FLASH-LIGHTS FROM THE SEVEN SEAS
WILLIAM L. STIDGER
FLASH-LIGHTS FROM THE SEVEN SEAS
BY WILLIAM L. STIDGER
AUTHOR OF "STANDING ROOM ONLY," "STAR DUST FROM THE DUGOUTS," "OUTDOOR MEN AND MINDS," ETC.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY
BISHOP FRANCIS J. McCONNELL
ILLUSTRATED FROM PHOTOGRAPHS BY THE AUTHOR
NEW YORK GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
MARY I. SCOTT
A WOMAN FRIEND WHO PUSHED BACK THE HORIZONS OF THE WORLD AND LED ME TO THE BEGINNING OF THE TRAIL THAT HAS NO END: THE TRAIL OF DREAMS AND TRAVEL
BY BISHOP FRANCIS J. McCONNELL
The Rev. William L. Stidger is one of the most thoroughly alive men in the ministry today. He sees quickly, reacts instantaneously, and knows how to bring others to a like alertness of mental and spiritual seizure. If it be said of him that he is impressionistic it must be remembered that the impressions are made on a mind of sound purpose and communicated to others for the sake of the truth behind the impression. His narratives of travel do not belong in the guide-book category or in that of the scientific geography. But if you wish to know what it would be like to visit yourself the countries described, the reading of Mr. Stidger's sketches will help you. If it be said that what one after all is getting is the Stidger view, it must not be forgotten that the Stidger view is marvellously vital and enkindling. The Stidger vitality is bracing and health-giving. It is a tonic for all of us who are getting a little old and sluggish. The contagion of youth and energy are in this book: it will reach and stir all who read.
FRANCIS J. MCCONNELL
That vast stretch of opal islands; jade continents; sapphire seas of strange sunsets; mysterious masses of brown-skinned humanity; brown-eyed, full-breasted, full-lipped and full-hipped women; which we call the Orient, can only be caught by the photographer's art in flash-light pictures.
It is like a photograph taken in the night. It cannot be clear cut. It cannot have clean outlines. It can only be a blurred mass of humanity with burdens on their shoulders; humanity bent to the ground; creaking carts; weary-eyed children and women; moving, moving, moving; like phantom shadow-shapes; in and out; one great maze through the majestic ages; one confused history of the ancient past; emerging; but not yet out into the sunlight!
Such masses of humanity; such dim, uncertain origins of unfathered races; these can only be caught and seen as through a glass darkly.
Paul Hutchinson, my friend, in "The Atlantic Monthly" says of China what is true of the whole Orient:
"In this vast stretch of country, with its poor communications, we can only know in part. When one sets out to generalize he does so at his own peril. The only consolation is that it is almost impossible to disprove any statement; for, however fantastical, it is probably in accord with the facts in some part of the land."
The facts, fancies, and fallacies of this book are gleaned from the rovings and ramblings of a solid year of over fifty-five thousand miles of travel; through ten separate countries: Japan, Korea, China, the Philippine Islands, French Indo-China, the Malay States, Borneo, Java, Sumatra and the Hawaiian Islands; across seven seas: the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, the North China Sea, the Yellow Sea, the South China Sea, the Malacca Straits, and the Sea of Java; after visiting five wild and primitive tribes: the Ainu Indians of Japan, the Igorrotes of the Philippines, the Negritos of the same islands; the Dyaks of Borneo, and the Battaks of Sumatra; face to face by night and day with new races, new faces, new problems, new aspirations, new ways of doing things, new ways of living, new evils, new sins, new cruelties, new fears, new degradations; new hopes, new days, new ways, new nations arising; new gods, and a new God!
When one comes back from such a trip, having fortified himself with the reading of many books written about these far lands, in addition to his travel, one still has the profound conviction that, after all is said, done, and thought out, the only honest way to picture these vast stretches of land and humanity is to confess that all is in motion; like a great mass of bees in a hive, one on top of the other, busy at buzzing, buying, selling, living, dying, climbing, achieving; groping in the dark; moving upward by an unerring instinct toward the light.
At nights I cannot sleep for thinking about that weird, dim, misty panorama of fleeting, flashing pictures; those thousands of Javanese that I saw down in Sourabaya, who have never known what it means to have a home; who sleep in doorways by night, and along the river banks; where mothers give birth to children, who in turn live and die out under the open sky. Nor can I forget that animal-like beggar in Canton who dug into a gutter for his food; or those hideous beggars, by winter along the railway in Shantung; or the naked one-year-old child covered with sores which a beggar woman in the Chinese section of Shanghai held to her own naked breast. Those pictures and a thousand others abide.
One has the feeling that if he could go back, again, and again, and again to these far shores, and live with these peoples and die with them, then he would begin faintly to understand what it all means and where it is all headed.
And this author, for one, is honest in saying that, in spite of careful investigation, in spite of extensive travel and a sympathetic heart, he sees but dimly. The very glory of it all, the age of it all, the wonder of it all, the mysterious beauty and thrill of it all; the thrill of these masses of humanity, their infinite possibilities for future greatness; like a great blinding flash of glory, dims one's eyes for a time.
But, now, that he has, through quiet meditation and perspective, had a chance to develop the films of thought, he finds that he has brought back home pictures that one ought not to keep to one's self; especially in this day, when, what happens to Asia is so largely to determine what happens to America.
So, out of the dark room, where they have been developing for a year, and out of the dim shadows of that mysterious land whence they came, they are printed and at the bottom of each picture shall be written the humble words:
"Flash-Lights from the Seven Seas"
WILLIAM L. STIDGER.
INTRODUCTION BY BISHOP FRANCIS J. MCCONNELL vii
I FLASH-LIGHTS OF FLAME 19
II FLASH-LIGHTS PHYSICAL 33
III FLASH-LIGHTS OF FAITH 49
IV FLASH-LIGHTS OF FEAR 63
V FLASH-LIGHTS OF FRIGHTFULNESS 79
VI FEMININE FLASH-LIGHTS 101
VII FLASH-LIGHTS OF FUN 123
VIII FLASH-LIGHTS OF FREEDOM 145
IX FLASH-LIGHTS OF FAILURE 165
X FLASH-LIGHTS OF FRIENDSHIP 189
MT. TAISHAN, THE OLDEST WORSHIPPING PLACE ON EARTH Frontispiece
THE WALLED CITY OF MANILA 48
BEAUTIFUL FILIPINO GIRLS 48
KOREAN GIRLS WITH AMERICAN IDEALS AND TRAINING 49
STEPPING ASIDE IN KOREA 49
CONFUCIUS TOMB AT CHUFU, CHINA 64
RUIN OF THE MING TOMBS 64
GRINDING RICE IN CHINA 65
A CAMEL TRAIN ENTERING PEKING 65
THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN, PEKING 112
A BEAUTIFUL THIRTEEN-STORY PAGODA NEAR PEKING 112
A WAYSIDE TEMPLE AND SHRINE 113
A SUNRISE SILHOUETTE, JAVA 113
OLD BROMO VOLCANO, JAVA 128
A SIDE VIEW OF BEAUTIFUL BOROBOEDOER, JAVA 128
NAKED AND OTHERWISE 129
A DOG MARKET 129
FLASH-LIGHTS FROM THE SEVEN SEAS
FLASH-LIGHTS OF FLAME
Fire! Fire! Fire everywhere!
Fire in the sky, fire on the sea, fire on the ships, fire in the flowers, fire in the trees of the forest; fire in the Poinsetta bushes which flash their red flames from every yard and jungle.
In the tropical lands flowers do not burst into blossom; they burst into flame. Great bushes of flaming Poinsetta, as large as American lilac bushes, burst into flame over night in Manila.
That great tree, as large as an Oak, which they call "The Flame of the Forest," looks like a tree on fire with flowers. One will roam the world over and see nothing more beautiful than this great tree which looks like a massive umbrella of solid flame.
Every flower in the Orient seems to be a crimson flower. The tropical heat of the Philippines, Java, Borneo, Sumatra, the Malay States and India's far reaches; with beautiful Ceylon, and Burma; seems to give birth to crimson child-flowers.
The sunsets burst into bloom, as well as the flowers. There is no region on earth where sunsets flare into birth and die in a flash-light of glory and beauty like they do in the regions of the South China Sea. For months at a stretch, every night, without a break, the most wildly gorgeous, flaming, flaring, flashing crimson sunsets crown the glory of the days.
I have been interested in catching pictures of sunsets all over the world. I have caught hundreds of sunsets with the Graflex; and other hundreds have I captured with a Corona, just as they occurred; and I have never seen a spot on earth where the sunsets were such glorious outbursts of crimson and golden beauty as across the circling shores of Manila Bay.
Night after night I have sat in that ancient city and watched these tumultuous, tumbling, Turner-like flashes of color.
