face to the wall,
would listen to no more about her. So Mrs. Yü was obliged to go away,
and Chi-shêng became worse and worse every day, until suddenly one of
the maids came in and informed him that the young lady herself was at
the door. Immediately he jumped up and ran out, and lo! there before
him stood a beautiful girl, whom, however he soon discovered not to be
Kuei-hsiu. She wore a light yellow robe with a fine silk jacket and an
embroidered petticoat, from beneath which her two little feet peeped
out; and altogether she more resembled a fairy than anything else.
Chi-shêng inquired her name; to which she replied that it was Wu-k‘o,
adding that she couldn’t understand his devoted attachment to
Kuei-hsiu, as if there was nobody else in the world. Chi-shêng
apologized, saying that he had never before seen any one so beautiful
as Kuei-hsiu, but that he was now aware of his mistake. He then swore
everlasting fidelity to her, and was just grasping her hand, when he
awoke and found his mother rubbing him. It was a dream, but so
accurately defined in all its details that he began to think if Wu-k‘o
was really such as he had seen her, there would be no further need to
try for his impracticable cousin. So he communicated his dream to his
mother; and she, only too delighted to notice this change of feeling,
offered to go to Wu-k‘o’s house herself; but Chi-shêng would not hear
of this, and arranged with an old woman who knew the family to find
some pretext for going there, and to report to him what Wu-k‘o was
like. When she arrived Wu-k‘o was ill in bed, and lay with her head
propped up by pillows, looking very pretty indeed. The old woman
approached the couch and asked what was the matter; to which Wu-k‘o
made no reply, her fingers fidgetting all the time with her waistband.
“She’s been behaving badly to her father and mother,” cried the
latter, who was in the room; “there’s many a one has offered to marry
her, but she says she’ll have none but Chi-shêng: and then when I
scold her a bit, she takes on and won’t touch her food for days.”
“Madam,” said the old woman, “if you could get that young man for your
daughter they would make a truly pretty pair; and as for him, if he
could only see Miss Wu-k‘o, I’m afraid it would be too much for him.
What do you think of my going there and getting them to make
proposals?” “No, thank you,” replied Wu-k‘o; “I would rather not risk
his refusal;” upon which the old woman declared she would succeed, and
hurried off to tell Chi-shêng, who was delighted to find from her
report that Wu-k‘o was exactly as he had seen her in his dream, though
he didn’t trust implicitly in all the old woman said. By-and-by, when
he began to get a little better, he consulted with the old woman as to
how he could see Wu-k‘o with his own eyes; and, after some little
difficulty, it was arranged that Chi-shêng should hide himself in a
room from which he would be able to see her as she crossed the yard
supported by a maid, which she did every day at a certain hour. This
Chi-shêng proceeded to do, and in a little while out she came,
accompanied by the old woman as well, who instantly drew her attention
either to the clouds or the trees, in order that she should walk more
leisurely. Thus Chi-shêng had a good look at her, and saw that she was
truly the young lady of his dream. He could hardly contain himself for
joy; and when the old woman arrived and asked if she would do instead
of Kuei-hsiu, he thanked her very warmly and returned to his own home.
There he told his father and mother, who sent off a match-maker to
arrange the preliminaries; but the latter came back and told them that
Wu-k‘o was already betrothed. This was a terrible blow for Chi-shêng,
who was soon as ill as ever, and offered no reply to his father and
mother when they charged him with having made a mistake. For several
months he ate nothing but a bowl of rice-gruel a-day, and he became as
emaciated as a fowl, when all of a sudden the old woman walked in and
asked him what was the matter. “Foolish boy,” said she, when he had
told her all; “before you wouldn’t have her, and do you imagine she is
bound to have you now? But I’ll see if I can’t help you; for were she
the Emperor’s own daughter, I should still find some way of getting
her.” Chi-shêng asked what he should do, and she then told him to send
a servant with a letter next day to Wu-k‘o’s house, to which his
father at first objected for fear of another repulse; but the old
woman assured him that Wu-k‘o’s parents had since repented, besides
which no written contract had as yet been made; “and you know the
proverb,” added she, “that those who are first at the fire will get
their dinner first.” So Chi-shêng’s father agreed, and two servants
were accordingly sent, their mission proving a complete success.
Chi-shêng now rapidly recovered his health, and thought no more of
Kuei-hsiu, who, when she heard of the intended match, became in her
turn very seriously ill, to the great anger of her father, who said
she might die for all he cared, but to the great sorrow of her mother,
who was extremely fond of her daughter. The latter even went so far as
to propose to Mr. Chang that Kuei-hsiu should go as second wife, at
which he was so enraged that he declared he would wash his hands of
the girl altogether. The mother then found out when Chi-shêng’s
wedding was to take place; and, borrowing a chair and attendants from
her brother under pretence of going to visit him, put Kuei-hsiu inside
and sent her off to her uncle’s house. As she arrived at the door, the
servants spread a carpet for her to walk on, and the band struck up
the wedding march. Chi-shêng went out to see what it was all about,
and there met a young lady in a bridal veil, from whom he would have
escaped had not her servants surrounded them, and, before he knew what
he was doing, he was making her the usual salutation of a bridegroom.
They then went in together, and, to his further astonishment, he found
that the young lady was Kuei-hsiu; and, being now unable to go and
meet Wu-k‘o, a message was sent to her father, telling him what had
occurred. He, too, got into a great rage, and vowed he would break off
the match; but Wu-k‘o herself said she would go all the same, her
rival having only got the start of her in point of time. And go she
did; and the two wives, instead of quarrelling, as was expected, lived
very happily together like sisters, and wore each other’s clothes and
shoes without distinction, Kuei-hsiu taking the place of an elder
sister as being somewhat older than Wu-k‘o.[140] One day, after these
events, Chi-shêng asked Wu-k‘o why she had refused his offer; to which
she replied that it was merely to pay him out for having previously
refused her father’s proposal. “Before you had seen me, your head was
full of Kuei-hsiu; but after you had seen me, your thoughts were
somewhat divided; and I wanted to know how I compared with her, and
whether you would fall ill on my account as you had on hers, that we
mightn’t quarrel about our looks.” “It was a cruel revenge,” said
Chi-shêng; “but how should I ever have got a sight of you had it not
been for the old woman?” “What had she to do with it?” replied Wu-k‘o;
“I knew you were behind the door all the time. When I was ill I dreamt
that I went to your house and saw you, but I looked upon it only as a
dream until I heard that you had dreamt that I had actually been
there, and then I knew that my spirit must have been with you.”
Chi-shêng now related to her the particulars of his vision, which
coincided exactly with her own; and thus, strangely enough, had the
matrimonial alliances of both father and son been brought about by


[138] This story is a sequel to the last.

[139] The surnames would in this case be different, and no obstacle
could be offered on that score. See No. XV., note 109.

[140] The _dénouement_ of the _Yü-chiao-li_, a small novel which was
translated into French by Rémusat, and again by Julien under the title
of _Les Deux Cousines_, is effected by the hero of the tale marrying
both the heroines.



A certain Mr. Chao, of Ch‘ang-shan, lodged in a family of the name of
T‘ai. He was very badly off, and, falling sick, was brought almost to
death’s door. One day they moved him into the verandah, that it might
be cooler for him; and, when he awoke from a nap, lo! a beautiful girl
was standing by his side. “I am come to be your wife,” said the girl,
in answer to his question as to who she was; to which he replied that
a poor fellow like himself did not look for such luck as that; adding
that, being then on his death-bed, he would not have much occasion for
the services of a wife. The girl said she could cure him; but he told
her he very much doubted that; “And even,” continued he, “should you
have any good prescription, I have not the means of getting it made
up.” “I don’t want medicine to cure you with,” rejoined the girl,
proceeding at once to rub his back and sides with her hand, which
seemed to him like a ball of fire. He soon began to feel much better,
and asked the young lady what her name was, in order, as he said, that
he might remember her in his prayers. “I am a spirit,” replied she;
“and you, when alive under the Han dynasty as Ch‘u Sui-liang, were a
benefactor of my family. Your kindness being engraven on my heart, I
have at length succeeded in my search for you, and am able in some
measure to requite you.” Chao was dreadfully ashamed of his
poverty-stricken state, and afraid that his dirty room would spoil the
young lady’s dress; but she made him show her in, and accordingly he
took her into his apartment, where there were neither chairs to sit
upon, nor signs of anything to eat, saying, “You might, indeed, be
able to put up with all this; but you see my larder is empty, and I
have absolutely no means of supporting a wife.” “Don’t be alarmed
about that,” cried she; and in another moment he saw a couch covered
with costly robes, the walls papered with a silver-flecked paper, and
chairs and tables appear, the latter laden with all kinds of wine and
exquisite viands. They then began to enjoy themselves, and lived
together as husband and wife, many people coming to witness these
strange things, and being all cordially received by the young lady,
who in her turn always accompanied Mr. Chao when he went out to dinner
anywhere.[141] One day there was an unprincipled young graduate among
the company, which she seemed immediately to become aware of; and,
after calling him several bad names, she struck him on the side of the
head, causing his head to fly out of the window while his body
remained inside; and there he was, stuck fast, unable to move either
way, until the others interceded for him and he was released. After
some time visitors became too numerous, and if she refused to see them
they turned their anger against her husband. At length, as they were
sitting together drinking with some friends at the Tuan-yang
festival,[142] a white rabbit ran in, whereupon the girl jumped up and
said, “The doctor[143] has come for me;” then, turning to the rabbit,
she added, “You go on: I’ll follow you.” So the rabbit went away, and
then she ordered them to get a ladder and place it against a high tree
in the back yard, the top of the ladder overtopping the tree. The
young lady went up first and Chao close behind her; after which she
called out to anybody who wished to join them to make haste up. None
ventured to do so with the exception of a serving-boy belonging to the
house, who followed after Chao; and thus they went up, up, up, up,
until they disappeared in the clouds and were seen no more. However,
when the bystanders came to look at the ladder, they found it was only
an old door-frame with the panels knocked out; and when they went into
Mr. Chao’s room, it was the same old, dirty, unfurnished room as
before. So they determined to find out all about it from the
serving-boy when he came back; but this he never did.


[141] The sexes do not dine together. On the occasion of a
dinner-party, private or official, the ladies give a separate
entertainment to the wives of the various guests in the “inner” or
women’s apartments, as an adjunct to which a theatrical troupe is
often engaged, precisely as in the case of the opposite sex.
Singing-girls are, however, present at and share in the banquets of
the _roués_ of China.

[142] This occurs on the 5th of the 5th moon, and is commonly known as
the Dragon-Boat Festival, from a practice of racing on that day in
long, narrow boats. It is said to have been instituted in memory of a
patriotic statesman, whose identity, however, is not settled, some
writers giving Wu Yun (see _The Middle Kingdom_, Vol. II., p. 82),
others Ch‘ü Yüan (see _The Chinese Reader’s Manual_, p. 107), as the
hero of the day.

[143] A hare or rabbit is believed to sit at the foot of the
cassia-tree in the moon, pounding the drugs out of which is concocted
the elixir of immortality. An allusion to this occurs in the poems of
Tu Fu, one of the celebrated bards of the T‘ang dynasty:--

   “The frog is not drowned in the river;
    The medicine hare lives for ever.”



At Pao-ting Fu there lived a young man, who having purchased the
lowest[144] degree was about to proceed to Peking, in the hope of
obtaining, by the aid of a little bribery, an appointment as District
Magistrate. His boxes were all ready packed, when he was taken
suddenly ill and was confined to his bed for more than a month. One
day the servant entered and announced a visitor; whereupon our sick
man jumped up and ran to the door as if there was nothing the matter
with him. The visitor was elegantly dressed like a man of some
position in society; and, after bowing thrice, he walked into the
house, explaining that he was Kung-sun Hsia,[145] tutor to the
Eleventh Prince, and that he had heard our Mr. So-and-so wished to
arrange for the purchase of a magistracy. “If that is really so,”
added he, “would you not do better to buy a prefecture?” So-and-so
thanked him warmly, but said his funds would not be sufficient; upon
which Mr. Kung-sun declared he should be delighted to assist him with
half the purchase-money, which he could repay after taking up the
post.[146] He went on to say that being on intimate terms with the
various provincial Governors the thing could be easily managed for
about five thousand taels; and also that at that very moment Chên-ting
Fu being vacant, it would be as well to make an early effort to get
the appointment. So-and-so pointed out that this place was in his
native province;[147] but Kung-sun only laughed at his objection, and
reminded him that money[148] could obliterate all distinctions of that
kind. This did not seem quite satisfactory; however, Kung-sun told him
not to be alarmed, as the post of which he was speaking was below in
the infernal regions. “The fact is,” said he, “that your term of life
has expired, and that your name is already on the death list; by these
means you will take your place in the world below as a man of official
position. Farewell! in three days we shall meet again.” He then went
to the door and mounted his horse and rode away. So-and-so now opened
his eyes and spoke a few parting words to his wife and children,
bidding them take money from his strong-room[149] and go buy large
quantities of paper ingots,[150] which they immediately did, quite
exhausting all the shops. This was piled in the court-yard with paper
images of men, devils, horses, &c., and burning went on day and night
until the ashes formed quite a hill. In three days Kung-sun returned,
bringing with him the money; upon which So-and-so hurried off to the
Board of Civil Office,[151] where he had an interview with the high
officials, who, after asking his name, warned him to be a pure and
upright officer, and then calling him up to the table handed him his
letter of appointment. So-and-so bowed and took his leave; but
recollecting at once that his purchased degree would not carry much
weight with it in the eyes of his subordinates,[152] he sent off to
buy elaborate chairs and a number of horses for his retinue, at the
same time despatching several devil lictors to fetch his favourite
wife in a beautifully adorned sedan-chair. All arrangements were just
completed when some of the Chên-ting staff came to meet the new
Prefect,[153] others awaiting him all along the line of road, about
half a mile in length. He was immensely gratified at this reception,
when all of a sudden the gongs before him ceased to sound and the
banners were lowered to the ground. He had hardly time to ask what was
the matter before he saw those of his servants who were on horseback
jump hastily to the ground and dwindle down to about a foot in height,
while their horses shrunk to the size of foxes or racoons. One of the
attendants near his chariot cried out in alarm, “Here’s Kuan Ti!”[154]
and then he, too, jumped out in a fright, and saw in the distance Kuan
Ti himself slowly approaching them, followed by four or five retainers
on horseback. His great beard covered the lower half of his face,
quite unlike ordinary mortals; his aspect was terrible to behold, and
his eyes reached nearly to his ears. “Who is this?” roared he to his
servants; and they immediately informed him that it was the new
Prefect of Chên-ting. “What!” cried he; “a petty fellow like that to
have a retinue like this?”[155] Whereupon So-and-so’s flesh began to
creep with fear, and in a few moments he found that he too had shrunk
to the size of a little boy of six or seven. Kuan Ti bade his
attendants bring the new Prefect with them, and went into a building
at the roadside, where he took up his seat facing the south[156] and
calling for writing materials told So-and-so to write down his name
and address. When this was handed to him he flew into a towering
passion, and said, “The scribbly scrawl of a placeman, indeed![157]
Can such a one be entrusted with the welfare of the people? Look me up
the record of his good works.” A man then advanced, and whispered
something in a low tone; upon which Kuan Ti exclaimed in a loud voice,
“The crime of the briber is comparatively trifling; the heavy guilt
lies with those who sell official posts for money.” So-and-so was now
seized by angels in golden armour, and two of them tore off his cap
and robes, and administered to him fifty blows with the bamboo until
hardly any flesh remained on his bones. He was then thrust outside the
door, and lo! his carriages and horses had disappeared, and he himself
was lying, unable to walk for pain, at no great distance from his own
house. However, his body seemed as light as a leaf, and in a day and
a night he managed to crawl home. When he arrived, he awoke as it were
from a dream, and found himself groaning upon the bed; and to the
inquiries of his family he only replied that he felt dreadfully sore.
Now he really had been dead for seven days; and when he came round
thus, he immediately asked for A-lien, which was the name of his
favourite wife. But the very day before, while chatting with the other
members of the family, A-lien had suddenly cried out that her husband
was made Prefect of Chên-ting, and that his lictors had come to escort
her thither. Accordingly she retired to dress herself in her best
clothes, and, when ready to start, she fell back and expired. Hearing
this sad story, So-and-so began to mourn and beat his breast, and he
would not allow her to be buried at once, in the hope that she might
yet come round; but this she never did. Meanwhile So-and-so got slowly
better, and by the end of six months was able to walk again. He would
often exclaim, “The ruin of my career and the punishment I
received--all this I could have endured; but the loss of my dear
A-lien is more than I can bear.”[158]


[144] By which he would become eligible for Government employ. The
sale of degrees has been extensively carried on under the present
dynasty, as a means of replenishing an empty Treasury.

[145] Kung-sun is an example of a Chinese double surname.

[146] Such is the common system of repaying the loan, by means of
which an indigent nominee is enabled to defray the expenses of his
journey to the post to which he has been appointed, and other calls
upon his purse. These loans are generally provided by some “western”
merchant, which term is an ellipsis for a “Shansi” banker, Shansi
being literally “west of the mountains.” Some one accompanies the
newly-made official to his post, and holds his commission in pawn
until the amount is repaid; which settlement is easily effected by the
issue of some well-understood proclamation, calling, for instance,
upon the people to close all gambling-houses within a given period.
Immediately the owners of these hells forward presents of money to the
incoming official, the Shansi banker gets his principal with interest,
perhaps at the rate of 2 per cent. _per month_, the gambling-houses
carry on as usual, and everybody is perfectly satisfied.

[147] Which fact would disqualify him from taking the post.

[148] Literally, “Square hole.” A common name for the Chinese cash.
See No. II., note 42.

[149] In the case of wealthy families these strong rooms often
contain, in addition to bullion, jewels to a very great amount
belonging to the ladies of the house; and, as a rule, the door may not
be opened unless in the presence of a certain number of the male
representatives of the house.

[150] Pieces of silver and gold paper made up to represent the
ordinary Chinese “shoes” of bullion (See No. XVIII., note 133), and
burnt for the use of the dead. Generally known to foreigners in China
as “joss-paper.”

[151] See No. VII., note 54. In this case the reference is to a
similar Board in the Infernal Regions.

[152] These would be sure to sneer at him behind his back.

[153] A compliment usually paid to an in-coming official.

[154] See No. I., note 39.

[155] The retinue of a Mandarin should be in accordance with his rank.
I have given elsewhere (See No. LVI., note 315) what would be that of
an official of the highest rank.

[156] See No. LXXVII., note 76.

[157] Good writing holds a much higher place in the estimation of the
Chinese than among western nations. The very nature of their
characters raises calligraphy almost to the rank of an art.

[158] The commentator here adds a somewhat similar case, which
actually occurred in the reign of K‘ang Hsi, of a Viceroy modestly
attended falling in with the gorgeous retinue of a Magistrate, and
being somewhat rudely treated by the servants of the latter. On
arriving at his destination, the Viceroy sent for that Magistrate, and
sternly bade him retire from office, remarking that no simple
magistrate could afford to keep such a retinue of attendants unless by
illegal exactions from the suffering people committed to his charge.



A man named Sun Pi-chên was crossing the river[159] when a great
thunder-squall broke upon the vessel and caused her to toss about
fearfully, to the great terror of all the passengers. Just then, an
angel in golden armour appeared standing upon the clouds above them,
holding in his hand a scroll inscribed with certain characters, also
written in gold, which the people on the vessel easily made out to be
three in number, namely _Sun Pi-chên_. So, turning at once to their
fellow-traveller, they said to him, “You have evidently incurred the
displeasure of Heaven; get into a boat by yourself, and do not involve
us in your punishment.” And without giving him time to reply whether
he would do so or not, they hurried him over the side into a small
boat and set him adrift; but when Sun Pi-chên looked back, lo! the
vessel itself had capsized.[160]


[159] The Yang-tsze: sometimes spoken of as the Long River.

[160] The full point of this story can hardly be conveyed in
translation. The man’s surname was Sun, and his prænomen, Pi-chên,
(which in Chinese _follows_ the nomen) might be rendered
“Must-be-saved.” However, there is another word meaning “struck,”
precisely similar in sound and tone, though written differently, to
the above _chên_; and, as far as the ear alone is concerned, our
hero’s name might have been either _Sun Must-be-saved_ or _Sun
Must-be-struck_. That the merchants mistook the character _chên_,
“saved,” for _chên_, “struck,” is evident from the catastrophe which
overtook their vessel, while Mr. Sun’s little boat rode safely through
the storm.



A certain trader who was travelling in the province of Chih-li, being
overtaken by a storm of rain and hail, took shelter among some
standing crops by the way-side. There he heard a voice from heaven,
saying, “These are Chang Pu-liang’s fields; do not injure his crops.”
The trader began to wonder who this Chang Pu-liang could be, and how,
if he was _pu liang_ (not virtuous), he came to be under divine
protection; so when the storm was over and he had reached the
neighbouring village, he made enquiries on the subject, and told the
people there what he had heard. The villagers then informed him that
Chang Pu-liang was a very wealthy farmer, who was accustomed every
spring to make loans of grain to the poor of the district, and who was
not too particular about getting back the exact amount he had
lent,--taking, in fact, whatever they brought him without discussion;
hence the sobriquet of _pu liang_ “no measure” (_i.e._, the man who
doesn’t measure the repayments of his loans).[161] After that, they
all proceeded in a body to the fields, where it was discovered that
vast damage had been done to the crops generally, with the exception
of Chang Pu-liang’s, which had escaped uninjured.


[161] Here again we have a play upon words similar to that in the last



Formerly, when the Dutch[162] were permitted to trade with China, the
officer in command of the coast defences would not allow them, on
account of their great numbers, to come ashore. The Dutch begged very
hard for the grant of a piece of land such as a carpet would cover;
and the officer above-mentioned, thinking that this could not be very
large, acceded to their request. A carpet was accordingly laid down,
big enough for about two people to stand on; but by dint of
stretching, it was soon enough for four or five; and so they went on,
stretching and stretching, until at last it covered about an acre,
and by-and-by, with the help of their knives, they had filched a piece
of ground several miles in extent.[163]


[162] We read in the _History of Amoy_:--“In the year 1622 the
red-haired barbarians seized the Pescadores and attacked Amoy.” From
the Pescadores they finally retired, on a promise that trade would be
permitted, to Formosa, whence they were expelled by the famous Koxinga
in 1662. “Red-haired barbarians,” a term now commonly applied to all
foreigners, was first used in the records of the Ming dynasty to
designate the Dutch.

[163] Our author would here seem to have heard of the famous bull’s
hide which is mentioned in the first book of the _Æneid_. In any case,
the substitution of “stretching” is no improvement on the celebrated
device by which the bull’s hide was made to enclose so large a space.



A woodsman who had been to market was returning home with his pole
across his shoulder,[164] when suddenly he felt it become very heavy
at the end behind him, and looking round he saw attached to it the
headless trunk of a man. In great alarm, he got his pole quit of the
burden and struck about him right and left, whereupon the body
disappeared. He then hurried on to the next village, and when he
arrived there in the dusk of the evening, he found several men holding
lights to the ground as if looking for something. On asking what was
the matter, they told him that while sitting together a man’s head had
fallen from the sky into their midst; that they had noticed the hair
and beard were all draggled, but in a moment the head had vanished.
The woodsman then related what had happened to himself; and thus one
whole man was accounted for, though no one could tell whence he came.
Subsequently, another man was carrying a basket when some one saw a
man’s head in it, and called out to him; whereupon he dropped the
basket in a fright, and the head rolled away and disappeared.


[164] The common method of porterage in China is by a bamboo pole over
the shoulder with well-balanced burdens hanging from each end. I have
often seen children carried thus, sitting in wicker baskets; sometimes
for long journeys.



Chü Yao-ju was a Ch‘ing-chou man, who, when his wife died, left his
home and became a priest.[165] Some years afterwards he returned,
dressed in the Taoist garb, and carrying his praying-mat[166] over his
shoulder; and after staying one night he wanted to go away again. His
friends, however, would not give him back his cassock and staff; so at
length he pretended to take a stroll outside the village, and when
there, his clothes and other belongings came flying out of the house
after him, and he got safely away.


[165] It would be more usual to “renew the guitar string,” as the
Chinese idiom runs. In the paraphrase of the first maxim of the
_Sacred Edict_ we are told that “The closest of all ties is that of
husband and wife; but suppose your wife dies, why, you can marry
another. But if your brother were to die,” &c., &c.

[166] This, as well as the staff mentioned below, belongs to Buddhism.
See No. IV., note 46.



During the reign of Shun Chih,[167] of the people of T‘êng-i, seven in
ten were opposed to the Manchu dynasty. The officials dared not touch
them; and subsequently, when the country became more settled, the
magistrates used to distinguish them from the others by always
deciding any cases in their favour: for they feared lest these men
should revert to their old opposition. And thus it came about that one
litigant would begin by declaring himself to have been a “rebel,”
while his adversary would follow up by shewing such statement to be
false; so that before any case could be heard on its actual merits, it
was necessary to determine the status both of plaintiff and defendant,
whereby infinite labour was entailed upon the Registrars.

Now it chanced that the yamên of one of the officials was haunted by a
fox, and the official’s daughter was bewitched by it. Her father,
therefore, engaged the services of a magician, who succeeded in
capturing the animal and putting it into a bottle; but just as he was
going to commit it to the flames, the fox cried out from inside the
bottle, “I’m a rebel!” at which the bystanders were unable to suppress
their laughter.


[167] The first Manchu ruler of the empire of China. He came to the
throne in A.D. 1644.



When I was a little boy I went one day to the prefectural city.[168]
It was the time of the Spring festival,[169] and the custom was that
on the day before, all the merchants of the place should proceed with
banners and drums to the judge’s yamên: this was called “bringing in
the Spring.” I went with a friend to see the fun; the crowd was
immense, and there sat the officials in crimson robes arranged right
and left in the hall; but I was small and didn’t know who they were,
my attention being attracted chiefly by the hum of voices and the
noise of the drums. In the middle of it all, a man leading a boy with
his hair unplaited and hanging down his back, walked up to the dais.
He carried a pole on his shoulder, and appeared to be saying something
which I couldn’t hear for the noise; I only saw the officials smile,
and immediately afterwards an attendant came down, and in a loud
voice ordered the man to give a performance. “What shall it be?” asked
the man in reply; whereupon, after some consultation between the
officials on the dais, the attendant inquired what he could do best.
The man said he could invert the order of nature; and then, after
another pause, he was instructed to produce some peaches; to this he
assented; and taking off his coat, laid it on his box, at the same
time observing that they had set him a hard task, the winter frost not
having broken up, and adding that he was afraid the gentlemen would be
angry with him, &c., &c. His son here reminded him that he had agreed
to the task and couldn’t well get out of it; so, after fretting and
grumbling awhile, he cried out, “I have it! with snow on the ground we
shall never get peaches here; but I guess there are some up in heaven
in the Royal Mother’s garden,[170] and there we must try.” “How are we
to get up, father?” asked the boy; whereupon the man said, “I have the
means,” and immediately proceeded to take from his box a cord some
tens of feet in length. This he carefully arranged, and then threw one
end of it high up into the air where it remained as if caught by
something. He now paid out the rope which kept going up higher and
higher until the end he had thrown up disappeared in the clouds and
only a short piece was left in his hands. Calling his son, he then
explained that he himself was too heavy, and, handing him the end of
the rope, bid him go up at once. The boy, however, made some
difficulty, objecting that the rope was too thin to bear his weight up
to such a height, and that he would surely fall down and be killed;
upon which his father said that his promise had been given and that
repentance was now too late, adding that if the peaches were obtained
they would surely be rewarded with a hundred ounces of silver, which
should be set aside to get the boy a pretty wife. So his son seized
the rope and swarmed up, like a spider running up a thread of its web;
and in a few moments he was out of sight in the clouds. By-and-by down
fell a peach as large as a basin, which the delighted father handed up
to his patrons on the dais who were some time coming to a conclusion
whether it was real or imitation. But just then down came the rope
with a run, and the affrighted father shrieked out, “Alas! alas! some
one has cut the rope: what will my boy do now?” and in another minute
down fell something else, which was found on examination to be his
son’s head. “Ah me!” said he, weeping bitterly and shewing the head;
“the gardener has caught him, and my boy is no more.” After that, his
arms, and legs, and body, all came down in like manner; and the
father, gathering them up, put them in the box and said, “This was my
only son, who accompanied me everywhere; and now what a cruel fate is
his. I must away and bury him.” He then approached the dais and said,
“Your peach, gentlemen, was obtained at the cost of my boy’s life;
help me now to pay his funeral expenses, and I will be ever grateful
to you.” The officials who had been watching the scene in horror and
amazement, forthwith collected a good purse for him; and when he had
received the money, he rapped on his box and said, “Pa-pa‘rh! why
don’t you come out and thank the gentlemen?” Thereupon, there was a
thump on the box from the inside and up came the boy himself, who
jumped out and bowed to the assembled company. I have never forgotten
this strange trick, which I subsequently heard could be done by the
White Lily sect,[171] who probably got it from this source.[172]


[168] It is worth noting that the author professes actually to have
witnessed the following extraordinary scene.

[169] The vernal equinox, which would fall on or about the 20th of

[170] A fabulous lady, said to reside at the summit of the K‘un-lun
mountain, where, on the border of the Gem Lake, grows the peach-tree
of the angels, the fruit of which confers immortality on him who eats

[171] One of the most celebrated of the numerous secret societies of
China, the origin of which dates back to about A.D. 1350. Its members
have always been credited with a knowledge of the black art.

[172] Of Chinese jugglers, Ibn Batuta writes as follows:--“They
produced a chain fifty cubits in length, and in my presence threw one
end of it towards the sky, where it remained, as if fastened to
something in the air. A dog was then brought forward, and, being
placed at the lower end of the chain, immediately ran up, and reaching
the other end immediately disappeared in the air. In the same manner a
hog, a panther, a lion, and a tiger were alternately sent up the
chain, and all equally disappeared at the upper end of it. At last
they took down the chain, and put it into a bag, no one ever
discerning in what way the different animals were made to vanish into
the air in the mysterious manner above described. This, I may venture
to affirm, was beyond measure strange and surprising.”

_Apropos_ of which passage, Mr. Maskelyne, the prince of all
black-artists, ancient or modern, says:--“These apparent effects were,
doubtless, due to the aid of concave mirrors, the use of which was
known to the ancients, especially in the East, but they could not have
been produced in the open air.”



At Ku-chi island in the eastern sea, there were camellias of all
colours which bloomed throughout the year. No one, however, lived
there, and very few people ever visited the spot. One day, a young man
of Têng-chou, named Chang, who was fond of hunting and adventure,
hearing of the beauties of the place, put together some wine and food,
and rowed himself across in a small open boat. The flowers were just
then even finer than usual, and their perfume was diffused for a mile
or so around; while many of the trees he saw were several armfuls in
circumference. So he roamed about and gave himself up to enjoyment of
the scene; and by-and-by he opened a flask of wine, regretting very
much that he had no companion to share it with him, when all of a
sudden a most beautiful young girl, with extremely bright eyes and
dressed in red, stepped down from one of the camellias before
him.[173] “Dear me!” said she on seeing Mr. Chang; “I expected to be
alone here, and was not aware that the place was already occupied.”
Chang was somewhat alarmed at this apparition, and asked the young
lady whence she came; to which she replied that her name was
Chiao-ch‘ang, and that she had accompanied thither a Mr. Hai, who had
gone off for a stroll and had left her to await his return. Thereupon
Chang begged her to join him in a cup of wine, which she very
willingly did, and they were just beginning to enjoy themselves when a
sound of rushing wind was heard and the trees and plants bent beneath
it. “Here’s Mr. Hai!” cried the young lady; and jumping quickly up,
disappeared in a moment. The horrified Chang now beheld a huge serpent
coming out of the bushes near by, and immediately ran behind a large
tree for shelter, hoping the reptile would not see him. But the
serpent advanced and enveloped both Chang and the tree in its great
folds, binding Chang’s arms down to his sides so as to prevent him
from moving them; and then raising its head, darted out its tongue and
bit the poor man’s nose, causing the blood to flow freely out. This
blood it was quietly sucking up, when Chang, who thought that his last
hour had come, remembered that he had in his pocket some fox poison;
and managing to insert a couple of fingers, he drew out the packet,
broke the paper, and let the powder lie in the palm of his hand. He
next leaned his hand over the serpent’s coils in such a way that the
blood from his nose dripped into his hand, and when it was nearly full
the serpent actually did begin to drink it. And in a few moments the
grip was relaxed; the serpent struck the ground heavily with its
tail, and dashed away up against another tree, which was broken in
half, and then stretched itself out and died. Chang was a long time
unable to rise, but at length he got up and carried the serpent off
with him. He was very ill for more than a month afterwards, and even
suspected the young lady of being a serpent, too, in disguise.


[173] See No. LXXI., note 53.



