The Awakening of China
By W. A. P. MARTIN, D.D., LL.D
Formerly President of the Chinese Imperial University
Author of "A Cycle of Cathay," "The Siege in Peking," "The Lore of Cathay," etc.
[Page v] PREFACE
China is the theatre of the greatest movement now taking place on the face of the globe. In comparison with it, the agitation in Russia shrinks to insignificance; for it is not political, but social. Its object is not a changed dynasty, nor a revolution in the form of government; but, with higher aim and deeper motive, it promises nothing short of the complete renovation of the oldest, most populous, and most conservative of empires. Is there a people in either hemisphere that can afford to look on with indifference?
When, some thirty years ago, Japan adopted the outward forms of Western civilisation, her action was regarded by many as a stage trick—a sort of travesty employed for a temporary purpose. But what do they think now, when they see cabinets and chambers of commerce compelled to reckon with the British of the North Pacific? The awakening of Japan's huge neighbour promises to yield results equally startling and on a vastly extended scale.
Political agitation, whether periodic like the tides or unforeseen like the hurricane, is in general superficial and temporary; but the social movement in China has its origin in subterranean forces such as raise continents from the bosom of the deep. To explain those forces is the object of the present work.
It is the fascination of this grand spectacle that has [Page vi] brought me back to China, after a short visit to my native land—and to this capital, after a sojourn of some years in the central provinces. Had the people continued to be as inert and immobile as they appeared to be half a century ago, I might have been tempted to despair of their future. But when I see them, as they are to-day, united in a firm resolve to break with the past, and to seek new life by adopting the essentials of Western civilisation, I feel that my hopes as to their future are more than half realised; and I rejoice to help their cause with voice and pen.
Their patriotism may indeed be tinged with hostility to foreigners; but will it not gain in breadth with growing intelligence, and will they not come to perceive that their interests are inseparable from those of the great family into which they are seeking admission?
Every day adds its testimony to the depth and genuineness of the movement in the direction of reform. Yesterday the autumn manoeuvres of the grand army came to a close. They have shown that by the aid of her railways China is able to assemble a body of trained troops numbering 100,000 men. Not content with this formidable land force, the Government has ordered the construction of the nucleus of a navy, to consist of eight armoured cruisers and two battleships. Five of these and three naval stations are to be equipped with the wireless telegraph.
Not less significant than this rehabilitation of army and navy is the fact that a few days ago a number of students, who had completed their studies at foreign universities, were admitted to the third degree (or [Page vii] D. C. L.) in the scale of literary honours, which means appointment to some important post in the active mandarinate. If the booming of cannon at the grand review proclaimed that the age of bows and arrows is past, does not this other fact announce that, in the field of education, rhyming and caligraphy have given place to science and languages? Henceforth thousands of ambitious youth will flock to the universities of Japan, and growing multitudes will seek knowledge at its fountain-head beyond the seas.
Still more surprising are the steps taken toward the intellectual emancipation of woman in China. One of the leading ministers of education assured me the other day that he was pushing the establishment of schools for girls. The shaded hemisphere of Chinese life will thus be brought into the sunshine, and in years to come the education of Chinese youth will begin at the mother's knee.
The daily deliberations of the Council of State prove that the reform proposals of the High Commission are not to be consigned to the limbo of abortions. Tuan Fang, one of the leaders, has just been appointed to the viceroyalty of Nanking, with carte blanche to carry out his progressive ideas; and the metropolitan viceroy, Yuan, on taking leave of the Empress Dowager before proceeding to the manoeuvres, besought her not to listen to reactionary counsels such as those which had produced the disasters of 1900.
In view of these facts, what wonder that Chinese newspapers are discussing the question of a national religion? The fires of the old altars are well-nigh extinct; and, among those who have come forward to [Page vii] advocate the adoption of Christianity as the only faith that meets the wants of an enlightened people, one of the most prominent is a priest of Buddha.
May we not look forward with confidence to a time when China shall be found in the brotherhood of Christian nations?
W. A. P. M.
Peking, October 30, 1906.
[Page ix] INTRODUCTION
How varied are the geological formations of different countries, and what countless ages do they represent! Scarcely less diversified are the human beings that occupy the surface of the globe, and not much shorter the period of their evolution. To trace the stages of their growth and decay, to explain the vicissitudes through which they have passed, is the office of a philosophic historian.
If the life history of a silkworm, whose threefold existence is rounded off in a few months, is replete with interest, how much more interesting is that of societies of men emerging from barbarism and expanding through thousands of years. Next in interest to the history of our own branch of the human family is that of the yellow race confronting us on the opposite shore of the Pacific; even more fascinating, it may be, owing to the strangeness of manners and environment, as well as from the contrast or coincidence of experience and sentiment. So different from ours (the author writes as an American) are many phases of their social life that one is tempted to suspect that the same law, which placed their feet opposite to ours, of necessity turned their heads the other way.
To pursue this study is not to delve in a necropolis like Nineveh or Babylon; for China is not, like western Asia, the grave of dead empires, but the home of a people [Page x] endowed with inexhaustible vitality. Her present greatness and her future prospects alike challenge admiration.
If the inhabitants of other worlds could look down on us, as we look up at the moon, there are only five empires on the globe of sufficient extent to make a figure on their map: one of these is China. With more than three times the population of Russia, and an almost equal area, in natural advantages she is without a rival, if one excepts the United States. Imagination revels in picturing her future, when she shall have adopted Christian civilisation, and when steam and electricity shall have knit together all the members of her gigantic frame.
It was by the absorption of small states that the Chinese people grew to greatness. The present work will trace their history as they emerge, like a rivulet, from the highlands of central Asia and, increasing in volume, flow, like a stately river, toward the eastern ocean. Revolutions many and startling are to be recorded: some, like that in the epoch of the Great Wall, which stamped the impress of unity upon the entire people; others, like the Manchu conquest of 1644, by which, in whole or in part, they were brought under the sway of a foreign dynasty. Finally, contemporary history will be treated at some length, as its importance demands; and the transformation now going on in the Empire will be faithfully depicted in its relations to Western influences in the fields of religion, commerce and arms.
As no people can be understood or properly studied apart from their environment, a bird's-eye view of the country is given.