One night the sky was flame from sea to zenith across Manila Bay. It was like a great Flame of the Forest tree in full bloom. Against this sky of flaming sunset-clouds, hundreds of ships, anchored in the bay, lit their lesser crimson lights; while, now and then, a battleship which was signaling to another ship, flashed its message of light against the fading glow of glory in the crimson sunset.
"It is light talking unto light; flash unto flash; crimson unto crimson!" said a friend who sat with me looking out across that beautiful bay.
The picture of that flaming sunset, with the great vessels silhouetted against it; with the little lights on the ships, running in parallel rows; and the flashing lights of signals from the masts of the battleship will never die in one's memory.
It was a quiet, peaceful scene.
But suddenly, like a mighty volcano a burst of flame swept into the air at the mouth of the Pasig River. It leapt into the sky and lighted up the entire harbor in a great conflagration. The little ships stood out, silhouetted against that great flaming oil tanker.
"It's a ship on fire!" Otto exclaimed.
"Let's go and see it!" I added.
Then we were off for the mouth of the Pasig which was not far away.
There we saw the most spectacular fire I have ever seen. A great oil tanker full of Cocoanut-oil had burst into flame, trapping thirty men in its awful furnace. Its gaunt masts stood out like toppling tree skeletons from a forest fire against the now deepening might; made vivid and livid by the bursting flames that leapt higher and higher with each successive explosion from a tank of gasoline or oil.
I got out my Graflex and caught several pictures of this flash-light of flame, but none that will be as vivid, as lurid, or as lasting as the flash-light that was etched into the film of my memory.
The next flash-light of flame came bursting out of midnight darkness on the island of Java.
We were bound for old Bromo, that giant volcano of Java. We had started at midnight and it would take us until daylight to reach the crater-brink of this majestic mountain of fire.
White flashes of light, leapt from Bromo at frequent intervals all night long as we traveled on ponies through the tropical jungle trail, upward, and onward to the brink of that pit of hell.
White flashes of light leapt from Bromo at the narrow rail. They called them "Night-Blooming Lilies," and sure enough they blanketed the rugged pathway that night like so many tiny white Fairies. Indeed there was something beautifully weird in their white wonder against the night. They looked like frail, earth-angels playing in the star-light, sending out a sweet odor which mingled strangely with the odor of sulphur from the volcano.
And back of all this was the background of that awful, thundering, rumbling and grumbling volcano as somber as suicide. Strangely weird flashes lighted the mountains for miles around.
"It looks like heat lightning back at home," said an American.
"Only the flashes are more vivid!" said another member of the party.
Those flashes of light from the inner fires of the earth, bursting from the fissures of restless volcano Bromo shall ever remain, like some strange glimpse of a new Inferno.
Volcanic Merapi, another belching furnace of Java, gave me a picture of a flash-light of flame.
The night that we stayed up on the old temple of Boroboedoer, Merapi was unusually active; and now and then its flashes of flame lighted up the whole beautiful valley between the temple and the mountain.
At each flash of fire, the tall Bamboo and Cocoanut trees loomed like graceful Javanese women in the midst of far-reaching, green, rice paddies; while two rivers that met below us, wound under that light like two silver threads in the night.
Once, when an unusually heavy flash came from Merapi, we saw below us a beautiful Javanese girl clasped in the arms of her brown lover. Each seemed to be stark naked as they stood under a Cocoanut tree like Rodin bronzes.
It was this beautiful girl's voice that we later heard singing to her lover a Javanese love song in the tropical night.
This, I take it, was the Flame of Love; a flame which lights up the world forever; everywhere her devotees, clothed or naked, are the same; forever and a day; be it on the streets of Broadway; along the lanes of the Berkshire Hills of New England; up the rugged trails of the Sierras; or along the quiet, tree-lined streets of an American village. It is a flame; this business of love; a flame which, flashing by day and night, lights the world to a new glory.
* * * * *
One night the missionaries in Korea saw flames bursting out against the hills.
"What is it?" they cried, filled with fear.
"The Japanese are burning the Korean villages!" said one who knew.
All night long the villages burned and all night long the people were murdered. Runners brought news to the hillsides of Seoul where anxious, broken-hearted American missionaries waited.
"One, two, three, four, five; ten, fifteen, twenty; thirty, forty, fifty; a hundred, two hundred, three hundred; villages are burning," so came the messages.
The entire peninsula was lighted as with a great holocaust.
It is said that the light could be seen from Fusan itself, a hundred miles away.
"From our village it looked like a light over a great American steel-mill city," said a missionary to me.
And when the morning came, the flames were still leaping high against the crimson sky of dawn.
For days this burning of villages continued. Belgium never saw more ruthless flame and fire; set by sterner souls; or harder hearts!
That was two years ago.
The villages are charred ruins now. Some of them have never been rebuilt. The murdered people of these villages have gone back to dust.
The Japanese think that the fires are out. They thought, when the flames of those burning villages ceased leaping into the skies; and at last were but smouldering embers; that the flames had died. But the Japanese were wrong, for on that very day, the Flames of Freedom began to burn in Korean hearts and souls! And from that day to this; those flames have been rising higher and higher. These are Flash-Lights of Flame that, as the years go by; mount, like beacon lights of hope on Korean hills, to light the marching dawn of Korean Independence.
* * * * *
A beautiful Korean custom that used to be; flashes a flame of fire across the screen of history.
In the old days the Korean Emperor used to have signals of fire flashed from hill to hill running clear from the Chinese border to Seoul, the Korean capital. This signal indicated that all was well along the borders and that there was no danger of a Chinese invasion from the north.
Korea has always been a bone of contention between China, Russia and Japan. Consequently this little peninsula has always walked on uneasy paths, which is ever the fate of a buffer state.
Never did a Korean Emperor go to sleep in peace until he looked out and saw that the signal fires burned on the beautiful mountain peaks surrounding the city of Seoul; fires indicating that the borders were safe that night and that inmates of the palace might rest in peace and security.
"It must have been a beautiful sight to have seen the light flashing on the mountain peak there to the north," I said to an eighty-year old Korean patriarch.
"It meant peace for the night," he answered. "It was beautiful. I often long to see those fires of old burning again on yonder mountain."
He said this with a dramatic wave of his stately white robed arm.
"The sunsets still flame from that western mountain peak, overlooking your city beautiful!" I said with a smile.
"Yes, the sunsets still flame behind that peak," he responded with a far-away look in his aged eyes.
"Perhaps the good Christian God is lighting the fires for you?" I suggested.
"Yes, He, the good Christian God; is still lighting the fires for us; but they are fires of freedom, fires of hope, and fires of Democracy!" the old man said with a new light in his own flashing eyes.
"And fires of peace," I added.
"Yes, fires of Peace when freedom comes!" he responded.
But whatever the political implications are; it is historically true that this old custom had existed for years until the Japanese took possession of Korea and stopped this beautiful tradition.
But behind that same mountain from which the bonfires used to flash in the olden days; indicating that the frontiers were safe for the night; that no enemy hosts were invading the peninsula; behind that mountain the fires of sunset still flame, flash, flare, and die away in the somber purple shadows of night.
* * * * *
Nor shall one forget an evening at Wanju; a hundred miles from Seoul; sitting in the Mission House looking down into that village of a hundred thousand souls; watching the fires of evening lighted; watching a blanket of gray-blue smoke slowly lift over that little village; watching the great round moon slowly rise above a jutting peak beyond the village to smile down on that quiet, peaceful scene in mid-December.
Koreans never light their fires until evening comes and then they light a fire at one end of the house, under the floor and the smoke and heat travel the entire length of the house warming the rooms. It is a poor heat maker but it is a picturesque custom.
Thousands of flames lighted up the sky that night. The little thatch houses, and the children in their quaint garbs moving against the flames composed a strange Oriental Rembrandt picture.
* * * * *
Streets! Streets! Streets!
Lights! Lights! Lights!
Somehow streets and lights go together.
We think of our great Broadway. We smile at our superior ingenuity when we think of the "Great White Way."
But for sheer beauty; fascinating, captivating, alluring, beauty; give me the Ginza in Tokyo on a summer evening; with its millions of twinkling little lights above the thousands of Oriental shops; with the sound of bells, the whistle of salesmen, the laughter of beautiful Japanese girls; the clacking of dainty feet in wooden shoes; and the indefinable essence of romance that hovers over a street of this Oriental type at night. I'll stake the romance, and beauty of the Ginza in Tokyo, against any street in the world. He who has looked upon the Ginza by night, has a Flash-Light of Flame; of tiny, myriad little flaming lights; burned into his memory; to live until he sees at last the lighted streets of Paradise itself.
* * * * *
Nor are the clothes of the Orient without their flaming colors.