A certain old man lived at Ts‘ai-tien, in the Yang-hsin district. The
village was some miles from the district city, and he and his son kept
a roadside inn where travellers could pass the night. One day, as it
was getting dusk, four strangers presented themselves and asked for a
night’s lodging; to which the landlord replied that every bed was
already occupied. The four men declared it was impossible for them to
go back, and urged him to take them in somehow; and at length the
landlord said he could give them a place to sleep in if they were not
too particular,--which the strangers immediately assured him they were
not. The fact was that the old man’s daughter-in-law had just died,
and that her body was lying in the women’s quarters, waiting for the
coffin, which his son had gone away to buy. So the landlord led them
round thither, and walking in, placed a lamp on the table. At the
further end of the room lay the corpse, decked out with paper robes,
&c., in the usual way; and in the foremost section were
sleeping-couches for four people. The travellers were tired, and,
throwing themselves on the beds, were soon snoring loudly, with the
exception of one of them, who was not quite off when suddenly he heard
a creaking of the trestles on which the dead body was laid out, and,
opening his eyes, he saw by the light of the lamp in front of the
corpse that the girl was raising the coverings from her and preparing
to get down. In another moment she was on the floor and advancing
towards the sleepers. Her face was of a light yellow hue, and she had
a silk kerchief round her head; and when she reached the beds she blew
on the other three travellers, whereupon the fourth, in a great
fright, stealthily drew up the bed-clothes over his face, and held his
breath to listen. He heard her breathe on him as she had done on the
others, and then heard her go back again and get under the paper
robes, which rustled distinctly as she did so. He now put out his head
to take a peep, and saw that she was lying down as before; whereupon,
not daring to make any noise, he stretched forth his foot and kicked
his companions, who, however, shewed no signs of moving. He now
determined to put on his clothes and make a bolt for it; but he had
hardly begun to do so before he heard the creaking sound again, which
sent him back under the bed-clothes as fast as he could go. Again the
girl came to him, and breathing several times on him, went away to lie
down as before, as he could tell by the noise of the trestles. He then
put his hand very gently out of bed, and, seizing his trousers, got
quickly into them, jumped up with a bound, and rushed out of the place
as fast as his legs would carry him. The corpse, too, jumped up; but
by this time the traveller had already drawn the bolt, and was outside
the door, running along and shrieking at the top of his voice, with
the corpse following close behind. No one seemed to hear him, and he
was afraid to knock at the door of the inn for fear they should not
let him in in time; so he made for the highway to the city, and after
awhile he saw a monastery by the roadside, and, hearing the “wooden
fish,”[174] he ran up and thumped with all his might at the gate. The
priest, however, did not know what to make of it, and would not open
to him; and as the corpse was only a few yards off, he could do
nothing but run behind a tree which stood close by, and there shelter
himself, dodging to the right as the corpse dodged to the left, and so
on. This infuriated the dead girl to madness; and at length, as tired
and panting they stood watching each other on opposite sides of the
tree, the corpse made a rush forward with one arm on each side in the
hope of thus grabbing its victim. The traveller, however, fell
backwards and escaped, while the corpse remained rigidly embracing the
tree. By-and-by the priest, who had been listening from the inside,
hearing no sounds for some time, came out and found the traveller
lying senseless on the ground; whereupon he had him carried into the
monastery, and by morning they had got him round again. After giving
him a little broth to drink, he related the whole story; and then in
the early dawn they went out to examine the tree, where they found the
girl fixed tightly to the tree. The news being sent to the magistrate,
that functionary attended at once in person,[175] and gave orders to
remove the body; but this they were at first unable to do, the girl’s
fingers having penetrated into the bark so far that her nails were not
to be seen. At length they got her away, and then a messenger was
despatched to the inn, already in a state of great commotion over the
three travellers, who had been found dead in their beds. The old man
accordingly sent to fetch his daughter-in-law; and the surviving
traveller petitioned the magistrate, saying, “Four of us left home,
but only one will go back. Give me something that I may show to my
fellow-townsmen.” So the magistrate gave him a certificate and sent
him home again.[176]


[174] This instrument, used by Buddhist priests in the musical
accompaniment to their liturgies, is said to be so called because a
fish never closes its eyes, and is therefore a fit model of vigilance
to him who would walk in the paths of holiness and virtue.

[175] The duties of Coroner belong to the office of a District
Magistrate in China.

[176] Without such certificate he would be liable to be involved in
trouble and annoyance at the will of any unfriendly neighbour.



In the northern parts of Tzŭ-chou there lived a man named Hsü, a
fisherman by trade. Every night when he went to fish he would carry
some wine with him, and drink and fish by turns, always taking care to
pour out a libation on the ground, accompanied by the following
invocation:--“Drink too, ye drowned spirits of the river!” Such was his
regular custom; and it was also noticeable that, even on occasions
when the other fishermen caught nothing, he always got a full basket.
One night, as he was sitting drinking by himself, a young man suddenly
appeared and began walking up and down near him. Hsü offered him a cup
of wine, which was readily accepted, and they remained chatting
together throughout the night, Hsü meanwhile not catching a single
fish. However, just as he was giving up all hope of doing anything,
the young man rose and said he would go a little way down the stream
and beat them up towards Hsü, which he accordingly did, returning in a
few minutes and warning him to be on the look-out. Hsü now heard a
noise like that of a shoal coming up the stream, and, casting his net,
made a splendid haul,--all that he caught being over a foot in length.
Greatly delighted, he now prepared to go home, first offering his
companion a share of the fish, which the latter declined, saying that
he had often received kindnesses from Mr. Hsü, and that he would be
only too happy to help him regularly in the same manner if Mr. Hsü
would accept his assistance. The latter replied that he did not
recollect ever meeting him before, and that he should be much obliged
for any aid the young man might choose to afford him; regretting, at
the same time, his inability to make him any adequate return. He then
asked the young man his name and surname; and the young man said his
surname was Wang, adding that Hsü might address him when they met as
Wang Liu-lang, he having no other name. Thereupon they parted, and the
next day Hsü sold his fish and bought some more wine, with which he
repaired as usual to the river bank. There he found his companion
already awaiting him, and they spent the night together in precisely
the same way as the preceding one, the young man beating up the fish
for him as before. This went on for some months, until at length one
evening the young man, with many expressions of his thanks and his
regrets, told Hsü that they were about to part for ever. Much alarmed
by the melancholy tone in which his friend had communicated this news,
Hsü was on the point of asking for an explanation, when the young man
stopped him, and himself proceeded as follows:--“The friendship that
has grown up between us is truly surprising; and, now that we shall
meet no more, there is no harm in telling you the whole truth. I am a
disembodied spirit--the soul of one who was drowned in this river
when tipsy. I have been here many years, and your former success in
fishing was due to the fact that I used secretly to beat up the fish
towards you, in return for the libations you were accustomed to pour
out. To-morrow my time is up: my substitute will arrive, and I shall
be born again in the world of mortals.[177] We have but this one
evening left, and I therefore take advantage of it to express my
feelings to you.” On hearing these words, Hsü was at first very much
alarmed; however, he had grown so accustomed to his friend’s society,
that his fears soon passed away; and, filling up a goblet, he said,
with a sigh, “Liu-lang, old fellow, drink this up, and away with
melancholy. It’s hard to lose you; but I’m glad enough for your sake,
and won’t think of my own sorrow.” He then inquired of Liu-lang who
was to be his substitute; to which the latter replied, “Come to the
river-bank to-morrow afternoon and you’ll see a woman drowned: she is
the one.” Just then the village cocks began to crow, and, with tears
in their eyes, the two friends bade each other farewell.

Next day Hsü waited on the river bank to see if anything would happen,
and lo! a woman carrying a child in her arms came along. When close to
the edge of the river, she stumbled and fell into the water, managing,
however, to throw the child safely on to the bank, where it lay
kicking and sprawling and crying at the top of its voice. The woman
herself sank and rose several times, until at last she succeeded in
clutching hold of the bank and pulled herself, dripping, out; and
then, after resting awhile, she picked up the child and went on her
way. All this time Hsü had been in a great state of excitement, and
was on the point of running to help the woman out of the water; but he
remembered that she was to be the substitute of his friend, and
accordingly restrained himself from doing so.[178] Then when he saw
the woman get out by herself, he began to suspect that Liu-lang’s
words had not been fulfilled. That night he went to fish as usual,
and before long the young man arrived and said, “We meet once again:
there is no need now to speak of separation.” Hsü asked him how it was
so; to which he replied, “The woman you saw had already taken my
place, but I could not bear to hear the child cry, and I saw that my
one life would be purchased at the expense of their two lives,
wherefore I let her go, and now I cannot say when I shall have another
chance.[179] The union of our destinies may not yet be worked out.”
“Alas!” sighed Hsü, “this noble conduct of yours is enough to move God

After this the two friends went on much as they had done before, until
one day Liu-lang again said he had come to bid Hsü farewell. Hsü
thought he had found another substitute, but Liu-lang told him that
his former behaviour had so pleased Almighty Heaven, that he had been
appointed guardian angel of Wu-chên, in the Chao-yüan district, and
that on the following morning he would start for his new post. “And if
you do not forget the days of our friendship,” added he, “I pray you
come and see me, in spite of the long journey.” “Truly,” replied Hsü,
“you well deserved to be made a God; but the paths of Gods and men
lie in different directions, and even if the distance were nothing,
how should I manage to meet you again?” “Don’t be afraid on that
score,” said Liu-lang, “but come;” and then he went away, and Hsü
returned home. The latter immediately began to prepare for the
journey, which caused his wife to laugh at him and say, “Supposing you
do find such a place at the end of that long journey, you won’t be
able to hold a conversation with a clay image.” Hsü, however, paid no
attention to her remarks, and travelled straight to Chao-yüan, where
he learned from the inhabitants that there really was a village called
Wu-chên, whither he forthwith proceeded and took up his abode at an
inn. He then inquired of the landlord where the village temple was; to
which the latter replied by asking him somewhat hurriedly if he was
speaking to Mr. Hsü. Hsü informed him that his name was Hsü, asking in
reply how he came to know it; whereupon the landlord further inquired
if his native place was not Tzŭ-chou. Hsü told him it was, and again
asked him how he knew all this; to which the landlord made no answer,
but rushed out of the room; and in a few moments the place was crowded
with old and young, men, women, and children, all come to visit Hsü.
They then told him that a few nights before they had seen their
guardian deity in a vision, and he had informed them that Mr. Hsü
would shortly arrive, and had bidden them to provide him with
travelling expenses, &c. Hsü was very much astonished at this, and
went off at once to the shrine, where he invoked his friend as
follows:--“Ever since we parted I have had you daily and nightly in
my thoughts; and now that I have fulfilled my promise of coming to see
you, I have to thank you for the orders you have issued to the people
of the place. As for me, I have nothing to offer you but a cup of
wine, which I pray you accept as though we were drinking together on
the river-bank.” He then burnt a quantity of paper money,[180] when
lo! a wind suddenly arose, which, after whirling round and round
behind the shrine, soon dropped, and all was still. That night Hsü
dreamed that his friend came to him, dressed in his official cap and
robes, and very different in appearance from what he used to be, and
thanked him, saying, “It is truly kind of you to visit me thus: I only
regret that my position makes me unable to meet you face to face, and
that though near we are still so far. The people here will give you a
trifle, which pray accept for my sake; and when you go away, I will
see you a short way on your journey.” A few days afterwards Hsü
prepared to start, in spite of the numerous invitations to stay which
poured in upon him from all sides; and then the inhabitants loaded him
with presents of all kinds, and escorted him out of the village. There
a whirlwind arose and accompanied him several miles, when he turned
round and invoked his friend thus:--“Liu-lang, take care of your valued
person. Do not trouble yourself to come any farther.[181] Your noble
heart will ensure happiness to this district, and there is no occasion
for me to give a word of advice to my old friend.” By-and-by the
whirlwind ceased, and the villagers, who were much astonished,
returned to their own homes. Hsü, too, travelled homewards, and being
now a man of some means, ceased to work any more as a fisherman. And
whenever he met a Chao-yüan man he would ask him about that guardian
angel, being always informed in reply that he was a most beneficent
God. Some say the place was Shih-k‘êng-chuang, in Chang-ch‘in: I can’t
say which it was myself.


[177] See No. XLV., note 267.

[178] We have in this story the keynote to the notorious and
much-to-be-deprecated dislike of the Chinese people to assist in
saving the lives of drowning strangers. Some of our readers may,
perhaps, not be aware that the Government of Hong-Kong has found it
necessary to insert a clause on the junk-clearances issued in that
colony, by which the junkmen are bound to assist to the utmost in
saving life. The apparent apathy of the Chinese in this respect comes
before us, however, in quite a different light when coupled with the
superstition that disembodied spirits of persons who have met a
violent death may return to the world of mortals if only fortunate
enough to secure a substitute. For among the crowd of shades, anxious
all to revisit their “sweet sons,” may perchance be some dear relative
or friend of the man who stands calmly by while another is drowning;
and it may be that to assist the drowning stranger would be to take
the longed-for chance away from one’s own kith or kin. Therefore, the
superstition-ridden Chinaman turns away, often perhaps, as in the
story before us, with feelings of pity and remorse. And yet this
belief has not prevented the establishment, especially on the river
Yang-tsze, of institutions provided with life-boats, for the express
purpose of saving life in those dangerous waters; so true is it that
when the Chinese people wish to move _en masse_ in any given
direction, the fragile barrier of superstition is trampled down and
scattered to the winds.

[179] As there are good and bad foxes, so may devils be beneficent or
malicious according to circumstances; and Chinese apologists for the
discourtesy of the term “foreign devils,” as applied to Europeans and
Americans alike, have gone so far as to declare that in this
particular instance the allusion is to the more virtuous among the
denizens of the Infernal Regions.

[180] See No. XCVII., note 150.

[181] A phrase constantly repeated, in other terms, by a guest to a
host who is politely escorting him to the door.



A man named Chang died suddenly, and was escorted at once by
devil-lictors[182] into the presence of the King of Purgatory. His
Majesty turned to Chang’s record of good and evil, and then, in great
anger, told the lictors they had brought the wrong man, and bade them
take him back again. As they left the judgment-hall, Chang persuaded
his escort to let him have a look at Purgatory; and, accordingly, the
devils conducted him through the nine sections,[183] pointing out to
him the Knife Hill,[184] the Sword Tree, and other objects of
interest. By-and-by, they reached a place where there was a Buddhist
priest, hanging suspended in the air head downwards, by a rope through
a hole in his leg. He was shrieking with pain, and longing for death;
and when Chang approached, lo! he saw that it was his own brother. In
great distress, he asked his guides the reason of this punishment; and
they informed him that the priest was suffering thus for collecting
subscriptions on behalf of his order, and then privately squandering
the proceeds in gambling and debauchery.[185] “Nor,” added they, “will
he escape this torment unless he repents him of his misdeeds.” When
Chang came round,[186] he thought his brother was already dead, and
hurried off to the Hsing-fu monastery, to which the latter belonged.
As he went in at the door, he heard a loud shrieking; and, on
proceeding to his brother’s room, he found him laid up with a very bad
abscess in his leg, the leg itself being tied up above him to the
wall, this being, as his brother informed him, the only bearable
position in which he could lie. Chang now told him what he had seen in
Purgatory, at which the priest was so terrified, that he at once gave
up taking wine and meat,[187] and devoted himself entirely to
religious exercises. In a fortnight he was well, and was known ever
afterwards as a most exemplary priest.


[182] The spiritual lictors who are supposed to arrest the souls of
dying persons, are also believed to be armed with warrants signed and
sealed in due form as in the world above.

[183] Literally, the “nine dark places,” which will remind readers of
Dante of the nine “bolgie” of the _Inferno_.

[184] This is a cliff over which sinners are hurled, to alight upon
the upright points of knives below. The branches of the Sword Tree are
sharp blades which cut and hack all who pass within reach.

[185] A crime by no means unknown to the clergy of China.

[186] That is, when the lictors had returned his soul to its tenement.

[187] See No. VI., note 52.



Mr. Lin, who took his master’s degree in the same year as the late Mr.
Wên Pi,[188] could remember what had happened to him in his previous
state of existence, and once told the whole story, as follows:--I was
originally of a good family, but, after leading a very dissolute life,
I died at the age of sixty-two. On being conducted into the presence
of the King of Purgatory, he received me civilly, bade me be seated,
and offered me a cup of tea. I noticed, however, that the tea in His
Majesty’s cup was clear and limpid, while that in my own was muddy,
like the lees of wine. It then flashed across me that this was the
potion which was given to all disembodied spirits to render them
oblivious of the past:[189] and, accordingly, when the King was looking
the other way, I seized the opportunity of pouring it under the table,
pretending afterwards that I had drunk it all up. My record of good
and evil was now presented for inspection, and when the King saw what
it was, he flew into a great passion, and ordered the attendant devils
to drag me away, and send me back to earth as a horse. I was
immediately seized and bound, and the devils carried me off to a
house, the door-sill of which was so high I could not step over it.
While I was trying to do so, the devils behind lashed me with all
their might, causing me such pain that I made a great spring, and--lo
and behold! I was a horse in a stable. “The mare has got a nice colt,”
I then heard a man call out; but, although I was perfectly aware of
all that was passing, I could say nothing myself. Hunger now came upon
me, and I was glad to be suckled by the mare; and by the end of four
or five years I had grown into a fine strong horse, dreadfully afraid
of the whip, and running away at the very sight of it. When my master
rode me, it was always with a saddle-cloth, and at a leisurely pace,
which was bearable enough; but when the servants mounted me
barebacked, and dug their heels into me, the pain struck into my
vitals; and at length I refused all food, and in three days I died.
Reappearing before the King of Purgatory, His Majesty was enraged to
find that I had thus tried to shirk working out my time; and, flaying
me forthwith, condemned me to go back again as a dog. And when I did
not move, the devils came behind me and lashed me until I ran away
from them into the open country, where, thinking I had better die
right off, I jumped over a cliff, and lay at the bottom unable to
move. I then saw that I was among a litter of puppies, and that an old
bitch was licking and suckling me by turns; whereby I knew that I was
once more among mortals. In this hateful form I continued for some
time, longing to kill myself, and yet fearing to incur the penalty of
shirking. At length, I purposely bit my master in the leg, and tore
him badly; whereupon he had me destroyed, and I was taken again into
the presence of the King, who was so displeased with my vicious
behaviour that he condemned me to become a snake, and shut me up in a
dark room, where I could see nothing. After a while I managed to climb
up the wall, bore a hole in the roof, and escape; and immediately I
found myself lying in the grass, a veritable snake. Then I registered
a vow that I would harm no living thing, and I lived for some years,
feeding upon berries and such like, ever remembering neither to take
my own life, nor by injuring any one to incite them to take it, but
longing all the while for the happy release, which did not come to me.
One day, as I was sleeping in the grass, I heard the noise of a
passing cart, and, on trying to get across the road out of its way, I
was caught by the wheel, and cut in two. The King was astonished to
see me back so soon, but I humbly told my story, and, in pity for the
innocent creature that loses its life, he pardoned me, and permitted
me to be born again at my appointed time as a human being.

Such was Mr. Lin’s story. He could speak as soon as he came into the
world; and could repeat anything he had once read. In the year 1621 he
took his master’s degree, and was never tired of telling people to put
saddle-cloths on their horses, and recollect that the pain of being
gripped by the knees is even worse than the lash itself.


[188] In A.D. 1621.

[189] According to the _Yü-li-ch‘ao_, this potion is administered by
an old beldame, named Mother Mêng, who sits upon the Terrace of
Oblivion. “Whether they swallow much or little it matters not; but
sometimes there are perverse devils who altogether refuse to drink.
Then beneath their feet sharp blades start up, and a copper tube is
forced down their throats, by which means they are compelled to
swallow some.”



Mr. Justice Wang had a steward, who was possessed of considerable
means. One night the latter dreamt that a man rushed in and said to
him, “To-day you must repay me those forty strings of cash.” The
steward asked who he was; to which the man made no answer, but hurried
past him into the women’s apartments. When the steward awoke, he found
that his wife had been delivered of a son; and, knowing at once that
retribution was at hand, he set aside forty strings of cash to be
spent solely in food, clothes, medicines, and so on, for the baby. By
the time the child was between three and four years old, the steward
found that of the forty strings only about seven hundred cash
remained; and when the wet-nurse, who happened to be standing by,
brought the child and dandled it in her arms before him, he looked at
it and said, “The forty strings are all but repaid; it is time you
were off again.” Thereupon the child changed colour; its head fell
back, and its eyes stared fixedly, and, when they tried to revive it,
lo! respiration had already ceased. The father then took the balance
of the forty strings, and with it defrayed the child’s funeral
expenses--truly a warning to people to be sure and pay their debts.

Formerly, an old childless man consulted a great many Buddhist priests
on the subject. One of them said to him, “If you owe no one anything,
and no one owes you anything, how can you expect to have children? A
good son is the repayment of a former debt; a bad son is a dunning
creditor, at whose birth there is no rejoicing, at whose death no


[190] And such is actually the prevalent belief in China to this day.



A certain gentleman of Shên-yu, who had taken the highest degree,
could remember himself in a previous state of existence. He said he
had formerly been a scholar, and had died in middle life; and that
when he appeared before the Judge of Purgatory, there stood the
cauldrons, the boiling oil, and other apparatus of torture, exactly as
we read about them on earth. In the eastern corner of the hall were a
number of frames from which hung the skins of sheep, dogs, oxen,
horses, etc.; and when anybody was condemned to re-appear in life
under any one of these forms, his skin was stripped off and a skin was
taken from the proper frame and fixed on to his body. The gentleman of
whom I am writing heard himself sentenced to become a sheep; and the
attendant devils had already clothed him in a sheep’s-skin in the
manner above described, when the clerk of the record informed the
Judge that the criminal before him had once saved another man’s life.
The Judge consulted his books, and forthwith cried out, “I pardon him;
for although his sins have been many, this one act has redeemed them
all.”[191] The devils then tried to take off the sheep’s-skin, but it
was so tightly stuck on him that they couldn’t move it. However, after
great efforts, and causing the gentleman most excruciating agony, they
managed to tear it off bit by bit, though not quite so cleanly as one
might have wished. In fact, a piece as big as the palm of a man’s hand
was left near his shoulder; and when he was born again into the world,
there was a great patch of hair on his back, which grew again as fast
as it was cut off.


[191] Note 178 to No. CVII. should be read here. To save life is
indeed the bounden duty of every good Buddhist, for which he will be
proportionately rewarded in the world to come.



Wang Shih, of Kao-wan, a petty salt huckster, was inordinately fond of
gambling. One night he was arrested by two men, whom he took for
lictors of the Salt Gabelle; and, flinging down what salt he had with
him, he tried to make his escape.[192] He found, however, that his
legs would not move with him, and he was forthwith seized and bound.
“We are not sent by the Salt Commissioner,” cried his captors, in
reply to an entreaty to set him free; “we are the devil-constables of
Purgatory.” Wang was horribly frightened at this, and begged the
devils to let him bid farewell to his wife and children; but this they
refused to do, saying, “You aren’t going to die; you are only wanted
for a little job there is down below.” Wang asked what the job was; to
which the devils replied, “A new Judge has come into office, and,
finding the river[193] and the eighteen hells choked up with the
bodies of sinners, he has determined to employ three classes of
mortals to clean them out. These are thieves, unlicensed
founders,[194] and unlicensed dealers in salt, and, for the dirtiest
work of all, he is going to take musicians.”[195]

Wang accompanied the devils until at length they reached a city, where
he was brought before the Judge, who was sitting in his Judgment-hall.
On turning up his record in the books, one of the devils explained
that the prisoner had been arrested for unlicensed trading; whereupon
the Judge became very angry, and said, “Those who drive an illicit
trade in salt, not only defraud the State of its proper revenue, but
also prey upon the livelihood of the people. Those, however, whom the
greedy officials and corrupt traders of to-day denounce as unlicensed
traders, are among the most virtuous of mankind--needy unfortunates
who struggle to save a few cash in the purchase of their pint of
salt.[196] Are they your unlicensed traders?” The Judge then bade the
lictors buy four pecks of salt, and send it to Wang’s house for him,
together with that which had been found upon him; and, at the same
time, he gave Wang an iron scourge, and told him to superintend the
works at the river. So Wang followed the devils, and found the river
swarming with people like ants in an ant-hill. The water was turbid
and red, the stench from it being almost unbearable, while those who
were employed in cleaning it out were working there naked. Sometimes
they would sink down in the horrid mass of decaying bodies: sometimes
they would get lazy, and then the iron scourge was applied to their
backs. The assistant-superintendents had small scented balls, which
they held in their mouths. Wang himself approached the bank, and saw
the licensed salt-merchant of Kao-wan[197] in the midst of it all, and
thrashed him well with his scourge, until he was afraid he would never
come up again. This went on for three days and three nights, by which
time half the workmen were dead, and the work completed; whereupon the
same two devils escorted him home again, and then he waked up.

As a matter of fact, Wang had gone out to sell some salt, and had not
come back. Next morning, when his wife opened the house door, she
found two bags of salt in the court-yard; and, as her husband did not
return, she sent off some people to search for him, and they
discovered him lying senseless by the wayside. He was immediately
conveyed home, where, after a little time, he recovered consciousness,
and related what had taken place. Strange to say, the licensed
salt-merchant had fallen down in a fit on the previous evening, and
had only just recovered; and Wang, hearing that his body was covered
with sores--the result of the beating with the iron scourge--went off
to his house to see him; however, directly the wretched man set eyes
on Wang, he hastily covered himself up with the bed-clothes,
forgetting that they were no longer at the infernal river. He did not
recover from his injuries for a year, after which he retired from


[192] Salt is a Government monopoly in China, and its sale is only
permitted to licensed dealers. It is a contraband article of commerce,
whether for import or export, to foreign nations trading with China.
In an account of a journey from Swatow to Canton in March-April, 1877,
I wrote:--“_Apropos_ of salt, we came across a good-sized bunker of it
when stowing away our things in the space below the deck. The boatmen
could not resist the temptation of doing a little smuggling on the way
up.... At a secluded point in a bamboo-shaded bend of the river, they
ran the boat alongside the bank, and were instantly met by a number of
suspicious-looking gentlemen with baskets, who soon relieved them of
the smuggled salt and separated in different directions.” Thus do the
people of China seek to lighten the grievous pressure of this tax. A
curious custom exists in Canton. Certain blind old men and women are
allowed to hawk salt about the streets, and earn a scanty living from
the profits they are able to make.

It may interest some to know that in the cities of the north of China
_ice_ and _coal_ may only be retailed by licensed dealers, who retain
such authority on the condition of supplying the yamêns of the local
mandarins with these two necessaries, free of all charge.

[193] The Styx.

[194] These words require some explanation. Ordinarily they would be
taken in the sense of casting _cash_ of a base description; but they
might equally well signify the casting of iron articles of any kind,
and thereby hang some curious details. Iron foundries in China may
only be opened under license from the local officials, and the
articles there made, consisting chiefly of cooking utensils, may only
be sold within a given area, each district having its own particular
foundries from which alone the supplies of the neighbourhood may be
derived. Free trade in iron is much feared by the authorities, as
thereby pirates and rebels would be enabled to supply themselves with
arms. At the framing of the Treaty of Tientsin, with its accompanying
tariff and rules, iron was not specified among other prohibited
articles of commerce. Consequently, British merchants would appear to
have a full right to purchase iron in the interior and convey it to
any of the open ports under Transit-pass. But the Chinese officials
steadily refuse to acknowledge, or permit the exercise of, this right,
putting forward their own time-honoured custom with regard to iron,
and enumerating the disadvantages to China were such an innovation to
be brought about.

[195] The allusion is to women, of a not very respectable class.

[196] No Chinese magistrate would be found to pass sentence upon a man
who stole food under stress of hunger.

[197] His own village.

[198] The whole story is meant as a satire upon the iniquity of the
Salt Gabelle.



The Frog-God frequently employs a magician to deliver its oracles to
those who have faith. Should the magician declare that the God is
pleased, happiness is sure to follow; but if he says the God is angry,
women and children[199] sit sorrowfully about, and neglect even their
meals. Such is the customary belief, and it is probably not altogether
devoid of foundation.

There was a certain wealthy merchant, named Chou, who was a very
stingy man. Once, when some repairs were necessary to the temple of
the God of War,[200] and rich and poor were subscribing as much as
each could afford, he alone gave nothing.[201] By-and-by the works
were stopped for want of funds, and the committee of management were
at a loss what to do next. It happened that just then there was a
festival in honour of the Frog-God, at which the magician suddenly
cried out, “General Chou[202] has given orders for a further
subscription. Bring forth the books.” The people all shouting assent
to this, the magician went on to say, “Those who have already
subscribed will not be compelled to do so again; those who have not
subscribed must give according to their means.” Thereupon various
persons began to put down their names, and when this was finished,
the magician examined the books. He then asked if Mr. Chou was
present; and the latter, who was skulking behind, in dread lest he
should be detected by the God, had no alternative but to come to the
front. “Put yourself down for one hundred taels,” said the magician to
him; and when Chou hesitated, he cried out to him in anger, “You could
give two hundred for your own bad purposes: how much more should you
do so in a good cause?” alluding to a scandalous intrigue of Chou’s,
the consequences of which he had averted by payment of the sum
mentioned. This put our friend to the blush, and he was obliged to
enter his name for one hundred taels, at which his wife was very
angry, and said the magician was a rogue, and whenever he came to
collect the money he was put off with some excuse.

Shortly afterwards, Chou was one day going to sleep, when he heard a
noise outside his house, like the blowing of an ox, and beheld a huge
frog walking leisurely through the front door, which was just big
enough to let it pass. Once inside, the creature laid itself down to
sleep, with its head on the threshold, to the great horror of all the
inmates; upon which Chou observed that it had probably come to collect
his subscription, and burning some incense, he vowed that he would pay
down thirty taels on the spot, and send the balance later on. The
frog, however, did not move, so Chou promised fifty, and then there
was a slight decrease in the frog’s size. Another twenty brought it
down to the size of a peck measure; and when Chou said the full
amount should be paid on the spot, the frog became suddenly no larger
than one’s fist, and disappeared through a hole in the wall. Chou
immediately sent off fifty taels, at which all the other subscribers
were much astonished, not knowing what had taken place. A few days
afterwards the magician said Chou still owed fifty taels, and that he
had better send it in soon; so Chou forwarded ten more, hoping now to
have done with the matter. However, as he and his wife were one day
sitting down to dinner, the frog reappeared, and glaring with anger,
took up a position on the bed, which creaked under it, as though
unable to bear the weight. Putting its head on the pillow, the frog
went off to sleep, its body gradually swelling up until it was as big
as a buffalo, and nearly filled the room, causing Chou to send off the
balance of his subscription without a moment’s delay. There was now no
diminution in the size of the frog’s body; and by-and-by crowds of
small frogs came hopping in, boring through the walls, jumping on the
bed, catching flies on the cooking-stove, and dying in the saucepans,
until the place was quite unbearable. Three days passed thus, and then
Chou sought out the magician, and asked him what was to be done. The
latter said he could manage it, and began by vowing on behalf of Chou
twenty more taels’ subscription. At this the frog raised its head, and
a further increase caused it to move one foot; and by the time a
hundred taels was reached, the frog was walking out of the door. At
the door, however, it stopped, and lay down once more, which the
magician explained by saying, that immediate payment was required; so
Chou handed over the amount at once, and the frog, shrinking down to
its usual size, mingled with its companions, and departed with them.

The repairs to the temple were accordingly completed, but for
“lighting the eyes,”[203] and the attendant festivities, some further
subscriptions were wanted. Suddenly, the magician, pointing at the
managers, cried out, “There is money short; of fifteen men, two of you
are defaulters.” At this, all declared they had given what they could
afford; but the magician went on to say, “It is not a question of what
you can afford; you have misappropriated the funds[204] that should
not have been touched, and misfortune would come upon you, but that,
in return for your exertions, I shall endeavour to avert it from you.
The magician himself is not without taint.[205] Let him set you a good
example.” Thereupon, the magician rushed into his house, and brought
out all the money he had, saying, “I stole eight taels myself, which I
will now refund.” He then weighed what silver he had, and finding that
it only amounted to a little over six taels, he made one of the
bystanders take a note of the difference. Then the others came forward
and paid up, each what he had misappropriated from the public fund.
All this time the magician had been in a divine ecstasy, not knowing
what he was saying; and when he came round, and was told what had
happened, his shame knew no bounds, so he pawned some of his clothes,
and paid in the balance of his own debt. As to the two defaulters who
did not pay, one of them was ill for a month and more; while the other
had a bad attack of boils.


[199] The chief supporters of superstition in China.

[200] See No. I., note 39.

[201] Such is one of the most common causes of hostile demonstration
against Chinese Christians. The latter, acting under the orders of the
missionaries, frequently refuse to subscribe to the various local
celebrations and processions, the great annual festivities, and
ceremonies of all kinds, on the grounds that these are idolatrous and
forbidden by the Christian faith. Hence bad feeling, high words, blows,
and sometimes bloodshed. I say “frequently,” because I have discovered
several cases in which converts have quietly subscribed like other
people rather than risk an _émeute_.

An amusing incident came under my own special notice not very long
ago. A missionary appeared before me one day to complain that a
certain convert of his had been posted in his own village, and cut off
from his civic rights for two years, merely because he had agreed to
let a room of his house to be used as a missionary _dépôt_. I took a
copy of the placard which was handed to me in proof of this statement,
and found it to run thus:--“In consequence of ---- having entered into
an agreement with a barbarian pastor, to lease to the said barbarian
pastor a room in his house to be used as a missionary chapel, we, the
elders of this village, do hereby debar ---- from the privilege of
worshipping in our ancestral hall for the space of two years.” It is
needless, of course, to mention that Ancestral Worship is prohibited
by all sects of missionaries in China alike; or that, when I pointed
this out to the individual in question, who could not have understood
the import of the Chinese placard, the charge was promptly withdrawn.

[202] An historical character who was formerly among the ranks of the
Yellow Turban rebels, but subsequently entered the service of Kuan Yü
(see No. I., note 39), and was canonized by an Emperor of the last

[203] This curious ceremony is the final touch to a newly-built or
newly-restored temple, and consists in giving expression to the eyes
of the freshly-painted idols, which have been purposely left blank by
the painter. Up to that time these blocks of clay or wood are not
supposed to have been animated by the spiritual presence of the deity
in question; but no sooner are the eyes lighted than the gratified God
smiles down upon the handsome decorations thus provided by devout and
trusting suppliants.