[Page xi] CONTENTS
THE EMPIRE IN OUTLINE
I. China Proper II. A Journey Through the Provinces—Kwangtung and Kwangsi III. Fukien IV. Chehkiang V. Kiangsu VI. Shantung VII. Chihli VIII. Honan IX. The River Provinces—Hupeh, Hunan, Anhwei, Kiangsi X. Provinces of the Upper Yang-tse—Szechuen, Kweichau, Yunnan XI. Northwestern Provinces—Shansi, Shensi, Kansuh XII. Outlying Territories—Manchuria, Mongolia, Turkestan, Tibet
[Page xii] PART II
HISTORY IN OUTLINE, FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES TO THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
XIII. Origin of the Chinese XIV. The Mythical Period XV. The Three Dynasties XVI. House of Chou XVII. The Sages of China XVIII. The Warring States XIX. House of Ts'in XX. House of Han XXI. The Three Kingdoms XXII. The Tang Dynasty XXIII. The Sung Dynasty XXIV. The Yuen Dynasty XXV. The Ming Dynasty XXVI. The Ta-Ts'ing Dynasty
CHINA IN TRANSFORMATION
XXVII. The Opening of China, a Drama in Five Acts—God in History—Prologue ACT 1—The Opium War (Note on the Tai-ping Rebellion) ACT 2—The "Arrow" War ACT 3—War with France ACT 4—War with Japan ACT 5—The Boxer War [Page xiii] XXVIII. The Russo-Japanese War XXIX. Reform in China XXX. Viceroy Chang XXXI. Anti-foreign Agitation XXII. The Manchus, the Normans of China
I. The Agency of Missionaries in the Diffusion of Secular Knowledge in China II. Unmentioned Reforms III. A New Opium War
[Page 1] PART I
THE EMPIRE IN OUTLINE
[Page 3] THE AWAKENING OF CHINA
Five Grand Divisions—Climate—Area and Population—The Eighteen Provinces
The empire consists of five grand divisions: China Proper, Manchuria, Mongolia, Turkestan, and Tibet. In treating of this huge conglomerate it will be most convenient to begin with the portion that gives name and character to the whole.
Of China Proper it may be affirmed that the sun shines nowhere on an equal area which combines so many of the conditions requisite for the support of an opulent and prosperous people. Lying between 18 deg. and 49 deg. north latitude, her climate is alike exempt from the fierce heat of the torrid zone and the killing cold of the frigid regions. There is not one of her provinces in which wheat, rice, and cotton, the three staples of food and clothing, may not be cultivated with more or less success; but in the southern half wheat gives place to rice, while in the north cotton yields to silk and hemp. In the south cotton is king and rice is queen of the fields.
Traversed in every direction by mountain ranges of moderate elevation whose sides are cultivated in [Page 4] terraces to such a height as to present the appearance of hanging gardens, China possesses fertile valleys in fair proportion, together with vast plains that compare in extent with those of our American prairie states. Furrowed by great rivers whose innumerable affluents supply means of irrigation and transport, her barren tracts are few and small.
A coast-line of three thousand miles indented with gulfs, bays, and inlets affords countless harbours for shipping, so that few countries can compare with her in facilities for ocean commerce.
As to her boundaries, on the east six of her eighteen provinces bathe their feet in the waters of the Pacific; on the south she clasps hands with Indo-China and with British Burma; and on the west the foothills of the Himalayas form a bulwark more secure than the wall that marks her boundary on the north. Greatest of the works of man, the Great Wall serves at present no other purpose than that of a mere geographical expression. Built to protect the fertile fields of the "Flowery Land" from the incursions of northern nomads, it may have been useful for some generations; but it can hardly be pronounced an unqualified success, since China in whole or in part has passed more than half of the twenty-two subsequent centuries under the domination of Tartars.
With an area of about 1,500,000 square miles, or one-half that of Europe, China has a busy population of about four hundred millions; yet, so far from being exhausted, there can be no doubt that with improved methods in agriculture, manufactures, mining, and transportation, she might very [Page 5] easily sustain double the present number of her thrifty children.
Within this favoured domain the products of nature and of human industry vie with each other in extent and variety. A bare enumeration would read like a page of a gazetteer and possibly make no more impression than a column of figures. To form an estimate of the marvellous fecundity of the country and to realise its picturesqueness, one ought to visit the provinces in succession and spend a year in the exploration of each. If one is precluded from such leisurely observation, undoubtedly the next best thing is to see them through the eyes of those who have travelled in and have made a special study of those regions.
To more than half of the provinces I can offer myself as a guide. I spent ten years at Ningpo, and one year at Shanghai, both on the southern seacoast. At the northern capital I spent forty years; and I have recently passed three years at Wuchang on the banks of the Yang-tse Kiang, a special coign of vantage for the study of central China. While residing in the above-mentioned foci it was my privilege to visit six other provinces (some of them more than once), thus gaining a personal acquaintance with ten out of the eighteen and being enabled to gather valuable information at first hand.
A glance at the subjoined table (from the report of the China Inland Mission for 1905) will exhibit the magnitude of the field of investigation before us. The average province corresponds in extent to the average state of the American Union; and the whole exceeds [Page 6] that portion of the United States which lies east of the Mississippi.
- PROVINCES AREA POPULATION SQ. MILES - - - Kwangtung (Canton) 99,970 31,865,000 Kwangsi 77,200 5,142,000 Fukien 46,320 22,876,000 Chehkiang 36,670 11,580,000 Kiangsu 38,600 13,980,000 Shantung 55,970 38,248,000 Chihli 115,800 20,937,000 Shansi 81,830 12,200,000 Shensi 75,270 8,450,000 Kansuh 125,450 10,385,000 Honan 67,940 35,316,000 Hupeh 71,410 35,280,000 Hunan 83,380 22,170,000 Nganhwei(Anhwei) 54,810 23,670,000 Yuennan 146,680 12,325,000 Szechuen 218,480 68,725,000 Kiangsi 69,480 26,532,000 Kweichau 67,160 7,650,000 - - - Totals 1,532,420 407,331,000
[Page 7] CHAPTER II
A JOURNEY THROUGH THE PROVINCES—KWANGTUNG AND KWANGSI
Hong Kong—A Trip to Canton—Macao—Scenes on Pearl River—Canton Christian College—Passion for Gambling—A Typical City—A Chief Source of Emigration
Let us take an imaginary journey through the provinces and begin at Hong Kong, where, in 1850, I began my actual experience of life in China.
From the deck of the good ship Lantao, which had brought me from Boston around the Cape in one hundred and thirty-four days, I gazed with admiration on the Gibraltar of the Orient. Before me was a land-locked harbour in which all the navies of the world might ride in safety. Around me rose a noble chain of hills, their slopes adorned with fine residences, their valleys a chessboard of busy streets, with here and there a British battery perched on a commanding rock.
Under Chinese rule Hong Kong had been an insignificant fishing village, in fact a nest of pirates. In 1841 the island was ceded by China to Great Britain, and the cession was confirmed by the treaty of Nanking in August, 1842. The transformation effected in less than a decade had been magical; yet that was only the bloom [Page 8] of babyhood, compared with the rich maturity of the, present day.