The beautiful kimonos of the Geisha girls of Japan; the crimson, gold, and rose glory of the Sing Song Girls of China; the flashing reds of the brown-skinned Spanish belles of the Philippines, as they glide, like wind-blown Bamboo trees through the streets; and the lurid, livid, robes which men and women alike wear in Borneo and Java. In fact all of the clothes of the Orient, are flame-clothes. There are no quiet colors woven into the gown of the Oriental. The Oriental does not know what soft browns are. Crimson is the favorite color for man or woman. They even make their sails red, blue, green and yellow. The beautiful colors of the sailboats in the harbor of Yokohama is one of the first flashing touches of the Orient that a traveler gets. From Japanese Obies, which clasp the waists of Japanese girls, to Javanese Sarongs, the flame and flash of crimson predominates in the gowns of both men and women. Where an American man would blush to be caught in any sort of a gown with crimson predominating save a necktie, the Japanese gentlemen, the Filipino, the Malay, and the Javanese all wear high colors most of the time. And the women are like splendid flaming bushes of fire all the time.
A Javanese bride is all flame as far as her dress is concerned. Her face is powdered; her eyebrows are pencilled a coal black; her arms and shoulders daubed with a yellow grease. As to her dress, the sarong is a flaming robe that covers her body to the breasts; red being the dominant color; with a crown of metal which looks like a beehive on her head. Brass bracelets and ornaments on her graceful arms complete her costume.
* * * * *
Even the Pagodas and Temples of the Oriental lands are flame.
The most beautiful Temples of Japan are the Nikko Temples.
"See Nikko and you have seen Japan" is the saying that is well said.
But when one has spent weeks or a week, days or a day at Nikko; he comes away with an impression of beautiful, tall, terraced, red-lacquered Pagodas; beautiful, graceful red-gowned women; beautiful, architectural masterpieces of Oriental Temples; all finished in wonderful red lacquer; beautiful red-cheeked women in the village stores; beautiful red Kimonos for sale in the Curio shops; red berries burning against the wonderful green grass; and all set off, against and under, and crowned by wonderful green rows of great Cryptomaria trees. These red Temples and these Red Pagodas—red with a red that is flaming splendor of the last word in the lacquer artist's skill; are like beautiful crimson jewels set in a setting of emerald.
And back of all these Flash-Lights of Flame one remembers the path of a single star on the smooth surface of Manila Bay at night; and the phosphorescent beauty of Manila Bay where great ships cleave this lake of fire when the phosphorus is heavy of a Summer night; and every ripple is a ripple of flame. One remembers the continuous flash of heat lightning down in Borneo and on Equatorial Seas; and one remembers the Southern Cross; and the flash-lights of fire in a half-breed woman's eyes.
The red dawn of tropical Java was near. The shadows of night were still playing from millions of graceful Palm trees which swung gently in the winds before the dawn.
Three ancient volcanos, still rumbling in blatant activity, loomed like gigantic monsters of the underworld, bulging their black shoulders above the earth. Before us lay a valley of green rice paddies.
We had roved over ancient Boroboedoer all night, exploring its haunted crannies and corners, listening to its weird noises; dreaming through its centuries of age; climbing its seven terraces. But in the approaching dawn, the one outstanding thrill of the night was that of a half-naked Javanese girl, who stood for an hour, poised in her brown beauty on the top of one of the Bells of Buddha, with some weird Javanese musical instrument, singing to the dawn.
Then it came.
"What? Her lover?"
No! The dawn! The dawn was her lover! Or, perhaps her lover was old Merapi.
For, there, as we too, climbed to her strategic pinnacle of glory on top of the Buddha Bell to watch the dawn that she had called up with her weird music and her subtle brown beauty; before us, stretched thousands of acres of green rice paddies, spread out like the Emerald lawn of an Emerald Springtime in Heaven. Below us two silver streams of water met and wedded, to go on as one.
As we stood there that morning on the top of Boroboedoer's highest bell, lines of Edna St. Vincent Millay swung into my soul:
"All I could see from where I stood Was three tall mountains and a wood."
Only in this instance all I could see were three volcanos. And the one in the center, old Merapi was belching out a trail of black smoke. These three volcanos, take turns through the centuries. When one is working the other two rest. When one ceases its activity, one of the others takes up the thundering anthem and carries it on for a few years or centuries and then lapses into silence, having done its part. While we were there it was Merapi's turn to thunder and on this particular morning Merapi was busy before daylight.
For fifty miles along the horizon, a trail of black smoke swept like the trail of black smoke which a train leaves in its wake on a still day. There was not another cloud in the eastern skies. Nothing but that trail of black smoke as we stood on the top of Boroboedoer at dawn and watched.
Then something happened. It was, as if some magician had waved a magic wand back of the mountain. The rising sun was the magician. We saw its heralds spreading out, like great golden fan-ribs with the cone of the volcano, its direct center of convergence. Then before our astonished, our utterly bewildered, and our fascinated eyes, that old volcanic cone was changed to a cone of gold. Then the golden cone commenced to belch forth golden smoke. And finally the trail of smoke for fifty miles along the horizon became a trail of golden smoke.
This was a Flash-Light that literally burned its way into our memories to remain forever.
There is another Flash-Light Physical which has to do with another volcano which I mentioned in the preceding chapter. Bromo is its name. It is still there, down on the extreme eastern end of Java, unless in the meantime the old rascal has taken it into his demoniacal head to blow himself to pieces as he threatened to do the day we lay on our stomachs, holding on to the earth, with the sides trembling beneath us.
Old Bromo was well named. It reminds one of Bromo-Seltzer. I had heard of him long before I reached Java. I had heard of the Sand Plains down into the midst of whose silver whiteness he was set, like a great conical gem of dark purple by day and fire by night.
Travelers said "You must see Bromo! You must see Bromo! If you miss everything else see Bromo! It's the most completely satisfactory volcano in the world."
It was two o'clock in the morning when we started on little rugged Javanese ponies up Bromo's steep slopes.
At daybreak we reached the mile high cliff which looks down into the world-famous Sand Sea. It was a sea of white fog. I have seen the same thing at the Grand Canyon and in Yosemite looking down from the rims. I thought of these great American canyons as I looked down into the Bromo Sand Sea. By noon this was a great ten-mile long valley of silver sand which glittered in the sunlight like a great silver carpeted ballroom floor. Tourists from all over the world have thrilled to its strange beauty. Like the gown of some great and ancient queen this silver cloth lies there; or like some great silver rug of Oriental weaving it carpeted that valley floor at noon.
But at daybreak it was a sea of mist into which it looked as if one might plunge, naked to the skin and wash his soul clean of its tropical sweat and dirt; a fit swimming pool for the gods of Java, of whom there are so many.
Then something happened as we stood looking down into that smooth sea of white fog, rolling in great billows below us. There was a sudden roar as if an entire Hindenburg line had let loose with its "Heavies." There was a sudden and terrific trembling of the earth under our feet which made us jump back from that precipice in terror.
Then slowly, as if it were on a great mechanical stage, the perfect cone of old rumbling Bromo, from which curled a thin wisp of black smoke, bulged its way out of the center of that sea of white fog, rising gradually higher and higher as though the stage of the morning had been set, the play had begun, and unseen stage hands behind the curtain of fog, with some mighty derrick and tremendous power were lifting a huge volcano as a stage piece.
Then came the quick, burning tropical sun, shooting above the eastern horizon as suddenly as the volcanic cone had been lifted above the fog. This hot sun burned away the mists in a few minutes and there, stretching below us, in all its oriental beauty was the sinewy, voluptuous form of the silver sand sea—Bromo's subtle mistress.
* * * * *
There is another Physical Flash-light that will never die.
Coming out of the Singapore Straits one evening at sunset, bound for the island of Borneo across the South China Sea, I was sitting on the upper deck of a small Dutch ship. The canvas flapped in the winds. A cool, tropical breeze fanned our faces. Back of us in our direct wake a splashing, tumbling, tumultuous tropical sunset flared across the sky. It was crimson glory. In the direct path of the crimson sun a lighthouse flashed its blinking eyes like a musical director with his baton beating time.
I watched this flashing, lesser, light against the crimson sunset and was becoming fascinated by it.
Then great black clouds began to roll down over that crimson background as if they were huge curtains, rolled down from above, to change the setting of the western stage for another act.
But as they rolled they formed strange and beautiful Doric columns against the crimson skies and before I knew it, I was looking at the ruins of an old Greek temple in the sky. Then the black clouds formed a perfect hour-glass reaching from the sea to the sky, with its background of crimson glory, and the little lighthouse seemed to be flashing off the minutes in the arteries of that hour-glass.
And then it was night a deep, dense, tropical night; heavy with darkness; rich with perfume; weird with mystery. But the sunset of crimson; the Doric temple in ruins; the hour-glass; and the flashing lighthouse still remained.