There is a cognate custom belonging to the ceremonies of ancestral
worship, of great importance in the eyes of the Chinese. On a certain
day after the death of a parent, the surviving head of the family
proceeds with much solemnity to dab a spot of ink upon the memorial
tablet of the deceased. This is believed to give to the departed
spirit the power of remaining near to, and watching over the fortunes
of, those left behind.

[204] Such indeed is the fate of a per-centage of all public
subscriptions raised and handled by Chinese of no matter what class. A
year or two ago an application was made to me for a donation to a
native foundling hospital at Swatow, on the ground that I was known as
a “read (Chinese) book man,” and that consequently other persons, both
Chinese and foreigners, might be induced to follow my example. On my
declining to do so, the manager of the concern informed me that if I
would only put down my name for fifty dollars, say £10, no call should
be made upon me for the money! Even in the matter of the funds
collected for the famine-stricken people of 1878, it is whispered that
peculation has been rife.

[205] The reader must recollect that these are the words of the God,
speaking from the magician’s body.



At Chi-nan Fu there lived a certain priest: I cannot say whence he
came, or what was his name. Winter and summer alike he wore but one
unlined robe, and a yellow girdle about his waist, with neither shirt
nor trousers. He combed his hair with a broken comb, holding the ends
in his mouth, like the strings of a hat. By day he wandered about the
market-place; at night he slept in the street, and to a distance of
several feet round where he lay, the ice and snow would melt. When he
first arrived at Chi-nan he used to perform miracles, and the people
vied with each other in making him presents. One day a disreputable
young fellow gave him a quantity of wine, and begged him in return to
divulge the secret of his power; and when the priest refused, the
young man watched him get into the river to bathe, and then ran off
with his clothes. The priest called out to him to bring them back,
promising that he would do as the young man required; but the latter,
distrusting the priest’s good faith, refused to do so; whereupon the
priest’s girdle was forthwith changed into a snake, several spans in
circumference, which coiled itself round its master’s head, and glared
and hissed terribly. The young man now fell on his knees, and humbly
prayed the priest to save his life; at which the priest put his girdle
on again, and a snake that had appeared to be his girdle, wriggled
away and disappeared. The priest’s fame was thus firmly established,
and the gentry and officials of the place were constantly inviting him
to join them in their festive parties. By-and-by the priest said he
was going to invite his entertainers to a return feast;[206] and at
the appointed time each one of them found on his table a formal
invitation to a banquet at the Water Pavilion, but no one knew who had
brought the letters. However, they all went, and were met at the door
by the priest, in his usual garb; and when they got inside, the place
was all desolate and bare, with no banquet ready. “I’m afraid I shall
be obliged to ask you gentlemen to let me use your attendants,” said
the priest to his guests; “I am a poor man, and keep no servants
myself.” To this all readily consented; whereupon the priest drew a
double door upon the wall, and rapped upon it with his knuckles.
Somebody answered from within, and immediately the door was thrown
open, and a splendid array of handsome chairs, and tables loaded with
exquisite viands and costly wines, burst upon the gaze of the
astonished guests. The priest bade the attendants receive all these
things from the door, and bring them outside, cautioning them on no
account to speak with the people inside; and thus a most luxurious
entertainment was provided to the great amazement of all present.

Now this Pavilion stood upon the bank of a small lake, and every year,
at the proper season, it was literally covered with lilies; but, at
the time of this feast, the weather was cold, and the surface of the
lake was of a smoky green colour. “It’s a pity,” said one of the
guests, “that the lilies are not out”--a sentiment in which the others
very cordially agreed, when suddenly a servant came running in to say
that, at that moment, the lake was a perfect mass of lilies. Every one
jumped up directly, and ran to look out of the window, and, lo! it was
so; and in another minute the fragrant perfume of the flowers was
borne towards them by the breeze. Hardly knowing what to make of this
strange sight, they sent off some servants, in a boat, to gather a few
of the lilies, but they soon returned empty-handed, saying, that the
flowers seemed to shift their position as fast as they rowed towards
them; at which the priest laughed, and said, “These are but the lilies
of your imagination, and have no real existence.” And later on, when
the wine was finished, the flowers began to droop and fade; and
by-and-by a breeze from the north carried off every sign of them,
leaving the lake as it had been before.

A certain Taot‘ai,[207] at Chi-nan, was much taken with this priest,
and gave him rooms at his yamên. One day, he had some friends to
dinner, and set before them some very choice old wine that he had, and
of which he only brought out a small quantity at a time, not wishing
to get through it too rapidly. The guests, however, liked it so much
that they asked for more; upon which the Taot‘ai said, “he was very
sorry, but it was all finished.” The priest smiled at this, and said,
“I can give the gentlemen some, if they will oblige me by accepting
it;” and immediately inserted the wine-kettle[208] in his sleeve,
bringing it out again directly, and pouring out for the guests. This
wine tasted exactly like the choice wine they had just been drinking,
and the priest gave them all as much of it as they wanted, which made
the Taot‘ai suspect that something was wrong; so, after the dinner, he
went into his cellar to look at his own stock, when he found the jars
closely tied down, with unbroken seals, but one and all empty. In a
great rage, he caused the priest to be arrested for sorcery, and
proceeded to have him bambooed; but no sooner had the bamboo touched
the priest than the Taot‘ai himself felt a sting of pain, which
increased at every blow; and, in a few moments, there was the priest
writhing and shrieking under every cut,[209] while the Taot‘ai was
sitting in a pool of blood. Accordingly, the punishment was soon
stopped, and the priest was commanded to leave Chi-nan, which he did,
and I know not whither he went. He was subsequently seen at Nanking,
dressed precisely as of old; but on being spoken to, he only smiled
and made no reply.


[206] It is considered a serious breach of Chinese etiquette to accept
invitations without returning the compliment at an early date.

[207] A high Chinese official, known to foreigners as Intendant of
Circuit; the circuit being a circuit of Prefectures, over which he has
full control, subject only to the approval of the highest provincial
authorities. It is with this functionary that foreign Consuls rank.

[208] See No. XCIII., note 122.

[209] Of course only pretending to be hurt, the pain of the blows
being transferred by his magical art to the back of the Taot‘ai.



Two Buddhist priests having arrived from the West,[210] one went to
the Wu-t‘ai hill, while the other hung up his staff[211] at T‘ai-shan.
Their clothes, complexions, language, and features, were very
different from those of our country. They further said they had
crossed the Fiery Mountains, from the peaks of which smoke was always
issuing as from the chimney of a furnace; that they could only travel
after rain, and that excessive caution was necessary to avoid
displacing any stone and thus giving a vent to the flames. They also
stated that they had passed through the River of Sand, in the middle
of which was a crystal hill with perpendicular sides and perfectly
transparent; and that there was a defile just broad enough to admit a
single cart, its entrance guarded by two dragons with crossed horns.
Those who wished to pass prostrated themselves before these dragons,
and on receiving permission to enter, the horns opened and let them
through. The dragons were of a white colour, and their scales and
bristles seemed to be of crystal. Eighteen winters and summers these
priests had been on the road; and of twelve who started from the west
together, only two reached China.[212] These two said that in their
country four of our mountains are held in great esteem, namely, T‘ai,
Hua, Wu-t‘ai, and Lo-chia. The people there also think that China[213]
is paved with yellow gold, that Kuan-yin and Wên-shu[214] are still
alive, and that they have only come here to be sure of their
Buddhahood and of immortal life. Hearing these words it struck me that
this was precisely what our own people say and think about the West;
and that if travellers from each country could only meet half way and
tell each other the true state of affairs, there would be some hearty
laughter on both sides, and a saving of much unnecessary trouble.


[210] That is, missionaries from India.

[211] See No. LVI., note 320.

[212] Much of the above recalls Fa Hsien’s narrative of his celebrated
journey from China to India in the early years of the fifth century of
our era, with which our author was evidently well acquainted. That
courageous traveller complained that of those who had set out with him
some had stopped on the way and others had died, leaving him only his
own shadow as a companion.

[213] This may almost be said to have been the belief of the Arabs at
the date of the composition of “The Arabian Nights.”

[214] For Kuan-yin, see No. XXXIII., note 208. Wên-shu, or Manjusiri,
is the God of Wisdom, and is generally represented as riding on a
lion, in attendance, together with P‘u-hsien, the God of Action, who
rides an elephant, upon Shâkyamuni Buddha.



When His Excellency Mr. T‘ang, of our village, was quite a child, a
relative of his took him to a temple to see the usual theatrical
performances.[215] He was a clever little fellow, afraid of nothing
and nobody; and when he saw one of the clay images in the vestibule
staring at him with its great glass[216] eyes, the temptation was
irresistible; and, secretly gouging them out with his finger, he
carried them off with him. When they reached home, his relative was
taken suddenly ill and remained for a long time speechless; at length,
jumping up he cried out several times in a voice of thunder, “Why did
you gouge out my eyes?” His family did not know what to make of this,
until little T‘ang told them what he had done; they then immediately
began to pray to the possessed man, saying, “A mere child,
unconscious of the wickedness of his act, took away in his fun thy
sacred eyes. They shall be reverently replaced.” Thereupon the voice
exclaimed, “In that case, I shall go away;” and he had hardly spoken
before T‘ang’s relative fell flat upon the ground and lay there in a
state of insensibility for some time. When he recovered, they asked
him concerning what he had said; but he remembered nothing of it. The
eyes were then forthwith restored to their original sockets.


[215] See No. XLVIII., note 277.

[216] The term here used stands for a vitreous composition that has
long been prepared by the Chinese. Glass, properly so called, is said
to have been introduced into China from the west, by a eunuch, during
the Ming dynasty.



Mr. Han was a gentleman of good family, on very intimate terms with a
skilful Taoist priest and magician named Tan, who, when sitting
amongst other guests, would suddenly become invisible. Mr. Han was
extremely anxious to learn this art, but Tan refused all his
entreaties, “Not,” as he said, “because I want to keep the secret for
myself, but simply as a matter of principle. To teach the superior
man[217] would be well enough; others, however, would avail themselves
of such knowledge to plunder their neighbours. There is no fear that
you would do this, though even you might be tempted in certain ways.”
Mr. Han, finding all his efforts unavailing, flew into a great
passion, and secretly arranged with his servants that they should give
the magician a sound beating; and, in order to prevent his escape
through the power of making himself invisible, he had his
threshing-floor[218] covered with a fine ash-dust, so that at any rate
his footsteps would be seen and the servants could strike just above
them.[219] He then inveigled Tan to the appointed spot, which he had
no sooner reached than Han’s servants began to belabour him on all
sides with leathern thongs. Tan immediately became invisible, but his
footprints were clearly seen as he moved about hither and thither to
avoid the blows, and the servants went on striking above them until
finally he succeeded in getting away. Mr. Han then went home, and
subsequently Tan reappeared and told the servants that he could stay
there no longer, adding that before he went he intended to give them
all a feast in return for many things they had done for him. And
diving into his sleeve he brought forth a quantity of delicious meats
and wines which he spread out upon the table, begging them to sit down
and enjoy themselves. The servants did so, and one and all of them got
drunk and insensible; upon which Tan picked each of them up and stowed
them away in his sleeve. When Mr. Han heard of this, he begged Tan to
perform some other trick; so Tan drew upon the wall a city, and
knocking at the gate with his hand it was instantly thrown open. He
then put inside it his wallet and clothes, and stepping through the
gateway himself, waved his hand and bade Mr. Han farewell. The city
gates were now closed, and Tan vanished from their sight. It was said
that he appeared again in Ch‘ing-chou, where he taught little boys to
paint a circle on their hands, and, by dabbing this on to another
person’s face or clothes, to imprint the circle on the place thus
struck without a trace of it being left behind upon the hand.


[217] The perfect man, according to the Confucian standard.

[218] A large, smooth, area of concrete, to be seen outside all
country houses of any size, and used for preparing the various kinds
of grain.

[219] Compare--“The not uncommon practice of strewing ashes to show
the footprints of ghosts or demons takes for granted that they are
substantial bodies.”--Tylor’s _Primitive Culture_, Vol. I., p. 455.



Just beyond Fêng-tu[220] there is a fathomless cave which is reputed
to be the entrance to Purgatory. All the implements of torture
employed therein are of human manufacture; old, worn-out gyves and
fetters being occasionally found at the mouth of the cave, and as
regularly replaced by new ones, which disappear the same night, and
for which the magistrate of the district makes a formal charge[221] in
his accounts.

Under the Ming dynasty, there was a certain Censor,[222] named Hua,
whose duties brought him to this place; and hearing the story of the
cave, he said he did not believe it, but would penetrate into it and
see for himself. People tried to dissuade him from such an enterprise;
however, he paid no heed to their remonstrances, and entered the cave
with a lighted candle in his hand, followed by two attendants. They
had proceeded about half a mile, when suddenly the candle was
violently extinguished, and Mr. Hua saw before him a broad flight of
steps leading up to the Ten Courts, or Judgment-halls, in each of
which a judge was sitting with his robes and tablets all complete. On
the eastern side there was one vacant place; and when the judges saw
Mr. Hua, they hastened down the steps to meet him, and each one cried
out, “So you have come at last, have you? I hope you have been quite
well since last we met.” Mr. Hua asked what the place was; to which
they replied that it was the Court of Purgatory, and then Mr. Hua in a
great fright was about to take his leave, when the judges stopped him,
saying, “No, no, Sir! that is your seat there; how can you imagine you
are to go back again?” Thereupon Mr. Hua was overwhelmed with fear,
and begged and implored the judges to forgive him; but the latter
declared they could not interfere with the decrees of fate, and taking
down the register of Life and Death they showed him that it had been
ordained that on such a day of such a month his living body would pass
into the realms of darkness. When Mr. Hua read these words he shivered
and shook as if iced water was being poured down his back, and
thinking of his old mother and his young children, his tears began to
flow. At that juncture an angel in golden armour appeared, holding in
his hand a document written on yellow silk,[223] before which the
judges all performed a respectful obeisance. They then unfolded and
read the document, which was nothing more or less than a general
pardon from the Almighty for the suffering sinners in Purgatory, by
virtue of which Mr. Hua’s fate would be set aside, and he would be
enabled to return once more to the light of day. Thereupon the judges
congratulated him upon his release, and started him on his way home;
but he had not got more than a few steps of the way before he found
himself plunged in total darkness. He was just beginning to despair,
when forth from the gloom came a God with a red face and a long beard,
rays of light shooting out from his body and illuminating the darkness
around. Mr. Hua made up to him at once, and begged to know how he
could get out of the cave; to which the God curtly replied, “Repeat
the _sûtras_ of Buddha!” and vanished instantly from his sight. Now
Mr. Hua had forgotten almost all the _sûtras_ he had ever known;
however, he remembered a little of the diamond _sûtra_, and, clasping
his hands in an attitude of prayer, he began to repeat it aloud. No
sooner had he done this than a faint streak of light glimmered through
the darkness, and revealed to him the direction of the path; but the
next moment he was at a loss how to go on and the light forthwith
disappeared. He then set himself to think hard what the next verse
was, and as fast as he recollected and could go on repeating, so fast
did the light reappear to guide him on his way, until at length he
emerged once more from the mouth of the cave. As to the fate of the
two servants who accompanied him it is needless to inquire.


[220] Fêng-tu is a district city in the province of Szechuen, and near
it are said to be fire-wells (see Williams’ _Syllabic Dictionary_,
s.v.), otherwise known as the entrance to Purgatory, the capital city
of which is also called Fêng-tu.

[221] To the Imperial Treasury. From what I know of the barefacedness
of similar official impostures, I should say that this statement is
quite within the bounds of truth. For instance, at Amoy one per cent.
is collected by the local mandarins on all imports, ostensibly for the
purpose of providing the Imperial table with a delicious kind of
bird’s-nest said to be found in the neighbourhood! Seven-tenths of the
sum thus collected is pocketed by the various officials of the place,
and with the remaining three-tenths a certain quantity of the ordinary
article of commerce is imported from the Straits and forwarded to

[222] See No. XXXII., note 197.

[223] An Imperial mandate is always written on yellow silk, and the
ceremony of opening and perusing it is accompanied by prostrations and
other acts of reverential submission.



During the Ming dynasty a plague of locusts[224] visited Ch‘ing-yen,
and was advancing rapidly towards the I district, when the magistrate
of that place, in great tribulation at the pending disaster, retired
one day to sleep behind the screen in his office. There he dreamt that
a young graduate, named Willow, wearing a tall hat and a green robe,
and of very commanding stature, came to see him, and declared that he
could tell the magistrate how to get rid of the locusts. “To-morrow,”
said he, “on the south-west road, you will see a woman riding[225] on
a large jennet: she is the Spirit of the Locusts; ask her, and she
will help you.” The magistrate thought this strange advice; however,
he got everything ready, and waited, as he had been told, at the
roadside. By-and-by, along came a woman with her hair tied up in a
knot, and a serge cape over her shoulders, riding slowly northwards on
an old mule; whereupon the magistrate burned some sticks of incense,
and, seizing the mule’s bridle, humbly presented a goblet of wine. The
woman asked him what he wanted; to which he replied, “Lady, I implore
you to save my small magistracy from the dreadful ravages of your
locusts.” “Oho!” said the woman, “that scoundrel, Willow, has been
letting the cat out of the bag, has he? He shall suffer for it: I
won’t touch your crops.” She then drank three cups of wine, and
vanished out of sight. Subsequently, when the locusts did come, they
flew high in the air, and did not settle on the crops; but they
stripped the leaves off every willow-tree far and wide; and then the
magistrate awaked to the fact that the graduate of his dream was the
Spirit of the Willows. Some said that this happy result was owing to
the magistrate’s care for the welfare of his people.


[224] Innumerable pamphlets have been published in China on the best
methods of getting rid of these destructive insects, but none to my
knowledge contain much sound or practical advice.

[225] See No. LII., note 286. The mules of the north of China are
marvels of beauty and strength; and the price of a fine animal often
goes as high as £100.



At Ch‘ing-chow there lived a Mr. Tung, President of one of the Six
Boards, whose domestic regulations were so strict that the men and
women servants were not allowed to speak to each other.[226] One day
he caught a slave-girl laughing and talking with one of his
attendants, and gave them both a sound rating. That night he retired
to sleep, accompanied by his _valet-de-chambre_, in his library, the
door of which, as it was very hot weather, was left wide open. When
the night was far advanced, the valet was awaked by a noise at his
master’s bed: and, opening his eyes, he saw, by the light of the moon,
the attendant above-mentioned pass out of the door with something in
his hand. Recognizing the man as one of the family, he thought nothing
of the occurrence, but turned round and went to sleep again. Soon
after, however, he was again aroused by the noise of footsteps
tramping heavily across the room, and, looking up, he beheld a huge
being with a red face and a long beard, very like the God of
War,[227] carrying a man’s head. Horribly frightened, he crawled under
the bed, and then he heard sounds above him as of clothes being shaken
out, and as if some one was being shampooed.[228] In a few moments,
the boots tramped once more across the room and went away; and then he
gradually put out his head, and, seeing the dawn beginning to peep
through the window, he stretched out his hand to reach his clothes.
These he found to be soaked through and through, and, on applying his
hand to his nose, he smelt the smell of blood. He now called out
loudly to his master, who jumped up at once; and, by the light of a
candle, they saw that the bed clothes and pillows were alike steeped
in blood. Just then some constables knocked at the door, and when Mr.
Tung went out to see who it was, the constables were all astonishment;
“for,” said they, “a few minutes ago a man rushed wildly up to our
yamên, and said he had killed his master; and, as he himself was
covered with blood, he was arrested, and turned out to be a servant of
yours. He also declared that he had buried your head alongside the
temple of the God of War; and when we went to look, there, indeed, was
a freshly-dug hole, but the head was gone.” Mr. Tung was amazed at all
this story, and, on proceeding to the magistrate’s yamên, he
discovered that the man in charge was the attendant whom he had
scolded the day before. Thereupon, the criminal was severely bambooed
and released; and then Mr. Tung, who was unwilling to make an enemy of
a man of this stamp, gave him the girl to wife. However, a few nights
afterwards the people who lived next door to the newly-married couple
heard a terrific crash in their house, and, rushing in to see what was
the matter, found that husband and wife, and the bedstead as well, had
been cut clean in two as if by a sword. The ways of the God are many,
indeed, but few more extraordinary than this.[229]


[226] See No. XL., note 233, and No. XCIV., note 134.

[227] See No. I., note 39.

[228] See No. LXIX., note 38.

[229] It was the God of War who replaced Mr. Tung’s head after it had
actually been cut off and buried.



A certain Taoist priest, overtaken in his wanderings by the shades of
evening, sought refuge in a small Buddhist monastery. The monk’s
apartment was, however, locked; so he threw his mat down in the
vestibule of the shrine, and seated himself upon it. In the middle of
the night, when all was still, he heard a sound of some one opening
the door behind him; and looking round, he saw a Buddhist priest,
covered with blood from head to foot, who did not seem to notice that
anybody else was present. Accordingly, he himself pretended not to be
aware of what was going on; and then he saw the other priest enter the
shrine, mount the altar, and remain there some time embracing Buddha’s
head, and laughing by turns. When morning came, he found the monk’s
room still locked; and, suspecting something was wrong, he walked to a
neighbouring village, where he told the people what he had seen.
Thereupon the villagers went back with him, and broke open the door,
and there before them lay the priest weltering in his blood, having
evidently been killed by robbers, who had stripped the place bare.
Anxious now to find out what had made the disembodied spirit of the
priest laugh in the way it had been seen to do, they proceeded to
inspect the head of the Buddha on the altar; and, at the back of it,
they noticed a small mark, scraping through which they discovered a
sum of over thirty ounces of silver. This sum was forthwith used for
defraying the funeral expenses of the murdered man.



A certain man, who had bought a fine cow, dreamt the same night that
wings grew out of the animal’s back, and that it had flown away.
Regarding this as an omen of some pending misfortune, he led the cow
off to market again, and sold it at a ruinous loss. Wrapping up in a
cloth the silver he received, he slung it over his back, and was half
way home, when he saw a falcon eating part of a hare.[230] Approaching
the bird, he found it was quite tame, and accordingly tied it by the
leg to one of the corners of the cloth, in which his money was. The
falcon fluttered about a good deal, trying to escape; and, by-and-by,
the man’s hold being for a moment relaxed, away went the bird, cloth,
money, and all. “It was destiny,” said the man every time he told the
story; ignorant as he was, first, that no faith should be put in
dreams;[231] and, secondly, that people shouldn’t take things they see
by the wayside.[232] Quadrupeds don’t usually fly.


[230] See No. VI., note 51.

[231] The highly educated Confucianist rises above the superstition
that darkens the lives of his less fortunate fellow countrymen. Had
such a dream as the above received an inauspicious interpretation at
the hands of some local soothsayer, the owner of the animal would in
nine cases out of ten have taken an early opportunity of getting rid
of it.

[232] The Chinese love to refer to the “good old time” of their
forefathers, when a man who dropped anything on the highway would have
no cause to hurry back for fear of its being carried off by a



At I-tu there lived a family of the name of Chêng. The two sons were
both distinguished scholars, but the elder was early known to fame,
and, consequently, the favourite with his parents, who also extended
their preference to his wife. The younger brother was a trifle wild,
which displeased his father and mother very much, and made them regard
his wife, too, with anything but a friendly eye. The latter reproached
her husband for being the cause of this, and asked him why he, being a
man like his brother, could not vindicate the slights that were put
upon her. This piqued him; and, setting to work in good earnest, he
soon gained a fair reputation, though still not equal to his
brother’s. That year the two went up for the highest degree; and, on
New Year’s Eve, the wife of the younger, very anxious for the success
of her husband, secretly tried the “mirror and listen” trick.[233] She
saw two men pushing each other in jest, and heard them say, “You go
and get cool,” which remark she was quite unable to interpret for good
or for bad, so she thought no more about the matter. After the
examination, the two brothers returned home; and one day, when the
weather was extremely hot, and their two wives were hard at work in
the cook-house, preparing food for their field-labourers, a messenger
rode up in hot haste[234] to announce that the elder brother had
passed. Thereupon his mother went into the cook-house, and, calling to
her daughter-in-law, said, “Your husband has passed; _you go and get
cool_.” Rage and grief now filled the breast of the second son’s wife,
who, with tears in her eyes, continued her task of cooking, when
suddenly another messenger rushed in to say, that the second son had
passed, too. At this, his wife flung down her frying-pan, and cried
out, “Now I’ll _go and get cool_;” and as in the heat of her
excitement she uttered these words, the recollection of her trial of
the “mirror and listen” trick flashed upon her, and she knew that the
words of that evening had been fulfilled.


[233] One method is to wrap an old mirror (formerly a polished metal
disc) in a handkerchief, and then, no one being present, to bow seven
times towards the Spirit of the Hearth: after which the first words
heard spoken by any one will give a clue to the issue under
investigation. Another method is to close the eyes and take seven
paces, opening them at the seventh and getting some hint from the
objects first seen in a mirror held in the hand, coupled with the
words first spoken within the experimenter’s hearing.

[234] In former days, these messengers of good tidings to candidates
whose homes were in distant parts used to earn handsome sums if first
to announce the news; but now, at any rate along the coast, steamers
and the telegraph have taken their occupation from them.



Ch‘ên Hua-fêng, of Mêng-shan, overpowered by the great heat, went and
lay down under a tree, when suddenly up came a man with a thick
comforter round his neck, who also sat down on a stone in the shade,
and began fanning himself as hard as he could, the perspiration all
the time running off him like a waterfall. Ch‘ên rose and said to him
with a smile, “If Sir, you were to remove that comforter, you would be
cool enough without the help of a fan.” “It would be easy enough,”
replied the stranger, “to take off my comforter; but the difficulty
would be in getting it on again.” He then went on to converse
generally upon other matters, in a manner which betokened considerable
refinement; and by-and-by he exclaimed, “What I should like now is
just a draught of iced wine to cool the twelve joints of my
œsophagus.”[235] “Come along, then,” cried Ch‘ên, “my house is close
by, and I shall be happy to give you what you want.” So off they went
together; and Ch‘ên set before them some capital wine, which he
produced from a cave, cold enough to numb their teeth. The stranger
was delighted, and remained there drinking until late in the evening,
when, all at once, it began to rain. Ch‘ên lighted a lamp; and he and
his guest, who now took off the comforter, sat talking together in
_dishabille_. Every now and again the former thought he saw a light
coming from the back of the stranger’s head; and when at length he had
gone off into a tipsy sleep, Ch‘ên took the light to examine more
closely. He found behind the ears a large cavity, partitioned by a
number of membranes, and looking like a lattice, with a thin skin
hanging down in front of each, the spaces being apparently empty. In
great astonishment Ch‘ên took a hair-pin, and inserted it into one of
these places, when pff! out flew something like a tiny cow, which
broke through the window,[236] and was gone. This frightened Ch‘ên,
and he determined to play no more tricks; just then, however, the
stranger waked up. “Alas!” cried he, “you have been at my head, and
have let out the Cattle Plague. What is to be done, now?” Ch‘ên asked
what he meant: upon which the stranger said, “There is no object in
further concealment. I will tell you all. I am the Angel of
Pestilence for the six kinds of domestic animals. That form which you
have let out attacks oxen, and I fear that, for miles round, few will
escape alive.” Now Ch‘ên himself was a cattle-farmer, and when he
heard this was dreadfully alarmed, and implored the stranger to tell
him what to do. “What to do!” replied he; “why, I shall not escape
punishment myself; how can I tell you what to do. However, you will
find powdered _K‘u-ts‘an_[237] an efficacious remedy, that is if you
don’t keep it a secret for your private use.”[238] The stranger then
departed, first of all piling up a quantity of earth in a niche in the
wall, a handful of which, he told Ch‘ên, given to each animal, might
prove of some avail. Before long the plague did break out; and Ch‘ên,
who was desirous of making a little money by it, told the remedy to no
one, with the exception of his younger brother. The latter tried it on
his own beasts with great success; while, on the other hand, those
belonging to Ch‘ên himself died off, to the number of fifty head,[239]
leaving him only four or five old cows, which shewed every sign of
soon sharing the same fate. In his distress, Ch‘ên suddenly bethought
himself of the earth in the niche; and, as a last resource, gave some
to the sick animals. By the next morning they were quite well, and
then he knew that his secrecy about the remedy had caused it to have
no effect. From that moment his stock went on increasing, and in a few
years he had as many as ever.


[235] Accurate anatomical descriptions must not be looked for in
Chinese literature. “Man has three hundred and sixty-five bones,
corresponding to the number of days it takes the heavens to revolve.”
From the _Hsi-yüan-lu_, or _Institutions to Coroners_, Book I., ch.
12. [See No. XIV., note 100.]

[236] See No. X., note 79.

[237] _Radix robiniæ amaræ._

[238] As the Chinese invariably do whenever they get hold of a useful
prescription or remedy. Master workmen also invariably try to withhold
something of their art from the apprentices they engage to teach.

[239] The text has “of two hundred hoofs.”



At Kuei-chi there is a shrine to the Plum Virgin, who was formerly a
young lady named Ma, and lived at Tung-wan. Her betrothed husband
dying before the wedding, she swore she would never marry, and at
thirty years of age she died. Her kinsfolk built a shrine to her
memory, and gave her the title of the Plum Virgin. Some years
afterwards, a Mr. Chin, on his way to the examination, happened to
pass by the shrine; and entering in, he walked up and down thinking
very much of the young lady in whose honour it had been erected. That
night he dreamt that a servant came to summon him into the presence of
the Goddess; and that, in obedience to her command, he went and found
her waiting for him just outside the shrine. “I am deeply grateful to
you, Sir,” said the Goddess, on his approach, “for giving me so large
a share of your thoughts; and I intend to repay you by becoming your
humble handmaid.” Mr. Chin bowed an assent; and then the Goddess
escorted him back, saying, “When your place is ready, I will come and
fetch you.” On waking in the morning, Mr. Chin was not over pleased
with his dream; however that very night every one of the villagers
dreamt that the Goddess appeared and said she was going to marry Mr.
Chin, bidding them at once prepare an image of him. This the village
elders, out of respect for their Goddess, positively refused to do;
until at length they all began to fall ill, and then they made a clay
image of Mr. Chin, and placed it on the left of the Goddess. Mr. Chin
now told his wife that the Plum Virgin had come for him; and, putting
on his official cap and robes, he straightway died. Thereupon his wife
was very angry; and, going to the shrine, she first abused the
Goddess, and then, getting on the altar, slapped her face well. The
Goddess is now called Chin’s virgin wife.



A Mr. Lin of Ch‘ang-shan was extremely fat, and so fond of wine[240]
that he would often finish a pitcher by himself. However, he owned
about fifty acres of land, half of which was covered with millet, and
being well off, he did not consider that his drinking would bring him
into trouble. One day a foreign Buddhist priest saw him, and remarked
that he appeared to be suffering from some extraordinary complaint.
Mr. Lin said nothing was the matter with him; whereupon the priest
asked him if he often got drunk. Lin acknowledged that he did; and the
priest told him that he was afflicted by the wine insect. “Dear me!”
cried Lin, in great alarm, “do you think you could cure me?” The
priest declared there would be no difficulty in doing so; but when Lin
asked him what drugs he intended to use, the priest said he should not
use any at all. He then made Lin lie down in the sun; and tying his
hands and feet together, he placed a stoup of good wine about half a
foot from his head. By-and-by, Lin felt a deadly thirst coming on; and
the flavour of the wine passing through his nostrils, seemed to set
his vitals on fire. Just then he experienced a tickling sensation in
his throat, and something ran out of his mouth and jumped into the
wine. On being released from his bonds, he saw that it was an insect
about three inches in length, which wriggled about in the wine like a
tadpole, and had mouth and eyes all complete. Lin was overjoyed, and
offered money to the priest, who refused to take it, saying, all he
wanted was the insect, which he explained to Lin was the essence of
wine, and which, on being stirred up in water, would turn it into
wine. Lin tried this, and found it was so; and ever afterwards he
detested the sight of wine. He subsequently became very thin, and so
poor that he had hardly enough to eat and drink.[241]


[240] The ordinary “wine” of China is a spirit distilled from rice.
See No. XCIII., note 122.

[241] The commentator would have us believe that Mr. Lin’s fondness
for wine was to him an element of health and happiness rather than a
disease to be cured, and that the priest was wrong in meddling with
the natural bent of his constitution.



A certain man of Lu-ngan, whose father had been cast into prison, and
was brought almost to death’s door,[242] scraped together one hundred
ounces of silver, and set out for the city to try and arrange for his
parent’s release. Jumping on a mule, he saw that a black dog,
belonging to the family, was following him. He tried in vain to make
the dog remain at home; and when, after travelling for some miles, he
got off his mule to rest awhile, he picked up a large stone and threw
it at the dog, which then ran off. However, he was no sooner on the
road again, than up came the dog, and tried to stop the mule by
holding on to its tail. His master beat it off with the whip;
whereupon the dog ran barking loudly in front of the mule, and seemed
to be using every means in its power to cause his master to stop. The
latter thought this a very inauspicious omen, and turning upon the
animal in a rage, drove it away out of sight. He now went on to the
city; but when, in the dusk of the evening, he arrived there, he found
that about half his money was gone. In a terrible state of mind he
tossed about all night; then, all of a sudden, it flashed across him
that the strange behaviour of the dog might possibly have some
meaning; so getting up very early, he left the city as soon as the
gates were open,[243] and though, from the number of passers-by, he
never expected to find his money again, he went on until he reached
the spot where he had got off his mule the day before. There he saw
his dog lying dead upon the ground, its hair having apparently been
wetted through with perspiration;[244] and, lifting up the body by one
of its ears, he found his lost silver. Full of gratitude, he bought a
coffin and buried the dead animal; and the people now call the place
the Grave of the Faithful Dog.