A daily steamer then sufficed for its trade with Canton; a weekly packet connected it with Shanghai; and the bulk of its merchandise was still carried in sailing ships or Chinese junks. How astounding the progress that has marked the last half-century! The streets that meandered, as it were, among the valleys, or fringed the water's edge, now girdle the hills like rows of seats in a huge amphitheatre; a railway lifts the passenger to the mountain top; and other railways whirl him from hill to hill along the dizzy height. I Trade, too, has multiplied twenty fold. In a commercial report for the year ending June, 1905, it is stated that in amount of tonnage Hong Kong has become the banner port of the world.
Though politically Hong Kong is not China, more than 212,000 of its busy population (about 221,000) are Chinese; and it is preeminently the gate of China. By a wise and liberal policy the British Government has made it the chief emporium of the Eastern seas.
We now take a trip to Canton and cross a bay studded with islands. These are clothed with copious verdure, but, like all others on the China coast, lack the crowning beauty of trees. In passing we get a glimpse of Macao, a pretty town under the flag of the Portuguese, the pioneers of Eastern trade. The oldest foreign settlement in China, it dates from 1544—not quite a half-century after the discovery of the route to India, an achievement whose fourth centenary was celebrated in 1898. If it could be ascertained on what [Page 9] day some adventurous argonaut pushed the quest of the Golden Fleece to Farther India, as China was then designated, that exploit might with equal appropriateness be commemorated also.
The city of Macao stands a monument of Lusitanian enterprise. Beautifully situated on a projecting spur of an island, it is a favourite summer resort of foreign residents in the metropolis. It has a population of about 70,000, mostly Chinese, and contains two tombs that make it sacred in my eyes; namely, that of Camoeens, author of "The Lusiad" and poet of Gama's voyage, and that of Robert Morrison, the pioneer of Protestant missions, the centennial of whose arrival had in 1907 a brilliant celebration.
Entering the Pearl River, a fine stream 500 miles in length, whose affluents spread like a fan over two provinces, we come to the viceregal capital, as Canton deserves to be called, though the viceroy actually resides in another city. The river is alive with steamboats, large and small, mostly under the British flag; but native craft of the old style have not yet been put to flight. Propelled by sail or oar, the latter creep along the shore; and at Pagoda Anchorage near the city they form a floating town in which families are born and die without ever having a home on terra firma.
Big-footed women are seen earning an honest living by plying the oar, or swinging on the scull-beam with babies strapped on their backs. One may notice also the so-called "flower-boats," embellished like the palaces of water fairies. Moored in one locality, they are a well-known resort of the vicious. In the fields are [Page 10] the tillers of the soil wading barefoot and bareheaded in mud and water, holding plough or harrow drawn by an amphibious creature called a carabao or water-buffalo, burying by hand in the mire the roots of young rice plants, or applying as a fertiliser the ordure and garbage of the city. Such unpoetic toils never could have inspired the georgic muse of Vergil or Thomson.
The most picturesque structure that strikes the eye as one approaches the city is a Christian college—showing how times have changed. In 1850 the foreign quarter was in a suburb near one of the gates. There I dined with Sir John Bowring at the British Consulate, having a letter of introduction from his American cousin, Miss Maylin, a gifted lady of Philadelphia. There, too, I lodged with Dr. Happer, who by the tireless exertions of many years succeeded in laying the foundations of that same Christian college. For him it is a monument more lasting than brass; for China it is only one of many lighthouses now rising at commanding points on the seacoast and in the interior.
In passing the Fati, a recreation-ground near the city, a view is obtained of the amusements of the rich and the profligate. We see a multitude seated around a cockpit intent on a cock-fight; but the cocks are quails, not barnyard fowls. Here, too, is a smaller and more exclusive circle stooping over a pair of crickets engaged in deadly combat. Insects of other sorts or pugnacious birds are sometimes substituted; and it might be supposed that the people must be warlike in their disposition, to enjoy such spectacles. The fact is, they are fond of fighting by proxy. What attracts them [Page 11] most, however, is the chance of winning or losing a wager.
A more intellectual entertainment to be seen in many places is the solving of historical enigmas. Some ancient celebrity is represented by an animal in a rhyming couplet; and the man who detects the hero under this disguise wins a considerable sum. Such is the native passion for gambling that bets are even made on the result of the metropolitan examinations, particularly on the province to which will fall the honour of the first prize, that of the scholar-laureateship.
Officials in all parts and benevolent societies take advantage of this passion for gambling in opening lotteries to raise funds for worthy objects—a policy which is unwise if not immoral. It should not be forgotten, however, that our own forefathers sometimes had recourse to lotteries to build churches.
The foreign settlement now stands on Shamien, a pretty islet in the river, in splendid contrast with the squalor of the native streets. The city wall is not conspicuous, if indeed it is visible beyond the houses of a crowded suburb. Yet one may be sure that it is there; for every large town must have a wall for protection, and the whole empire counts no fewer than 1,553 walled cities. What an index to the insecurity resulting from an ill-regulated police! The Chinese are surprised to hear that in all the United States there is nothing which they would call a city, because the American cities are destitute of walls.
Canton with its suburbs contains over two million people; it is therefore the most populous city in the empire. In general the houses are low, dark, and [Page 12] dirty, and the streets are for the most part too narrow for anything broader than a sedan or a "rickshaw" (jinriksha). Yet in city and suburbs the eye is dazzled by the richness of the shops, especially of those dealing in silks and embroideries. In strong contrast with this luxurious profusion may be seen crowds of beggars displaying their loathsome sores at the doors of the rich in order to extort thereby a penny from those who might not be disposed to give from motives of charity. The narrow streets are thronged with coolies in quality of beasts of burden, having their loads suspended from each end of an elastic pole balanced on the shoulder, or carrying their betters in sedan chairs, two bearers for a commoner, four for a "swell," and six or eight for a magnate. High officials borne in these luxurious vehicles are accompanied by lictors on horse or foot. Bridegrooms and brides are allowed to pose for the nonce as grandees; and the bridal chair, whose drapery blends the rainbow and the butterfly, is heralded by a band of music, the blowing of horns, and the clashing of cymbals. The block and jam thus occasioned are such as no people except the patient Chinese would tolerate. They bow to custom and smile at inconvenience. Of horse-cars or carriages there are none except in new streets. Rickshaws and wheelbarrows push their way in the narrowest alleys, and compete with sedans for a share of the passenger traffic.
In those blue hills that hang like clouds on the verge of the horizon and bear the poetical name of White Cloud, there are gardens that combine in rich variety the fruits of both the torrid and the temperate zones. Tea and silk are grown in many other [Page 13] parts of China; but here they are produced of a superior quality.
Enterprising and intelligent, the people of this province have overflowed into the islands of the Pacific from Singapore to Honolulu. Touching at Java in 1850, I found refreshments at the shop of a Canton man who showed a manifest superiority to the natives of the island. Is it not to be regretted that the Chinese are excluded from the Philippines? Would not the future of that archipelago be brighter if the shiftless native were replaced by the thrifty Chinaman?