* * * * *
And who shall ever forget the sunsets of gold across Manila Bay night after night; with great warships and majestic steamers, sleek and slender cutters, white sails, long reaching docks, and graceful Filipino women, silhouetted against the gold? And who shall forget the domes, towers, and pinnacles of the Cathedrals; and the old fort within the city walls as they too were silhouetted against the gold of the evening?
* * * * *
Mt. Taishan, the oldest worshiping place on earth, not far from the birthplace of Confucius; in Shantung; is one of the most sacred shrines of the Orient. There, countless millions, for hundreds of centuries, have climbed over six thousand granite steps, up its mile high slope to pay their vows; to catch a view of the blue sea from its imminence; to feel the sweep, wonder and glory of its sublime height, knowing that Confucius himself gloried in this climb. The exaltation of that glorious view; shall live, side by side, with the view from the top of the Black Diamond range in Korea one winter's night as we caught the full sweep of the Japan Sea by sunset. In fact these all shall live as great mountain top Physical Flash-Lights etched with the acid of a burning wonder into one's soul!
Nor shall one ever forget a month's communion with Fujiyama, that solitary, great and worshiped mountain of Japan; sacred as a shrine; beautiful with snow; graceful as a Japanese woman's curving cheek; bronzed by summer; belted with crimson clouds by sunset like a Japanese woman's Obie. It, too, presented its unforgettable Physical Flash-Lights.
The first glimpse was one of untold spun-gold glory. There it stood.
"There it is! There it is! Look!" a fellow traveler cried.
"There is what?" I called. We were on top of a great American College building in Tokyo.
I had given up hope. We had been there two weeks and Fujiyama was not to be seen. The mists, fogs, and clouds of winter had kept it hidden from our wistful, wondering, waiting eyes.
But there it stood, like a naked man, unashamed; proud of its white form; without a single cloud; burning in the white sunlight. Its huge shoulders were thrown back as with suppressed strength. Its white chest, a Walt Whitman hairy with age; gray-breasted with snow; bulged out like some mighty wrestler, challenging the world. No wonder they worship it!
I had gloried in Fujiyama from many a varied viewpoint. I had caught this great shrine of Japanese devotion in many of its numberless moods. I had seen it outlined against a clear-cut morning sunlight, bathed in the glory of a broadside of light fired from the open muzzle of the sun. I had seen it shrouded in white clouds; and also with black clouds breeding a storm, at even-time. I had seen it with a crown of white upon its brow, and I had seen it with a necklace of white cloud pearls about its neck.
Once I saw this great mountain looking like some ominous volcano through a misty gray winter evening. And one mid-afternoon I saw it almost circled by a misty rainbow, a sight never to be forgotten on earth or in heaven by one whose soul considers a banquet of beauty more worth shouting over than an invitation to feast with a King.
But the last sight I caught of Fuji was the last night that I was in Tokyo, as I rode up from the Ginza on New Year's eve out toward Aoyama Gakuin, straight into a sunset, unsung, unseen by mortal eye.
Before me loomed the great mountain like a monstrous mass of mighty ebony carved by some delicate and yet gigantic artist's hand.
I soon discovered where the artist got the ebony from which to carve this pointed mountain of ebony with its flat top; for far above this black silhouetted mountain was a mass of ebony clouds that seemed to spread from the western horizon clear to the rim of the eastern horizon and beyond into the unseen Sea of Japan in the back yard of the island. It was from this mass of coal-black midnight-black clouds that the giant artist carved his ebony Fuji that night.
But not all was black. Perhaps the giant forged that mountain rather than carved it, for there was a blazing furnace behind Fuji. And this furnace was belching fire. It was not crimson. It was not gold. It was not red. It was fire.
It was furnace fire. It was a Pittsburgh blast-furnace ten thousand times as big as all of Pittsburgh itself, belching fire and flames of sparks. These sparks were flung against the evening skies. Some folks, I fancy, on that memorable night called them stars; but I know better. They were giant sparks flung from that blast-furnace which was booming and roaring behind Fuji. I could not hear it roar; that is true; but I could feel it roar. I could not hear it because even so great a sound as that furnace must have been making will not travel sixty miles, even though it was as still up there in the old theological tower as a country cemetery by winter down in Rhode Island when the snow covers the graves.
Then suddenly a flare of fire shot up directly behind the cone of Fuji, flaming into the coal-bank of clouds above the mountain, as if the old shaggy seer had forgotten his age and was dreaming of youth again when the earth was young and he was a volcano.
Above that streak of fire and mingled with it, black smoke seemed to pour until it formed a flat cloud of black smoke directly above the cone, and spread out like a fan across the sky to give the giant artist further ebony to shape his mountain monument.
Then Fuji suddenly belched its volcano of color and lava; of rose and gold, amber, salmon, primrose, sapphire, marigold; and in a stream these poured over Fuji's sides and down along the ridge-line of the lesser hills until they too were covered with a layer of molten glory a mile thick.
The clouds above Fuji forgot to be black. In fact, their mood of sullenness departed as by magic, and a smile swept over their massive mood of moroseness, and glory swept the skies. It was as if that furnace behind Fuji had suddenly burst, throwing its molten fire over the hills, the mountains, the sky, the world.
And "mine eyes" had "seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." And that was enough for any man for one lifetime.
* * * * *
Then there is beautiful Boroboedoer down in Java. It is a Physical Flash-Light that looms with its huge and mysterious historical architectural beauty like some remnant of the age when the gods of Greece roamed the earth. A sunrise from its pinnacled height I have already described, but the temple itself is unforgettable. There is nothing like it on the earth.
Boroboedoer is one of the wonders of the world, although little known. It is in the general shape of the pyramid of Egypt, but more beautiful. One writer says, "Boroboedoer represents more human labor and artistic skill than the great pyramids." Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace says: "The human labor and skill expended on Boroboedoer is so great that the labor expended on the great pyramid sinks into significance beside it."
Boroboedoer was built in the seventh century A.D., by the Javanese under Hindu culture. Then came the Mohammedan invasion, destroying all such works of art in its pathway.
It is said that the priests so loved this beautiful Buddha temple that they covered it over with earth and then planted trees and tropical vegetation on it. In six months it was so overgrown that it looked like a hill. This is one explanation of why it lay for a thousand years unknown.
The volcanic ashes undoubtedly helped in this secretion, for old Merapi even now belches its ashes, rocks and dust out over the beautiful valley down upon which Merapi looks.
From Djodjakarta you go to the temples.
This great temple has, instead of the plain surfaces of the great pyramid, one mile of beautifully carved decorations, with 2141 separate panels depicting the life of Buddha from the time he descended from the skies until he arrived at Nirvana, or perfect isolation from the world. A history of more than a thousand years is told in its stone tablets by the sculptor's chisel, told beautifully, told enduringly, told magnificently.
One writer says: "This temple is the work of a master-builder whose illuminated brain conceived the idea of this temple wherein he writes in sculpture the history of a religion."
And again one says architecturally speaking of it:
"It is a polygonous pyramid of dark trachyte, with gray cupulas on jutting walls and projecting cornices, a forest of pinnacles."
There are four ledges to this hill temple and above each ledge or stone path are rows of Buddhas hidden in great 5-foot stone bells, and at the top crowning the temple a great 50-foot bell in which Buddha is completely hidden from the world, symbol of the desired Nirvana that all Buddhists seek.
Mysterious with weird echoes of a past age it stands, silhouetted against a flaming sky to-night as I see it for the first time. It is late evening and all day long we have been climbing the ancient ruins of that magnificent age of Hindu culture on the island of Java. This temple of Boroboedoer was to be the climax of the day, and surely it is all of that.
The fire dies out of the sky. The seven terraces of the stone temple begin to blur into one great and beautiful pyramid. Only the innumerable stone bells stand out against the starlit night; stone bells with the little peepholes in them, through which the stolid countenances and the stone eyes of many Buddhas, in calm repose, look out upon the four points of the compass.
Night has fallen. We have seen the great Temple by crimson sunset and now we shall see it by night.
The shadows seem to wrap its two thousand exquisite carvings, and its Bells of Buddha in loving and warm tropical embrace. But no warmer, is the embrace of the shadows about the Temple than the naked embrace of a score of Javanese boys who hold to their hearts naked Javanese beauties who sit along the terraces looking into the skies of night utterly oblivious to the passing of time or of the presence of curious American strangers.
Love is such a natural thing to these Javanese equatorial brown brawn and beauties that unabashed they lie, on Buddha's silent bells, breast to breast, cheek to cheek, and limb to limb; as if they have swooned away in the warmth of the tropical night.
The Southern Cross looks down upon lover and tourist as we all foregather on the topmost terrace of that gigantic shadow-pyramid of granite.