[242] In an entry on torture (see No. LXXIII., note 62), which occurs
in my _Glossary of Reference_, I made the following statement:--“The
real tortures of a Chinese prison are the filthy dens in which the
unfortunate victims are confined, the stench in which they have to
draw breath, the fetters and manacles by which they are secured, the
absolute insufficiency even of the disgusting rations doled out to
them, and above all the mental agony which must ensue in a country
with no _Habeas corpus_ to protect the lives and fortunes of its

[243] For a small bribe, the soldiers at the gates of a Chinese city
will usually pass people in and out by means of a ladder placed
against the wall at some convenient spot.

[244] I believe it is with us only a recently determined fact that
dogs perspire through the skin.



In 1668 there was a very severe earthquake.[245] I myself was staying
at Chi-hsia, and happened to be that night sitting over a kettle of
wine with my cousin Li Tu. All of a sudden we heard a noise like
thunder, travelling from the south-east in a north-westerly direction.
We were much astonished at this, and quite unable to account for the
noise; in another moment the table began to rock, and the wine-cups
were upset; the beams and supports of the house snapped here and there
with a crash, and we looked at each other in fear and trembling.
By-and-by we knew that it was an earthquake; and, rushing out, we saw
houses and other buildings, as it were, fall down and get up again;
and, amidst the sounds of crushing walls, we heard the shrieks of
women and children, the whole mass being like a great seething
cauldron. Men were giddy and could not stand, but rolled about on the
ground; the river overflowed its banks; cocks crowed, and dogs barked
from one end of the city to the other. In a little while the quaking
began to subside; and then might be seen men and women running half
naked about the streets, all anxious to tell their own experiences,
and forgetting that they had on little or no clothing. I subsequently
heard that a well was closed up and rendered useless by this
earthquake; that a house was turned completely round, so as to face
the opposite direction; that the Chi-hsia hill was riven open, and
that the waters of the I river flowed in and made a lake of an acre
and more. Truly such an earthquake as this is of rare occurrence.


[245] The exact date is given,--the 17th of the 6th moon, which would
probably fall towards the end of June.



The tricks for bewitching people are many. Sometimes drugs are put in
their food, and when they eat they become dazed, and follow the person
who has bewitched them. This is commonly called _ta hsü pa_; in
Kiang-nan it is known as _ch‘ê hsü_. Little children are most
frequently bewitched in this way. There is also what is called “making
animals,” which is better known on the south side of the River.[246]

One day a man arrived at an inn in Yang-chow, leading with him five
donkeys. Tying them up near the stable, he told the landlord he would
be back in a few minutes, and bade him give his donkeys no water. He
had not been gone long before the donkeys, which were standing out in
the glare of the sun, began to kick about, and make a noise; whereupon
the landlord untied them, and was going to put them in the shade, when
suddenly they espied water, and made a rush to get at it. So the
landlord let them drink; and no sooner had the water touched their
lips than they rolled on the ground, and changed into women. In great
astonishment, the landlord asked them whence they came; but their
tongues were tied, and they could not answer, so he hid them in his
private apartments, and at that moment their owner returned, bringing
with him five sheep. The latter immediately asked the landlord where
his donkeys were; to which the landlord replied by offering him some
wine, saying, the donkeys would be brought to him directly. He then
went out and gave the sheep some water, on drinking which they were
all changed into boys. Accordingly, he communicated with the
authorities, and the stranger was arrested and forthwith beheaded.


[246] See No. XCVIII., note 159.



A certain magistrate caused a petty oil-vendor, who was brought before
him for some trifling misdemeanour, and whose statements were very
confused, to be bambooed to death. The former subsequently rose to
high rank; and having amassed considerable wealth, set about building
himself a fine house. On the day when the great beam was to be fixed
in its place,[247] among the friends and relatives who arrived to
offer their congratulations, he was horrified to see the oilman walk
in. At the same instant one of the servants came rushing up to
announce to him the birth of a son; whereupon, he mournfully remarked,
“The house not yet finished, and its destroyer already here.” The
bystanders thought he was joking, for they had not seen what he had
seen.[248] However, when that boy grew up, by his frivolity and
extravagance he quite ruined his father. He was finally obliged
himself to go into service; and spent all his earnings in oil, which
he swallowed in large quantities.


[247] This corresponds to our ceremony of laying the foundation stone,
except that one commemorates the beginning, the other the completion,
of a new building.

[248] That is, the disembodied spirit of the oilman.



A certain general, who had resigned his command, and had retired to
his own home, was very fond of roaming about and amusing himself with
wine and _wei-ch‘i_.[249] One day--it was the 9th of the 9th moon,
when everybody goes up high[250]--as he was playing with some friends,
a stranger walked up, and watched the game intently for some time
without going away. He was a miserable-looking creature, with a very
ragged coat, but nevertheless possessed of a refined and courteous
air. The general begged him to be seated, an offer which he accepted,
being all the time extremely deferential in his manner. “I suppose you
are pretty good at this,” said the general, pointing to the board;
“try a bout with one of my friends here.” The stranger made a great
many apologies in reply, but finally accepted, and played a game in
which, apparently to his great disappointment, he was beaten. He
played another with the same result; and now, refusing all offers of
wine, he seemed to think of nothing but how to get some one to play
with him. Thus he went on until the afternoon was well advanced; when
suddenly, just as he was in the middle of a most exciting game, which
depended on a single place, he rushed forward, and throwing himself at
the feet of the general, loudly implored his protection. The general
did not know what to make of this; however, he raised him up, and
said, “It’s only a game: why get so excited?” To this the stranger
replied by begging the general not to let his gardener seize him; and
when the general asked what gardener he meant, he said the man’s name
was Ma-ch‘êng. Now this Ma-ch‘êng was often employed as a lictor by
the Ruler of Purgatory, and would sometimes remain away as much as ten
days, serving the warrants of death; accordingly, the general sent off
to inquire about him, and found that he had been in a trance for two
days.[251] His master cried out that he had better not behave rudely
to his guest, but at that very moment the stranger sunk down to the
ground, and was gone. The general was lost in astonishment; however,
he now knew that the man was a disembodied spirit, and on the next
day, when Ma-ch‘êng came round, he asked him for full particulars.
“The gentleman was a native of Hu-hsiang,” replied the gardener, “who
was passionately addicted to _wei-ch‘i_, and had lost a great deal of
money by it. His father, being much grieved at his behaviour, confined
him to the house; but he was always getting out, and indulging the
fatal passion, and at last his father died of a broken heart. In
consequence of this, the Ruler of Purgatory curtailed his term of
life, and condemned him to become a hungry devil,[252] in which state
he has already passed seven years. And now that the Phœnix Tower[253]
is completed, an order has been issued for the literati to present
themselves, and compose an inscription to be cut on stone, as a
memorial thereof, by which means they would secure their own salvation
as a reward. Many of the shades failing to arrive at the appointed
time, God was very angry with the Ruler of Purgatory, and the latter
sent off me, and others who are employed in the same way, to hunt up
the defaulters. But as you, Sir, bade me treat the gentleman with
respect, I did not venture to bind him.” The general inquired what
had become of the stranger; to which the gardener replied, “He is now
a mere menial in Purgatory, and can never be born again.” “Alas!”
cried his master, “thus it is that men are ruined by any inordinate


[249] A most abstruse and complicated game of skill, for which the
Chinese claim an antiquity of four thousand years, and which I was the
first to introduce to a European public through an article in _Temple
Bar Magazine_ for January, 1877. _Apropos_ of which, an accomplished
American lady, Miss A. M. Fielde, of Swatow, wrote as follows:--“The
game seems to me the peer of chess.... It is a game for the slow,
persistent, astute, multitudinous Chinese; while chess, by the
picturesque appearance of the board, the variety and prominent
individuality of the men, and the erratic combination of the
attack,--is for the Anglo-Saxon.”

[250] On this day, annually dedicated to kite-flying, picnics, and
good cheer, everybody tries to get up to as great an elevation as
possible, in the hope, as some say, of thereby prolonging life. It was
this day--4th October, 1878--which was fixed for the total
extermination of foreigners in Foochow.

[251] See No. XXVI., note 180.

[252] One of the _prêtas_, or the fourth of the six paths (gâti) of
existence; the other five being (1) angels, (2) men, (3) demons, (5)
brute beasts, and (6) sinners in hell. The term is often used
colloquially for a self-invited guest.

[253] An imaginary building in the Infernal Regions.

[254] Mencius reckoned “to play _wei-ch‘i_ for money” among the five
unfilial acts.



A certain man’s uncle had no children, and the nephew, with an eye to
his uncle’s property, volunteered to become his adopted son.[255] When
the uncle died all the property passed accordingly to his nephew, who
thereupon broke faith as to his part of the contract.[256] He did the
same with another uncle, and thus united three properties in his own
person, whereby he became the richest man of the neighbourhood.
Suddenly he fell ill, and seemed to go out of his mind; for he cried
out, “So you wish to live in wealth, do you?” and immediately seizing
a sharp knife, he began hacking away at his own body until he had
strewed the floor with pieces of flesh. He then exclaimed, “You cut
off other people’s posterity and expect to have posterity yourself, do
you?” and forthwith he ripped himself open and died. Shortly
afterwards his son, too, died, and the property fell into the hands of
strangers. Is not this a retribution to be dreaded?


[255] See No. LV., note 310; and No. XCIV., note 137.

[256] That is, in carrying out the obligations he had entered into,
such as conducting the ceremonies of ancestral worship, repairing the
family tombs, &c.



A certain cloth merchant of Ch‘ang-ch‘ing was stopping at T‘ai-ngan,
when he heard of a magician who was said to be very skilled in casting
nativities. So he went off at once to consult him; but the magician
would not undertake the task, saying, “Your destiny is bad: you had
better hurry home.” At this the merchant was dreadfully frightened,
and, packing up his wares, set off towards Ch‘ang-ch‘ing. On the way
he fell in with a man in short clothes,[257] like a constable; and the
two soon struck up a friendly intimacy, taking their meals together.
By-and-by the merchant asked the stranger what his business was; and
the latter told him he was going to Ch‘ang-ch‘ing to serve summonses,
producing at the same time a document and showing it to the merchant,
who, on looking closely, saw a list of names, at the head of which
was his own. In great astonishment he inquired what he had done that
he should be arrested thus; to which his companion replied, “I am not
a living being: I am a lictor in the employ of the infernal
authorities, and I presume your term of life has expired.” The
merchant burst into tears and implored the lictor to spare him, which
the latter declared was impossible; “But,” added he, “there are a
great many names down, and it will take me some time to get through
them: you go off home and settle up your affairs, and, as a slight
return for your friendship, I’ll call for you last.” A few minutes
afterwards they reached a stream where the bridge was in ruins, and
people could only cross with great difficulty; at which the lictor
remarked, “You are now on the road to death, and not a single cash can
you carry away with you. Repair this bridge and benefit the public;
and thus from a great outlay you may possibly yourself derive some
small advantage.” The merchant said he would do so; and when he got
home, he bade his wife and children prepare for his coming
dissolution, and at the same time set men to work and made the bridge
sound and strong again. Some time elapsed, but no lictor arrived; and
his suspicions began to be aroused, when one day the latter walked in
and said, “I reported that affair of the bridge to the Municipal
God,[258] who communicated it to the Ruler of Purgatory; and for that
good act your span of life has been lengthened, and your name struck
out of the list. I have now come to announce this to you.” The
merchant was profuse in his thanks; and the next time he went to
T‘ai-ngan, he burnt a quantity of paper ingots,[259] and made
offerings and libations to the lictor, out of gratitude for what he
had done. Suddenly the lictor himself appeared, and cried out, “Do you
wish to ruin me? Happily my new master has only just taken up his
post, and he has not noticed this, or where should I be?”[260] The
lictor then escorted the merchant some distance; and, at parting, bade
him never return by that road, but, if he had any business at
T‘ai-ngan, to go thither by a roundabout way.


[257] The long flowing robe is a sign of respectability which all but
the very poorest classes love to affect in public. At the port of
Haiphong, _shoes_ are the criterion of social standing; but, as a
rule, the well-to-do native merchants prefer to go barefoot rather
than give the authorities a chance of exacting heavier squeezes, on
the strength of such a palpable acknowledgment of wealth.

[258] See No. I., note 36.

[259] See No. LVI., note 317; and No. XCVII., note 150.

[260] The lictor had no right to divulge his errand when he first met
the cloth merchant, or to remove the latter’s name from the top to the
bottom of the list.



On the river I there lived a man named Ma, who married a wife from the
Wang family, with whom he was very happy in his domestic life. Ma,
however, died young; and his wife’s parents were unwilling that their
daughter should remain a widow, but she resisted all their
importunities, and declared firmly she would never marry again. “It is
a noble resolve of yours, I allow,” argued her mother; “but you are
still a mere girl, and you have no children. Besides, I notice that
people who start with such rigid determinations always end by doing
something discreditable, and therefore you had better get married as
soon as you can, which is no more than is done every day.” The girl
swore she would rather die than consent, and accordingly her mother
had no alternative but to let her alone. She then ordered a clay image
to be made, exactly resembling her late husband;[261] and whenever she
took her own meals, she would set meat and wine before it, precisely
as if her husband had been there. One night she was on the point of
retiring to rest, when suddenly she saw the clay image stretch itself
and step down from the table, increasing all the while in height,
until it was as tall as a man, and neither more nor less than her own
husband. In great alarm she called out to her mother, but the image
stopped her, saying, “Don’t do that! I am but shewing my gratitude for
your affectionate care of me, and it is chill and uncomfortable in the
realms below. Such devotion as yours casts its light back on
generations gone by; and now I, who was cut off in my prime because my
father did evil, and was condemned to be without an heir, have been
permitted, in consequence of your virtuous conduct, to visit you once
again, that our ancestral line may yet remain unbroken.”[262] Every
morning at cock-crow her husband resumed his usual form and size as
the clay image; and after a time he told her that their hour of
separation had come, upon which husband and wife bade each other an
eternal farewell. By-and-by the widow, to the great astonishment of
her mother, bore a son, which caused no small amusement among the
neighbours who heard the story; and, as the girl herself had no proof
of what she stated to be the case, a certain beadle[263] of the place,
who had an old grudge against her husband, went off and informed the
magistrate of what had occurred. After some investigation, the
magistrate exclaimed, “I have heard that the children of disembodied
spirits have no shadow; and that those who have shadows are not
genuine.” Thereupon they took Ma’s child into the sunshine, and lo!
there was but a very faint shadow, like a thin vapour. The magistrate
then drew blood from the child, and smeared it on the clay image; upon
which the blood at once soaked in and left no stain. Another clay
image being produced and the same experiment tried, the blood remained
on the surface so that it could be wiped away.[264] The girl’s story
was thus acknowledged to be true; and when the child grew up, and in
every feature was the counterpart of Ma, there was no longer any room
for suspicion.


[261] The clay image makers of Tientsin are wonderfully clever in
taking likenesses by these means. Some of the most skilful will even
manipulate the clay behind their backs, and then, adding the proper
colours, will succeed in producing an exceedingly good resemblance.
They find, however, more difficulty with foreign faces, to which they
are less accustomed in the trade.

[262] See No. LXI., note 346.

[263] See No. LXIV., note 18.

[264] Such is the officially authorised method of determining a
doubtful relationship between a dead parent and a living child,
substituting a bone for the clay image here mentioned.



At Chiao-chou there lived a man named Liu Hsi-ch‘uan, who was steward
to His excellency Mr. Fa. When already over forty a son was born to
him, whom he loved very dearly, and quite spoilt by always letting him
have his own way. When the boy grew up he led a dissolute, extravagant
life, and ran through all his father’s property. By-and-by he fell
sick, and then he declared that nothing would cure him but a slice off
a fat old favourite mule they had; upon which his father had another
and more worthless animal killed; but his son found out he was being
tricked, and, after abusing his father soundly, his symptoms became
more and more alarming. The mule was accordingly killed, and some of
it was served up to the sick man; however, he only just tasted it and
sent the rest away. From that time he got gradually worse and worse,
and finally died, to the great grief of his father, who would gladly
have died too. Three or four years afterwards, as some of the
villagers were worshipping on Mount Tai, they saw a man riding on a
mule, the very image of Mr. Liu’s dead son; and, on approaching more
closely, they saw that it was actually he.[265] Jumping from his
mule,[266] he made them a salutation, and then they began to chat with
him on various subjects, always carefully avoiding that one of his own
death. They asked him what he was doing there; to which he replied
that he was only roaming about, and inquired of them in his turn at
what inn they were staying; “For,” added he, “I have an engagement
just now, but I will visit you to-morrow.” So they told him the name
of the inn, and took their leave, not expecting to see him again.
However, the next day he came, and, tying his mule to a post outside,
went in to see them. “Your father,” observed one of the villagers, “is
always thinking about you. Why do you not go and pay him a visit?” The
young man asked to whom he was alluding; and, at the mention of his
father’s name, he changed colour and said, “If he is anxious to see
me, kindly tell him that on the 7th of the 4th moon I will await him
here.” He then went away, and the villagers returned and told Mr. Liu
all that had taken place. At the appointed time the latter was very
desirous of going to see his son; but his master dissuaded him, saying
that he thought from what he knew of his son that the interview might
possibly not turn out as he would desire; “Although,” added he, “if
you are bent upon going, I should be sorry to stand in your way. Let
me, however, counsel you to conceal yourself in a cupboard, and thus,
by observing what takes place, you will know better how to act, and
avoid running into any danger.” This he accordingly did, and, when his
son came, Mr. Fa received him at the inn as before. “Where’s Mr. Liu?”
cried the son. “Oh, he hasn’t come,” replied Mr. Fa. “The old beast!
What does he mean by that?” exclaimed his son; whereupon Mr. Fa asked
him what _he_ meant by cursing his own father. “My father!” shrieked
the son; “why he’s nothing more to me than a former rascally partner
in trade, who cheated me out of all my money, and for which I have
since avenged myself on him.[267] What sort of a father is that, I
should like to know?” He then went out of the door; and his father
crept out of the cupboard from which, with the perspiration streaming
down him and hardly daring to breathe, he had heard all that had
passed, and sorrowfully wended his way home again.


[265] “In various savage superstitions the minute resemblance of soul
to body is forcibly stated.”--_Myths and Myth-makers_, by John Fiske,
p. 228.

[266] An important point in Chinese etiquette. It is not considered
polite for a person in a sitting position to address an equal who is

[267] By becoming his son and behaving badly to him. See No. CX., note
190, and the text to which it refers.



A certain mad priest, whose name I do not know, lived in a temple on
the hills. He would sing and cry by turns, without any apparent
reason; and once somebody saw him boiling a stone for his dinner. At
the autumn festival of the 9th day of the 9th moon,[268] an official
of the district went up in that direction for the usual picnic, taking
with him his chair and his red umbrellas. After luncheon he was
passing by the temple, and had hardly reached the door, when out
rushed the priest, barefooted and ragged, and himself opening a yellow
umbrella, cried out as the attendants of a mandarin do when ordering
the people to stand back. He then approached the official, and made as
though he were jesting at him; at which the latter was extremely
indignant, and bade his servants drive the priest away. The priest
moved off with the servants after him, and in another moment had
thrown down his yellow umbrella, which split into a number of pieces,
each piece changing immediately into a falcon, and flying about in all
directions. The umbrella handle became a huge serpent, with red
scales and glaring eyes; and then the party would have turned and
fled, but that one of them declared it was only an optical delusion,
and that the creature couldn’t do any hurt. The speaker accordingly
seized a knife and rushed at the serpent, which forthwith opened its
mouth and swallowed its assailant whole. In a terrible fright the
servants crowded round their master and hurried him away, not stopping
to draw breath until they were fully a mile off. By-and-by several of
them stealthily returned to see what was going on; and, on entering
the temple, they found that both priest and serpent had disappeared.
But from an old ash-tree hard by they heard a sound proceeding,--a
sound, as it were, of a donkey panting; and at first they were afraid
to go near, though after a while they ventured to peep through a hole
in the tree, which was an old hollow trunk; and there, jammed hard and
fast with his head downwards, was the rash assailant of the serpent.
It being quite impossible to drag him out, they began at once to cut
the tree away; but by the time they had set him free he was already
perfectly unconscious. However, he ultimately came round and was
carried home; but from this day the priest was never seen again.[269]


[268] See No. CXXXI., note 250.

[269] The story is intended as a satire on those puffed-up dignitaries
who cannot even go to a picnic without all the retinue belonging to
their particular rank. See No. LVI., note 315.



At Ching-hai there lived a young man, named Shao, whose family was
very poor. On the occasion of his mother completing her cycle,[270] he
arranged a quantity of meat-offerings and wine on a table in the
court-yard, and proceeded to invoke the Gods in the usual manner; but
when he rose from his knees, lo and behold! all the meat and wine had
disappeared. His mother thought this was a bad omen, and that she was
not destined to enjoy a long life; however, she said nothing on the
subject to her son, who was himself quite at a loss to account for
what had happened. A short time afterwards the Literary
Chancellor[271] arrived; and young Chao, scraping together what funds
he could, went off to present himself as a candidate. On the road he
met with a man who gave him such a cordial invitation to his house
that he willingly accepted; and the stranger led him to a stately
mansion, with towers and terraces rising one above the other as far
as the eye could reach. In one of the apartments was a king, sitting
upon a throne, who received Shao in a very friendly manner; and, after
regaling him with an excellent banquet, said, “I have to thank you for
the food and drink you gave my servants that day we passed your
house.” Shao was greatly astonished at this remark, when the King
proceeded, “I am the Ruler of Purgatory. Don’t you recollect
sacrificing on your mother’s birthday?” The King then bestowed on Shao
a packet of silver, saying, “Pray accept this in return for your
kindness.” Shao thanked him and retired; and in another moment the
palace and its occupants had one and all vanished from his sight,
leaving him alone in the midst of some tall trees. On opening his
packet he found it to contain five ounces of pure gold; and, after
defraying the expenses of his examination, half was still left, which
he carried home and gave to his mother.


[270] See No. XXIII., note 152.

[271] The examiner for the bachelor’s, or lowest, degree.



A certain Mr. Ts‘ui, of Lin-ch‘ing, was too poor to keep his garden
walls in repair, and used often to find a strange horse lying down on
the grass inside. It was a black horse marked with white, and having a
scrubby tail, which looked as if the end had been burnt off;[272] and,
though always driven away, would still return to the same spot. Now
Mr. Ts‘ui had a friend, who was holding an appointment in Shansi; and
though he had frequently felt desirous of paying him a visit, he had
no means of travelling so far. Accordingly, he one day caught the
strange horse and, putting a saddle on its back, rode away, telling
his servant that if the owner of the horse should appear, he was to
inform him where the animal was to be found. The horse started off at
a very rapid pace, and, in a short time, they were thirty or forty
miles from home; but at night it did not seem to care for its food, so
the next day Mr. Ts‘ui, who thought perhaps illness might be the
cause, held the horse in, and would not let it gallop so fast.
However, the animal did not seem to approve of this, and kicked and
foamed until at length Mr. Ts‘ui let it go at the same old pace; and
by mid-day he had reached his destination. As he rode into the town,
the people were astonished to hear of the marvellous journey just
accomplished, and the Prince[273] sent to say he should like to buy
the horse. Mr. Ts‘ui, fearing that the real owner might come forward,
was compelled to refuse this offer; but when, after six months had
elapsed, no inquiries had been made, he agreed to accept eight hundred
ounces of silver, and handed over the horse to the Prince. He then
bought himself a good mule, and returned home. Subsequently, the
Prince had occasion to use the horse for some important business at
Lin-ch‘ing; and when there it took the opportunity to run away. The
officer in charge pursued it right up to the house of a Mr. Tsêng, who
lived next door to Mr. Ts‘ui, and saw it run in and disappear.
Thereupon he called upon Mr. Tsêng to restore it to him; and, on the
latter declaring he had never even seen the animal, the officer walked
into his private apartments, where he found, hanging on the wall, a
picture of a horse, by Tzŭ-ang,[274] exactly like the one he was in
search of, and with part of the tail burnt away by a joss-stick. It
was now clear that the Prince’s horse was a supernatural creature; but
the officer, being afraid to go back without it, would have
prosecuted Mr. Tsêng, had not Ts‘ui, whose eight hundred ounces of
silver had since increased to something like ten thousand, stepped in
and paid back the original purchase-money. Mr. Tsêng was exceedingly
grateful to him for this act of kindness, ignorant, as he was, of the
previous sale of the horse by Ts‘ui to the Prince.


[272] The Chinese never cut the tails of their horses or mules.

[273] One of the feudal Governors of by-gone days.

[274] A Chinese Landseer.



Mr. Wang, of Ch‘ang-shan, was in the habit, when a District
Magistrate, of commuting the fines and penalties of the Penal Code,
inflicted on the various prisoners, for a corresponding number of
butterflies. These he would let go all at once in the court, rejoicing
to see them fluttering hither and thither, like so many tinsel
snippings borne about by the breeze. One night he dreamt that a young
lady, dressed in gay-coloured clothes, appeared to him and said, “Your
cruel practice has brought many of my sisters to an untimely end, and
now you shall pay the penalty of thus gratifying your tastes.” The
young lady then changed into a butterfly and flew away. Next day, the
magistrate was sitting alone, over a cup of wine, when it was
announced to him that the censor was at the door; and out he ran at
once to receive His Excellency, with a white flower, that some of his
women had put in his official hat, still sticking there. His
Excellency was very angry at what he deemed a piece of disrespect to
himself; and, after severely censuring Mr. Wang, turned round and went
away. Thenceforward no more penalties were commuted for butterflies.



A certain poor man, named Chang, who lived at I, fell in one day with
a Taoist priest. The latter was highly skilled in the science of
physiognomy;[275] and, after looking at Chang’s features, said to him,
“You would make your fortune as a doctor.” “Alas!” replied Chang, “I
can barely read and write; how then could I follow such a calling as
that?” “And where, you simple fellow,” asked the priest, “is the
necessity for a doctor to be a scholar? You just try, that’s all.”
Thereupon Chang returned home; and, being very poor, he simply
collected a few of the commonest prescriptions, and set up a small
stall with a handful of fishes’ teeth and some dry honeycomb from a
wasp’s nest,[276] hoping thus to earn, by his tongue, enough to keep
body and soul together, to which, however, no one paid any particular
attention. Now it chanced that just then the Governor of Ch‘ing-chou
was suffering from a bad cough, and had given orders to his
subordinates to send to him the most skilful doctors in their
respective districts; and the magistrate of I, which was an
out-of-the-way mountainous district, being unable to lay his hands on
any one whom he could send in, gave orders to the beadle[277] to do
the best he could under the circumstances. Accordingly, Chang was
nominated by the people, and the magistrate put his name down to go in
to the Governor. When Chang heard of his appointment, he happened to
be suffering himself from a bad attack of bronchitis, which he was
quite unable to cure, and he begged, therefore, to be excused; but the
magistrate would not hear of this, and forwarded him at once in charge
of some constables. While crossing the hills, he became very thirsty,
and went into a village to ask for a drink of water; but water there
was worth its weight in jade, and no one would give him any. By-and-by
he saw an old woman washing a quantity of vegetables in a scanty
supply of water which was, consequently, very thick and muddy; and,
being unable to bear his thirst any longer, he obtained this and drank
it up. Shortly afterwards he found that his cough was quite cured, and
then it occurred to him that he had hit upon a capital remedy. When he
reached the city, he learned that a great many doctors had already
tried their hand upon the patient, but without success; so asking for
a private room in which to prepare his medicines, he obtained from the
town some bunches of bishop-wort, and proceeded to wash them as the
old woman had done. He then took the dirty water, and gave a dose of
it to the Governor, who was immediately and permanently relieved. The
patient was overjoyed; and, besides making Chang a handsome present,
gave him a certificate written in golden characters, in consequence of
which his fame spread far and wide;[278] and of the numerous cases he
subsequently undertook, in not a single instance did he fail to effect
a cure. One day, however, a patient came to him, complaining of a
violent chill; and Chang, who happened to be tipsy at the time,
treated him by mistake for remittent fever. When he got sober, he
became aware of what he had done; but he said nothing to anybody about
it, and three days afterwards the same patient waited upon him with
all kinds of presents to thank him for a rapid recovery. Such cases as
this were by no means rare with him; and soon he got so rich that he
would not attend when summoned to visit a sick person, unless the
summons was accompanied by a heavy fee and a comfortable chair to ride


[275] Advertisements of these professors of physiognomy are to be seen
in every Chinese city.

[276] In order to make some show for the public eye.

[277] See No. LXIV., note 18.

[278] A doctor of any repute generally has large numbers of such
certificates, generally engraved on wood, hanging before and about his
front door. When I was stationed at Swatow, the writer at Her
Majesty’s Consulate presented one to Dr. E. J. Scott, the resident
medical practitioner, who had cured him of opium smoking. It bore two
principal characters, “Miraculous Indeed!” accompanied by a few
remarks, in a smaller sized character, laudatory of Dr. Scott’s
professional skill. Banners, with graceful inscriptions written upon
them, are frequently presented by Chinese passengers to the captains
of coasting steamers who may have brought them safely through bad

[279] The story is intended as a satire upon Chinese doctors
generally, whose ranks are recruited from the swarms of half-educated
candidates who have been rejected at the great competitive
examinations, medical diplomas being quite unknown in China. Doctors’
fees are, by a pleasant fiction, called “horse-money;” and all
prescriptions are made up by the local apothecary, never by the
physician himself.



On the 6th day of the 7th moon[280] of the year Ting-Hai (1647) there
was a heavy fall of snow at Soochow. The people were in a great state
of consternation at this, and went off to the temple of the Great
Prince[281] to pray. Then the spirit moved one of them to say, “You
now address me as _Your Honour_. Make it _Your Excellency_, and,
though I am but a lesser deity, it may be well worth your while to do
so.” Thereupon the people began to use the latter term, and the snow
stopped at once; from which I infer that flattery is just as pleasant
to divine as to mortal ears.[282]


[280] This would be exactly at the hottest season.

[281] The _Jupiter Pluvius_ of the neighbourhood.

[282] A sneer at the superstitious custom of praying for good or bad
weather, which obtains in China from the Son of Heaven himself down to
the lowest agriculturist whose interests are involved. Droughts,
floods, famines, and pestilences, are alike set down to the anger of
Heaven, to be appeased only by prayer and repentance.



At Ch‘ang-shan there lived a man, named Wang Jui-t‘ing, who understood
the art of planchette. He called himself a disciple of Lü
Tung-pin,[284] and some one said he was probably that worthy’s crane.
At his _séances_ the subjects were always literary--essays, poetry,
and so on. The well-known scholar, Li Chih, thought very highly of
him, and availed himself of his aid on more than one occasion; so that
by degrees the literati generally also patronized him. His responses
to questions of doubt or difficulty were remarkable for their
reasonableness; matters of mere good or bad fortune he did not care to
enter into. In 1631, just after the examination at Chi-nan, a number
of the candidates requested Mr. Wang to tell them how they would stand
on the list; and, after having examined their essays, he proceeded to
pass his opinion on their merits.[285] Among the rest there happened
to be one who was very intimate with another candidate, not present,
whose name was Li Pien; and who, being an enthusiastic student and a
deep thinker, was confidently expected to appear among the successful
few. Accordingly, the friend submitted Mr. Li’s essay for inspection;
and in a few minutes two characters appeared on the sand--namely,
“Number one.” After a short interval this sentence followed:--“The
decision given just now had reference to Mr. Li’s essay simply as an
essay. Mr. Li’s destiny is darkly obscured, and he will suffer
accordingly. It is strange, indeed, that a man’s literary powers and
his destiny should thus be out of harmony.[286] Surely the Examiner
will judge of him by his essay;--but stay: I will go and see how
matters stand.” Another pause ensued, and then these words were
written down:--“I have been over to the Examiner’s yamên, and have
found a pretty state of things going on; instead of reading the
candidates’ papers himself, he has handed them over to his clerks,
some half-dozen illiterate fellows who purchased their own degrees,
and who, in their previous existence, had no status whatever,--‘hungry
devils’[287] begging their bread in all directions; and who, after
eight hundred years passed in the murky gloom of the infernal regions,
have lost all discrimination, like men long buried in a cave and
suddenly transferred to the light of day. Among them may be one or two
who have risen above their former selves, but the odds are against an
essay falling into the hands of one of these.” The young men then
begged to know if there was any method by which such an evil might be
counteracted; to which the planchette replied that there was, but, as
it was universally understood, there was no occasion for asking the
question. Thereupon they went off and told Mr. Li, who was so much
distressed at the prediction that he submitted his essay to His
Excellency Sun Tzŭ-mei, one of the finest scholars of the day. This
gentleman examined it, and was so pleased with its literary merit that
he told Li he was quite sure to pass, and the latter thought no more
about the planchette prophecy. However, when the list came out, there
he was down in the fourth class; and this so much disconcerted His
Excellency Mr. Sun, that he went carefully through the essay again for
fear lest any blemishes might have escaped his attention. Then he
cried out, “Well, I have always thought this Examiner to be a scholar;
he can never have made such a mistake as this; it must be the fault of
some of his drunken assistants, who don’t know the mere rudiments of
composition.” This fulfilment of the prophecy raised Mr. Wang very
high in the estimation of the candidates, who forthwith went and
burned incense and invoked the spirit of the planchette, which at once
replied in the following terms:--“Let not Mr. Li be disheartened by
temporary failure. Let him rather strive to improve himself still
further, and next year he may be among the first on the list.” Li
carried out these injunctions; and after a time the story reached the
ears of the Examiner, who gratified Li by making a public
acknowledgment that there had been some miscarriage of justice at the
examination; and the following year he was passed high up on the


[283] Planchette was in full swing in China at the date of the
composition of these stories, more than 200 years ago, and remains so
at the present day. The character _chi_, used here and elsewhere for
Planchette, is defined in the _Shuo Wên_, a Chinese dictionary,
published A.D. 100, “to inquire by divination on doubtful topics,” no
mention being made of the particular manner in which responses are
obtained. For the purpose of writing from personal experience, I
recently attended a _séance_ at a temple in Amoy, and witnessed the
whole performance. After much delay, I was requested to write on a
slip of paper “any question I might have to put to the God;” and,
accordingly, I took a pencil and wrote down, “A humble suppliant
ventures to inquire if he will win the Manila lottery.” This question
was then placed upon the altar, at the feet of the God; and shortly
afterwards two respectable-looking Chinamen, not priests, approached a
small table covered with sand, and each seized one arm of a forked
piece of wood, at the fork of which was a stumpy end, at right angles
to the plane of the arms. Immediately the attendants began burning
quantities of joss-paper, while the two performers whirled the
instrument round and round at a rapid rate, its vertical point being
all the time pressed down upon the table of sand. All of a sudden the
whirling movement stopped, and the point of the instrument rapidly
traced a character in the sand, which was at once identified by
several of the bystanders, and forthwith copied down by a clerk in
attendance. The whirling movement was then continued until a similar
pause was made and another character appeared; and so on, until I had
four lines of correctly-rhymed Chinese verse, each line consisting of
seven characters. The following is an almost word-for-word

   “The pulse of human nature throbs from England to Cathay,
    And gambling mortals ever love to swell their gains by play;
    For gold in this vile world of ours is everywhere a prize--
    A thousand taels shall meet the prayer that on this altar lies.”