It was in Canton that American trade suffered most from the boycott of 1905, because there the ill-treatment of Chinese in America was most deeply felt, the Chinese in California being almost exclusively from the province of Canton.
The viceroy of Canton has also the province of Kwangsi under his jurisdiction. Mountainous and thinly peopled, it is regarded by its associate as a burden, being in an almost chronic state of rebellion and requiring large armies to keep its turbulent inhabitants in order.
[Page 14] CHAPTER III
PROVINCE OF FUKIEN
Amoy—Bold Navigators—Foochow—Mountain of Kushan—The Bridge of Ten Thousand Years
Following the coast to the north some three hundred miles we come to Amoy, the first important seaport in the adjacent province of Fukien. The aspect of the country has undergone a change. Hills attain the altitude of mountains, and the alluvial plains, so conspicuous about Canton, become contracted to narrow valleys.
The people, too, are changed in speech and feature. Taller, coarser in physiognomy, with high cheek-bones and harsh voices, their dialect is totally unintelligible to people of the neighbouring province. As an example of the diversity of dialects in China, may be cited the Chinese word for man. In some parts of Fukien it is long; in Canton, yan or yin; at Ningpo, ning; and at Peking, jin.
One is left in doubt whether the people or the mountains which they inhabit were the most prominent factors in determining the dividing line that separates them from their neighbours on the south and west. In enterprise and energy they rival the Cantonese. They are bold navigators; the grand island of Formosa, now ceded to Japan, was colonised by them; and by [Page 15] them also the savage aborigines were driven over to the east coast. A peculiar sort of black tea is grown on these mountains, and, along with grass cloth, forms a staple in the trade of Amoy. The harbour is not wanting in beauty; and a view from one of the hill-tops, from which hundreds of villages are visible, is highly picturesque. Of the town of Amoy with its 200,000 people there is not much to be said except that several missions, British and American, which opened stations there soon after the first war with Great Britain, have met with encouraging success. At Swatow, a district in Canton Province beyond the boundary, the American Baptists have a flourishing mission.
Entering the Formosan Channel we proceed to the mouth of the Min, a fine river which leads up to Foochow (Fuchau), some thirty miles inland. We do not stop to explore the Island of Formosa because, having been ceded to Japan, it no longer forms a part of the Chinese Empire. From the river the whole province is sometimes described as "the country of Min"; but its official name is Fukien. This name does not signify "happily established," as stated in most books, but is compounded of the names of its two chief cities by taking the first syllable of each, somewhat as the pioneer settlers of Arkansas formed the name of the boundary town of Texarkana. The names of some other provinces of China are formed in the same way; e.g. Kiangsu, Kansuh, and that of the viceregal district of Yuenkwei.
Kushan, a mountain on the bank of the river, is famed for its scenery; and, as with mountains everywhere else in China, it has been made the seat of a [Page 16] Buddhist monastery, with some scores of monks passing their time not in contemplation, but in idleness.
The city of Foochow is imposing with its fine wall of stone, and a long stone bridge called Wansuik'iao "the bridge of ten thousand years." It has a population of about 650,000. To add to its importance it has a garrison or colony of Manchus who from the date of the conquest in 1644 have lived apart from the Chinese and have not diminished in numbers.
The American Board and the Methodist Episcopal Board have large and prosperous missions at this great centre, and from this base they have ramified through the surrounding mountains, mostly following the tributaries of the Min up to their sources. In 1850 I was entertained at Foochow by the Rev. Dr. C. C. Baldwin, who, I am glad to say, still lives after the lapse of fifty-five years; but he is no longer in the mission field.
[Page 17] CHAPTER IV
PROVINCE OF CHEHKIANG
Chusan Archipelago—Putu and Pirates—Queer Fishers and Queer Boats—Ningpo—A Literary Triumph—Search for a Soul—Chinese Psychology—Hangchow—The Great Bore
Chehkiang, the next province to the north, and the smallest of the eighteen, is a portion of the highlands mentioned in the last chapter. It is about as large as Indiana, while some of the provinces have four or five times that area. There is no apparent reason why it should have a distinct provincial government save that its waters flow to the north, or perhaps because the principality of Yuih (1100 B.C.) had such a boundary, or, again, perhaps because the language of the people is akin to that of the Great Plain in which its chief river finds an outlet. How often does a conqueror sever regions which form a natural unit, merely to provide a principality for some favourite!
Lying off its coast is the Chusan archipelago, in which two islands are worthy of notice. The largest, which gives the archipelago its name, is about half the length of Long Island, N. Y., and is so called from a fancied resemblance to a junk, it having a high promontory at either end. It contains eighteen valleys—a division not connected with the eighteen provinces, but [Page 18] perpetuated in a popular rhyme which reflects severely on the morals of its inhabitants. Shielded by the sea, and near enough to the land to strike with ease at any point of the neighbouring coast, the British forces found here a secure camping-ground in their first war.
To the eastward lies the sacred Isle of Putu, the Iona of the China coast. With a noble landscape, and so little land as to offer no temptation to the worldly, it was inevitable that the Buddhists should fix on it as a natural cloister. For many centuries it has been famous for its monasteries, some of which are built of timbers taken from imperial palaces. Formerly the missionaries from neighbouring seaports found at Putu refuge from the summer heat, but it is now abandoned, since it afforded no shelter from the petty piracy at all times so rife in these waters.
In 1855 Mr. (afterward Bishop) Russell and myself were captured by pirates while on our way to Putu. The most gentlemanly freebooters I ever heard of, they invited us to share their breakfast on the deck of our own junk; but they took possession of all our provisions and our junk too, sending us to our destination in a small boat, and promising to pay us a friendly visit on the island. One of them, who had taken my friend's watch, came to the owner to ask him how to wind it. The Rev. Walter Lowrie, founder of the Presbyterian Mission at Ningpo, was not so fortunate. Attacked by pirates nearly on the same spot, he was thrown into the sea and drowned.
Passing these islands we come to the Ningpo River, with Chinhai, a small city, at its mouth, and Ningpo, [Page 19] a great emporium, some twelve miles inland. This curious arrangement, so different from what one would expect, confronts one in China with the regularity of a natural law: Canton, Shanghai, Foochow, and Tientsin, all conform to it. The small city stands at the anchorage for heavy shipping; but the great city, renouncing this advantage, is located some distance inland, to be safe from sea-robbers and foreign foes.