The sound of the innumerable naked footsteps of all past ages seems to patter along the stone terraces. Now and then the twang of the Javanese angklong and the beautiful notes of a flute sweep sweetly into the shadowed air.
Then comes the dancing of a half dozen Javanese dancing girls, naked to the waist, their crimson and yellow sarongs flying in the winds of night, as, in slow, graceful movements, facing one of the Bells of Buddha they pay their vows and offer their bodies and their souls to Buddha; and evidently, also to the Javanese youths who accompany them in their dances.
The sound of the voices of these Javanese girls—who in the shadows look for all the world like figures that Rodin might have dreamed—mingling their laughter with the weird music; shall linger long in one's memory of beautiful things.
Their very nakedness seemed to fit in with the spirit of the night; a spirit of complete abandonment to beauty and worship. In their attitudes there seemed to be a mingling of religion and earthly passion; but it was so touched with reverence that we felt no shock to our American sensibilities.
All night long we wandered about the terraces of the old Temple.
We wondered how long the Javanese girls would remain.
At dawn when we arose to see Boroboedoer by daylight they were still there as fresh as the dawn itself in their brown beauty, the dew of night glistening in their black hair and wetting their full breasts.
And across, from Boroboedoer the sun, in its dawning splendor, was transforming belching and rumbling old volcanic Merapi into a cone of gold.
FLASH-LIGHTS OF FAITH
He was an old man; gray-haired, gray-bearded; gray-gowned; and he knew that the Japanese Gendarmes would just as soon take his life as light a cigarette. They do each with inhumane impunity. One means as much to them as the other.
He was under arrest for conspiracy in the Independence Movement.
"Do you know about the Independence Movement?" he was asked.
"Yes, I know all about it," was his fearless reply; though he knew that that reply in itself might mean his death; even without trial or further evidence. Just the fact that he had admitted that he knew anything at all about the movement was enough to throw him into prison. He was like an old Prophet in his demeanor. Something about the very dignity and sublime Faith of the man awed the souls of these crude barbarians from the Island Empire.
"Since when was it begun?" asked the Gendarmes.
"Since ten years ago when you Japanese first came to Korea," was the dignified reply.
"From whence did it spring?" he was asked next.
"From the hearts of twenty million people!"
"Did twenty millions of people all get together then, and plan?"
"Not together in body but in spirit!"
"But there must have been some men to start it?" the Japanese Gendarme said.
"They all started it!" was the old man's reply.
"Is there no one who had charge of this movement from the beginning?"
"Yes, there is one!"
"Do you know him?"
"I know him well!"
"What is his name?"
"His name is God!" said this seventy-year old, fearless Christian Korean Patriot.
Such faith as I have indicated in the paragraphs above is a common thing in Korea. Never in the history of the world have Christian people been subjected to the same tortures, the same cruelties, the same terrors, for their Faith as the early Christian martyrs; save these; the Koreans.
We had thought that the world had gotten past that day when men would be tortured, crushed, persecuted, and killed because they were Christians but that day is not yet past as almost any American Missionary in Korea will testify.
The Japanese officials will say that there is no persecution because of Christianity; but missionaries in Korea know better. They will point to countless incidents when men, women and children have been hounded, and persecuted for no other reason than that they were Christians.
"And when Jesus heard it, He marveled greatly and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel!" might well be said of the Korean Christians every hour, every minute, every second. They know what it means to die for their Faith.
The story of Pak Suk Han is one of the most thrilling illustrations of Faith that I have ever heard in Oriental lands. He had been a Christian since he was seven years of age. He was a brilliant speaker and the Assistant Pastor of the First Methodist Church at Pyeng Yang, where, even the non-Christians loved him. He was arrested on Independence Day and sent to prison where a barbarous Japanese officer, whom the natives called "The Brute" kicked him in the side because he would not give up his Christ. From that kick and further inhuman treatment running over a period of six months; a disease developed which a most reliable missionary doctor told me ended Pak Suk Han's life.
When he knew that he was about to die he said, "I have been a Christian and have served the church since I was seven years old. I have given my life to Christ, all but the last six months in prison which I have given to my country. I have no regrets. I might have lived had I been willing to deny my nation's rights and give up my Christ. I am going home to my Father's house. Good-by!" No Christian martyrs in the early centuries of the persecutions by Rome ever died with greater glory in their souls; or with deeper Faith!
* * * * *
The temperature was zero.
The cold had swept down over night from the Siberian and Manchurian plains across the city of Seoul. The capital city of Korea was shivering with cold. But it was vibrant with something else. It was vibrant with a great sense of something impending.
There were those who said that the restlessness in the souls of the Koreans had died down with the terrible days of the March Independence Movement; but I knew that the faith of the people was deeper than that. I knew that the flame of faith was just smouldering.
I sensed this from the conversation of old-time missionaries who had been in Korea from the very beginning. I sensed it in the conversation of young Koreans who had graduated from American schools. It was there; a vibrant, living, pulsing, faith in God and in the justice of their hopes: the Independence of Korea.
The whole thing was summed up for me in a flash. It was a flash of the light of a tremendous faith that blinded mine eyes for a day; but my soul it lighted as with a great eternal light.
A Korean boy stepped into the home of a missionary friend of mine, whose name I dare not use. If I did he would likely be sent home by the Japanese. Men have been sent home for less.
The snow crunched under his feet as he walked up across the yard and the porch. He knocked at the door.
"Come in," said the missionary, kindly.
The boy stepped in. The missionary had never seen him before. The boy was moved deeply as with a great emotion. He seemed to have carried into that quiet missionary home with him some of the tenseness of the outside air and some of the tenseness of the political situation.
"What do you want?" asked the missionary.
"I want to talk with you about something very important," he replied in Korean.
"All right! Go ahead! Do not be afraid. I am your friend!"
"So I know. All missionaries are our friends."
"Then you need not be afraid to talk."
"No!" said the boy. But he did not talk. His agitation was growing more marked.
"Go on, my boy! Tell me what you came for."
The Korean boy looked at the half open door which led into the kitchen. The missionary, without a word, stepped over and closed that door, because he understood.
The boy himself closed a door which led into the missionary's study. For in Korea in these days no home; not even a missionary's home, is free from spies.
The boy started to talk hurriedly. The missionary soon saw that he was not talking about the thing that he had come for.
"Come to the point! Come to the point! You did not come to me, in such secrecy, to talk commonplace things like that!" said the missionary a bit sharply.
Then the boy suddenly dropped to his knees behind the missionary's desk and whipped out a big knife. Then he took from his white gown a long piece of white cloth. This he laid out on the floor. Then he opened his sharp knife with a quick motion and before the missionary knew it, he had ripped the index finger of his right hand, from, the tip to the palm, clear to the bone, until the blood spurted all over the floor.
"What are you doing, my boy?" cried the missionary.
The boy smiled a sublime smile and then knelt on his knees over the white cloth and before the missionary's tear-misty eyes wrote across the immaculate cloth in his own blood the words: "Mansei! Mansei! Mansei! Korean Independence Forever! Self-determination!"
Then underneath these words in a few swift strokes in his own blood he drew a picture of the Korean flag. And as he drew, now and then the blood would not flow fast enough; and he took his knife, as one primes a fountain pen; and cut a bit deeper to open new veins in order that the flag of his country and the declaration of his faith might be written in the deepest colors that his own veins could furnish.
Finally, after what seemed hours he jumped to his feet and handed the missionary that flag; crying as he did so: "That is our faith! That is the way we Koreans feel! You are going back to America! We want America to know that our faith in the Independence of Korea has not died! The fire burns higher to-day than ever. The Japanese cruelties are worse! The need is greater! The oppression is more terrible! Our determination is deeper than ever before! I have come here this day, knowing that you are going back to America; I came to write these words in my own blood that you may know; and that America may know; that our faith is a flame which burns out like the beacon lights on the Korean hills, never to die!"
* * * * *
The most scintillating Flash-light of Faith that I saw in the Orient was in the Philippine Islands. We were traveling the jungle trail to visit a tribe of naked Negritos. These are diminutive people who look like American negroes only they are much smaller; much more underfed, and who live in trees very much like the Orangutans of Borneo. They eat roots and nuts. They hunt with bows and arrows.
They are the lowest tribe in mentality on the Islands.
It was a terribly hot, tropical day and I had a sunstroke on the way up the mountainside to this Negrito village.
I did not expect to get back alive.
For three solid hours under a killing tropical sun, without the proper cork helmet and protection, a pile driver kept hammering down on my head. I felt it at every step I took. Finally I dropped unconscious on the trail. After several hours I was able to proceed to the top of the mountain, where the Negritos were camped.
We got there about two o'clock and had lunch. As we ate about fifty Negritos swarmed about us.
They were a horrible looking crowd; stark naked, filthy with dirt; starved to skin and bones; and animal-like in every look and move.