As the question is not concealed from view, all that is necessary for
such a hollow deception is a quick-witted versifier who can put
together a poetical response _stans pede in uno_. But in such matters
the unlettered masses of China are easily outwitted, and are a
profitable source of income to the more astute of their

[284] An official who flourished in the eighth century of our era, and
who, for his devotion to the Taoist religion, was subsequently
canonized as one of the Eight Immortals. He is generally represented
as riding on a crane.

[285] That is, by means of the planchette-table.

[286] Our author was here evidently thinking of his own unlucky fate.

[287] See No. CXXXI., note 252.

[288] See No. LXXV., note 71.



A certain man had an enormous stack of straw, as big as a hill, in
which his servants, taking what was daily required for use, had made
quite a hole. In this hole a fox fixed his abode, and would often shew
himself to the master of the house under the form of an old man. One
day the latter invited the master to walk into the cave, which he at
first declined, but accepted on being pressed by the fox; and when he
got inside, lo! he saw a long suite of handsome apartments. They then
sat down, and exquisitely perfumed tea and wine were brought; but the
place was so gloomy that there was no difference between night and
day. By-and-by, the entertainment being over, the guest took his
leave; and on looking back the beautiful rooms and their contents had
all disappeared. The old man himself was in the habit of going away in
the evening and returning with the first streaks of morning; and as no
one was able to follow him, the master of the house asked him one day
whither he went. To this he replied that a friend invited him to take
wine; and then the master begged to be allowed to accompany him, a
proposal to which the old man very reluctantly consented. However, he
seized the master by the arm, and away they went as though riding on
the wings of the wind; and, in about the time it takes to cook a pot
of millet, they reached a city, and walked into a restaurant, where
there were a number of people drinking together and making a great
noise. The old man led his companion to a gallery above, from which
they could look down on the feasters below; and he himself went down
and brought away from the tables all kinds of nice food and wine,
without appearing to be seen or noticed by any of the company. After
awhile a man dressed in red garments came forward and laid upon the
table some dishes of cumquats;[289] and the master at once requested
the old man to go down and get him some of these. “Ah,” replied the
latter, “that is an upright man: I cannot approach him.” Thereupon the
master said to himself, “By thus seeking the companionship of a fox, I
then am deflected from the true course. Henceforth I, too, will be an
upright man.” No sooner had he formed this resolution, than he
suddenly lost all control over his body, and fell from the gallery
down among the revellers below. These gentlemen were much astonished
by his unexpected descent; and he himself, looking up, saw there was
no gallery to the house, but only a large beam upon which he had been
sitting. He now detailed the whole of the circumstances, and those
present made up a purse for him to pay his travelling expenses; for he
was at Yü-t‘ai--one thousand _li_ from home.


[289] Literally, “golden oranges.” These are skilfully preserved by
the Cantonese, and form a delicious sweetmeat for dessert.



During the reign of the Emperor Wan Li,[290] the palace was troubled
by the presence of a huge rat, quite as big as a cat, which ate up all
the cats that were set to catch it. Just then it chanced that among
the tribute offerings sent by some foreign State was a lion-cat, as
white as snow. This cat was accordingly put into the room where the
rat usually appeared; and, the door being closely shut, a secret watch
was kept. By-and-by the rat came out of its hole and rushed at the
cat, which turned and fled, finally jumping up on the table. The rat
followed, upon which the cat jumped down; and thus they went on up and
down for some time. Those who were watching said the cat was afraid
and of no use; however, in a little while the rat began to jump less
briskly, and soon after squatted down out of breath. Then the cat
rushed at it, and, seizing the rat by the back of the neck, shook and
shook while its victim squeaked and squeaked, until life was extinct.
Thus they knew the cat was not afraid, but merely waited for its
adversary to be fatigued, fleeing when pursued and itself pursuing the
fleeing rat. Truly, many a bad swordsman may be compared with that


[290] A.D. 1573-1620, the epoch of the most celebrated “blue china.”



I.--A certain village butcher, who had bought some meat at market and
was returning home in the evening, suddenly came across a wolf, which
followed him closely, its mouth watering at the sight of what he was
carrying. The butcher drew his knife and drove the animal off; and
then reflecting that his meat was the attraction, he determined to
hang it up in a tree and fetch it the next morning. This he
accordingly did, and the wolf followed him no further; but when he
went at daylight to recover his property, he saw something hanging up
in the tree resembling a human corpse. It turned out to be the wolf,
which, in its efforts to get at the meat, had been caught on the
meat-hook like a fish; and as the skin of a wolf was just then worth
ten ounces of silver, the butcher found himself possessed of quite a
little capital. Here we have a laughable instance of the result of
“climbing trees to catch fish.”[291]

II.--A butcher, while travelling along at night, was sore pressed by a
wolf, and took refuge in an old mat shed which had been put up for
the watchman of the crops. There he lay, while the wolf sniffed at him
from outside, and at length thrust in one of its paws from underneath.
This the butcher seized hold of at once, and held it firmly, so that
the wolf couldn’t stir; and then, having no other weapon at hand, he
took a small knife he had with him and slit the skin underneath the
wolf’s paw. He now proceeded to blow into it, as butchers blow into
pork;[292] and after vigorously blowing for some time, he found that
the wolf had ceased to struggle; upon which he went outside and saw
the animal lying on the ground, swelled up to the size of a cow, and
unable to bend its legs or close its open mouth. Thereupon he threw it
across his shoulders and carried it off home. However, such a feat as
this could only be accomplished by a butcher.


[291] A satirical remark of Mencius (Book I.), used by the sage when
combating the visionary projects of a monarch of antiquity.

[292] This disgusting process is too frequently performed by native
butchers at the present day, in order to give their meat a more
tempting appearance. Water is also blown in through a tube, to make it
heavier; and inexperienced housekeepers are often astonished to find
how light ducks and geese become after being cooked, not knowing that
the fraudulent poulterer had previously stuffed their throats as full
as possible of sand.



A servant in the employ of a Mr. Sun was sleeping alone one night,
when all on a sudden he was arrested and carried before the tribunal
of the Ruler of Purgatory. “This is not the right man,” cried his
Majesty, and immediately sent him back. However, after this the
servant was afraid to sleep on that bed again, and took up his
quarters elsewhere. But another servant, named Kuo Ngan, seeing the
vacant place, went and occupied it. A third servant, named Li Lu, who
had an old standing grudge against the first, stole up to the bed that
same night with a knife in his hand, and killed Kuo Ngan[293] in
mistake for his enemy. Kuo’s father at once brought the case before
the magistrate of the place, pleading that the murdered man was his
only son on whom he depended for his living; and the magistrate
decided that Kuo was to take Li Lu in the place of his dead son, much
to the discomfiture of the old man. Truly the descent of the first
servant into Purgatory was not so marvellous as the magistrate’s


[293] This was the man whose destiny it was really to die just then,
and appear before the Ruler of Purgatory.



A certain trader who had been doing business at Wu-hu and was
returning home with the large profits he had made, saw on the river
bank a butcher tying up a dog.[294] He bought the animal for much more
than its value, and carried it along with him in his boat. Now the
boatman had formerly been a bandit; and, tempted by his passenger’s
wealth, ran the boat among the rushes, and, drawing a knife, prepared
to slay him. The trader begged the man to leave him a whole skin;[295]
so the boatman wrapped him up in a carpet and threw him into the
river. The dog, on seeing what was done, whined piteously, and jumping
into the river, seized the bundle with his teeth and did its best to
keep the trader above water until at length a shallow spot was
reached. The animal then succeeded by continuous barking in attracting
the attention of some people on the bank, and they hauled the bundle
out of the river, and released the trader who was still alive. The
latter asked to be taken back to Wu-hu where he might look out for the
robber boatman; but just as he was about to start, lo! the dog was
missing. The trader was much distressed at this; and after spending
some days at Wu-hu without being able to find, among the forest of
masts collected there, the particular boat he wanted, he was on the
point of returning home with a friend, when suddenly the dog
re-appeared and seemed by its barking to invite its master to follow
in a certain direction. This the trader did, until at length the dog
jumped on a boat and seized one of the boatmen by the leg. No beating
could make the animal let go; and on looking closely at the man, the
trader saw he was the identical boatman who had robbed and tried to
murder him. He had changed his clothes and also his boat, so that at
first he was not recognisable; he was now, however, arrested, and the
whole of the money was found in his boat. To think that a dog could
show gratitude like that! Truly there are not a few persons who would
be put to shame by that faithful animal.[296]


[294] The city of Canton boasts several “cat and dog” restaurants; but
the consumption of this kind of food is much less universal than is
generally supposed.

[295] Not in our sense of the term. It was not death, but
decapitation, or even mutilation, from which the trader begged to be
spared. See No. LXXII., note 59.

[296] The Chinese dog is usually an ill-fed, barking cur, without one
redeeming trait in its character. Valued as a guardian of house and
property, this animal does not hold the same social position as with
us; its very name is a by-word of reproach; and the people of Tonquin
explain their filthy custom of blackening the teeth on the ground that
a dog’s teeth are white.



Before Mr. Yang Ta-hung[297] was known to fame, he had already
acquired some reputation as a scholar in his own part of the country,
and felt convinced himself that his was to be no mean destiny. When
the list of successful candidates at the examination was brought to
where he lived, he was in the middle of dinner, and rushed out with
his mouth full to ask if his name was there or not; and on hearing
that it was not, he experienced such a revulsion of feeling that what
he then swallowed stuck fast like a lump in his chest and made him
very ill. His friends tried to appease him by advising him to try at
the further examination of the rejected, and when he urged that he had
no money, they subscribed ten ounces of silver and started him on his

That night he dreamt that a man appeared to him and said, “Ahead of
you there is one who can cure your complaint: beseech him to aid you.”
The man then added--

   “A tune on the flute ’neath the riverside willow:
    Oh, show no regret when ’tis cast to the billow!”

Next day, Mr. Yang actually met a Taoist priest sitting beneath a
willow tree; and, making him a bow, asked him to prescribe for his
malady. “You have come to the wrong person,” replied the priest,
smiling; “I cannot cure diseases; but had you asked me for a tune on
the flute, I could have possibly helped you.” Then Mr. Yang knew that
his dream was being fulfilled; and going down on his knees offered the
priest all the money he had. The priest took it, but immediately threw
it into the river, at which Mr. Yang, thinking how hardly he had come
by this money, was moved to express his regret. “Aha!” cried the
priest at this; “so you are not indifferent, eh? You’ll find your
money all safe on the bank.” There indeed Mr. Yang found it, at which
he was so much astonished that he addressed the priest as though he
had been an angel. “I am no angel,” said the priest, “but here comes
one;” whereupon Mr. Yang looked behind him, and the priest seized the
opportunity to give him a slap on the back, crying out at the same
time, “You worldly-minded fellow!” This blow brought up the lump of
food that had stuck in his chest, and he felt better at once; but when
he looked round the priest had disappeared.[298]


[297] A celebrated scholar and statesman, who flourished towards the
close of the Ming dynasty, and distinguished himself by his
impeachment of the powerful eunuch, Wei Chung-hsien,--a dangerous step
to take in those eunuch-ridden times.

[298] Mr. Yang was a man of tried virtue, and had he been able to
tolerate _oculo irretorto_, the loss of his money, the priest would
have given him, not merely a cure for the bodily ailment under which
he was suffering, but a knowledge of those means by which he might
have obtained the salvation of his soul, and have enrolled himself
among the ranks of the Taoist Immortals. “To those, however,” remarks
the commentator, “who lament that Mr. Yang was too worldly-minded to
secure this great prize, I reply, ‘Better one more good man on earth,
than an extra angel in heaven.’”



At Ch‘ang-ngan there lived a scholar named Chia Tzŭ-lung, who one day
noticed a very refined-looking stranger; and, on making inquiries
about him, learnt that he was a Mr. Chên, who had taken lodgings hard
by. Accordingly, next day Chia called and sent in his card, but did
not see Chên, who happened to be out at the time. The same thing
occurred thrice; and at length Chia engaged some one to watch and let
him know when Mr. Chên was at home. However, even then the latter
would not come forth to receive his guest, and Chia had to go in and
rout him out. The two now entered into conversation, and soon became
mutually charmed with each other; and by-and-by Chia sent off a
servant to bring wine from a neighbouring wine-shop. Mr. Chên proved
himself a pleasant boon companion, and when the wine was nearly
finished, he went to a box, and took from it some wine-cups and a
large and beautiful jade tankard, into the latter of which he poured
a single cup of wine, and lo! it was filled to the brim. They then
proceeded to help themselves from the tankard; but however much they
took out, the contents never seemed to diminish. Chia was astonished
at this, and begged Mr. Chên to tell him how it was done. “Ah,”
replied Mr. Chên, “I tried to avoid making your acquaintance solely
because of your one bad quality--avarice. The art I practise is a
secret known to the Immortals only: how can I divulge it to you?” “You
do me wrong,” rejoined Chia, “in thus attributing avarice to me. The
avaricious, indeed, are always poor.” Mr. Chên laughed, and they
separated for that day; but from that time they were constantly
together, and all ceremony was laid aside between them. Whenever Chia
wanted money, Mr. Chên would bring out a black stone, and, muttering a
charm, would rub it on a tile or a brick, which was forthwith changed
into a lump of silver. This silver he would give to Chia, and it was
always just as much as he actually required, neither more nor less;
and if ever the latter asked for more, Mr. Chên would rally him on the
subject of avarice. Finally, Chia determined to try and get possession
of this stone; and one day, when Mr. Chên was sleeping off the fumes
of a drinking-bout, he tried to extract it from his clothes. However,
Chên detected him at once, and declared that they could be friends no
more, and next day he left the place altogether. About a year
afterwards Chia was one day wandering by the river-bank, when he saw a
handsome-looking stone, marvellously like that in the possession of
Mr. Chên; and he picked it up at once and carried it home with him. A
few days passed away, and suddenly Mr. Chên presented himself at
Chia’s house, and explained that the stone in question possessed the
property of changing anything into gold, and had been bestowed upon
him long before by a certain Taoist priest, whom he had followed as a
disciple. “Alas!” added he, “I got tipsy and lost it; but divination
told me where it was, and if you will now restore it to me, I shall
take care to repay your kindness.” “You have divined rightly,” replied
Chia; “the stone is with me; but recollect, if you please, that the
indigent Kuan Chung[300] shared the wealth of his friend Pao Shu.” At
this hint Mr. Chên said he would give Chia one hundred ounces of
silver; to which the latter replied that one hundred ounces was a fair
offer, but that he would far sooner have Mr. Chên teach him the
formula to utter when rubbing the stone on anything, so as just to try
the thing once himself. Mr. Chên was afraid to do this; whereupon Chia
cried out, “You are an Immortal yourself; you must know well enough
that I would never deceive a friend.” So Mr. Chên was prevailed upon
to teach him the formula, and then Chia would have tried the art upon
the immense stone washing-block[301] which was lying near at hand, had
not Mr. Chên seized his arm and begged him not to do any thing so
outrageous. Chia then picked up half a brick and laid it on the
washing-block, saying to Mr. Chên, “This little piece is not too much,
surely?” Accordingly, Mr. Chên relaxed his hold and let Chia proceed;
which he did by promptly ignoring the half brick and quickly rubbing
the stone on the washing-block. Mr. Chên turned pale when he saw him
do this, and made a dash forward to get hold of the stone; but it was
too late, the washing-block was already a solid mass of silver, and
Chia quietly handed him back the stone. “Alas! alas!” cried Mr. Chên,
in despair, “what is to be done now? For having thus irregularly
conferred wealth upon a mortal,[302] Heaven will surely punish me. Oh,
if you would save me, give away one hundred coffins[303] and one
hundred suits of wadded clothes.” “My friend,” replied Chia, “my
object in getting money was not to hoard it up like a miser.” Mr. Chên
was delighted at this; and during the next three years Chia engaged in
trade, taking care to be all the time fulfilling his promise to Mr.
Chên. At the expiration of that time Mr. Chên himself reappeared, and,
grasping Chia’s hand, said to him, “Trustworthy and noble friend, when
we last parted the Spirit of Happiness impeached me before God,[304]
and my name was erased from the list of angels. But now that you have
carried out my request, that sentence has accordingly been rescinded.
Go on as you have begun, without ceasing.” Chia asked Mr. Chên what
office he filled in heaven; to which the latter replied that he was
only a fox, who, by a sinless life, had finally attained to that clear
perception of the Truth which leads to immortality. Wine was then
brought, and the two friends enjoyed themselves together as of old;
and even when Chia had passed the age of ninety years, that fox still
used to visit him from time to time.


[299] Alchemy was widely cultivated in China during the Han dynasty by
priests of the Taoist religion, but all traces of it have now long
since disappeared.

[300] See No. XXII., note 143.

[301] These are used, together with a heavy wooden _bâton_, by the
Chinese washerman, the effect being most disastrous to a European

[302] For thus interfering with the appointments of Destiny.

[303] To provide coffins for poor people has ever been regarded as an
act of transcendent merit. The tornado at Canton, in April, 1878, in
which several thousand lives were lost, afforded an admirable
opportunity for the exercise of this form of charity--an opportunity
which was very largely availed of by the benevolent.

[304] For usurping its prerogative by allowing Chia to obtain
unauthorized wealth.



Mr. T‘ang P‘ing, who took the highest degree in the year 1661, was
suffering from a protracted illness, when suddenly he felt, as it
were, a warm glow rising from his extremities upwards. By the time it
had reached his knees, his feet were perfectly numb and without
sensation; and before long his knees and the lower part of his body
were similarly affected. Gradually this glow worked its way up until
it attacked the heart,[305] and then some painful moments ensued.
Every single incident of Mr. T‘ang’s life from his boyhood upwards, no
matter how trivial, seemed to surge through his mind, borne along on
the tide of his heart’s blood. At the revival of any virtuous act of
his, he experienced a delicious feeling of peace and calm; but when
any wicked deed passed before his mind, a painful disturbance took
place within him, like oil boiling and fretting in a cauldron. He was
quite unable to describe the pangs he suffered; however, he mentioned
that he could recollect having stolen, when only seven or eight years
old, some young birds from their nest, and having killed them; and for
this alone, he said, boiling blood rushed through his heart during the
space of an ordinary mealtime. Then when all the acts of his life had
passed one after another in panorama before him, the warm glow
proceeded up his throat, and, entering the brain, issued out at the
top of his head like smoke from a chimney. By-and-by Mr. T‘ang’s soul
escaped from his body by the same aperture, and wandered far away,
forgetting all about the tenement it had left behind. Just at that
moment a huge giant came along, and, seizing the soul, thrust it into
his sleeve, where it remained cramped and confined, huddled up with a
crowd of others, until existence was almost unbearable. Suddenly Mr.
T‘ang reflected that Buddha alone could save him from this horrible
state, and forthwith he began to call upon his holy name.[306] At the
third or fourth invocation he fell out of the giant’s sleeve,
whereupon the latter picked him up and put him back; but this happened
several times, and at length the giant, wearied of picking him up, let
him lie where he was. The soul lay there for some time, not knowing in
which direction to proceed; however, it soon recollected that the land
of Buddha was in the west, and westwards accordingly it began to shape
its course. In a little while the soul came upon a Buddhist priest
sitting by the roadside, and, hastening forwards, respectfully
inquired of him which was the right way. “The record of life and
death for scholars,” replied the priest, “is in the hands of
Wên-ch‘ang[307] and Confucius; any application must receive the
consent of both.” The priest then directed Mr. T‘ang on his way, and
the latter journeyed along until he reached a Confucian temple, in
which the Sage was sitting with his face to the south.[308] On hearing
his business, Confucius referred him on to Wên-ch‘ang; and, proceeding
onwards in the direction indicated, Mr. T‘ang by-and-by arrived at
what seemed to be the palace of a king, within which sat Wên-ch‘ang,
precisely as we depict him on earth. “You are an upright man,” replied
the God, in reply to Mr. T‘ang’s prayer, “and are certainly entitled
to a longer span of life; but by this time your mortal body has become
decomposed, and unless you can secure the assistance of P‘u-sa,[309] I
can give you no aid.” So Mr. T‘ang set off once more, and hurried
along until he came to a magnificent shrine standing in a thick grove
of tall bamboos; and, entering in, he stood in the presence of the
God, on whose head was the _ushnisha_,[310] whose golden face was
round like the full moon, and at whose side was a green willow-branch
bending gracefully over the lip of a vase. Humbly Mr. T‘ang prostrated
himself on the ground, and repeated what Wên-ch‘ang had said to him;
but P‘u-sa seemed to think it would be impossible to grant his
request, until one of the Lohans[311] who stood by cried out, “O God,
Thou canst perform this miracle: take earth and make his flesh; take a
sprig of willow and make his bones.” Thereupon P‘u-sa broke off a
piece from the willow-branch in the vase beside him; and, pouring a
little of the water upon the ground, he made clay, and, casting the
whole over Mr. T‘ang’s soul, bade an attendant lead the body back to
the place where his coffin was. At that instant Mr. T‘ang’s family
heard a groan proceeding from within his coffin, and, on rushing to it
and helping out the lately-deceased man, they found he had quite
recovered. He had then been dead seven days.


[305] See No. XIV., note 97.

[306] See No. LIV., note 293.

[307] The God of Literature.

[308] See No. LXXVII., note 76.

[309] See No. XXVI., note 182.

[310] A fleshy protuberance on the head, which is the distinguishing
mark of a Buddha.

[311] The eighteen personal disciples of Shâkyamuni Buddha. Sixteen of
these are Hindoos, which number was subsequently increased by the
addition of two Chinese Buddhists.



At I-chow there lived a high official named Sung, whose family were
all ardent supporters of Fêng-Shui; so much so, that even the
women-folk read books[313] on the subject, and understood the
principles of the science. When Mr. Sung died, his two sons set up
separate establishments,[314] and each invited to his own house
geomancers from far and near, who had any reputation in their art, to
select a spot for the dead man’s grave. By degrees, they had collected
together as many as a hundred a-piece, and every day they would scour
the country round, each at the head of his own particular regiment.
After about a month of this work, both sides had fixed upon a suitable
position for the grave; and the geomancers engaged by one brother,
declared that if their spot was selected he would certainly some day
be made a marquis, while the other brother was similarly informed, by
his geomancers, that by adopting their choice he would infallibly rise
to the rank of Secretary of State. Thus, neither brother would give
way to the other, but each set about making the grave in his own
particular place,--pitching marquees, and arranging banners, and
making all necessary preparations for the funeral. Then when the
coffin arrived at the point where roads branched off to the two
graves, the two brothers, each leading on his own little army of
geomancers, bore down upon it with a view to gaining possession of the
corpse. From morn till dewy eve the battle raged; and as neither
gained any advantage over the other, the mourners and friends, who had
come to witness the ceremony of burial, stole away one by one; and the
coolies, who were carrying the coffin, after changing the poles from
one shoulder to another until they were quite worn out, put the body
down by the roadside, and went off home. It then became necessary to
make some protection for the coffin against the wind and rain;
whereupon the elder brother immediately set about building a hut close
by, in which he purposed leaving some of his attendants to keep
guard; but he had no sooner begun than the younger brother followed
his example; and when the elder built a second and third, the younger
also built a second and third; and as this went on for the space of
three whole years, by the end of that time the place had become quite
a little village. By-and-by, both brothers died, one directly after
the other; and then their two wives determined to cast to the winds
the decision of each party of geomancers. Accordingly, they went
together to the two spots in question; and after inspecting them
carefully, declared that neither was suitable. The next step was to
jointly engage another set of geomancers, who submitted for their
approval several different spots, and ten days had hardly passed away
before the two women had agreed upon the position for their
father-in-law’s grave, which, as the wife of the younger brother
prophesied, would surely give to the family a high military degree. So
the body was buried, and within three years Mr. Sung’s eldest
grandson, who had entered as a military cadet, actually took the
corresponding degree to a literary master of arts.

    [“Fêng-Shui,” adds the great commentator I Shih-shih, “may or may
    not be based upon sound principles; at any rate, to indulge a
    morbid belief in it is utter folly; and thus to join issue and
    fight while a coffin is relegated to the roadside, is hardly in
    accordance with the doctrines of filial piety or fraternal love.
    Can people believe that mere position will improve the fortunes of
    their family? At any rate, that two women should have thus quietly
    settled the matter is certainly worthy of record.”]


[312] Literally, “wind and water,” or that which cannot be seen and
that which cannot be grasped. I have explained the term in my _Chinese
Sketches_, p. 143, as “a system of geomancy, by the _science_ of which
it is possible to determine the desirability of sites,--whether of
tombs, houses, or cities, from the configuration of such natural
objects as rivers, trees, and hills, and to foretell with certainty
the fortunes of any family, community, or individual, according to the
spot selected; by the _art_ of which it is in the power of the
geomancer to counteract evil influences by good ones, to transform
straight and noxious outlines into undulating and propitious curves,
and rescue whole districts from the devastations of flood or

[313] As a rule, only the daughters of wealthy families receive any
education to speak of.

[314] A reprehensible proceeding in the eyes of all respectable
Chinese, both from a moral and a practical point of view; “for when
brothers fall out,” says the proverb, “strangers get an advantage over



There was a man in our village who led an exceedingly disreputable
life. One morning when he got up rather early, two men appeared, and
led him away to the market-place, where he saw a butcher hanging up
half a pig. As they approached, the two men shoved him with all their
might against the dead animal, and lo! his own flesh began to blend
with the pork before him, while his conductors hurried off in an
opposite direction. By-and-by the butcher wanted to sell a piece of
his meat; and seizing a knife, began to cut off the quantity required.
At every touch of the blade our disreputable friend experienced a
severe pang, which penetrated into his very marrow; and when, at
length, an old man came and haggled over the weight given him, crying
out for a little bit more fat, or an extra portion of lean,[315] then,
as the butcher sliced away the pork ounce by ounce, the pain was
unendurable in the extreme. By about nine o’clock the pork was all
sold, and our hero went home, whereupon his family asked him what he
meant by staying in bed so late.[316] He then narrated all that had
taken place, and on making inquiries, they found that the pork-butcher
had only just come home; besides which our friend was able to tell him
every pound of meat he had sold, and every slice he had cut off. Fancy
a man being put to the lingering death[317] like this before


[315] Chinese tradesmen invariably begin by giving short weight in
such transactions as these, partly in order to be in a position to
gratify the customer by throwing in a trifle more and thus acquire a
reputation for fair dealing.

[316] It was only his soul that had left the house.

[317] See No. LVI., note 322.



Wang Tzŭ-ngan was a Tung-ch‘ang man, and a scholar of some repute, but
unfortunate at the public examinations. On one occasion, after having
been up for his master’s degree, his anxiety was very great; and when
the time for the publication of the list drew near, he drank himself
gloriously tipsy, and went and lay down on the bed. In a few moments a
man rushed in, and cried out, “Sir! you have passed!” whereupon Wang
jumped up, and said, “Give him ten strings of cash.”[318] Wang’s wife,
seeing he was drunk, and wishing to keep him quiet, replied, “You go
on sleeping: I’ve given him the money.” So Wang lay down again, but
before long in came another man who informed Wang that his name was
among the successful candidates for the highest degree. “Why, I
haven’t been up for it yet;” said Wang, “how can I have passed?”
“What! you don’t mean to say you have forgotten the examination?”
answered the man; and then Wang got up once more, and gave orders to
present the informant with ten strings of cash. “All right,” replied
his wife; “you go on sleeping: I’ve given him the money.” Another
short interval, and in burst a third messenger to say that Wang had
been elected a member of the National Academy, and that two official
servants had come to escort him thither. Sure enough there were the
two servants bowing at the bedside, and accordingly Wang directed that
they should be served with wine and meat, which his wife, smiling at
his drunken nonsense, declared had been already done. Wang now
bethought him that he should go out and receive the congratulations of
the neighbours, and roared out several times to his official servants;
but without receiving any answer. “Go to sleep,” said his wife, “and
wait till I have fetched them;” and after awhile the servants actually
came in; whereupon Wang stamped and swore at them for being such
idiots as to go away. “What! you wretched scoundrel,” cried the
servants, “are you cursing us in earnest, when we are only joking with
you!” At this Wang’s rage knew no bounds, and he set upon the men, and
gave them a sound beating, knocking the hat of one off on to the
ground. In the _mêlée_, he himself tumbled over, and his wife ran in
to pick him up, saying, “Shame upon you, for getting so drunk as
this!” “I was only punishing the servants as they deserved,” replied
Wang; “why do you call me drunk?” “Do you mean the old woman who cooks
our rice and boils the water for your foot-bath,” asked his wife,
smiling, “that you talk of servants to wait upon your poverty-stricken
carcase?” At this sally all the women burst out in a roar of
laughter; and Wang, who was just beginning to get sober, waked up as
if from a dream, and knew that there was no reality in all that had
taken place. However, he recollected the spot where the servant’s hat
had fallen off, and on going thither to look for it, lo! he beheld a
tiny official hat, no larger than a wine-cup, lying there behind the
door. They were all much astonished at this, and Wang himself cried
out, “Formerly people were thus tricked by devils; and now foxes are
playing the fool with me!”[319]


[318] See No. CXXIII., note 234.

[319] A common saying is “Foxes in the north; devils in the south,” as
illustrative of the folk-lore of these two great divisions of China.



Two herd-boys went up among the hills and found a wolf’s lair with two
little wolves in it. Seizing each of them one, they forthwith climbed
two trees which stood there, at a distance of forty or fifty paces
apart. Before long the old wolf came back, and, finding her cubs gone,
was in a great state of distress. Just then, one of the herd-boys
pinched his cub and made it squeak; whereupon the mother ran angrily
towards the tree whence the sound proceeded, and tried to climb up it.
At this juncture, the boy in the other tree pinched the other cub, and
thereby diverted the wolf’s attention in that direction. But no sooner
had she reached the foot of the second tree, than the boy who had
first pinched his cub did so again, and away ran the old wolf back to
the tree in which her other young one was. Thus they went on time
after time, until the mother was dead tired, and lay down exhausted on
the ground. Then, when after some time she shewed no signs of moving,
the herd-boys crept stealthily down, and found that the wolf was
already stiff and cold. And truly, it is better to meet a blustering
foe with his hand upon his sword-hilt, by retiring within doors, and
leaving him to fret his violence away unopposed; for such is but the
behaviour of brute beasts, of which men thus take advantage.



At Chin-ling there lived a seller of spirits, who was in the habit of
adulterating his liquor with water and a certain drug, the effect of
which was that even a few cups would make the strongest-headed man as
drunk as a jelly-fish.[321] Thus his shop acquired a reputation for
having a good article on sale, and by degrees he became a rich man.
One morning, on getting up, he found a fox lying drunk alongside of
the spirit vat; and tying its legs together, he was about to fetch a
knife, when suddenly the fox waked up, and began pleading for its
life, promising in return to do anything the spirit-merchant might
require. The latter then released the animal, which instantly changed
into the form of a human being. Now, at that very time, the
wife of a neighbour was suffering under fox influence, and this
recently-transformed animal confessed to the spirit-merchant that it
was he who had been troubling her. Thereupon the spirit-merchant, who
knew the lady in question to be a celebrated beauty, begged his fox
friend to secretly introduce him to her. After raising some
objections, the fox at length consented, and conducted the
spirit-merchant to a cave, where he gave him a suit of serge clothes,
which he said had belonged to his late brother, and in which he told
him he could easily go. The merchant put them on, and returned home,
when to his great delight he observed that no one could see him, but
that if he changed into his ordinary clothes everybody could see him
as before. Accordingly he set off with the fox for his neighbour’s
house; and, when they arrived, the first thing they beheld was a charm
on the wall, like a great wriggling dragon. At this the fox was
greatly alarmed, and said, “That scoundrel of a priest! I can’t go any
farther.” He then ran off home, leaving the spirit-merchant to proceed
by himself. The latter walked quietly in to find that the dragon on
the wall was a real one, and preparing to fly at him, so he too
turned, and ran away as fast as his legs could carry him. The fact was
that the family had engaged a priest to drive away the fox influence;
and he, not being able to go at the moment himself, gave them this
charm to stick up on the wall. The following day the priest himself
came, and, arranging an altar, proceeded to exorcise the fox. All the
villagers crowded round to see, and among others was the
spirit-merchant, who, in the middle of the ceremony, suddenly changed
colour, and hurried out of the front door, where he fell on the ground
in the shape of a fox, having his clothes still hanging about his arms
and legs. The bystanders would have killed him on the spot, but his
wife begged them to spare him; and the priest let her take the fox
home, where in a few days it died.