As we ascend the river we are struck with more than one peculiar mode of taking fish. We see a number of cormorants perched on the sides of a boat. Now and then a bird dives into the water and comes up with a fish in its beak. If the fish be a small one, the bird swallows it as a reward for its services; but a fish of considerable size is hindered in its descent by a ring around the bird's neck and becomes the booty of the fisherman. The birds appear to be well-trained; and their sharp eyes penetrate the depths of the water. Another novelty in fishing is a contrivance by which fish are made to catch themselves—not by running into a net or by swallowing a hook, but by leaping over a white board and falling into a boat. More strange than all are men who, like the cormorants, dive into the water and emerge with fish—sometimes with one in either hand. These fishermen when in the water always have their feet on the ground and grope along the shore. The first time I saw this method in practice I ran to the brink of the river to save, as I thought, the life of a poor man. He no sooner raised his head out of the water, however, than down it went again; and I was laughed at for my want of discernment by a crowd of people who shouted Ko-ng, Ko-ng, "he's catching fish."
[Page 20] The natives have a peculiar mode of propelling a boat. Sitting in the stern the boatman holds the helm with one hand, while with the other he grasps a long pipe which he smokes at leisure. Without mast or sail, he makes speed against wind or current by making use of his feet to drive the oar. He thus gains the advantage of weight and of his strong sartorial muscles. These little craft are the swiftest boats on the river.
At the forks of the river, in a broad plain dotted with villages, rise the stone walls of Ningpo, six miles in circuit, enclosing a network of streets better built than those of the majority of Chinese cities. The foreign settlement is on the north bank of the main stream; but a few missionaries live within the walls, and there I passed the first years of my life in China.
Above the walls, conspicuous at a distance, appears the pinnacle of a lofty pagoda, a structure like most of those bearing the name, with eight corners and nine stories. Originally designed for the mere purposes of look-outs, these airy edifices have degenerated into appliances of superstition to attract good influences and to ward off evil.
Not only has this section of the province a dialect of its own, of the mandarin type, but its people possess a finer physique than those of the south. Taller, with eyes less angular and faces of faultless symmetry, they are a handsome people, famed alike for literary talent and for commercial enterprise. During my residence there the whole city was once thrown into excitement by the news that one of her sons had won the first prize in prose and verse in competition, before the emperor, with the assembled scholars of the empire—an [Page 21] an honour comparable to that of poet laureate or of a victor in the Olympic games. When that distinction falls to a city, it is believed that, in order to equalise matters, the event is sure to be followed by three years of dearth. In this instance, the highest mandarins escorted the wife of the literary athlete to the top of the wall, where she scattered a few handfuls of rice to avert the impending famine.
My house was attached to a new church which was surmounted by a bell-tower. In a place where nothing of the sort had previously existed, that accessory attracted many visitors even before the bell was in position to invite them. One day a weeping mother, attended by an anxious retinue, presented herself and asked permission to climb the tower, which request of course was not refused.
Uncovering a bundle, she said: "This is my boy's clothing. Yesterday he was up in the tower and, taking fright at the height of the building, his little soul forsook his body and he had to go home without it. He is now delirious with fever. We think the soul is hovering about in this huge edifice and that it will recognise these clothes and, taking possession of them, will return home with us."
When a bird escapes from its cage the Chinese sometimes hang the cage on the branch of a tree and the bird returns to its house again. They believe they can capture a fugitive soul in the same way. Sometimes, too, a man may be seen standing on a housetop at night waving a lantern and chanting in dismal tones an invitation to some wandering spirit to return to its abode. Whether in the case just mentioned the poor [Page 22] woman's hopes were fulfilled and whether the animula vagula blandula returned from its wanderings I never learned, but I mention the incident as exhibiting another picturesque superstition.
Chinese psychology recognises three souls, viz., the animal, the spiritual, and the intellectual. The absence of one of the three does not, therefore, involve immediate death, as does the departure of the soul in our dual system.
But I tarry too long at my old home. We have practically an empire still before us, and will, therefore, steer west for Hangchow.
In the thirteenth century this was the residence of an imperial court; and the provincial capital still retains many signs of imperial magnificence. The West Lake with its pavilions and its lilies, a pleasance fit for an emperor; the vast circuit of the city's walls enclosing hill and vale; and its commanding site on the bank of a great river at the head of a broad bay—all combine to invest it with dignity. Well do I recall the day in 1855 when white men first trod its streets. They were the Rev. Henry Rankin and myself. Though not permitted by treaty to penetrate even the rind of the "melon," as the Chinese call their empire, to a distance farther than admitted of our returning to sleep at home, we nevertheless broke bounds and set out for the old capital of the Sungs. On the way we made a halt at the city of Shaohing; and as we were preaching to a numerous and respectful audience in the public square, a well-dressed man pressed through the crowd and invited us to do him the honour of taking tea at his house. His mansion exhibited every [Page 23] evidence of affluence; and he, a scholar by profession, aspiring to the honours of the mandarinate, explained, as he ordered for us an ample repast, that he would have felt ashamed if scholars from the West had been allowed to pass through his city without anyone offering them hospitality. What courtesy! Could Hebrew or Arab hospitality surpass it?
Two things for which the city of Shaohing is widely celebrated are (1) a sort of rice wine used throughout the Empire as being indispensable at mandarin feasts, and (2) clever lawyers who are deemed indispensable as legal advisers to mandarins. They are the "Philadelphia lawyers" of China.
As we entered Hangchow the boys shouted Wo tsei lai liao, "the Japanese are coming "—never having seen a European, and having heard their fathers speak of the Japanese as sea-robbers, a terror to the Chinese coast. Up to this date, Japan had no treaty with China, and it had never carried on any sort of regular commerce with or acknowledged the superiority of China. Before many years had passed, these youths became accustomed to Western garb and features; and I never heard that any foreigner suffered insult or injury at their hands.
In 1860 the Rev. J. L. Nevius, one of my colleagues, took possession of the place in the name of Christ. He was soon followed by Bishop Burden, of the English Church Mission, whose apostolic successor, Bishop Moule, now makes it the seat of his immense diocese.
Another claim to distinction not to be overlooked is that its river is a trap for whales. Seven or eight years ago a cetaceous monster was stranded near the [Page 24] river's mouth. The Rev. Dr. Judson, president of the Hangchow Mission College, went to see it and sent me an account of his observations. He estimated the length of the whale at 100 feet; the tail had been removed by the natives. To explain the incident it is necessary to say that, the bay being funnel-shaped, the tides rise to an extraordinary height. Twice a month, at the full and the change of the moon, the attractions of sun and moon combine, and the water rushes in with a roar like that of a tidal wave. The bore of Hangchow is not surpassed by that of the Hooghly or of the Bay of Fundy. Vessels are wrecked by it; and even the monsters of the deep are unable to contend with the fury of its irresistible advance.