I was so sick that I was not able to eat the lunch which had been provided in baskets. I lay on my back trying to get back my strength.
As the rest of the expedition ate, the Negritos with hungry eyes, crowded closer.
One hideous old man was in the forefront of the natives. He was so hideous looking that he was sickeningly repulsive to me as I looked at him crouched as he was like an animal with a streak of sunlight playing on his face.
This streak of sunlight, with ruthless severity, made the ugly scabs of dirt stand out on his old wrinkled face. That face had not felt the touch of water in years. His whole body was covered with dirt and sores. Wherever the sunlight struck on that black body it revealed scales like those on a mangy dog. His body was also covered with gray hairs matted into the dirt.
"That old codger represents the nearest thing to an animal that the human being can reach," said McLaughlin, one of the oldest missionaries on the island.
"You're right!" I said. "He looks as much like a Borneo Orangutan as any human being I ever saw."
"And he lives like one, too; up in a tree in a nest of matted limbs and grass," said another.
"I've traveled among the wild tribes of the world all my life and I have seen the lowest human beings on earth; in Africa, South America, Malaysia, Borneo, Java—Australia—everywhere," said a widely traveled man in the crowd, "and I never saw a type as low in the scale as that old fellow!"
So we discussed him as the lunch proceeded. He did not know, of course, that we had consigned him to the lowest rung on the ladder of humanity, so he just sat looking at us with his animal-like eyes as we ate; and at me as I lay under a tree trying to recover my strength for the trip back.
"He is not a human being!" added a philosopher in the crowd. "He is lower than that stage. He doesn't seem to have a single spark of humanity left in him!"
Then the meal over; the missionaries started to hand out what was left of the food to these starving Negritos. The old man whom we had decided was the lowest type of a human being on earth seemed, after all, to be the leader of the tribe; no doubt because of his age; perhaps because of something else which we were later to discover.
McLaughlin handed out a sandwich to the old man.
"Did he eat it himself?"
"He did not! He handed it to a child near by."
McLaughlin handed out another sandwich which was left.
"Did the old man, whom we had decided was more of an animal than a human being, eat that one?"
"He did not. He took it over behind a tree where another old man was timidly hiding and gave it to him."
McLaughlin handed out another sandwich.
"Did the old man eat that one?"
"He did not. He took it over and gave it to an old woman near by."
And so it continued, until every last piece of food was disposed of. That old man; whom we had decided was an animal; saw to it, that every man, woman, and child in that crowd was fed before he took a single bite himself.
Then he suddenly disappeared. In half an hour he came back with an armful of great, broad, palm leaves. He spread these out on the ground in the shade of a tree; did this old man; this hideous looking monster; and then motioned for me to lie down on the bed he had made for me. He saw that I was sick.
Then he disappeared once again, and when he returned he was carrying a long Bamboo-tube full of clear, cool water which he had gotten from a mountain spring. He brought it to where I was lying on the bed he had made for me and with this water he cooled my fevered, burning head; and from this water he gave me to drink; he whom we had decided was the lowest type of a human being on earth.
And I am writing here to say; that I have never seen a "cup of cold water given in His name" that was given with a higher, or a deeper sense of the Divine spark of God in humanity than I saw that tropical summer afternoon, and this water was given by the naked Negrito whom we had decided was the lowest human being on the earth. Yet even in this animal-man; even in this naked savage; there was a spark of the Divine that made us forever have a deeper and a more abiding faith that God never did and never shall make a man to live on this old earth that He did not have some purpose in making him.
A few days before I took this trip up into the jungles of Luzon to visit this Negrito tribe I had received a copy of a slender volume of poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay. In the cool beauty of the tropical evening preceding this trip I had read the last lines of its introductory poem called "Interim"; and these lines came flashing into my mind, even as I lay on the hot earth on that Luzon hillside. I can still remember the honey dripping like rain from the Cocoanut trees, and I can still hear the ceaseless and maddening cry of millions of Locusts that hot day; but suddenly came this beautiful outpouring of faith from, the cool depths of a woman's woodland soul:
"Not Truth but Faith, it is That keeps the world alive! If, all at once Faith were to slacken,—that unconscious faith Which must, I know, yet be the corner-stone Of all believing—birds now flying fearless Across would drop in terror to the earth; Fishes would drown; and the all-governing reins Would tangle in the frantic hands of God And the worlds gallop headlong to destruction!"
That day bred new faith into my soul!
I have told this story of the naked Negrito a hundred times since that eventful day and it kindles new flames of faith in human hearts every time it is repeated! Mr. Edmund Vance Cooke, the poet, heard it in Cleveland where I spoke in a Chautauqua programme and he said to me several months later in my home at Detroit, Michigan, "That was the most thrilling story of the Divine spark in a savage soul that I have ever heard! It gave me new faith in God and in humanity!"
These, and a thousand other Flashlights of Faith come flashing out of that Far Eastern background; the sublime faith of thousands of college men and women who are giving their lives because they believe that savages and barbarians, such as I have described in this Negrito; Do have that spark of the Divine in their souls; faith that Christian civilization, and Christian education; and a Christian God, may awaken that spark.
And, indeed many a proof do they have of this miracle! Only the other day from an American School, a girl from darkest Africa graduated as a Phi Beta Kappa honor scholar. Bishop William A. Taylor picked up this girl as a naked child in the jungles of Africa less than a quarter of a century ago!
FLASH-LIGHTS OF FEAR
Quick, short, sharp signals shot down the speaking tube from the bridge.
The Chief Engineer of the Santa Cruz yelled across the boiler room.
The bell rang for reverse and the entire ship shivered.
A woman on deck screamed, and there was a rush to the railings, for the old boat had been slowly making its way up the winding, treacherous Saigon River out of the China Sea into French Indo-China.
"Those damned Chinks again, trying to escape the Devil!"
"What's the matter, Pop?" some one asked the captain.
"That sampan full of Chinks was trying to get away from the River Devil, so they shot across our bow to fool him and we nearly ran them down."
"Do they often indulge in that little friendly game with the Devil?" I asked him, smiling at his seriousness.
"Every time we enter one of these rivers they do it. I killed six of them going up the river at Shanghai a year ago. It gives me the creeps every time I see them shoot across our bow. A ship like this will cut 'em in two like a knife!"
We looked over the green railing of the Santa Cruz. The big ship had almost come to a stop for the engines were still in reverse and the shallow river mud was churned up until the otherwise clear water looked like a muddy pond. The little sampan, full of grinning, naked Chinese coolies was fifty feet away from us, and our American sailors were swearing at them in every language they knew and shaking big, brawny, brown fists in their grinning direction.
It was considered a joke by the passengers but it was a very real thing to these poor ignorant Chinese. One sees this happen everywhere in the Orient. For the Chinaman starts out every morning in his sampan with the worst kind of a River Devil after him. He must rid himself of that Devil. So, when a big ship comes into sight, he waits until its bow is very close and then darts in front of its pathway. The idea is, that when a sampan full of Chinamen shoots in front of a big ship the Devil is supposed to follow the ship all that day, and let the Chinese junk or sampan alone.
It is the pest of an American seaman's life, for even a seaman hates to see a human being drowned.
To an American mind this seems ridiculous. It even seems humorous. I shall never forget how the passengers laughed when the captain told them why he had had to reverse his engines to keep from crushing the frail Chinese sampan. But suddenly the thought came to one of the passengers; that to the poor Chinaman the fear which made him do that foolish thing and the fear which made him take that awful risk was very real.
"Under God, the poor Devils must have an awful life if they have such a fear as that in their souls day and night!" said an Englishman.
"They never start out for a day's work that they are not haunted every minute of that day by a thousand devils, ill-omens, and bad spirits which are constantly hovering about to leap on them and kill them!" said a missionary. "The whole Orient is full of the thought of fear!"
This missionary was right. Paul Hutchinson, Editor of the Chinese Christian Advocate and one of the real literary men of the Americans who are permanent residents of Shanghai, told me of a Chinese boy who was graduating from a Christian College in Nanking. The boy had been for four years under the influence of Americans. He could speak good English. He was about ready to go to America to school when he had completed his work at Nanking.
He, with a younger brother, was at home for the Christmas vacation. On the way back to college the younger brother fell overboard into the river. The older brother was not a coward. Everybody will testify to that. In fact he was unusually courageous. But in spite of the fact that his puny brother was able to swim to the side of the small boat, and in spite of the fact that he begged his older and stronger brother to pull him back into the boat, that older brother refused to do so.
Mr. Hutchinson says that the English teacher heard the tale in terror, but that the brother took it as a matter of course, explaining that the River Devil would most certainly have caught and dragged into the water, any person who should have dared to attempt a rescue of his brother.