[320] In no country in the world is adulteration more extensively
practised than in China, the only formal check upon it being a
religious one--the dread of punishment in the world below.

[321] The text has here a word (literally, “mud”) explained to be the
name of a boneless aquatic creature, which on being removed from the
water lies motionless like a lump of mud. The common term for a
jelly-fish is _shui-mu_, “water-mother.”



In our district there lived two men, named Hu Ch‘êng and Fêng Ngan,
between whom there existed an old feud. The former, however, was the
stronger of the two; and accordingly Fêng disguised his feelings under
a specious appearance of friendship, though Hu never placed much faith
in his professions. One day they were drinking together, and being
both of them rather the worse for liquor, they began to brag of the
various exploits they had achieved. “What care I for poverty,” cried
Hu, “when I can lay a hundred ounces of silver on the table at a
moment’s notice?” Now Fêng was well aware of the state of Hu’s
affairs, and did not hesitate to scout such pretensions, until Hu
further informed him in perfect seriousness that the day before he had
met a merchant travelling with a large sum of money and had tumbled
him down a dry well by the wayside; in confirmation of which he
produced several hundred ounces of silver, which really belonged to a
brother-in-law on whose behalf he was managing some negotiation for
the purchase of land. When they separated, Fêng went off and gave
information to the magistrate of the place, who summoned Hu to answer
to the charge. Hu then told the actual facts of the case, and his
brother-in-law and the owner of the land in question corroborated his
statement. However, on examining the dry well by letting a man down
with a rope round him, lo! there was a headless corpse lying at the
bottom. Hu was horrified at this, and called Heaven to witness that he
was innocent; whereupon the magistrate ordered him twenty or thirty
blows on the mouth for lying in the presence of such irrefragable
proof, and cast him into the condemned cell, where he lay loaded with
chains. Orders were issued that the corpse was not to be removed, and
a notification was made to the people, calling upon the relatives of
the deceased to come forward and claim the body. Next day a woman
appeared, and said deceased was her husband; that his name was Ho, and
that he was proceeding on business with a large sum of money about him
when he was killed by Hu. The magistrate observed that possibly the
body in the well might not be that of her husband, to which the woman
replied that she felt sure it was; and accordingly the corpse was
brought up and examined, when the woman’s story was found to be
correct. She herself did not go near the body, but stood at a little
distance making the most doleful lamentations; until at length the
magistrate said, “We have got the murderer, but the body is not
complete; you go home and wait until the head has been discovered,
when life shall be given for life.” He then summoned Hu before him, and
told him to produce the head by the next day under penalty of severe
torture; but Hu only wandered about with the guard sent in charge of
him, crying and lamenting his fate, but finding nothing. The
instruments of torture were then produced, and preparations were made
as if for torturing Hu; however, they were not applied,[322] and
finally the magistrate sent him back to prison, saying, “I suppose
that in your hurry you didn’t notice where you dropped the head.” The
woman was then brought before him again; and on learning that her
relatives consisted only of one uncle, the magistrate remarked, “A
young woman like you, left alone in the world, will hardly be able to
earn a livelihood. [Here she burst into tears and implored the
magistrate’s pity.] The punishment of the guilty man has been already
decided upon, but until we get the head, the case cannot be closed. As
soon as it is closed, the best thing you can do is to marry again. A
young woman like yourself should not be in and out of a police-court.”
The woman thanked the magistrate and retired; and the latter issued a
notice to the people, calling upon them to make a search for the head.
On the following day, a man named Wang, a fellow villager of the
deceased, reported that he had found the missing head; and his report
proving to be true, he was rewarded with 1,000 _cash_. The magistrate
now summoned the woman’s uncle above-mentioned, and told him that the
case was complete, but that as it involved such an important matter as
the life of a human being, there would necessarily be some delay in
closing it for good and all.[323] “Meanwhile,” added the magistrate,
“your niece is a young woman and has no children; persuade her to
marry again and so keep herself out of these troubles, and never mind
what people may say.”[324] The uncle at first refused to do this; upon
which the magistrate was obliged to threaten him until he was
ultimately forced to consent. At this, the woman appeared before the
magistrate to thank him for what he had done; whereupon the latter
gave out that any person who was willing to take the woman to wife was
to present himself at his yamên. Immediately afterwards an application
was made--by the very man who had found the head. The magistrate then
sent for the woman and asked her if she could say who was the real
murderer; to which she replied that Hu Chêng had done the deed. “No!”
cried the magistrate; “it was not he. It was you and this man here.
[Here both began loudly to protest their innocence.] I have long known
this; but, fearing to leave the smallest loophole for escape, I have
tarried thus long in elucidating the circumstances. How [to the
woman], before the corpse was removed from the well, were you so
certain that it was your husband’s body? _Because you already knew he
was dead._ And does a trader who has several hundred ounces of silver
about him dress as shabbily as your husband was dressed? And you, [to
the man], how did you manage to find the head so readily? _Because you
were in a hurry to marry the woman._” The two culprits stood there as
pale as death, unable to utter a word in their defence; and on the
application of torture both confessed the crime. For this man, the
woman’s paramour, had killed her husband, curiously enough, about the
time of Hu Chêng’s braggart joke. Hu was accordingly released, but
Fêng suffered the penalty of a false accuser; he was severely
bambooed, and banished for three years. The case was thus brought to a
close without the wrongful punishment of a single person.


[322] See No. LXXIII., note 62.

[323] There is a widespread belief that human life in China is held at
a cheap rate. This may be accounted for by the fact that death is the
legal punishment for many crimes not considered capital in the West;
and by the severe measures that are always taken in cases of
rebellion, when the innocent and guilty are often indiscriminately
massacred. In times of tranquillity, however, this is not the case;
and the execution of a criminal is surrounded by a number of
formalities which go far to prevent the shedding of innocent blood.
The _Hsi-yüan-lu_ (see No. XIV., note 100) opens with the words,
“There is nothing more important than human life.”

[324] See No. LXVIII., note 30.



Two herons built their nests under one of the ornaments on the roof of
a temple at Tientsin. The accumulated dust of years in the shrine
below concealed a huge serpent, having the diameter of a
washing-basin; and whenever the heron’s young were ready to fly, the
reptile proceeded to the nest and swallowed every one of them, to the
great distress of the bereaved parents. This took place three years
consecutively, and people thought the birds would build there no more.
However, the following year they came again; and when the time was
drawing nigh for their young ones to take wing, away they flew, and
remained absent for nearly three days. On their return, they went
straight to the nest, and began amidst much noisy chattering to feed
their young ones as usual. Just then the serpent crawled up to reach
his prey; and as he was nearing the nest the parent-birds flew out and
screamed loudly in mid-air. Immediately, there was heard a mighty
flapping of wings, and darkness came over the face of the earth, which
the astonished spectators now perceived to be caused by a huge bird
obscuring the light of the sun. Down it swooped with the speed of
wind or falling rain, and, striking the serpent with its talons, tore
its head off at a blow, bringing down at the same time several feet of
the masonry of the temple. Then it flew away, the herons accompanying
it as though escorting a guest. The nest too had come down, and of the
two young birds one was killed by the fall; the other was taken by the
priests and put in the bell tower, whither the old birds returned to
feed it until thoroughly fledged, when it spread its wings and was


[325] This story is inserted chiefly in illustration of the fact that
all countries have a record of some enormous bird such as the _roc_ of
the “Arabian Nights.”



A sportsman of Tientsin, having snared a wild goose, was followed to
his home by the gander, which flew round and round him in great
distress, and only went away at nightfall. Next day, when the
sportsman went out, there was the bird again; and at length it
alighted quite close to his feet. He was on the point of seizing it
when suddenly it stretched out its neck and disgorged a piece of pure
gold; whereupon, the sportsman, understanding what the bird meant,
cried out, “I see! this is to ransom your mate, eh?” Accordingly, he
at once released the goose, and the two birds flew away with many
expressions of their mutual joy, leaving to the sportsman nearly three
ounces of pure gold. Can, then, mere birds have such feelings as
these? Of all sorrows there is no sorrow like separation from those we
love; and it seems that the same holds good even of dumb animals.


[326] See No. XXXV., note 217.



A huntsman of Kuang-si, who was out on the hills with his bow and
arrows, lay down to rest awhile, and unwittingly fell fast asleep. As
he was slumbering, an elephant came up, and, coiling his trunk around
the man, carried him off. The latter gave himself up for dead; but
before long the elephant had deposited him at the foot of a tall tree,
and had summoned a whole herd of comrades, who crowded about the
huntsman as though asking his assistance. The elephant who had brought
him went and lay down under the tree, and first looked up into its
branches and then looked down at the man, apparently requesting him to
get up into the tree. So the latter jumped on the elephant’s back and
then clambered up to the topmost branch, not knowing what he was
expected to do next. By-and-by a lion[327] arrived, and from among
the frightened herd chose out a fat elephant, which he seemed as
though about to devour. The others remained there trembling, not
daring to run away, but looking wistfully up into the tree. Thereupon
the huntsman drew an arrow from his quiver and shot the lion dead, at
which all the elephants below made him a grateful obeisance. He then
descended, when the elephant lay down again and invited him to mount
by pulling at his clothes with its trunk. This he did, and was carried
to a place where the animal scratched the ground with its foot, and
revealed to him a vast number of old tusks. He jumped down and
collected them in a bundle, after which the elephant conveyed him to a
spot whence he easily found his way home.


[327] The term here used refers to a creature which partakes rather of
the fabulous than of the real. The _Kuang-yün_ says it is “a kind of
lion;” but other authorities describe it as a horse. Its favourite
food is tiger-flesh. Incense-burners are often made after the “lion”
pattern and called by this name, the smoke of the incense issuing from
the mouth of the animal, like our own gargoyles.



Li Yüeh-shêng was the second son of a rich old man who used to bury
his money, and who was known to his fellow-townsmen as “Old Crocks.”
One day the father fell sick, and summoned his sons to divide the
property between them.[328] He gave four-fifths to the elder and only
one-fifth to the younger, saying to the latter, “It is not that I love
your brother more than I love you: I have other money stored away, and
when you are alone I will hand that over to you.” A few days
afterwards the old man grew worse, and Yüeh-shêng, afraid that his
father might die at any moment, seized an opportunity of seeing him
alone to ask about the money that he himself was to receive. “Ah,”
replied the dying man, “the sum of our joys and of our sorrows is
determined by fate. You are now happy in the possession of a virtuous
wife, and have no right to an increase of wealth.” For, as a matter of
fact, this second son was married to a lady from the Ch‘ê family whose
virtue equalled that of any of the heroines of history: hence his
father’s remark. Yüeh-shêng, however, was not satisfied, and implored
to be allowed to have the money; and at length the old man got angry
and said, “You are only just turned twenty; you have known none of the
trials of life, and were I to give a thousand ounces of gold, it would
soon be all spent. Go! and, until you have drunk the cup of bitterness
to its dregs, expect no money from me.” Now Yüeh-shêng was a filial
son, and when his father spoke thus he did not venture to say any
more, and hoped for his speedy recovery that he might have a chance of
coaxing him to comply with his request. But the old man got worse and
worse, and at length died; whereupon the elder brother took no trouble
about the funeral ceremonies, leaving it all to the younger, who,
being an open-handed fellow, made no difficulties about the expense.
The latter was also fond of seeing a great deal of company at his
house, and his wife often had to get three or four meals a-day ready
for guests; and, as her husband did very little towards looking after
his affairs, and was further sponged upon by all the needy ones of the
neighbourhood, they were soon reduced to a state of poverty. The elder
brother helped them to keep body and soul together, but he died
shortly afterwards, and this resource was cut off from them. Then, by
dint of borrowing in the spring and repaying in the autumn,[329] they
still managed to exist, until at last it came to parting with their
land, and they were left actually destitute. At that juncture their
eldest son died, followed soon after by his mother; and Yüeh-shêng was
left almost by himself in the world. He now married the widow of a
sheep-dealer, who had a little capital; and she was very strict with
him, and wouldn’t let him waste time and money with his friends. One
night his father appeared to him and said, “My son, you have drained
your cup of bitterness to the dregs. You shall now have the money. I
will bring it to you.” When Yüeh-shêng woke up, he thought it was
merely a poor man’s dream; but the next day, while laying the
foundations of a wall, he did come upon a quantity of gold. And then
he knew what his father had meant by “when you are alone;” for of
those about him at that time, more than half were gone.


[328] The Law of Inheritance, as it obtains in China, has been ably
illustrated by Mr. Chal. Alabaster in Vols. V. and VI. of the _China
Review_. This writer states that “there seems to be no absolutely
fixed law in regard either of inheritance or testamentary dispositions
of property, but certain general principles are recognised which the
court will not allow to be disregarded without sufficient cause.” As a
rule the sons, whether by wife or concubine, share equally, and in
preference to daughters, even though there should be a written will in
favour of the latter.

[329] This has reference to the “seed-time and harvest.”



When His Excellency Chu was Viceroy of Kuangtung, there were constant
complaints from the traders of mysterious disappearances; sometimes as
many as three or four of them disappearing at once and never being
seen or heard of again. At length the number of such cases, filed of
course against some person or persons unknown, multiplied to such an
extent that they were simply put on record, and but little notice was
further taken of them by the local officials. Thus, when His
Excellency entered upon his duties, he found more than a hundred
plaints of the kind, besides innumerable cases in which the missing
man’s relatives lived at a distance and had not instituted
proceedings. The mystery so preyed upon the new Viceroy’s mind that he
lost all appetite for food; and when, finally, all the inquiries he
had set on foot resulted in no clue to an elucidation of these strange
disappearances, then His Excellency proceeded to wash and purify
himself, and, having notified the Municipal God,[330] he took to
fasting and sleeping in his study alone. While he was in ecstasy, lo!
an official entered, holding a tablet in his hand, and said that he
had come from the Municipal temple with the following instructions to
the Viceroy:--

   “Snow on the whiskers descending:
    Live clouds falling from heaven:
    Wood in water buoyed up:
    In the wall an opening effected.”

The official then retired, and the Viceroy waked up; but it was only
after a night of tossing and turning that he hit upon what seemed to
him the solution of the enigma. “The first line,” argued he, “must
signify _old_ (_lao_ in Chinese); the second refers to the
_dragon_[331] (_lung_ in Chinese); the third is clearly a _boat_; and
the fourth a _door_ here taken in its secondary sense--_man_.” Now, to
the east of the province, not far from the pass by which traders from
the north connect their line of trade with the southern seas, there
was actually a ferry known as the Old Dragon (_Lao-lung_); and thither
the Viceroy immediately despatched a force to arrest those employed in
carrying people backwards and forwards. More than fifty men were
caught, and they all confessed at once without the application of
torture. In fact, they were bandits under the guise of boatmen;[332]
and after beguiling passengers on board, they would either drug them
or burn stupefying incense until they were senseless, finally cutting
them open and putting a large stone inside to make the body sink. Such
was the horrible story, the discovery of which brought throngs to the
Viceroy’s door to serenade him in terms of gratitude and praise.[333]


[330] See No. I., note 36.

[331] Clouds being naturally connected in every Chinaman’s mind with
these fabulous creatures, the origin of which has been traced by some
to waterspouts. See No. LXXXI., note 84.

[332] “Boat-men” is the solution of the last two lines of the enigma.

[333] The commentator actually supplies a list of the persons who
signed a congratulatory petition to the Viceroy on the arrest and
punishment of the criminals.



A certain veterinary surgeon, named Hou, was carrying food to his
field labourers, when suddenly a whirlwind arose in his path. Hou
seized a spoon and poured out a libation of gruel, whereupon the wind
immediately dropped. On another occasion, he was wandering about the
municipal temple when he noticed an image of Liu Ch‘üan presenting the
melon,[334] in whose eye was a great splotch of dirt. “Dear me, Sir
Liu!” cried Hou, “who has been ill-using you like this?” He then
scraped away the dirt with his finger-nail, and passed on. Some years
afterwards, as he was lying down very ill, two lictors walked in and
carried him off to a yamên, where they insisted on his bribing them
heavily. Hou was at his wits’ end what to do; but just at that moment
a personage dressed in green robes came forth, who was greatly
astonished at seeing him there, and asked what it all meant. Our hero
at once explained; whereupon the man in green turned upon the lictors
and abused them for not shewing proper respect to Mr. Hou. Meanwhile a
drum sounded like the roll of thunder, and the man in green told Hou
that it was for the morning session, and that he would have to attend.
Leading Hou within he put him in his proper place, and, promising to
inquire into the charge against him, went forward and whispered a few
words to one of the clerks. “Oh,” said the latter, advancing and
making a bow to the veterinary surgeon, “yours is a trifling matter.
We shall merely have to confront you with a horse, and then you can go
home again.” Shortly afterwards, Hou’s case was called; upon which he
went forward and knelt down, as did also a horse which was prosecuting
him. The judge now informed Hou that he was accused by the horse of
having caused its death by medicines, and asked him if he pleaded
guilty or not guilty. “My lord,” replied Hou, “the prosecutor was
attacked by the cattle-plague, for which I treated him accordingly;
and he actually recovered from the disease, though he died on the
following day. Am I to be held responsible for that?” The horse now
proceeded to tell his story; and after the usual cross-examination and
cries for justice, the judge gave orders to look up the horse’s term
of life in the Book of Fate. Therein it appeared that the animal’s
destiny had doomed it to death on the very day on which it had died;
whereupon the judge cried out, “Your term of years had already
expired; why bring this false charge? Away with you!” and turning to
Hou, the judge added, “You are a worthy man, and may be permitted to
live.” The lictors were accordingly instructed to escort him back, and
with them went out both the clerk and the man in green clothes, who
bade the lictors take every possible care of Hou by the way. “You
gentlemen are very kind,” said Hou, “but I haven’t the honour of your
acquaintance, and should be glad to know to whom I am so much
indebted.” “Three years ago,” replied the man in green, “I was
travelling in your neighbourhood, and was suffering very much from
thirst, which you relieved for me by a few spoonfuls of gruel. I have
not forgotten that act.” “And my name,” observed the other, “is
Liu Ch‘üan. You once took a splotch of dirt out of my eye that was
troubling me very much. I am only sorry that the wine and food we have
down here is unsuitable to offer you. Farewell.” Hou now understood
all that had happened, and went off home with the two lictors where he
would have regaled them with some refreshment, but they refused to
take even a cup of tea. He then waked up and found that he had been
dead for two days. From this time forth he led a more virtuous life
than ever, always pouring out libations to Liu Ch‘üan at all the
festivals of the year. Thus he reached the age of eighty, a hale and
hearty man, still able to sit in the saddle; until one day he met
Liu Ch‘üan riding on horseback, as if about to make a long journey.
After a little friendly conversation, the latter said to him, “Your
time is up, and the warrant for your arrest is already issued; but I
have ordered the constables to delay awhile, and you can now spend
three days in preparing for death, at the expiration of which I will
come and fetch you. I have purchased a small appointment for you in
the realms below,[335] by which you will be more comfortable.” So Hou
went home and told his wife and children; and after collecting his
friends and relatives, and making all necessary preparations, on the
evening of the fourth day he cried out, “Liu Ch‘üan has come!” and,
getting into his coffin,[336] lay down and died.


[334] When the soul of the Emperor T‘ai Tsung of the T‘ang dynasty was
in the infernal regions, it promised to send Yen-lo (the Chinese
_Yama_ or Pluto) a melon; and when His Majesty recovered from the
trance into which he had been plunged, he gave orders that his promise
was to be fulfilled. Just then a man, named Liu Ch‘üan, observed a
priest with a hairpin belonging to his wife, and misconstruing the
manner in which possession of it had been obtained, abused his wife so
severely that she committed suicide. Liu Ch‘üan himself then
determined to follow her example, and convey the melon to Yen-lo; for
which act he was subsequently deified. See the _Hsi-yu-chi_, Section

[335] As the Chinese believe that their disembodied spirits proceed to
a world organised on much the same model as the one they know, so do
they think that there will be social distinctions of rank and
emolument proportioned to the merits of each.

[336] A dying man is almost always moved into his coffin to die; and
aged persons frequently take to sleeping regularly in the coffins
provided against the inevitable hour by the pious thoughtfulness of a
loving son. Even in middle life Chinese like to see their coffins
ready for them, and store them sometimes on their own premises,
sometimes in the outhouses of a neighbouring temple.



At T‘ai-yüan there lived a middle-aged woman with her widowed
daughter-in-law. The former was on terms of too great intimacy with a
notably bad character of the neighbourhood; and the latter, who
objected very strongly to this, did her best to keep the man from the
house. The elder woman accordingly tried to send the other back to her
family, but she would not go; and at length things came to such a pass
that the mother-in-law actually went to the mandarin of the place and
charged her daughter-in-law with the offence she herself was
committing. When the mandarin inquired the name of the man concerned,
she said she had only seen him in the dark and didn’t know who he was,
referring him for information to the accused. The latter, on being
summoned, gave the man’s name, but retorted the charge on her
mother-in-law; and when the man was confronted with them, he promptly
declared both their stories to be false. The mandarin, however, said
there was a _primâ facie_ case against him, and ordered him to be
severely beaten, whereupon he confessed that it was the
daughter-in-law whom he went to visit. This the woman herself flatly
denied, even under torture; and on being released, appealed to a
higher court, with a very similar result. Thus the case dragged on,
until a Mr. Sun, who was well-known for his judicial acumen, was
appointed district magistrate at that place. Calling the parties
before him, he bade his lictors prepare stones and knives, at which
they were much exercised in their minds, the severest tortures allowed
by law being merely gyves and fetters.[337] However, everything was
got ready, and the next day Mr. Sun proceeded with his investigation.
After hearing all that each one of the three had to say, he delivered
the following judgment:--“The case is a simple one; for although I
cannot say which of you two women is the guilty one, there is no doubt
about the man, who has evidently been the means of bringing discredit
on a virtuous family. Take those stones and knives there and put him
to death. I will be responsible.” Thereupon the two women began to
stone the man, especially the younger one, who seized the biggest
stones she could see and threw them at him with all the might of her
pent-up anger; while the mother-in-law chose small stones and struck
him on non-vital parts.[338] So with the knives: the daughter-in-law
would have killed him at the first blow, had not the mandarin stopped
her, and said, “Hold! I now know who is the guilty woman.” The
mother-in-law was then tortured until she confessed, and the case was
thus terminated.


[337] See No. LXXIII., note 62.

[338] The Chinese distinguish sixteen vital spots on the front of the
body and six on the back, with thirty-six and twenty non-vital spots
in similar positions, respectively. They allow, however, that a severe
blow on a non-vital spot might cause death, and _vice versâ_.



Mr. Wu, Sub-prefect of Chi-nan, was an upright man, and would have no
share in the bribery and corruption which was extensively carried on,
and at which the higher authorities connived, and in the proceeds of
which they actually shared. The Prefect tried to bully him into
adopting a similar plan, and went so far as to abuse him in violent
language; upon which Mr. Wu fired up and exclaimed, “Though I am but a
subordinate official, you should impeach me for anything you have
against me in the regular way; you have not the right to abuse me
thus. Die I may, but I will never consent to degrade my office and
turn aside the course of justice for the sake of filthy lucre.” At
this outbreak the Prefect changed his tone, and tried to soothe
him.... [How dare people accuse the age of being corrupt, when it is
themselves who will not walk in the straight path.] One day after this
a certain fox-medium[339] came to the Prefect’s yamên just as a feast
was in full swing, and was thus addressed by a guest:--“You who
pretend to know everything, say how many officials there are in this
Prefecture.” “_One_,” replied the medium; at which the company laughed
heartily, until the medium continued, “There are really seventy-two
holders of office, but Mr. Sub-prefect Wu is the only one who can
justly be called an official.”


[339] Certain classes of soothsayers are believed by the Chinese to be
possessed by foxes, which animals have the power of looking into the
future, &c., &c.


Visitors to Chinese temples of the Taoist persuasion usually make at
once for what is popularly known amongst foreigners as the “Chamber of
Horrors.” These belong specially to Taoism, or the ethics of Right in
the abstract, as opposed to abstract Wrong, and are not found in
temples consecrated to the religion of Buddha. Modern Taoism, however,
once a purely metaphysical system, is now so leavened with the
superstitions of Buddhism, and has borrowed so much material from its
younger rival, that an ordinary Chinaman can hardly tell one from the
other, and generally regards them as to all intents and purposes the
same. These rightly-named Chambers of Horrors--for Madame Tussaud has
nothing more ghastly to show in the whole of her wonderful
collection--represent the Ten Courts of Purgatory, through some or all
of which erring souls must pass before they are suffered to be born
again into the world under another form, or transferred to the eternal
bliss reserved for the righteous alone. As a description of these Ten
Courts may not be uninteresting to some of my readers, and as the
subject has a direct bearing upon many of the stories in the previous
collection, I hereto append my translation of a well-known Taoist
work[340] which is circulated gratuitously all over the Chinese Empire
by people who are anxious to lay up a store of good works against the
day of reckoning to come. Those who are acquainted with Dante’s
_Divine Comedy_ will recollect that the poet’s idea of a Christian
Purgatory was a series of nine lessening circles arranged one above
the other, so as to form a cone. The Taoist believes that his
Purgatory consists of Ten Courts of Justice situated in different
positions at the bottom of a great ocean which lies down in the
depths of the earth. These are sub-divided into special wards,
different forms of torture being inflicted in each. A perusal of this
work will shew what punishments the wicked Chinaman has to expect in
the unseen world, and by what means he may hope to obtain a partial or
complete remission of his sins.

_The “Divine Panorama,” published by the Mercy of Yü Ti,[341] that Men
and Women may repent them of their Faults and make Atonement for their

On the birthday of the Saviour P‘u-sa,[342] as the spirits of
Purgatory were thronging round to offer their congratulations, the
ruler of the Infernal Regions spake as follows:--“My wish is to
release all souls, and every moon as this day comes round I would
wholly or partially remit the punishment of erring shades, and give
them life once more in one of the Six Paths.[343] But alas! the wicked
are many and the virtuous few. Nevertheless, the punishments in the
dark region are too severe, and require some modification. Any wicked
soul that repents and induces one or two others to do likewise shall
be allowed to set this off against the punishments which should be
inflicted.” The Judges of the Ten Courts of Purgatory then agreed that
all who led virtuous lives from their youth upwards shall be escorted
at their death to the land of the Immortals; that all whose balance of
good and evil is exact shall escape the bitterness of the Three
States,[344] and be born again among men; that those who have repaid
their debts of gratitude and friendship, and fulfilled their destiny,
yet have a balance of evil against them, shall pass through the
various Courts of Purgatory and then be born again amongst men, rich,
poor, old, young, diseased or crippled, to be put a second time upon
trial. Then, if they behave well they may enter into some happy state;
but if badly, they will be dragged by horrid devils through all the
Courts, suffering bitterly as they go, and will again be born, to
endure in life the uttermost of poverty and wretchedness, in death the
everlasting tortures of hell. Those who are disloyal, unfilial, who
commit suicide, take life, or disbelieve the doctrine of Cause and
Effect,[345] saying to themselves that when a man dies there is an
end of him, that when he has lost his skin[346] he has already
suffered the worst that can befall him, that living men can be
tortured, but no one ever saw a man’s ghost in the pillory, that after
death all is unknown, etc., etc.,--truly these men do not know that
the body alone perishes but the soul lives for ever and ever; and that
whatsoever evil they do in this life, the same will be done unto them
in the life to come. All who commit such crimes are handed over to the
everlasting tortures of hell; for alas! in spite of the teachings of
the Three Systems[347] some will persist in regarding these warnings
as vain and empty talk. Lightly they speak of Divine mercy, and
knowingly commit many crimes, not more than one in a hundred ever
coming to repentance. Therefore the punishments of Purgatory were
strictly carried out and the tortures dreadfully severe. But now it
has been mercifully ordained that any man or woman, young, old, weak
or strong, who may have sinned in any way, shall be permitted to
obtain remission of the same by keeping his or her thoughts constantly
fixed on P‘u-sa and on the birthdays of the Judges of the Ten Courts,
by fasting and prayer, and by vows never to sin again. Or for every
good work done in life they shall be allowed to escape one ward in the
Courts below. From this rule to be excepted disloyal ministers,
unfilial sons, suicides, those who plot in secret against good people,
those who are struck by lightning (_lit._ thunder), those who perish
by flood or fire, by wild animals or poisonous reptiles[348]--these to
pass through all the Courts and be punished according to their
deserts. All other sinners to be allowed to claim their good works as
a set-off against evil, thus partly escaping the agonies of hell and
receiving some reward for their virtuous deeds.

This account of man’s wickedness on the earth and the punishments in
store for him was written in language intelligible to every man and
woman, and was submitted for the approval of P‘u-sa, the intention
being to wait the return[349] of some virtuous soul among the sons of
men, and by these means publish it all over the earth. When P‘u-sa saw
what had been done, he said it was good; and on the 3rd of 8th moon
proceeded with the ten Judges of Purgatory to lay this book before

Then God said, “Good indeed! Good indeed! henceforth let all spirits
take note of any mortal who vows to lead a virtuous life and,
repenting, promises to sin no more. Two punishments shall be remitted
him. And if, in addition to this, he succeeds in doing five virtuous
acts, then he shall escape all punishment and be born again in some
happy state--if a woman she shall be born as a man. But more than five
virtuous acts shall enable such a soul to obtain the salvation of
others, and redeem wife and family from the tortures of hell. Let
these regulations be published in the _Divine Panorama_ and circulated
on earth by the spirits of the City Guardian.[351] In fear and
trembling obey this decree and carry it reverently into effect.”


His Infernal Majesty Ch‘in Kuang is specially in charge of the
register of life and death both for old and young, and presides at the
judgment-seat in the lower regions. His court is situated in the great
Ocean, away beyond the Wu-chiao rock,[352] far to the west near the
murky road which leads to the Yellow Springs.[353] Every man and woman
dying in old age whose fate it is to be born again into the world, if
their tale of good and evil works is equally balanced, are sent to the
First Court, and thence transferred back to Life, male becoming
female, female male, rich poor, and poor rich, according to their
several deserts. But those whose good deeds are outnumbered by their
bad are sent to a terrace on the right of the Court, called the
Terrace of the Mirror of Sin, ten feet in height. The mirror is about
fifty feet[354] in circumference and hangs towards the east. Above are
seven characters written horizontally:--“Sin Mirror Terrace upon no
good men.” There the wicked souls are able to see the naughtiness of
their own hearts while they were among the living, and the danger of
death and hell. Then do they realize the proverb,--

   “Ten thousand taels of yellow gold cannot be brought away:
    But every crime will tell its tale upon the judgment day.”

When the souls have been to the Terrace and seen their wickednesses,
they are forwarded into the Second Court, where they are tortured and
dismissed to the proper hell.

Should there be any one enjoying life without reflecting that Heaven
and Earth produce mortals, that father and mother bring the child to
maturity--truly no easy matter; and, ignoring the four obligations,[355]
before receiving the summons, lightly sever the thread of their own
existence by cutting their throats, hanging, poisoning, or drowning
themselves:--then such suicides, if the deed was not done out of
loyalty, filial piety, chastity, or friendship, for which they would
go to Heaven, but in a trivial burst of rage, or fearing the
consequences of a crime which would not amount to death, or in the
hope of falsely injuring a fellow-creature--then such suicides, when
the last breath has left their bodies, shall be escorted to this Court
by the Spirits of the Threshold and of the Hearth. They shall be
placed in the Hunger and Thirst Section, and every day from 7 till 11
o’clock they will resume their mortal coil, and suffer again the pain
and bitterness of death. After seventy days, or one or two years as
the case may be, they will be conducted back to the scene of their
suicide, but will not be permitted to taste the funeral meats, or
avail themselves of the usual offerings to the dead. Bitterly will
they repent, unable as they will be to render themselves visible and
frighten people,[356] vainly striving to procure a substitute.[357]
For when the substitute shall have been harmlessly entrapped, the
Spirits of the Threshold and Hearth will reconduct the erring soul
back to this Court, whence it will be sent on to the Second Court,
where its balance of good and evil will be struck, and dreadful
tortures applied, being finally passed on through the various Courts
to the utter misery of hell. Should any one have such intention of
suicide and thus threaten a fellow creature, even though he does not
commit the act but continues to live not without virtue, yet shall it
not be permitted in any way to remit his punishment. Any soul which
after suicide shall not remain invisible, but shall frighten people to
death, will be seized by black-faced long-tusked devils and tortured
in the various hells, to be finally thrust into the great Gehenna, for
ever to remain hung up in chains, and not permitted to be born again.