[Page 25] CHAPTER V
PROVINCE OF KIANGSU
Nanking—Shanghai—The Yang-tse Kiang—The Yellow River
Bordering on the sea, traversed by the Grand Canal and the Yang-tse Kiang, the chief river of the Empire, rich in agriculture, fisheries, and commerce, Kiangsu is the undisputed queen of the eighteen provinces. In 1905 it was represented to the throne as too heavy a burden for one set of officers. The northern section was therefore detached and erected into a separate province; but before the new government was organised the Empress Dowager yielded to remonstrances and rescinded her hasty decree—showing how reluctant she is to contravene the wishes of her people. What China requires above all things is the ballot box, by which the people may make their wishes known.
The name of the province is derived from its two chief cities, Suchow and Nanking. Suchow, the Paris of the Far East, is coupled with Hangchow in a popular rhyme, which represents the two as paragon cities:
"Shang yu t'ien t'ang hia yu Su-Hang."
"Su and Hang, so rich and fair, May well with Paradise compare."
[Page 26] The local dialect is so soft and musical that strolling players from Suchow are much sought for in the adjacent provinces. A well-known couplet says:
"I'd rather hear men wrangle in Suchow's dulcet tones Than hear that mountain jargon, composed of sighs and groans."
Farther inland, near the banks of the "Great River," stands Nanking, the old capital of the Ming dynasty. The Manchus, unwilling to call it a king, i.e. seat of empire, changed its name to Kiangning; but the old title survives in spite of official jealousy. As it will figure prominently in our history we shall not pause there at present, but proceed to Shanghai, a place which more than any other controls the destinies of the State.
Formerly an insignificant town of the third order (provincial capitals and prefectural towns ranking respectively first and second), some sapient Englishman with an eye to commerce perceived the advantage of the site; and in the dictation of the terms of peace in 1842 it was made one of the five ports. It has come to overshadow Canton; and more than all the other ports it displays to the Chinese the marvels of Western skill, knowledge, and enterprise.
On a broad estuary near the mouth of the main artery that penetrates the heart of China, it has become a leading emporium of the world's commerce. The native city still hides its squalor behind low walls of brick, but outside the North Gate lies a tract of land known as the "Foreign Concessions." There a beautiful city styled the "model settlement" has sprung up like a gorgeous pond-lily from the muddy, [Page 27] paddy-fields. Having spent a year there, I regard it with a sort of affection as one of my Oriental homes.
Shanghai presents a spectacle rare amongst the seaports of the world. Its broad streets, well kept and soon to be provided with electric trolleys, extend for miles along the banks of two rivers, lined with opulent business houses and luxurious mansions, most of the latter being surrounded by gardens and embowered in groves of flowering trees. Nor do these magazines and dwelling-houses stand merely for taste and opulence. Within the bounds of the Concessions is the reign of law—not, as elsewhere in China, the arbitrary will of a magistrate, but the offspring of freedom and justice. Foreigners live everywhere under the protection of their own national flags: and within the Concessions. Chinese accused of crimes are tried by a mixed court which serves as an object-lesson in justice and humanity. Had one time to peep into a native yamen, one might see bundles of bamboos, large and small, prepared for the bastinado; one might see, also, thumb-screws, wooden boots, wooden collars, and other instruments of torture, some of them intended to make mince-meat of the human body. The use of these has now been forbidden.[*]
[Footnote *: In another city a farmer having extorted a sum of money from a tailor living within the Concession, the latter appealed to the British consul for Justice. The consul, an inexperienced young man, observing that the case concerned only the Chinese, referred it to the city magistrate, who instantly ordered the tailor to receive a hundred blows for having applied to a foreign court.]
In Shanghai there are schools of all grades, some under the foreign municipal government, others under missionary societies. St. John's College (U. S. [Page 28] Episcopal) and the Anglo-Chinese College (American M. E.) bear the palm in the line of education so long borne by the Roman Catholics of Siccawei. Added to these, newspapers foreign and native—the latter exercising a freedom of opinion impossible beyond the limits of this city of refuge—the Society for the Diffusion of Christian Knowledge and other translation bureaux, foreign and native, turning out books by the thousand with the aid of steam presses, form a combination of forces to which China is no longer insensible.
Resuming our imaginary voyage we proceed northward, and in the space of an hour find ourselves at the mouth of the Yang-tse Kiang, or Ta Kiang, the "Great River," as the Chinese call it. The width of its embouchure suggests an Asiatic rival of the Amazon and La Plata. We now see why this part of the ocean is sometimes described as the Yellow Sea. A river whose volume, it is said, equals that of two hundred and forty-four such rivulets as Father Thames, pours into it its muddy waters, making new islands and advancing the shore far into the domain of Neptune.
Notice on the left those long rows of trees that appear to spring from the bosom of the river. They are the life-belt of the Island of Tsungming which six centuries ago rose like the fabled Delos from the surface of the turbid waters. Accepted as the river's tribute to the Dragon Throne, it now forms a district of the province with a population of over half a million. About the same time, a large tract of land was carried into the sea by the Hwang Ho, the "Yellow River," which gave rise to the popular proverb, "If we lose in Tungking we gain in Tsungming."
[Page 29] The former river comes with its mouth full of pearls; the latter yawns to engulf the adjacent land. At present, however, the Yellow River is dry and thirsty, the unruly stream, the opposite of Horace's uxorius amnis, having about forty years ago forsaken its old bed and rushed away to the Gulf of Pechili (Peh-chihli). This produced as much consternation as the Mississippi would occasion if it should plough its way across the state that bears its name and enter the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile Bay. The same phenomenon has occurred at long intervals in times past. The wilful stream has oscillated with something like periodical regularity from side to side of the Shantung promontory, and sometimes it has flowed with a divided current, converting that territory into an island. Now, however, the river seems to have settled itself in its new channel, entering the gulf at Yang Chia Kow—a place which foreign sailors describe as "Yankee cow"—and making a portentous alteration in the geography of the globe.
[Page 30] CHAPTER VI
PROVINCE OF SHANTUNG
Kiao-Chao—Visit to Confucius's Tomb—Expedition to the Jews of K'ai-fung-fu—The Grand Canal—Chefoo
In Shantung the people appear to be much more robust than their neighbours to the south. Wheat and millet rather than rice are their staple food. In their orchards apples, pears and peaches take the place of oranges.
At Kiao-chao (Kiau-Chau) the Germans, who occupied that port in 1897, have built a beautiful town opposite the Island of Tsingtao, presenting a fine model for imitation, which, however, the Chinese are not in haste to copy. They have constructed also a railway from the sea to Tsinan-fu, very nearly bisecting the province. Weihien is destined to become a railroad centre; and several missionary societies are erecting colleges there to teach the people truths that Confucius never knew. More than half a century ago, when a missionary distributed Christian books in that region, the people brought them back saying, "We have the works of our Sage, and they are sufficient for us." Will not the new arts and sciences of the West convince them that their Sage was not omniscient?