It is an established thing in China; that if a native falls into the river, he never gets out unless he pulls himself out. Nobody will help him, for if they do, that will incur the wrath of the River God and the rescuer also will be dragged down to his death.
It is assumed that if a person falls into the river that is the River God pulling him in.
The constant fear of this River God is so deeply intrenched in these poor souls that they take no pleasure on the water and they carry their sense of fear to such an extent that they will not even attempt a rescue of their own babies or loved ones if these happen to fall into the water.
Mr. Hutchinson calls attention to Dr. E. D. Soper's book "The Faiths of Mankind" in which there is an entire chapter called "Where Fear Holds Sway."
"Where is it that fear holds sway?" the reader asks.
The answer is, "In the Orient"!
Yes, the whole Orient is one great gallery of dim, uncertain, weird, mysterious Flash-lights of Fear.
Paul Hutchinson says:
"It is impossible for the Westerner to conceive such an atmosphere until he has lived in it. In fact he may live in it for years and never realize the hold which it has upon his native neighbors. But it is no exaggeration to say that, to the average Chinese, the air is peopled with countless spirits, most of them malignant, all attempting to do him harm. Even a catalogue of the devils, such as have been named by the scholarly Jesuit, Father Dore, is too long for the limits of this article. But there they are, millions of them. They hover around every motion of every waking hour, and they enter the sanctity of sleep. An intricate system of circumnavigating them, that makes the streets twist in a fashion to daze Boston's legendary cow and puts walls in front of doors to belie the hospitality within, runs through the social order."
This fear is even expressed in Chinese architecture.
"Why is that strange wall built in front of every household door and even before the Temples?" I asked a friend in China.
"It is put there to fool the devils. They will see that wall and think that there is no door and then will go away and not bother that house any more," I was told.
The very architecture of the Chinese home is to keep the devils out. The strange curves with the graceful upward sweep that makes the roofs so beautiful to American eyes is for the purpose of throwing devils of the air off the track. They will come down from the skies and start down the curve of the roofs but will be turned back into the skies again by the upward slant of the twisted roofs.
It was this same terrible sense of fear which developed the old surgical system that the Koreans and Chinese used before the arrival of the missionaries.
"Do you see these needles?" an American surgeon in Korea asked me one day, as he pointed to about a hundred of the most horrible looking copper and brass needles lying on a stand.
"Yes," I admitted, mystified.
"I have taken every one of them out of the bodies of human beings on whom I have operated here in the hospital."
"Where did you find them?"
"In between the bowels, in the muscles, in the organs of the body, and one in the heart of a man who came to me because he couldn't breathe very well."
"No wonder the fellow couldn't breathe. I don't think I could myself if I had a needle in my blood-pump!" I said with a smile.
"These fancy needles that the old Korean doctors thought a good deal of they put a handle on," he continued.
"What was that for?"
"So they wouldn't lose their needles in a body. The other, or common needles, they just stuck into the body wherever the wound or sore place was and left them there."
"And what, may I ask, was the idea of this playful Korean surgery! Was it something like our 'button, button, whose got the button?'"
"No, the idea was that there were devils in the wound. If it was a swelling there was a devil in that swelling. If it was typhoid fever, and there was pain in the bowels, there was a devil in the inward parts affected, and so, after carefully sterilizing the needle by running it through his long, black, greasy hair, the native doctor would run it into the affected part of the body to kill the devil or let it escape from the body."
"The old idea of a fear religion, a fear social life, a fear family life and a fear surgery prevails in Korea as it does in China?" I said by way of a question.
"It prevails everywhere in the Orient. To me it is the most awful thing about working out here. The awful sense of constant fear that is on the people always and everywhere."
Pounded-up claws of a tiger; the red horn of a deer; pulverized fish bones; roots of trees, pigs' eyes; and a thousand poisons and fear-remedies make up the medical history of the Oriental doctor.
"Why do they kill girl babies?"
"Fear of what?"
"Fear of devils! The devils will be displeased if a girl baby is born. Therefore kill the baby.
"Throw the babies out on the ground in the graveyards. Let the dogs eat the babies."
I heard the dogs howling in a cemetery one night about two o'clock in the morning as I was coming through the thousands of little conical mounds, with here and there an unburied coffin.
"The dogs are having a baby feast to-night," said an old missionary.
"To appease the devils."
"My God man; you don't mean that they let the dogs eat their babies because they are afraid of the devil?" I cried.
"I mean just that," replied the missionary.
"Fear! Fear! Fear! Everywhere. Fear by night and fear by day. They never escape it. It is fear that makes them worship their ancestors. It is fear that makes them worship idols. It is fear that makes them kill their girl babies. It is fear that makes them build their little narrow winding streets, which after a while must become so filthy; fear that if they do not, the devils will find them; and if they do build their streets narrow and winding the devils will get lost searching for them. Oh, God, fear, fear, everywhere! The Orient is full of a terrible and a constant fear!"
I looked at my friend astonished. He seldom went into such emotional outbursts. He was judicial, calm, poised; some said, cold. But this constant sense of fear that was upon the people had finally broken down his reserve of poise.
"The chimneys are beautiful. See that beautiful upward dip in the architecture. They are like the roofs," I said.
"But that beautiful, symmetrical development did not come out of a sense of beauty. It came to fool the devils just as we have said of the roofs. The devils will glide off into space and will never be able to get down the chimneys." It is so in other Oriental countries.
* * * * *
The same is true in the Philippine Islands. The whole fabric of human life is permeated with the black thread of fear.
It is true of China and Korea; it is true of Borneo to a marked degree; and it is true of that great mass of conglomerate humanity that we think of as India.
These and other flash-lights of fear remain, and shall remain forever in my mind. But of a fifty thousand mile trip among hundreds of millions of human beings; pictures of fear stand out, blurred here and there; but clear enough in outline so that I can still see the human faces against a background of midnight darkness.
Three pictures are clearer than the others. Perhaps it was because the flash that focused them on the plate of my mind was stronger. Perhaps it was, that the plate of my soul was more sensitive the days these impressions were focused. But they stand out; three flash-lights of fear above all:
One was told me by Zela Wiltsie Worley, a college girl, now a missionary's wife, who has known what it means to lie on the floor of her home an entire morning with machine gun bullets crashing through her home, between the fire of two revolutionary armies.
"I was talking with my Amah—she is the girl who cares for our children," said Mrs. Worley.
I nodded that I understood that.
"We were bathing the baby—our first wee kiddie—and the Amah seemed to have an unusual inclination to talk. I had been joking with her and asked her if she did not want to buy Clara Gene. In fun we started the characteristic Chinese haggling over price, she trying to 'jew' me up and I trying to 'jew' her down.
"'Oh!' she said, 'girl babies are very expensive the last two or three years. Now you have to pay over ten dollars to get a nice fat one! Before that, if you did not drown them, you had an awfully hard time to get rid of them. There was a man in our town to whom we took the babies—the girl babies I mean. He would go up and down the streets with them and sell them to any one who would give him a chicken and a bowl of rice in return.'
"'But do they drown the girl babies now?' I asked the Amah.
"'Oh, yes, of course, if you already have one or two boys. You know, in my village I am the only Christian. My own family and the rest of the village worship idols. They are afraid of their gods. They do not know any better. Why my sister almost drowned my second little boy by mistake. He had just arrived and she thought that he was a girl, and had already stuck his head down in a pail of water when I rescued him.'
"'But who usually kills the girl babies?' I asked. 'Surely not the mother?'
"'Yes, she does. She is so afraid when she finds it is only a girl, afraid that the gods will be angry because she has brought another girl into the world, that she kills it!'
"'Do they bury it then?'
"'Sometimes they wrap it up, and throw it under a pile of rubbish. You know, we do not have coffins made for any of our babies who die before they have had their first teeth! I have seen so many babies drowned, Mrs. Worley. I never did like it. They cry so!'
"Then I inquired of our Chinese teacher's wife if she knew of girl baby killing still going on in China.
"'Just last week,' this teacher's wife said in answer to my inquiry, 'the woman next door went back to her village two miles from here and she saw her own sister drown a baby while she was there.'
"I asked an English missionary if she knew that this fearful custom was still prevalent over most of China with its more than four hundred million souls.
"She told me that it was the custom in Ning-daik for the women just to throw the girl babies under their beds, and they would 'be gone in a day or two.'
"And it is all because of their awful fear that the gods will be displeased if they give birth to a girl baby!"
The second outstanding flash-light of fear comes from Java.
In the chapter on Physical Flash-lights I have described the old volcano of Bromo. It is a terrible thing to look into. Great fissures in the earth, belch thunder, sulphur, fire, and lava. Great rocks as large as wagons shoot into the air to the rim of the two hundred-foot crater, and then drop back with a crash.