Every Buddhist or Taoist priest who receives money for prayers and
liturgies, but skips over words and misses out sentences, on arriving
at this, the First Court, will be sent to the section for the
Completion of Prayer, and there in a small dark room he shall pick out
such passages as he has omitted, and make good the deficiency as best
he can, by the uncertain light of an infinitesimal wick burning in a
gallon of oil. Even good and virtuous priests must also repair any
omissions they may have (accidentally) made, and so must every man or
woman who in private devotion may have omitted or wrongly repeated any
part of the sacred writings from over-earnestness, their attention not
being properly fixed on the actual words they repeat. The same applies
to female priests. A dispensation from Buddha to remit such punishment
is put in force on the first day of each month when the names are
entered in the register of the virtuous.

O ye dwellers upon earth, on the 1st day of the 2nd moon, fasting turn
to the north and make oath to abstain from evil and fix your thoughts
on good, that ye may escape hell! The precepts of Buddha are
circulated over the whole world to warn mankind to believe and repent,
that when the last hour comes their spirits may be escorted by
dark-robed boys to realms of bliss and happiness in the west.


His Infernal Majesty, Ch‘u Ching, reigns at the bottom of the great
Ocean. Away to the south, below the Wu-chiao rocks, he has a vast
hell, many leagues in extent, and subdivided into sixteen wards, as

In the first, nothing but black clouds and constant sand-storms. In
the second, mud and filth. In the third, _chevaux de frise_. In the
fourth, gnawing hunger. In the fifth, burning thirst. In the sixth,
blood and pus. In the seventh, the shades are plunged into a brazen
cauldron (of boiling water). In the eighth, the same punishment is
repeated many times. In the ninth, they are put into iron clothes. In
the tenth, they are stretched on a rack to regulation length. In the
eleventh, they are pecked by fowls. In the twelfth, they have only
rivers of lime to drink. In the thirteenth, they are hacked to pieces.
In the fourteenth, the leaves of the trees are as sharp as
sword-points. In the fifteenth they are pursued by foxes and wolves.
In the sixteenth, all is ice and snow.

Those who lead astray young boys and girls, and then escape punishment
by cutting off their hair and entering the priesthood;[358] those who
filch letters, pictures, books, etc. entrusted to their care, and then
pretend to have lost them; those who injure a fellow-creature’s ear,
eye, hand, foot, fingers, or toes; those who practise as doctors
without any knowledge of the medical art; those who will not ransom
grown-up slave-girls;[359] those who, contracting marriage for the
sake of gain, falsely state their ages; or those who in cases of
betrothal, before actual marriage, find out that one of the
contracting parties is a bad character, and yet do not come forward to
say so, but inflict an irreparable wrong on the innocent one;--such
offenders, when their quota of crime has been cast up, their youth or
age and the consequences of their acts taken into consideration, will
be seized by horrid red-faced devils and thrust into the great Hell,
and thence despatched to the particular ward in which they are to be
tormented. When their time of suffering there has expired, they will
be moved into the Third Hall, there to be tortured and passed on to

O ye men and women of the world, take this book and warn all sinners,
or copy it out and circulate it for general information! If you see
people sick and ill, give medicine to heal them. If you see people
poor and hungry, feed them. If you see people in difficulties, give
money to save them. Repent your past errors, and you will be allowed
to cancel that evil by future good, so that when the hour arrives you
will pass at once into the Tenth Hall, and thence return again to
existence on earth.

Let such as love all creatures endowed with life, and do not
recklessly cut and slay, but teach their children not to harm small
animals and insects--let these, on the 1st of the 3rd moon, register
an oath not to take life, but to aid in preserving it. Thus they will
avoid passing through Purgatory, and will also enter at once the Tenth
Hall, to be born again in some happy state.


His Infernal Majesty Sung Ti reigns at the bottom of the great Ocean,
away to the south-east, below the Wu-chiao rock, in the Gehenna of
Black Ropes. This Hall is many leagues wide, and is subdivided into
sixteen wards, as follows:--

In the first everything is Salt; above, below, and all round, the eye
rests upon Salt alone. The shades feed upon it, and suffer horrid
torments in consequence. When the fit has passed away they return to
it once again, and suffer agonies more unutterable than before. In the
second, the erring shades are bound with cords and carry
heavily-weighted _cangues_. In the third, they are perpetually pierced
through the ribs. In the fourth, their faces are scraped with iron and
copper knives. In the fifth, their fat is scraped away from their
bodies. In the sixth, their hearts and livers are squeezed with
pincers. In the seventh, their eyes are gouged. In the eighth, they
are flayed. In the ninth, their feet are cut off. In the tenth, their
finger-nails and toe-nails are pulled out. In the eleventh their blood
is sucked. In the twelfth, they are hung up head downwards. In the
thirteenth, their shoulder-bones are split. In the fourteenth, they
are tormented by insects and reptiles. In the fifteenth, they are
beaten on the thighs. In the sixteenth, their hearts are scratched.

Those who enjoy the light of day without reflecting on the Imperial
bounty;[360] officers of State who revel in large emoluments without
reciprocating their sovereign’s goodness; private individuals who do
not repay the debt of water and earth;[361] wives and concubines who
slight their marital lords; those who fail in their duties as acting
sons,[362] or such as reap what advantages there are and then go off
to their own homes; slaves who disregard their masters; official
underlings who are ungrateful to their superiors; working partners who
behave badly to the moneyed partner; culprits who escape from prison
or abscond from their place of banishment; those who break their bail
and get others into trouble; and those infatuated ones who have long
omitted to pray and repent--all these, even though they have a set-off
of good deeds, must pass through the misery of every ward. Those who
interfere with another man’s Fêng-Shui; those who obstruct funeral
obsequies or the completion of graves; those who in digging come on a
coffin and do not immediately cover it up, but injure the bones; those
who steal or avoid paying up their quota of grain;[363] those who lose
all record of the site of their family burying-place; those who incite
others to commit crimes; those who promote litigation; those who write
anonymous placards; those who repudiate a betrothal; those who forge
deeds and other documents; those who receive payment of a debt without
signing a receipt or giving up the I O U; those who counterfeit
signatures and seals; those who alter bills; those who injure
posterity in any way--all these, and similar offenders, shall be
punished according to the gravity of each offence. Devils with big
knives will seize the erring ones and thrust them into the great
Gehenna; besides which they shall expiate their sins in the proper
number of wards, and shall then be forwarded to the Fourth Court where
they shall be tortured and dismissed to the general Gehenna.

O ye sons of men, on the 8th day of the 2nd moon, register an oath
that ye will do no evil. Thus you may escape the bitterness of these


The Lord of the Five Senses reigns at the bottom of the great Ocean,
away to the east below the Wu-chiao rock. His Court is many leagues
wide, and is subdivided into sixteen wards, as follows:--

In the first, the wicked shades are hung up and water is continually
poured over them. In the second, they are made to kneel on chains and
pieces of split bamboo. In the third, their hands are scalded with
boiling water. In the fourth, their hands swell and stream with
perspiration. In the fifth, their muscles are cut and their bones
pulled out. In the sixth, their shoulders are pricked with a trident
and the skin rubbed with a hard brush. In the seventh, holes are bored
into their flesh. In the eighth, they are made to sit on spikes. In
the ninth, they wear iron clothes. In the tenth, they are placed under
heavy pieces of wood, stone, earth, or tiles. In the eleventh, their
eyes are put out. In the twelfth, their mouths are choked with dust.
In the thirteenth, they are perpetually dosed with nasty medicines. In
the fourteenth, it is so slippery they are always falling down. In the
fifteenth, their mouths are painfully pricked. In the sixteenth, their
bodies are buried under broken stones, &c., the head alone being left

Those who cheat the customs and evade taxes; those who repudiate their
rent, use weighted scales, sell sham medicines, water their rice,[364]
utter base coin, get deeply in debt, sell doctored[365] silks and
satins, scrape[366] or add size to linen cloth; those who do not make
way for the cripples, old and young; those who encroach upon petty
trade rights[367] of old or young; those who delay in delivering
letters entrusted to them; steal bricks from walls as they pass by, or
oil and candles from lamps;[368] poor people who do not behave
properly and rich people who are not compassionate to the poor; those
who promise a loan and go back on their word; those who see people
suffering from illness, yet cannot bring themselves to part with
certain useful drugs they may have in their possession; those who know
good prescriptions but keep them secret; those who throw vessels which
have contained medicine or broken cups and bottles into the street;
those who allow their mules and ponies to be a nuisance to other
people; those who destroy their neighbour’s crops or his walls and
fences; those who try to bewitch their enemies,[369] and those who try
to frighten people in any way,--all these shall be punished according
to the gravity of their offences, and shall be thrust by the devils
into the great Gehenna until their time arrives for passing into the
Fifth Court.

O ye children of this world, if on the 18th day of the 2nd moon you
register an oath to sin no more, then you may escape the various wards
of this Hall; and if to this book you add examples of rewards and
punishments following upon virtues and crimes, and hand them down to
posterity for the good of the human race, so that all who read may
repent them of their wickednesses--then they will be without sin, and
you not without merit!


His Infernal Majesty, Yen Lo,[370] said,--“Our proper place is in the
First Court; but, pitying those who die by foul means, and should be
sent back to earth to have their wrongs redressed, we have moved our
judgment-seat to the great hell at the bottom of the Ocean, away to
the north-east below the Wu-chiao rock, and have subdivided this hell
into sixteen wards for the torment of souls. All those shades who come
before us have already suffered long tortures in the previous four
Courts, whence, if they are hardened sinners, they are passed on after
seven days to this Court, where if again found to be utterly hardened,
corruption will overtake them by the fifth or seventh day. All shades
cry out either that they have left some vow unfulfilled, or that they
wish to build a temple or a bridge, make a road, clean out a river or
well, publish some book teaching people to be virtuous, that they have
not released their due number of lives, that they have filial duties
or funeral obsequies to perform, some act of kindness to repay, &c.,
&c. For these reasons they pray to be allowed to return once more to
the light of day, and are always ready to make oath that henceforth
they will lead most exemplary lives. We, hearing this, reply,--In days
gone by ye openly worked evil, but now that your boat has reached the
midstream, ye bethink yourselves of caulking the leak. For although
P‘u-sa in his great mercy decreed that there should be a modification
of torture, and that good works might be set off against evil, the
same being submitted to God and ratified by Divine Decree, to be
further published in the realms below and in the Infernal City--yet we
Judges of the Ten Courts have not yet received one single virtuous man
amongst us, who, coming in the flesh, might carry this _Divine
Panorama_ back with him to the light of day. Truly those who suffer in
hell and on earth cannot complain, and virtuous men are rare! But now
ye have come to my Court, having beheld your own wickedness in the
mirror of sin. No more--bull-headed, horse-faced devils, away with
them to the Terrace[371] that they may once more gaze upon their lost

This Terrace is curved in front like a bow; it looks east, west, and
south. It is eighty-one _li_ from one extreme to the other. The back
part is like the string of the bow; it is enclosed by a wall of sharp
swords. It is 490 feet high; its sides are knife-blades; and the whole
is in sixty-three storeys. No good shade comes to this Terrace;
neither do those whose balance of good and evil is exact. Wicked souls
alone behold their homes close by and can see and hear what is going
on. They hear old and young talking together; they see their last
wishes disregarded and their instructions disobeyed. Everything seems
to have undergone a change. The property they scraped together with so
much trouble is dissipated and gone. The husband thinks of taking
another wife; the widow meditates second nuptials.[372] Strangers are
in possession of the old estate; there is nothing to divide amongst
the children. Debts long since paid are brought again for settlement,
and the survivors are called upon to acknowledge claims upon the
departed. Debts owed are lost for want of evidence, with endless
recriminations, abuse, and general confusion, all of which falls upon
the three families[373] of the deceased. They in their anger speak ill
of him that is gone. He sees his children become corrupt, and his
friends fall away. Some, perhaps, for the sake of bygone times, may
stroke the coffin and let fall a tear, departing quickly with a cold
smile. Worse than that, the wife sees her husband tortured in the
yamên; the husband sees his wife victim to some horrible disease,
lands gone, houses destroyed by flood or fire, and everything in
unutterable confusion--the reward of former sins.[374] All souls,
after the misery of the Terrace, will be thrust into the great
Gehenna, and, when the amount of wickedness of each has been
ascertained, they will be passed through the sixteen wards for the
punishment of evil hearts. In the Gehenna they will be buried under
wooden pillars, bound with copper snakes, crushed by iron dogs, tied
tightly hand and foot, be ripped open and have their hearts torn out,
minced up and given to snakes, their entrails being thrown to dogs.
Then, when their time is up, the pain will cease and their bodies
become whole once more, preparatory to being passed through the
sixteen wards.

In the first are non-worshippers and sceptics. In the second, those
who have destroyed or hurt living creatures. In the third, those who
do not fulfil their vows. In the fourth, believers in false doctrines,
magicians, and sorcerers. In the fifth, those who tyrannize over the
weak but cringe to the strong; also those who openly wish for
another’s death. In the sixth, those who try to put their misfortunes
on to other people’s shoulders. In the seventh, those who lead immoral
lives. In the eighth, those who injure others to benefit themselves.
In the ninth, those who are parsimonious and will not help people in
trouble. In the tenth, those who steal and involve the innocent. In
the eleventh, those who forget kindness or seek revenge. In the
twelfth, those who by pernicious drugs stir up others to quarrel,
keeping themselves out of harm’s way. In the thirteenth, those who
deceive or spread false reports. In the fourteenth, those who love
brawling and implicate others. In the fifteenth, those who envy the
virtuous and wise. In the sixteenth, those who are lost in vice,
evil-speakers, slanderers, and such like.

All who disbelieve the doctrine of Cause and Effect, who obstruct good
works, make a pretence of piety, talk of other people’s sins, burn or
injure religious books, omit to fast when praying for the sick,
interfere with the adoration of Buddha, slander the priesthood, or, if
scholars, abstain from instructing women and children; those who dig
up graves and obliterate all traces thereof, set light to woods and
forests, allow their servants to be careless in handling fire and thus
endanger their neighbours’ property; those who wantonly discharge
arrows and bolts, who try their strength against the sick or weak,
throw potsherds over a wall, poison fish, let off guns, catch birds
either with net, sticky pole,[375] or trap; those who throw down salt
to kill plants, who do not bury dead cats and venomous snakes deep in
the ground, who dig out corpses, who break the soil or alter their
walls and stoves at wrong seasons,[376] who encroach on the public
road or take possession of other people’s land, who fill up wells and
drains, &c., &c.,--all these, when they return from the Terrace, shall
first be tortured in the great Gehenna, and then such as are to have
their hearts minced shall be passed into the sixteen wards, thence to
be sent on to the Sixth Court for the punishment of other crimes.
Those who in life have not been guilty of the above sins, or, having
sinned, did on the 8th day of the 1st moon, fasting, register a vow
to sin no more, shall not only escape the punishments of this Court,
but shall also gain some further remission of torture in the Sixth
Court. Those, however, who are guilty of taking life, of gross
immorality, of stealing and implicating the innocent, of ingratitude
and revenge, of infatuated vice which no warnings can turn from its
course,--these shall not escape one jot of their punishments.


This Court is situated at the bottom of the great Ocean, due north of
the Wu-chiao rock. It is a vast, noisy Gehenna, many leagues in
extent, and around it are sixteen wards.

In the first, the souls are made to kneel for long periods on iron
shot. In the second, they are placed up to their necks in filth. In
the third, they are pounded till the blood runs out. In the fourth,
their mouths are opened with iron pincers and filled full of needles.
In the fifth, they are bitten by rats. In the sixth, they are enclosed
in a net of thorns and nipped by locusts. In the seventh, they are
crushed to a jelly. In the eighth, their skin is lacerated and they
are beaten on the raw. In the ninth, their mouths are filled with
fire. In the tenth, they are licked by flames. In the eleventh, they
are subjected to noisome smells. In the twelfth, they are butted by
oxen and trampled on by horses. In the thirteenth, their hearts are
scratched. In the fourteenth, their heads are rubbed till their skulls
come off. In the fifteenth, they are chopped in two at the waist. In
the sixteenth, their skin is taken off and rolled up into spills.

Those discontented ones who rail against Heaven and revile Earth, who
are always finding fault either with the wind, thunder, heat, cold,
fine weather or rain; those who let their tears fall towards the
north;[377] who steal the gold from the inside[378] or scrape the
gilding from the outside of images; those who take holy names in vain,
who shew no respect for written paper, who throw down dirt and rubbish
near pagodas or temples, who use dirty cook-houses and stoves for
preparing the sacrificial meats, who do not abstain from eating beef
and dog-flesh;[379] those who have in their possession blasphemous or
obscene books and do not destroy them, who obliterate or tear books
which teach man to be good, who carve on common articles of household
use the symbol of the origin of all things,[380] the Sun and Moon and
Seven Stars, the Royal Mother and the God of Longevity on the same
article,[381] or representations of any of the Immortals; those who
embroider the Svastika[382] on fancy work, or mark characters on silk,
satin, or cloth, on banners, beds, chairs, tables, or any kind of
utensil; those who secretly wear clothes adorned with the dragon and
the phœnix[383] only to be trampled under foot, who buy up grain and
hold until the price is exorbitantly high--all these shall be thrust
into the great and noisy Gehenna, there to be examined as to their
misdeeds and passed accordingly into one of the sixteen wards, whence,
at the expiration of their time, they will be sent for further
questioning on to the Seventh Court.

All dwellers upon earth who on the 8th day of the 3rd moon, fasting,
register a vow from that date to sin no more, and, on the 14th and
15th of the 5th moon, the 3rd of the 8th moon, and the 10th of the
10th moon, to practise abstinence, vowing moreover to exert themselves
to convert others,--these shall escape the bitterness of all the
above-mentioned wards.


His Infernal Majesty, T‘ai Shan, reigns at the bottom of the great
Ocean, away to the north-west, below the Wu-chiao rock. His is a
vast, noisy Court, measuring many leagues in circumference and
subdivided into sixteen wards, as follows:--

In the first, the wicked souls are made to swallow their own blood. In
the second, their legs are pierced and thrust into a fiery pit. In the
third, their chests are cut open. In the fourth, their hair is torn
out with iron combs. In the fifth, they are gnawed by dogs. In the
sixth, great stones are placed on their heads. In the seventh, their
skulls are pierced. In the eighth, they wear fiery clothes. In the
ninth, their skin is torn and pulled by pigs. In the tenth, they are
pecked by huge birds. In the eleventh, they are hung up and beaten on
the feet. In the twelfth, their tongues are pulled out and their jaws
bored. In the thirteenth, they are disembowelled. In the fourteenth,
they are trampled on by mules and bitten by badgers. In the fifteenth,
their fingers are ironed with hot irons. In the sixteenth, they are
boiled in oil.

All mortals who practise eating red lead[384] and certain other
nauseous articles,[385] who spend more than they should upon wine, who
kidnap human beings for sale, who steal clothes and ornaments from
coffins, who break up dead men’s bones for medicine, who separate
people from their relatives, who sell the girl brought up in the house
to be their son’s wife, who allow their wives[386] to drown female
children, who stifle their illegitimate offspring, who unite to cheat
another in gambling, who act as tutors without being properly strict,
and thus wrong their pupils, who beat and injure their slaves without
estimating the punishment by the fault, who regard districts entrusted
to their charge in the light of so much spoil, who disobey their
elders, who talk at random and go back on their word, who stir up
others to quarrel and fight--all these shall, upon verification of
their sins, be taken from the great Gehenna and passed through the
proper wards, to be forwarded when their time has expired to the
Eighth Court, again to be tortured according to their deserts.

All things may not be used as drugs. It is bad enough to slay birds,
beasts, reptiles, and fishes, in order to prepare medicine for the
sick; but to use red lead and many of the filthy messes in vogue is
beyond all bounds of decency, and those who foul their mouths with
these nasty mixtures, no matter how virtuous they may otherwise be,
will not only derive no benefit from saying their prayers, but will be
punished for so doing without mercy.

Ye who hear these words make haste to repent! From to-day forbear to
take life, buy many birds and animals in order to set them free,[387]
and every morning when you wash your teeth mutter a prayer to Buddha.
Thus, when your last hour comes, a good angel will stand by your side
and purify you of your former sins.

Some steal the bones of people who have been burnt to death or the
bodies of illegitimate children, for the purpose of compounding
medicines; others steal skulls and bones (from graves) with the same
object. Worst of all are those who carry off bones by the basketful,
using the hard ones for making various articles and grinding down the
soft ones for the manufacture of pottery.[388] These, no matter what
may have been their good works on earth, will not obtain thereby any
remission of punishment; but when they are brought down below, the
Ruler of the Infernal Regions will first pass them from the great
Gehenna into the proper wards, and will send instructions to the Tenth
Court that when they are born again on earth it shall be either
without ears, or eyes, hand, foot, mouth, lips, or nose, or maimed in
some way or other. Yet such as have thus sinned may still avoid this
punishment, if only they are willing to pray and repent, vowing never
to sin again. Or if they buy coffins for the poor and persuade others
to do likewise, by these means giving a decent burial to many
corpses--then, when the death-summons comes, the Spirits of the Home
and Hearth will make a black mark upon the warrant, and punishment
will be remitted.

Sometimes, when there is a famine, people have nothing to eat and die
of hunger, and wicked men, almost before the breath is out of their
bodies, cut them up and sell their flesh to others for food--a horrid
crime indeed. Those who are guilty of such practices will, on arrival
in the lower regions, be tortured in the various Courts for the space
of forty-nine[389] days, and then the judge of the Tenth Court will be
instructed to notify the judge of the First Court to put them down in
his register for a new birth,--if among men, as hungry famished
outcasts, and if among animals as loathing the food that falls to
their lot, and by-and-by perishing of hunger. Such is their reward.
Besides the above, those who have eaten what is unfit for food and
willingly continue to do so, will be punished either among men or
animals according to their deserts. Their throats will swell, and
though devoured by hunger they will be unable to swallow, and thus
die. Those who do not err a second time may be forgiven as they
deserve; but those who in times of distress subscribe money for the
sufferers, prepare gruel, give away rice to the needy, or distribute
ginger tea[390] and soup in the open street, and thus sustain life a
little longer and do real good to their fellow creatures--all these
shall not only obtain remission of their sins, but carry on a balance
of good to their account which shall ensure them a happy old age in
the life to come.[391]

Of the above three clauses, two were proposed by the officials
attached to this Seventh Court, the third by the Chief Justice of the
great Gehenna, and the whole submitted together for the approval of
God, the following Rescript being obtained:--“Let it be as proposed;
let the three clauses be copied into the _Divine Panorama_, and let
the officials concerned be promoted or rewarded. Also, in case of
crimes other than those already provided for, let such be punished
according to the statutes of the Rulers of the Four Continents on
earth, and let any evasion of punishment and implication of innocent
people be at once reported by the proper officials for our
consideration. This from the Throne! Obey!”

O ye sons and daughters of men, if on the 27th of the 3rd moon,
fasting and turned towards the north, ye register a vow to pray and
repent, and to publish the whole of the _Divine Panorama_ for the
enlightenment of mankind, then ye may escape the bitterness of this
Seventh Court.


His Infernal Majesty, Tu Shih, reigns at the bottom of the great
Ocean, due east below the Wu-chiao rock, in a vast noisy Court many
leagues in extent, subdivided into sixteen wards as follows:--

In the first, the wicked souls are rolled down mountains in carts. In
the second, they are shut up in huge saucepans. In the third, they are
minced. In the fourth, their noses, eyes, mouths, &c. are stopped up.
In the fifth, their uvulas are cut off. In the sixth, they are exposed
to all kinds of filth. In the seventh, their extremities are cut off.
In the eighth, their viscera[392] are fried. In the ninth, their
marrow is cauterized. In the tenth, their bowels are scratched. In the
eleventh, they are inwardly burned with fire. In the twelfth, they are
disembowelled. In the thirteenth, their chests are torn open. In the
fourteenth, their skulls are split and their teeth dragged out. In the
fifteenth, they are hacked and gashed. In the sixteenth, they are
pricked with steel prongs.

Those who are unfilial, who do not nourish their relatives while alive
or bury them when dead, who subject their parents to fright, sorrow,
or anxiety--if they do not quickly repent them of their former sins,
the spirit of the Hearth will report their misdoings and gradually
deprive them of what prosperity they may be enjoying. Those who
indulge in magic and sorcery will, after death, when they have been
tortured in the other Courts, be brought here to this Court, and
dragged backwards by bull-headed horse-faced devils to be thrust into
the great Gehenna. Then when they have been tortured in the various
wards they will be passed on to the Tenth Court, whence at the
expiration of a _kalpa_[393] they will be sent back to earth with
changed heads and faces for ever to find their place amongst the brute
creation. But those who believe in the _Divine Panorama_, and on the
1st of the 4th moon make a vow of repentance, repeating the same every
night and morning to the Spirit of the Hearth, shall, by virtue of one
of three characters, _obedient_, _acquiescent_, or _repentant_, to be
traced on their foreheads at death by the Spirit of the Hearth,
escape half the punishments from the first to the Seventh Court
inclusive, and escape this Eighth Court altogether, being passed on to
the Ninth Court, where cases of arson and poisoning are investigated,
and finally born again from the Tenth Court among mankind as before.

To this God added, “Whosoever may circulate the _Divine Panorama_ for
the information of the world at large shall escape all punishment from
the First to the Eighth Court inclusive. Passing through the Ninth and
Tenth Courts, they shall be born again amongst men in some happy


His Infernal Majesty, P‘ing Têng, reigns at the bottom of the great
Ocean, away to the south-west, below the Wu-chiao rock. His is the
vast, circular hell of A-pi, many leagues in breadth, jealously
enclosed by an iron net, and subdivided into sixteen wards, as

In the first, the wicked souls have their bones beaten and their
bodies scorched. In the second, their muscles are drawn out and their
bones rapped. In the third, ducks eat their heart and liver. In the
fourth, dogs eat their intestines and lungs. In the fifth, they are
splashed with hot oil. In the sixth, their heads are crushed in a
frame, and their tongues and teeth are drawn out. In the seventh,
their brains are taken out and their skulls filled with hedge-hogs. In
the eighth, their heads are steamed and their brains scraped. In the
ninth, they are dragged about by sheep till they drop to pieces. In
the tenth, they are squeezed in a wooden press and pricked on the
head. In the eleventh, their hearts are ground in a mill. In the
twelfth, boiling water drips on to their bodies. In the thirteenth,
they are stung by wasps. In the fourteenth, they are tortured by ants
and maggots; they are then stewed, and finally wrung out (like
clothes). In the fifteenth, they are stung by scorpions. In the
sixteenth, they are tortured by venomous snakes, crimson and scarlet.

All who on earth have committed one of the ten great crimes, and have
deserved either the lingering death, decapitation, strangulation, or
other punishment, shall, after passing through the tortures of the
previous Courts, be brought to this Court, together with those guilty
of arson, of making _ku_ poison,[394] bad books, stupefying drugs, and
many other disgraceful acts. Then, if it be found that, hearkening to
the words of the _Divine Panorama_, they subsequently destroyed the
blocks of these books, burnt their prescriptions, and ceased
practising the magical art, they shall escape the punishments of this
Court and be passed on to the Tenth Court, thence to be born again
amongst the sons of men. But if, having heard the warnings of the
_Divine Panorama_, they still continue to sin, from the Second to the
Eighth Court their tortures shall be increased. They shall be bound on
to a hollow copper pillar, clasping it round with their hands and
feet. Then the pillar shall be filled with fierce fire, so as to burn
into their heart and liver; and afterwards their feet shall be plunged
into the great Gehenna of A-pi, knives shall be thrust into their
lungs, they shall bite their own hearts, and gradually sink to the
uttermost depths of hell, there to endure excruciating torments until
the victims of their wickedness have either recovered the property out
of which they were cheated, or the life that was taken away from them,
and until every trace of book, prescription, picture, &c. formerly
used by these wicked souls has disappeared from the face of the earth.
Then, and only then, may they pass into the Tenth Court to be born
again in one of the Six States of existence.

O ye who have committed such crimes as these, on the 8th of the 4th
moon, or the 1st or 15th (of any moon), fasting swear that you will
buy up all bad books and magical pamphlets and utterly destroy them
with fire; or that you will circulate copies of the _Divine Panorama_
to be a warning to others! Then, when your last moment is at hand, the
Spirit of the Hearth will write on your forehead the two words _He
obeyed_, and from the Second up to the Ninth Court your good deeds
will be rewarded by a diminution of such punishments as you have
incurred. People in the higher ranks of life who secure incendiaries
or murderers, who destroy the blocks of bad books, or publish notices
warning others, and offer rewards for the production of such books,
will be rewarded by the success of their sons and grandsons at the
public examinations. Poor people who, by a great effort, manage to
have the _Divine Panorama_ circulated for the benefit of mankind, will
be forwarded at once to the Tenth Court, and thence be born again in
some happy state on earth.


His Infernal Majesty, Chuan Lun,[395] reigns in the Dark Land, due
east, away below the Wu-chiao rock, just opposite the Wu-cho of this
world. There he has six bridges, of gold, silver, jade, stone, wood,
and planks, over which all souls must pass. He examines the shades
that are sent from the other courts, and, according to their deserts,
sends them back to earth as men, women, old, young, high, low, rich,
or poor, forwarding monthly a list of their names to the judge of the
First Court for transmission to Fêng-tu.[396]

The regulations provide that all beasts, birds, fishes, and insects,
whether biped, quadruped, or otherwise, shall after death become
_chien_,[397] to be born again for long and short lives alternately.
But such as may possibly have taken life, and such as must necessarily
have taken life, will pass through a revolution of the Wheel, and
then, when their sins have been examined, they will be sent up on
earth to receive the proper retribution. At the end of every year a
report will be forwarded to Fêng-tu.

Those scholars who study the Book of Changes, or priests who chant
their liturgies, cannot be tortured in the Ten Courts for the sins
they have committed. When they come to this Court their names and
features are taken down in a book kept for the purpose, and they are
forwarded to Mother Mêng, who drives them on to the Terrace of
Oblivion and doses them with the draught of forgetfulness. Then they
are born again in the world for a day, a week, or it may be a year,
when they die once more; and now, having forgotten the holy words of
the Three Religions,[398] they are carried off by devils to the
various Courts, and are properly punished for their former crimes.

All souls whose balance of good and evil is exact, whose period, or
whose crimes are many and good deeds few, as soon as their future
state has been decided,--man, woman, beautiful, ugly, comfort, toil,
wealth, or poverty, as the case may be,--must pass through the Terrace
of Oblivion.

Amongst those shades, on their way to be born again in the world of
human beings, there are often to be found women who cry out that they
have some old and bitter wrong to avenge,[399] and that rather than be
born again amongst men they would prefer to enter the ranks of hungry
devils.[400] On examining them more closely it generally comes out
that they are the virtuous victims of some wicked student, who may
perhaps have an eye to their money, and accordingly dresses himself
out to entrap them, or promises marriage when sometimes he has a wife
already, or offers to take care of an aged mother or a late husband’s
children. Thus the foolish women are beguiled, and put their property
in the wicked man’s hands. By-and-by he turns round upon and reviles
them, and, losing face in the eyes of their relatives and friends,
with no one to redress their wrong, they are driven to commit suicide.
Then, hearing[401] that their seducer is likely to succeed at the
examination, they beg and implore to be allowed to go back and compass
his death. Now, although what they urge is true enough, yet that man’s
destiny may not be worked out, or the transmitted effects of his
ancestors’ virtue may not have passed away;[402] therefore, as a
compromise, these injured shades are allowed to send a spirit to the
Examination Hall to hinder and confuse him in the preparation of his
paper, or to change the names on the published list of successful
candidates; and finally, when his hour arrives, to proceed with the
spirit who carries the death-summons, seize him, and bring him to the
First Court of judgment.

Ye who on the 17th of the 4th moon swear to carry out the precepts of
the _Divine Panorama_, and frequently make these words the subject of
your conversation, may in the life to come be born again amongst men
and escape official punishments, fire, flood, and all accidents to the

The place where the Wheel of Fate goes round is many leagues in
extent, enclosed on all sides by an iron palisade. Within are
eighty-one subdivisions, each of which has its proper officers and
magisterial appointments. Beyond the palisade there is a labyrinth of
108,000 paths leading by direct and circuitous routes back to earth.
Inside it is as dark as pitch, and through it pass the spirits of
priest and layman alike. But to one who looks from the outside
everything is seen as clear as crystal, and the attendants who guard
the place all have the faces and features they had at their birth.
These attendants are chosen from virtuous people who in life were
noted for filial piety, friendship, or respect for life, and are sent
here to look after the working of the Wheel and such duties. If for a
space of five years they make no mistakes they are promoted to a
higher office; but if found to be lazy or careless they are reported
to the Throne for punishment.

Those who in life have been unfilial or have destroyed much life, when
they have been tortured in the various Courts are brought here and
beaten to death with peach twigs. They then become _chien_, and with
changed heads and altered faces are turned out into the labyrinth to
proceed by the path which ends in the brute creation.

Birds, beasts, fishes and insects, may after many myriads of _kalpas_
again resume their original shapes; and if there are any that during
three existences do not destroy life, they may be born amongst human
beings as a reward, a record being made and their names forwarded to
the First Court for approval. But all shades of men and women must
proceed to the Terrace of Oblivion.