In 1866 I earned the honours of a hadji by visiting the tomb of Confucius—a magnificent mausoleum surrounded by his descendants of the seventieth generation, [Page 31] one of whom in quality of high priest to China's greatest teacher enjoys the rank of a hereditary duke.
On that occasion, I had come up from a visit to the Jews in Honan. Having profited by a winter vacation to make an expedition to K'ai-fung-fu, I had the intention of pushing on athwart the province to Hankow. The interior, however, as I learned to my intense disappointment, was convulsed with rebellion. No cart driver was willing to venture his neck, his steed, and his vehicle by going in that direction. I accordingly steered for the Mecca of Shantung, and, having paid my respects to the memory of China's greatest sage, struck the Grand Canal and proceeded to Shanghai. From K'ai-fung-fu I had come by land slowly, painfully, and not without danger. From Tsi-ning I drifted down with luxurious ease in a well-appointed house-boat, meditating poetic terms in which to describe the contrast.
The canal deserves the name of "grand" as the wall on the north deserves the name of "great." Memorials of ancient times, they both still stand unrivalled by anything the Western world has to show, if one except the Siberian Railway. The Great Wan is an effete relic no longer of use; and it appears to be satire on human foresight that the Grand Canal should have been built by the very people whom the Great Wall was intended to exclude from China. The canal is as useful to-day as it was six centuries ago, and remains the chief glory of the Mongol dynasty.
Kublai having set up his throne in the north, and completed the conquest of the eighteen provinces, ordered the construction of this magnificent waterway, [Page 32] which extends 800 miles from Peking to Hangchow and connects with other waterways which put the northern capital in roundabout communication with provinces of the extreme south. His object was to tap the rice-fields of Central China and obtain a food supply which could not be interfered with by those daring sea-robbers, the redoubtable Japanese, who had destroyed his fleets and rendered abortive his attempt at conquest. Of the Great Wall, it may be said that the oppression inseparable from its construction hastened the overthrow of the house of its builder. The same is probably true of the Grand Canal. The myriads of unpaid labourers who were drafted by corvee from among the Chinese people subsequently enlisted, they or their children, under the revolutionary banner which expelled the oppressive Mongols.
Another port in this province which we cannot pass without an admiring glance, is Chefoo (Chifu). On a fine hill rising from the sea wave the flags of several nations; in the harbour is a cluster of islands; and above the settlement another noble hill rears its head crowned with a temple and groves of trees. On its sides and near the seashore are the residences of missionaries. There I have more than once found a refuge from the summer heat, under the hospitable roof of Mrs. Nevius, the widow of my friend Dr. J. L. Nevius, who, after opening a mission in Hangchow, became one of the pioneers of Shantung. In Chefoo he planted not only a church, but a fruit garden. To the Chinese eye this garden was a striking symbol of what his gospel proposed to effect for the people.
[Page 33] CHAPTER VII
PROVINCE OF CHIHLI
Taku—Tientsin—Peking—The Summer Palace—Patachu—Temples of Heaven, Earth, and Agriculture—Foreign Quarter—The Forbidden City—King-Han Railway—Paoting-fu
Crossing the gulf we reach Taku, at the mouth of the Peiho, and, passing the dismantled forts, ascend the river to Tientsin.
In 1858 I spent two months at Taku and Tientsin in connection with the tedious negotiations of that year. At the latter place I became familiar with the dusty road to the treaty temple; and at the former witnessed the capture of the forts by the combined squadrons of Great Britain and France. The next year on the same ground I saw the allied forces repulsed with heavy loss—a defeat avenged by the capture of Peking in 1860.
In the Boxer War the relief force met with formidable opposition at Tientsin. The place has, however, risen with new splendour from its half-ruined condition, and now poses as the principal residence of the most powerful of the viceroys. Connected by the river with the seaboard, by the Grand Canal with several provinces to the south, and by rail with Peking, Hankow and Manchuria, Tientsin commands the chief lines of [Page 34] communication in northern China. In point of trade it ranks as the third in importance of the treaty ports.
Three hours by rail bring us to the gates of Peking, the northern capital. Formerly it took another hour to get within the city. Superstition or suspicion kept the railway station at a distance; now, however, it is at the Great Central Gate. Unlike Nanking, Peking has nothing picturesque or commanding in its location. On the west and north, at a distance of ten to twenty miles, ranges of blue hills form a feature in the landscape. Within these limits the eye rests on nothing but flat fields, interspersed with clumps of trees overshadowing some family cemetery or the grave of some grandee.
Between the city and the hills are the Yuen Ming Yuen, the Emperor's summer palace, burnt in 1860 and still an unsightly ruin, and the Eho Yuen, the summer residence of the Empress Dowager. Enclosing two or three pretty hills and near to a lofty range, the latter occupies a site of rare beauty. It also possesses mountain water in rich abundance. No fewer than twenty-four springs gush from the base of one of its hills, feeding a pretty lake and numberless canals. Partly destroyed in 1860, this palace was for many years as silent as the halls of Palmyra. I have often wandered through its neglected grounds. Now, every prominent rock is crowned with pagoda or pavilion. There are, however, some things which the slave of the lamp is unable to produce even at the command of an empress—there are no venerable oaks or tall pines to lend their majesty to the scene.
Patachu, in the adjacent hills, used to be a favourite [Page 35] summer resort for the legations and other foreigners before the seaside became accessible by rail. Its name, signifying the "eight great places," denotes that number of Buddhist temples, built one above another in a winding gorge on the hillside. In the highest, called Pearl Grotto, 1,200 feet above the sea, I have found repose for many a summer. I am there now (June, 1906), and there I expect to write the closing chapters of this work. These temples are at my feet; the great city is in full view. To that shrine the emperors sometimes made excursions to obtain a distant prospect of the world. One of them, Kien Lung, somewhat noted as a poet, has left, inscribed on a rock, a few lines commemorative of his visit:
"Why have I scaled this dizzy height? Why sought this mountain den? I tread as on enchanted ground, Unlike the abode of men.
"Beneath my feet my realm I see As in a map unrolled, Above my head a canopy Adorned with clouds of gold."
The capital consists of two parts: the Tartar city, a square of four miles; and the Chinese city, measuring five miles by three. They are separated by imposing walls with lofty towers, the outer wall being twenty-one miles in circuit. At present the subject people are permitted to mingle freely with their conquerors; but most of the business is done in the Chinese city. Resembling other Chinese towns in its unsavoury condition, this section contains two imperial temples of great sanctity. One of these, the Temple of Heaven, [Page 36] has a circular altar of fine white marble with an azure dome in its centre in imitation of the celestial vault. Here the Emperor announces his accession, prays for rain, and offers an ox as a burnt sacrifice at the winter solstice—addressing himself to Shang-ti, the supreme ruler, "by whom kings reign and princes decree justice."