For centuries, and even in these days, clandestinely; I am told by men whom I trust; the most beautiful maiden of a certain tribe among the Javanese; and some of the most beautiful women I saw in the Orient were those soft-skinned, soft-voiced, easy-moving, graceful-limbed, swaying-bodied; brown skinned women of Java; she, the fairest of the tribe is taken; and with her the strongest limbed youth; he of the fibered muscles; he of the iron biceps; he of the clean skin; and the two of them are tossed into the belching fiery crater of old Bromo.
"Why?" I asked.
"They think that in that way, they may propitiate the gods of the volcano. Their hearts are constantly filled with fear lest the gods of the volcano become angry and destroy them," said the missionary.
Then he told me of a trip that they made a year before to the top of one of the most inaccessible volcanoes which was then in constant eruption.
"We had a hard time getting native guides. Finally we succeeded. We had to travel fifty miles before we reached the mountain. Then we climbed five miles up its steep side, cutting our own trail as we made our way through the tropical jungle. At last we reached the timber. But before we entered the forest one of the guides came to me and, with the most pitiable and trembling fear in his voice and face, begged us white people not to say anything disrespectful of the mountain; not to joke and laugh, and not to sing; for that would make the mountain angry, and we would all be killed.
"I saw that he was in deadly earnest, and, while I wanted to laugh I looked as solemn as I could, for there was such terror in his face, I knew that if I laughed he would turn and run back to civilization.
"An hour later we reached the timber line. Before we entered it the first boy fell flat on his face and prayed to the god of the mountain asking that god not to hurt them. Then the next boy did likewise; then the third and the fourth and the fifth!
"Their faces were almost white with fear when we missionaries did not pray. It filled them with terror!"
* * * * *
And the last Flash-light of Fear is that of the baby in Medan. The Priest lived across the way in a temple.
The baby was sick with whooping-cough. It was the usual, simple case of baby sickness that American babies all have, and which is not taken seriously here by either doctor or mother.
The mother took the baby to the priest.
The priest took a red hot iron; laid the baby on the church altar and ran the iron across its neck, and then across its breast and then across its little stomach. Then he laid it on the front steps of the temple.
The baby died after a few hours spent in terrible pain.
Hate the Priest?
Despise the mother?
The priest was honest and the mother was honest. They were doing the best thing for the baby that either of them knew. They knew that the baby had a devil in its little body and they were merely trying to drive that devil out of its body.
Fear! Fear! Fear! Fear of devils in the home, lurking in the shadows of night and in the light of day; lurking in the bodies of babies; devils everywhere—always.
These are the Flash-lights of Fear!
And like unto them are the pictures of Frightfulness which I have set down in the next chapter.
FLASH-LIGHTS OF FRIGHTFULNESS
"The Jap is the slant-eyed Hun of the Orient. He has a slant-eyed ethics, a slant-eyed morality, a slant-eyed honesty, a slant-eyed social consciousness; a slant-eyed ambition, a slant-eyed military system; and a slant-eyed mind!" said Peter Clarke Macfarlane, the well-known author and lecturer, one day when I was interviewing him on the Japanese question.
"That's pretty strong, Mr. Macfarlane, in the light of your usual conservatism," I commented.
"I say it carefully and after much thought. It is said to stay said so far, as I am concerned," he added with finality.
This was also my own opinion, after spending three months in Japan and Korea, another month in China; and another month or two in Manila; catching the angle of Japanese leadership from every slant.
And after due consideration, and after a year to think it over carefully, I am here to say, that I never saw, or heard of anything worse happening in Belgium under German rule than that which I saw and heard of happening under Japanese rule in Korea, Siberia and Formosa, while I was in the Orient.
Suffice it is to say, at this point, that the Japanese is hated by the whole Orient. I do not believe that the German Hun in his worst day was ever hated more unanimously for his inhuman practices than is the Jap Hun hated by the whole Orient to-day.
"Is it getting better or worse?" I am asked constantly.
"Worse!" I reply, and this reply is backed up by interviews I have had with returned Korean missionaries.
I found the Japanese scorned and hated from one end of the Orient to the other. As far south as Java, as far east as the Suez; as far north as the uttermost reaches of Manchuria and Siberia; as far this direction as Hawaii.
For instance, after I had been away from Korea for six months and had come back to America I met a most conservative missionary in the Romona Hotel in San Francisco. The last time previous to that meeting that I had seen him was in Korea itself.
I said to him "Are things better or worse in Korea?"
His reply was, "Worse than they have ever been; generally speaking!" I have no intention and no desire to further augment ill feeling between America and Japan. In fact I do not fear anything like war in that direction; but I do have an intense feeling of responsibility about telling my readers the plain and simple truth that the whole Far Eastern world hates Japan.
If that thought itself can get into the mind of America, this country will understand, at least, that there is some fault that lies back in the Japanese military policy and character itself. It hardly seems possible, with ten races and five different countries hating Japan; that Japan herself is not mostly to blame. When a matter of hatred is so unanimous among all races in that part of the world, it is likely that the fault lies with the race and nation which has the hatred of so many types of people focused on its actions.
While I was in Java some high dignitaries in the Japanese Navy arrived in Batavia. The Chinese Coolies who live in Batavia absolutely refused to carry any Japanese officers or sailors in their Rickshas. It was a striking indictment of the Japanese nation.
In Singapore the distrust and hatred of the Japanese is unanimous. In the Philippines it is the same. In Hongkong you see few Japanese. They are not wanted and they are not trusted. In Shanghai, and Peking it is the same. The Student Movement, one of the most powerful weapons that has ever arisen in any nation in the world, has focused the Chinese sentiment against selfish Japanese aggression in China.
The Japanese officials laughed at the Student Boycott of Japanese goods when it first started. But in a year they were trembling in the face of that boycott. I was in Tientsin, and Peking during the days of the Student Street Demonstrations. They were like American demonstrations.
Keen, alert, intelligent Chinese boys addressed the crowds admonishing them not to buy Japanese goods in Chinese shops. The pressure became so strong that all Chinese merchants from the lowest shopkeeper up to the owner of the great chain stores, like our Woolworth institutions, put away Japanese-made goods and refused to sell them.
I took dinner in Shanghai with one of the foremost merchant princes of China and said, "Are you selling any Japanese-made goods?"
"I certainly am not. I am not powerful enough with all my millions of money and all of my chain of stores to take such a chance as that. I have put all of my Japanese goods in the cellar."
The Boycott against Japanese goods in China became so powerful that in Tientsin, while I was there, the Japanese Consul complained bitterly to the Governor of the Province and the Governor who was said to be under the influence of Japanese money, arrested a lot of students. There was one of the most determined and terrible riots that I have ever seen. It was war. It was not like any mild American riot. It was war to the death. Several students were killed and finally the pressure was so strong that even this Japanese Agent was compelled to release the imprisoned students. I shall quote from an editorial that I was asked to write for the Peking Leader during my stay in China:
The weapon which most worries the Japanese I should say, is the boycott that the Students Movement has inaugurated. The Japanese Government never had anything that quite worried it so much. It is a weapon that is worth a thousand battleships, or fifty divisions of soldiers. It is a weapon that will, if continuously, and consistently and faithfully used, bring a money-loving nation, like Japan to her knees, and send her finally, scurrying like a whipped cur, with her tail between her legs back home where she belongs.
I talked with a ragged Chinese boy through an interpreter just to find what his reactions to the Japanese were. He was a beggar. He said, "The Japanese has a heart like a dog and a liver like a wolf."
I quote again from the editorial in the Peking Leader:
All day I have been on the streets of Peking listening to groups of students discussing the all absorbing-question of the Boycott. I have not understood the characters printed on their banners, but I have understood the light in Young China's eyes. I can understand that language and that light, for it is the language and the light of freedom, justice, liberty! I am an American. I understand that light when I see it; and I know also; that it is a light that can never be snuffed out. It is a light that prison walls cannot hide and that the brute hand of the invader cannot dim.
"And what are they protesting against?" is the question asked.
Primarily against the Japanese control of Shantung. Secondarily, against a type of civilization which Japan represents; a civilization that uses the weapons of frightfulness to accomplish its ends; a civilization that steals a nation like Korea, compelling the abdication of a weak Emperor at the point of the bayonet; and then using the avowed method of extermination to deplete a subjected nation. The whole Orient knows Japan and knows the methods that Japan has used and is using in conquered territory. It is a continuous and continual policy of extermination, frightfulness, and assimilation. This is the underlying cause of the hatred of the whole Orient and the Far and Near East against Japan; and this is the fundamental reason for the Students' Boycott of Japanese goods in China.
One might devote an entire book to narrations of frightful cruelties perpetrated by Japanese on Koreans, Siberians and Formosans; but that would not be so strong as the setting forth of the underlying ethical reasons for this universal hatred in which Japan is held.