Mother Mêng was born in the Earlier Han Dynasty. In her childhood she
studied books of the Confucian school; when she grew up she chanted
the liturgies of Buddha. Of the past and the future she had no care,
but occupied herself in exhorting mankind to desist from taking life
and become vegetarians. At eighty-one years of age her hair was white
and her complexion like a child’s. She lived and died a virgin,
calling herself simply Mêng; but men called her Mother Mêng. She
retired to the hills and lived as a _religieuse_ until the Later Han.
Then, because certain evil-doers, relying on their knowledge of the
past, used to beguile women by pretending to have been their husbands
in a former life, God commissioned Mother Mêng to build the Terrace of
Oblivion, and appointed her as guardian, with devils to wait upon her
and execute her commands. It was arranged that all shades who had been
sentenced in the Ten Courts to return in various conditions to earth
should first be dosed by her with a decoction of herbs, sweet, bitter,
acrid, sour or salt. Thus they forgot everything that has previously
happened to them, and carry away with them to earth some slight
weaknesses such as the mouth watering at the thought (of something
nice), laughter inducing perspiration, fear inducing tears, anger
inducing sobs, or spitting from nervousness. Good spirits who go back
into the world will have their senses of sight, hearing, smell, and
taste very much increased in power, and their physical strength and
constitution generally will be much bettered. But evil spirits will
experience the exact contrary of this, as a reward for previous sins
and as a warning to others to pray and repent.

The Terrace is situated in front of the Ten Courts, outside the six
bridges. It is square, measuring ten (Chinese) feet every way, and
surrounded by 108 small rooms. To the east there is a raised path, one
foot four inches in breadth, and in the rooms above-mentioned are
prepared cups of forgetfulness ready for the arrival of the shades.
Whether they swallow much or little it matters not; but sometimes
there are perverse devils who altogether refuse to drink. Then beneath
their feet sharp blades start up, and a copper tube is forced down
their throats, by which means they are compelled to swallow some. When
they have drunk, they are raised by the attendants and escorted back
by the same path. They are next pushed on to the Bitter Bamboo
floating bridge, with torrents of rushing red water on either side.
Half way across they perceive written in large characters on a red
cliff on the opposite side the following lines:--

   “To be a man is easy, but to act up to one’s responsibilities as such
        is hard.
    Yet to be a man once again is harder still.

    For those who would be born again in some happy state there is no
        great difficulty;
    It is only necessary to keep mouth and heart in harmony.”

When the shades have read these words they try to jump on shore, but
are beaten back into the water by two huge devils. One has on a black
official hat and embroidered clothes; in his hand he holds a paper
pencil, and over his shoulder he carries a sharp sword. Instruments of
torture hang at his waist, fiercely he glares out of his large round
eyes and laughs a horrid laugh. His name is _Short Life_. The other
has a dirty face smeared with blood; he has on a white coat, an abacus
in his hand and a rice sack over his shoulder. Round his neck hangs a
string of paper money; his brow contracts hideously, and he utters
long sighs. His name is _They have their reward_, and his duty is to
push the shades into the red water. The wicked and foolish rejoice at
the prospect of being born once more as human beings; but the better
shades weep and mourn that in life they did not lay up a store of
virtuous acts, and thus pass away from the state of mortals for
ever.[403] Yet they all rush on to birth like an infatuated or drunken
crowd; and again, in their early childhood, hanker after the forbidden
flavours.[404] Then, regardless of consequences, they begin to destroy
life, and thus forfeit all claims to the mercy and compassion of God.
They take no thought as to the end that must overtake them; and
finally, they bring themselves once more to the same horrid plight.


[340] The _Yü Li_ or _Divine Panorama_.

[341] The Divine Ruler, immediately below God himself.

[342] See No. XXVI., note 182.

[343] See _Author’s Own Record_ (in _Introduction_), note 28.

[344] The three worst of the Six Paths.

[345] That the state of one life is the result of behaviour in a
previous existence.

[346] _Lit._--the skin purse (of his bones).

[347] Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

[348] Violent deaths are regarded with horror by the Chinese. They
hold that a truly virtuous man always dies either of illness or old

[349] Good people go to Purgatory in the flesh, and are at once passed
up to Heaven without suffering any torture, or are sent back to earth

[350] The Supreme Ruler.

[351] See No. I., note 36.

[352] Supposed to be the gate of the Infernal Regions.

[353] Hades.

[354] Literally, “ten armfuls.”

[355] To Heaven, Earth, sovereign, and relatives.

[356] Held to be a great relief to the spirits of the dead.

[357] It is commonly believed that if the spirit of a murdered man can
secure the violent death of some other person he returns to earth
again as if nothing had happened, the spirit of his victim passing
into the world below and suffering all the misery of a disembodied
soul in his stead. See No. XLV., note 267.

[358] A very common trick in China. The drunken bully Lu Ta in the
celebrated novel _Shui-hu_ saved himself by these means, and I have
heard that the Mandarin who in the war of 1842 spent a large sum in
constructing a paddle-wheel steamer to be worked by men, hoping
thereby to match the wheel-ships of the Outer Barbarians, is now
expiating his failure at a monastery in Fukien. _Apropos_ of which, it
may not be generally known that at this moment there are small
paddle-wheel boats for Chinese passengers, plying up and down the
Canton river, the wheels of which are turned by gangs of coolies who
perform a movement precisely similar to that required on the

[359] In order that their marriage destiny may not be interfered with.
It is considered disgraceful not to accept the ransom of a slave girl
of 15 or 16 years of age. See No. XXVI., note 185.

[360] The soil of China belongs, every inch of it, to the Emperor.
Consequently, the people owe him a debt of gratitude for permitting
them to live upon it.

[361] Do their duty as men and women.

[362] A Chinaman may have three kinds of fathers; (1) his real father,
(2) an adopted father, such as an uncle without children to whom he
has been given as heir, and (3) the man his widowed mother may marry.
The first two are to all intents and purposes equal; the third is
entitled only to one year’s mourning instead of the usual three.

[363] As taxes.

[364] Visitors to Peking may often see the junkmen at T‘ung-chow
pouring water by the bucketful on to newly-arrived cargoes of Imperial
rice in order to make up the right weight and conceal the amount they
have filched on the way.

[365] That is, with a false gloss on them.

[366] In order to raise to nap and give an appearance of strength and

[367] Costermongers and others acquire certain rights to doorsteps or
snug corners in Chinese cities which are not usually infringed by
competitors in the same line of business. Chair-coolies,
carrying-coolies, ferrymen, &c., also claim whole districts as their
particular field of operations and are very jealous of any
interference. I know of a case in which the right of “scavengering” a
town had been in the same family for generations, and no one dreamt of
trying to take it out of their hands.

[368] Chiefly alluding to small temples where some pious spirit may
have lighted a lamp or candle to the glory of his favourite P‘u-sa.

[369] This is done either by making a figure of the person to be
injured and burning it in a slow fire, like the old practice of the
wax figure in English history; or by obtaining his nativity
characters, writing them out on a piece of paper and burning them in a
candle, muttering all the time whatsoever mischief it is hoped will
befall him.

[370] Popularly known as the Chinese Pluto. The Indian _Yama_.

[371] The celebrated “See-one’s-home Terrace.”

[372] Regarded by the Chinese with intense disgust.

[373] Father’s, mother’s, and wife’s families.

[374] I know of few more pathetic passages throughout all the
exquisite imagery of the Divine Comedy than this in which the guilty
soul is supposed to look back to the home he has but lately left and
gaze in bitter anguish on his desolate hearth and broken household
gods. For once the gross tortures of Chinese Purgatory give place to
as refined and as dreadful a punishment as human ingenuity could well

[375] A long pole tipped with a kind of birdlime is cautiously
inserted between the branches of a tree, and then suddenly dabbed on
to some unsuspecting sparrow.

[376] If this is done in Winter or Spring the Spirits of the Hearth
and Threshold are liable to catch cold.

[377] I presume because God sits with his face to the south.

[378] Pious and wealthy people often give orders for an image of a
certain P‘u-sa to be made with an ounce or so of gold inside.

[379] Primarily, because no living thing should be killed for food.
The ox and the dog are specified because of their kindly services to
man in tilling the earth and guarding his home.

[380] The symbol of the Yin and the Yang, so ably and so poetically
explained by Mr. Alabaster in his pamphlet on the Doctrine of the

[381] One being male and the other being female. This calls to mind
the extreme modesty of a celebrated French lady, who would not put
books by male and female authors on the same shelf.

[382] The symbol on Buddha’s heart; more commonly known to the western
world as Thor’s Hammer.

[383] Emblems of Imperial dignity.

[384] Supposed to confer immortality.

[385] Unfit for translation.

[386] This is ingeniously expressed, as if _mothers_ were the prime
movers in such unnatural acts.

[387] On fête days at temples it is not uncommon to see cages full of
birds hawked about among the holiday-makers, that those who feel
twinges of conscience may purchase a sparrow or two and relieve
themselves from anxiety by the simple means of setting them at

[388] Bones are used in glazing porcelain, to give a higher finish.

[389] The seven periods of seven days each which occur immediately
after a death and at which the departed shade is appeased with food
and offerings of various kinds.

[390] To warm them.

[391] When they are born again on earth.

[392] Heart, lungs, spleen, liver, and kidneys.

[393] Many millions of years.

[394] The following recipe for this deadly poison is given in the
well-known Chinese work _Instructions to Coroners_:--“Take a quantity
of insects of all kinds and throw them into a vessel of any kind;
cover them up, and let a year pass away before you look at them again.
The insects will have killed and eaten each other, until there is only
one survivor, and this one is _Ku_.”

[395] He who “turns the wheel;” a _chakravartti raja_.

[396] The capital city of the Infernal Regions.

[397] The ghosts of dead people are believed to be liable to death.
The ghost of a ghost is called _chien_.

[398] On the “Three Systems.” See note 347, _Appendix_.

[399] Women are considered in China to be far more revengeful than

[400] See _Author’s Own Record_ (in _Introduction_), note 28.

[401] While in Purgatory.

[402] It was mentioned above that the rewards for virtue would be
continued to a man’s sons and grandsons.

[403] That is, go to heaven.

[404] Of meat, wine, &c.



“The rudimentary form of all religion is the propitiation of dead
ancestors, who are supposed to be still existing, and to be capable of
working good or evil to their descendants.”--SPENCER’S ESSAYS. Vol.
iii., p. 102.--_The Origin of Animal Worship._


“As a general rule, people are apt to consider it impossible for a man
to be in two places at once, and indeed a saying to that effect has
become a popular saw. But the rule is so far from being universally
accepted, that the word ‘bilocation’ has been invented to express the
miraculous faculty possessed by certain saints of the Roman Church, of
being in two places at once; like St. Alfonso di Liguori, who had the
useful power of preaching his sermon in church while he was confessing
penitents at home.”--TYLOR’S _Primitive Culture_. Vol. i., p. 447.


“Hence the various burial rites--the placing of weapons and valuables
along with the body, the daily bringing of food to it, &c. I hope
hereafter, to show that with such knowledge of facts as he has, this
interpretation is the most reasonable the savage can arrive
at.”--SPENCER’S ESSAYS. Vol. iii., p. 104.--_The Origin of Animal


“The distinction so easily made by us between our life in dreams and our
real life, is one which the savage recognises in but a vague way; and he
cannot express even that distinction which he perceives. When he awakes,
and to those who have seen him lying quietly asleep, describes where he
has been, and what he has done, his rude language fails to state the
difference between seeing and dreaming that he saw, doing and dreaming
that he did. From this inadequacy of his language it not only results
that he cannot truly represent this difference to others, but also
that he cannot truly represent it to himself.”--SPENCER’S ESSAYS. Vol.
iii., pp. 103, 104.


“The ghost or phantasm seen by the dreamer or the visionary is an
unsubstantial form, like a shadow, and thus the familiar term of the
_shade_ comes in to express the soul. Thus the Tasmanian word for the
shadow is also that for the spirit; the Algonquin Indians describe a
man’s soul as _otahchuk_, ‘his shadow;’ the Quiché language uses
_natub_ for ‘shadow, soul;’ the Arawac _ueja_ means ‘shadow, soul,
image;’ the Abipones made the one word _loákal_ serve for ‘shadow,
soul, echo, image.’”--TYLOR’S _Primitive Culture_. Vol. i., p. 430.


“Thus the dead in Purgatory knew that Dante was alive when they saw
that, unlike theirs, his figure cast a shadow on the ground.”--TYLOR’S
_Primitive Culture_. Vol. i., p. 431.


“The savage, conceiving a corpse to be deserted by the active
personality who dwelt in it, conceives this active personality to be
still existing, and his feelings and ideas concerning it form the
basis of his superstitions.”--SPENCER’S ESSAYS. Vol. iii., p.
103.--_The Origin of Animal Worship._


“Whether the Buddhists receive the full Hindu doctrine of the
migration of the individual soul from birth to birth, or whether they
refine away into metaphysical subtleties the notion of continued
personality, they do consistently and systematically hold that a
man’s life in former existences is the cause of his now being what he
is, while at this moment he is accumulating merit or demerit whose
result will determine his fate in future lives.”--TYLOR’S _Primitive
Culture_. Vol. ii., p. 12.


“Memory, it is true, fails generally to recall these past births, but
memory, as we know, stops short of the beginning even of this present
life.”--TYLOR’S _Primitive Culture_. Vol. ii., p. 12.


“As for believers, savage or civilised, in the great doctrine of
metempsychosis, these not only consider that an animal may have a
soul, but that this soul may have inhabited a human being, and thus
the creature may be in fact their own ancestor or once familiar
friend.”--TYLOR’S _Primitive Culture_. Vol. i., p. 469.


“Orthodox Buddhism decided against the tree-souls, and consequently
against the scruple to harm them, declaring trees to have no mind nor
sentient principle, though admitting that certain dewas or spirits do
reside in the body of trees, and speak from within them.”--TYLOR’S
_Primitive Culture_. Vol. i., p. 475.



                                               VOL. PAGE NOTE

  Abstinence from Wine and Meat                  i.   23   52

  Actors                                         i.  218  188

  Adoption                                       i.  386  310
     „                                          ii.  156  137
     „                                          ii.  272  256

  Adulteration                                  ii.  332  320

  Age of graduates                               i.  345  274

  Age to marry                                   i.  113  112

  Alchemy                                        i.   65   83
     „                                          ii.  313  299

  Alms’-bowl                                     i.  246  211
      „                                          i.  395  320

  Amusements, Literary                           i.  215  186

  Anatomy, Chinese                              ii.  253  235

  “Angels” of Taoism                             i.   17   48

  Arbiter of Life and Death                      i.  226  194

  Archery                                        i.   91   92

  Aristocracy, The                               i.  186  156

  Auspicious Sites                               i.  336  268

  Bad Sons                                       i.  147  131
   „   „                                        ii.  212  190
   „   „                                        ii.  281  267

  Bambooing                                      i.   55   76

  Banquets, Theatrical Entertainments during    ii.   54   41

  Beadles                                       ii.   17   18

  Beauty, Chinese                               ii.  123   94

  Beggars                                        i.  246  212

  Betrothals                                     i.  108  108
      „                                          i.  193  165
      „                                          i.  227  195

  Bikshu                                         i.  395  320

  Blowing into meat                             ii.  306  292

  Blue China Epoch                              ii.  303  290

  Bôdhisatva                                     i.  208  182

  Bridal procession                              i.  338  269

  Bridegroom living in bride’s family            i.  193  163

  Brotherly deference                            i.  314  247
      „     dependence                           i.  318  250

  Brothers having separate establishments       ii.  322  314

  Brown deer of Formosa                          i.  399  329

  Buddha, Repeating the name of                  i.  367  293

  “Bull’s hide” trick, The                      ii.  180  163

  Burials                                        i.  197  171

  Burying stray bones, &c.                      ii.  147  130

  Caligraphy                                    ii.  174  157

  Capping verses                                 i.  332  262
     „      „                                   ii.   57   44

  Cash                                           i.    6   42
   „                                            ii.  171  148

  Cat and dog Restaurant                        ii.  308  294

  Catalepsy                                      i.    4   40
      „                                         ii.   73   55

  Celibacy                                       i.   23   52

  Censorate, The                                 i.  229  197

  Chai-mui                                       i.  333  265

  Chamber of Horrors                             i.   93   94

  Change of residence                            i.  321  251

  Charitable gifts                               i.  137  129

  Chess, Chinese                                 i.   46   66

  Chou, General                                 ii.  221  202

  Chowry                                        ii.   71   52

  Clay-image makers                             ii.  276  261

  Clepsydra                                      i.   49   70

  “Climbing trees to catch fish”                ii.  305  291

  Coffins                                        i.  102  104
     „                                           i.  197  172
     „    deposited in Temples                   i.  237  203
     „    for poor people                       ii.  316  303
     „    Sleeping in                           ii.  354  336

  Concubines                                     i.  395  321

  Confucius, Descendants of                      i.   33   61

  Conservatism                                   i.  427  348

  Contemplation, Priestly                       ii.   71   51

  Coroners                                      ii.  196  175

  Counting cattle, Method of                    ii.  255  239

  Cow-herd and the Lady                          i.   27   55

  Cricket-fighting                               i.   75   85

  Crows, Feeding the                             i.  279  229

  Cumquats                                      ii.  301  289

  Cycle, The Chinese                             i.  180  152

  Cynthia, The Chinese                           i.  171  147

  Damon and Pythias                              i.  166  143

  Death                                          i.  150  134
    „   Fear of                                  i.  101  103

  Death-summons, The                             i.  150  134

  Decapitation                                  ii.   78   59

  Degrees, The three                             i.    1   37

  Devils, Good and bad                          ii.  201  179

  Dice                                          ii.  145  125

  Divorce                                        i.  360  288

  Doctors                                       ii.  293  279

  Dogs, Chinese                                 ii.  309  296

  Dolphin, Fresh-water                          ii.   43   31

  _Double-entendres_                            ii.  176  160

  Dragon-boat festival                          ii.  168  142

  Dragons                                       ii.  112   84
     „                                          ii.  349  331

  Dreams                                        ii.  250  231

  Dwarfs                                         i.  224  193

  Drunkenness                                    i.   30   59
       „                                         i.  365  292
       „                                        ii.   30   23

  Eating                                        ii.  111   83

  Education                                      i.  297  237
      „                                         ii.  322  313

  Elixir of Immortality                          i.   19   49
       „         „                              ii.  168  143

  Examinations, Competitive                      i.  195  168
        „            „                          ii.   64   48
        „            „                          ii.   91   71

  Eye, Pupils of the                             i.    8   43

  Fa Hsien’s journey                            ii.  232  212

  Fabulous Lion                                 ii.  343  327

  Facing the South                              ii.  103   76

  Falconry                                       i.   22   51

  Fan, An Autumn                                 i.  361  289

  Fantan                                         i.  421  343

  Fatalism                                       i.  340  270

  Feet of betrothed tied together                i.  431  354

  Fêng-Shui                                     ii.  322  312

  Feudal Governor                               ii.  287  273

  “_Fiancé_,” Death of a                         i.   99  101

  Figure-head                                   ii.   54   40

  Fire-wells                                    ii.  238  220

  Flageolets                                     i.   28   58

  Folk-lore in the North and South              ii.  329  319

  Fondness for children                          i.  401  332

  Foot-binding                                   i.  192  161

  Fortune-tellers                                i.   47   68

  Foundries, Iron                               ii.  216  194

  Four Books, The                                i.  297  237

  Four Seas, The                                ii.  116   89

  Fox influence                                  i.   32   60

  Foxes, Soothsayers possessed by               ii.  358  339

  Gambling                                       i.  421  343

  Ganges, The                                   ii.   28   22

  Gates of a city shut at night                 ii.  262  243

  Geese                                          i.  255  217

  “Gentleman,” The Chinese                       i.  168  145

  Geomancy                                       i.  227  195

  Gioros                                         i.   66   84

  Girdles, The pearl                             i.  283  230

  Glass                                          i.  249  214
    „                                           ii.  233  216

  Go-betweens                                    i.  187  157
       „                                        ii.  154  135

  God of War, The                                i.    2   39

  “Golden lilies”                                i.  188  159

  “Golden Orchid” Societies                      i.  196  170

  Gongs                                         ii.  105   78

  Good fortune, Absorbing only a certain
  quantity of                                    i.  342  271

  Graduates by purchase                          i.  202  177

  Graduates, Senior                              i.  199  175

  Grave, The                                     i.  240  207

  Great beam, Fixing the                        ii.  267  247

  Greed                                         ii.   74   56

  Han dynasty                                    i.  258  219

  Han-lin, The Chinese National Academy          i.  195  169

  Heart, The                                     i.   96   97,

  Homicide                                       i.  353  285

  Honesty in olden times                        ii.  250  232

  “Hsi-yüan-lu,” The                             i.   98  100

  “Hu,” The name                                 i.   89   90

  Hué                                            i.  397  325

  Human life, Value of                          ii.  338  323

  Hungry devils                                 ii.  270  252

  Immortality                                    i.  157  139

  Immortals, Record of the                      ii.   88   68

  Imperial mandates                             ii.  240  223

  Impressment                                    i.  220  190

  Infernal Regions                              ii.   95   72
     „        „                                 ii.  354  335

  Inheritance, Law of                           ii.  345  328

  Initiation of a Priest                        ii.   69   50

  Inner apartments                               i.   53   74
    „       „                                    i.  252  215
    „       „                                   ii.   46   33

  Jelly-fish                                    ii.  332  321

  Judas tree                                    ii.  151  133

  Judges                                        ii.   96   74

  Jugglers                                      ii.  189  172

  Khakkharam, The                                i.  395  320

  Kangs                                         ii.  133  114

  Keeping secret professional knowledge         ii.  255  238

  Kidnapping                                     i.  183  154

  Kite-flying Festival                          ii.  268  250

  Knife Hill, The                               ii.  205  184

  Kot‘ow, The                                    i.  388  314

  K‘u-ts‘an                                     ii.  255  237

  Kuan-yin                                       i.  241  208

  Lanterns, Feast of                             i.   99  102

  Li T‘ai-poh                                   ii.  144  121

  Lictors                                       ii.  205  182

  Lighting the Eyes                             ii.  224  203

  Lingering death, The                           i.  396  322

  Literary chancellor                           ii.  284  271

  Literati, The                                 ii.   36   29

  Literature, God of                            ii.  320  307

  Liu Ch‘üan and the melon                      ii.  351  334

  Living Lictors of Purgatory, The               i.  207  180

  Loans                                         ii.  171  146

  Locusts                                       ii.  242  224

  Lohans                                        ii.  321  311

  Long Robes                                    ii.  273  257

  Lots, Drawing                                 ii.   73   54

  Love-matches                                   i.  115  113

  Lucifer Matches                               ii.  120   92

  Lunatics                                      ii.   30   23

  Lü Tung-pin                                   ii.  296  284

  Magic Sword                                    i.   62   80

  Mandarin Dialect                               i.  398  327

  Manslaughter                                   i.  222  192

  Marriage Ceremonies                            i.   10   45
      „         „                                i.  181  153
      „         „                                i.  227  195
      „         „                                i.  228  196

  Marriages                                      i.  108  109
      „                                          i.  193  165

  Marrying a second time                         i.  112  110

  Mars, The Chinese                              i.    2   39

  Medical testimonials                          ii.  292  278

  Memorial tablet, Inking                       ii.  224  203

  Mercy, The Goddess of                          i.  241  208

  Messengers of good tidings                    ii.  252  234

  Milky way, The                                 i.  152  135

  Miracles                                       i.  396  323

  “Mirror and Listen” trick                     ii.  251  233

  Misappropriation of funds                     ii.  224  204

  Moon, The Goddess of the                       i.   19   49
    „   The Lady of the                          i.   19   49

  Mothers-in-law                                 i.  315  249

  Mourning for a father                          i.  199  174

  Mules                                         ii.  242  225

  Murders                                        i.  230  198

  Names, Family                                  i.   92   93
    „    Personal                               ii.  132  111

  Night, Divisions of the                        i.  215  187

  Nine grades of official life                   i.  388  313

  Nunneries                                      i.  262  221

  Oath of confederation                         ii.  146  127

  Oblivion, Potion of                           ii.  207  189

  Official corruption                           ii.   79   60
     „     responsibility                        i.  232  199

  Officials                                      i.  237  202

  Old age                                       ii.   31   24

  Olive, the sign of peace                       i.  324  256

  Paper men                                      i.   49   71
    „   money                                    i.  391  317
    „     „                                     ii.  172  150

  Pao Shu                                        i.  166  143

  Patra, The                                     i.  395  320
    „     „                                      i.  246  211

  Pawn-shops                                     i.  198  173

  Persia                                        ii.   25   21

  Phœnix Tower                                  ii.  270  253

  Physiognomy, Professors of                    ii.  290  275

  Planchette                                    ii.  295  283

  Playing _wei-ch‘i_ for money                  ii.  271  254

  Poetical proficiency                           i.   33   62

  Police system                                  i.  221  191

  Politeness                                    ii.  203  181

  Poor scholars                                  i.  160  142

  Pope of the Taoists                            i.  118  114

  Porterage                                     ii.  181  164

  Posthumous Honours                             i.  305  241

  Praying for good or bad weather               ii.  294  282

  Praying-mat                                   ii.  183  166

  Precedence at table                            i.  332  261

  Predestination                                 i.   48   69
        „                                        i.  156  138

  Primogeniture                                  i.  203  179

  Prisoners in China                             i.  372  299
      „          „                              ii.   96   73
      „          „                              ii.  261  242

  P‘u-hsien, God of Action                      ii.  232  214

  Pulse, The                                     i.   39   64

  Punishments                                    i.  381  306

  Pupils taken by priests                       ii.  119   91

  Purgatory, Capital of                         ii.  238  220

  Quail-fighting                                 i.   75   85

  Quail’s Tail, A                                i.  209  183

  Rebel, The first                              ii.   52   37

  Red-garment figure, The                        i.   19   50

  Red-haired barbarians                         ii.  179  162

  Relationship, Test of                         ii.  278  264

  Religion and the drama                         i.  345  277

  Resemblance between soul and body             ii.  280  265

  Retinues of mandarins                          i.  389  315
      „          „                              ii.  174  155
      „          „                              ii.  175  158

  Returning invitations                         ii.  227  206

  Revenge                                        i.  310, 243,
                                                     311  244
     „    for adultery                           i.   62   81

  Reward of filial piety                         i.  351  283

  Rising when spoken to                         ii.  280  266

  Roc, The                                      ii.  341  325

  Rosary, The Buddhist                           i.  369  295

  Royal Mother, The                             ii.  187  170

  Rulers of animal and vegetable kingdoms        i.  292  235

  Running water                                 ii.  110   82

  Sacred edict, The                              i.  203  179

  Sale of children                               i.  183  154
     „    degrees                               ii.  170  144

  Salt monopoly                                 ii.  215  192

  “Same-year men”                                i.  136  128

  Saving life                                   ii.  200  178
     „    „                                     ii.  214  191

  Scribbling and carving names                  ii.  123   96

  Sea-serpent, The                              ii.  113   86

  Secret societies                               i.  196  170

  Sections of Purgatory, The nine               ii.  205  183

  Senses, The five                               i.  259  220

  Separation of sexes                           ii.  167  141

  Shaking hands                                  i.  287  233
     „      „                                   ii.  151  134

  Sham entertainment                             i.  323  254

  Shampooing                                    ii.   53   38

  “Shang-yang” brings rain                      ii.  131  109

  “Shoes” of silver                              i.  148  133

  Short weights                                 ii.  325  315

  Shun, The Emperor                              i.   37   63

  Shun Chih, The Emperor                        ii.  184  167

  Sickness                                       i.  107  107

  Six Boards, The                                i.   26   54

  Slave-girls’ feet                              i.  430  353

  Slavery                                        i.  211  185

  Small feet                                     i.   76   86
    „    „                                       i.  192  161
    „   waists                                  ii.   47   35

  Sons                                           i.   64   82

  Spirit calling                                 i.  189  160
     „   entering another’s body                ii.   24   20

  Spirits, Disembodied                           i.   79   87
     „          „                                i.  119  115
     „          „                                i.  123  119
     „          „                                i.  157  139

  Spiritualistic _séances_                      ii.  133  112

  Sponge, A                                      i.  248  213

  Spring festival                               ii.  186  169

  Squeezes                                       i.  219  189

  Staff of Buddhist priests, The                 i.  395  320

  Stealing, Pardonable                          ii.  217  196

  Strong rooms                                  ii.  172  149

  Styx, The                                     ii.  216  193

  Subscriptions                                 ii.  220  201

  Substantiality of ghosts                       i.  239  205
        „             „                         ii.  236  219

  Substitution theory                            i.  334  267

  Suicide                                        i.  311  244
     „    Meritorious                           ii.  142  120

  Superior man, The                              i.  168  145

  Supernatural government                        i.  292  235

  Supreme Ruler, The                             i.  242  209

  Surnames, Common                               i.  210  184

  Sutra, The Diamond                             i.  238  204

  Tails of horses not cut                       ii.  286  272

  Taking life                                    i.   79   88

  Talking when born                              i.  243  210

  Tao                                            i.   14   46

  Taot‘ai                                       ii.  229  207

  Tartar general                                ii.  128  106

  Temples, Repairs to                           ii.  127  105

  Theatricals                                    i.  218  188

  Threshing-floors                              ii.  236  218

  Thunder, God of                                i.   43   65
     „       „                                  ii.  112   85

  Ting P‘u-lang                                 ii.  109   80

  Titles of Nobility                             i.  305  241

  Torture                                       ii.   81   62
     „    Supply of instruments of              ii.  238  221

  Tree worship                                  ii.   72   53

  Trousseau, Bride’s                             i.  256  218

  Tung-t‘ing Lake                                i.  271  226

  Types of friendship                            i.  166  143

  Tzŭ-ang, a Chinese Landseer                   ii.  287  274

  Ulysses, A Chinese                             i.   91   91

  Ushnisha, The                                 ii.  320  310

  Valuables in coffins                           i.  311  245

  Verdict                                        i.   56   78

  Visiting the tutor                            ii.  126  103

  Vital spots on the body                       ii.  356  338

  Wang Wei, The poet                            ii.  149  132

  Washing-blocks                                ii.  315  301

  Watchmen                                       i.   51   72

  Wedding-presents                               i.   28   57

  Wei-ch‘i                                      ii.  268  249

  Wên-shu, the God of Wisdom                    ii.  232  214

  White Lily sect                               ii.  189  171

  Widowers                                      ii.  183  165

  Widows                                        ii.   39   30

  Windows                                        i.   61   79

  Wine                                          ii.  259, 240,
                                                     260  241

  Wine-cup upside down, Turning the              i.  264  224

  Wine taken hot                                ii.  144  122

  Witnesses in a court of justice               ii.  156  136

  Women ride astride                             i.  354  286

  Wooden fish, The                              ii.  195  174

  Works of supererogation                        i.  426  346

  Worldly-mindedness                            ii.  312  298

  Wu Wang                                        i.  278  228

  Yamên                                          i.    2   38

  Yang Ta-hung                                  ii.  310  297

  Yang-tsze, The                                ii.  176  159

  Years, Names of                                i.  113  111

  Yellow girdles                                 i.   66   84

  _Yin_ and the _yang_, The                      i.  176  150

  Yojana, A                                      i.  394  319

  Yü-chiao-li, The                              ii.  164  140


    Demy 8vo. pp. 204.

    Being a Collection of Easy and Useful Sentences in the Mandarin
    Dialect, with a Vocabulary. Post 8vo. pp. 60, paper cover.

    In the Mandarin Dialect. Demy 4to, half bound.

    Demy 8vo. pp. 76, paper cover.

    on subjects connected with the Far East. Demy 8vo. pp. 184,
    paper cover.

    With a Vocabulary. Demy 8vo. pp. 60, paper cover.

    Translated from the Chinese. Demy 8vo. pp. 130, paper cover.

    Demy 8vo. pp. 118, half bound.

    or, Three Character Classic and the Ch‘ien Tzŭ Wên or 1,000
    Character Essay Metrically translated. Post 8vo. pp. 28, paper

    Demy 8vo. pp. 38, paper cover.

       *       *       *       *       *


This book was published in two volumes, of which this is the second.
The first volume was released as Doctrine Publishing Corporation ebook #xxxxx,
not present in this electronic text can be found in Volume I.
The table of contents is reproduced as printed in Volume I.

Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

Obvious typographical errors repaired. Punctuation, spelling,
hyphenation, use of accented characters and stylistic presentation
standardized when a predominant preference was found in this book.
Capitalization and hyphenation of Chinese personal names has been
standardized. Otherwise left as printed.

Footnote numbers were re-indexed in this electronic text, internal
references renumbered correspondingly.

Footnote 72, ‘excepting’ changed to ‘except’ (except in the matter of

Footnote 92, ‘of’ added (first quarter of the present century).

Footnote 124, ‘denôuement’ changed to ‘dénouement’ (important to the
_dénouement_ of the story).

Footnote 140, ‘dénoûement’ changed to ‘dénouement’ (The _dénouement_
of the _Yü-chiao-li_).

Footnote 172, ‘Ibu’ changed to ‘Ibn’ (Ibn Batuta writes as follows).

Footnote 324, ‘LXVII.’ changed to ‘LXVIII.’ (See No. LXVIII.).

Page 19, ‘of’ added (a number of curious stones).

Page 65, ‘be’ changed to ‘he’ (but he soon reflected).

Page 145, ‘sung’ changed to ‘sang’ (whereupon he sang the following

Page 198, ‘he’ changed to ‘be’ (that he would be only too happy).

Page 208, ‘according’ changed to ‘accordingly’ (accordingly, when the
King was looking).

Page 254, ‘Ch‘êng’ changed to ‘Ch‘ên’ (This frightened Ch‘ên).

Page 255, ‘Ch‘êng’ changed to ‘Ch‘ên’ (Ch‘ên himself was a

Page 286, ‘servants’ changed to ‘servant’ (rode away, telling his

Page 287, ‘a Mr. Ts‘ui’ changed to ‘Mr. Ts‘ui’ (who lived next door to
Mr. Ts‘ui).

Page 41, ‘He then bit her across the neck’ should probably be ‘He then
hit her across the neck’.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio vol. II (of 2)" ***

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.