The Temple of Agriculture, which stands at a short distance from that just mentioned, was erected in honour of the first man who cultivated the earth. In Chinese, he has no name, his title, Shin-nung signifying the "divine husbandman"—a masculine Ceres. Might we not call the place the Temple of Cain? There the Emperor does honour to husbandry by ploughing a few furrows at the vernal equinox. His example no doubt tends to encourage and comfort his toiling subjects.
Another temple associated with these is that of Mother Earth, the personified consort of Heaven; but it is not in this locality. The eternal fitness of things requires that it should be outside of the walls and on the north. It has a square altar, because the earth is supposed to have "four corners." "Heaven is round and Earth square," is the first line of a school reader for boys. The Tartar city is laid out with perfect regularity, and its streets and alleys are all of convenient width.
Passing from the Chinese city through the Great Central Gate we enter Legation Street, so called because most of the legations are situated on or near it. Architecturally they make no show, being of one story, or at most two stories, in height and hidden [Page 37] behind high walls. So high and strong are the walls of the British Legation that in the Boxer War of 1900 it served the whole community for a fortress, wherein we sustained a siege of eight weeks. A marble obelisk near the Legation gate commemorates the siege, and a marble gateway on a neighbouring street marks the spot where Baron Ketteler was shot. Since that war a foreign quarter has been marked out, the approaches to which have been partially fortified. The streets are now greatly improved; ruined buildings have been repaired; and the general appearance of the old city has been altered for the better.
Two more walled enclosures have to be passed before we arrive at the palace. One of them forms a protected barrack or camping-ground for the palace guards and other officials attendant on the court. The other is a sacred precinct shielded from vulgar eyes and intrusive feet, and bears the name "Forbidden City." In the year following the flight of the court these palaces were guarded by foreign troops, and were thrown open to foreign visitors.
Marble bridges, balustrades, and stairways bewilder a stranger. Dragons, phoenixes and other imaginary monsters carved on doorways and pillars warn him that he is treading on sacred ground. The ground, though paved with granite, is far from clean; and the costly carvings within remind one of the saying of an Oriental monarch, "The spider taketh hold with her hands and is in kings' houses." None of the buildings has more than one story, but the throne-rooms and great halls are so lofty as to suggest the dome of a cathedral. The roofs are all covered with tiles of a [Page 38] yellow hue, a colour which even princes are not permitted to use.
Separated from the palace by a moat and a wall is Prospect Hill, a charming elevation which serves as an imperial garden. On the fall of the city in 1643 the last of the Mings hanged himself there—after having stabbed his daughter, like another Virginius, as a last proof of paternal affection.
From the gate of the Forbidden City to the palace officials high and low must go on foot, unless His Majesty by special favour confers the privilege of riding on horseback, a distinction which is always announced in the Gazette by the statement that His Majesty has "given a horse" to So-and-So. No trolleys are to be seen in the streets, and four-wheeled carriages are rare and recent. Carts, camels, wheel-barrows, and the ubiquitous rickshaw are the means of transport and locomotion. The canals are open sewers never used for boats.
Not lacking in barbaric splendour, as regards the convenience of living this famous capital will not compare with a country village of the Western world. On the same parallel as Philadelphia, but dryer, hotter, and colder, the climate is so superb that the city, though lacking a system of sanitation, has a remarkably low death-rate. In 1859 I first entered its gates. In 1863 I came here to reside. More than any other place on earth it has been to me a home; and here I am not unlikely to close my pilgrimage.
On my first visit, I made use of Byron's lines on Lisbon to express my impressions of Peking. Though there are now some signs of improvement in the city [Page 39] the quotation can hardly be considered as inapplicable at the present time. Here it is for the convenience of the next traveller:
"...Whoso entereth within this town, That, sheening far, celestial seems to be, Disconsolate will wander up and down, 'Mid many things unsightly to strange ee: For hut and palace show like filthily: The dingy denizens are rear'd in dirt; Ne personage of high or mean degree Doth care for cleanness of surtout or shirt..." (Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto the First, st. xvii.)
Returning to the station we face about for the south and take tickets for Paoting-fu. We are on the first grand trunk railway of this empire. It might indeed be described as a vertebral column from which iron roads will ere long be extended laterally on either side, like ribs, to support and bind together the huge frame. Undertaken about twelve years ago it has only recently been completed as far as Hankow, about six hundred miles. The last spike in the bridge across the Yellow River was driven in August, 1905, and since that time through trains have been running from the capital to the banks of the Yang-tse Kiang.
This portion has been constructed by a Belgian syndicate, and their task has been admirably performed. I wish I could say as much of the other half (from Hankow to Canton), the contract for which was given to an American company. After a preliminary survey this company did no work, but, under pretext of waiting for tranquil times, watched the fluctuations of the share market. The whole enterprise was eventually [Page 40] taken over by a native company opposed to foreign ownership—at an advance of 300 per cent. It was a clever deal; but the Americans sacrificed the credit and the influence of their country, and a grand opportunity was lost through cupidity and want of patriotism.
This iron highway is destined in the near future to exert a mighty influence on people and government. It will bring the provinces together and make them feel their unity. It will also insure that communication between the north and the south shall not be interrupted as it might be were it dependent on sea or canal. These advantages must have been so patent as to overcome an inbred hostility to development. Instead of being a danger, these railways are bound to become a source of incalculable strength.
Paoting-fu was the scene of a sad tragedy in 1900, and when avenging troops appeared on the scene, and saw the charred bones of missionaries among the ashes of their dwellings, they were bent on destroying the whole city, but a missionary who served as guide begged them to spare the place. So grateful were the inhabitants for his kindly intervention that they bestowed on the mission a large plot of ground—showing that, however easily wrought up, they were not altogether destitute of the better feelings of humanity.
Continuing our journey through half a dozen considerable cities, at one of which, Shunteh-fu, an American mission has recently been opened, we reach the borders of the province of Honan.
[Page 41] CHAPTER VIII
PROVINCE OF HONAN
A Great Bridge—K'ai-fung-fu—Yellow Jews
Passing the border city of Weihwei-fu, we find ourselves arrested by the Hwang Ho—not that we experience any difficulty in reaching the other bank; but we wish to indulge our curiosity in inspecting the means of transit. It is a bridge, and such a bridge as has no parallel on earth. Five miles in length, it is longer than any other bridge built for the passage of a river. It is not, however, as has been said, the longest bridge in the world; the elevated railway of New York is a bridge of much greater length. So are some of the bridges that carry railways across swamp-lands on the Pacific Coast. Bridges of that sort, however, are of comparatively easy construction. They have no rebellious stream or treacherous quicksands to contend with. Caesar's bridge over the Rhine was an achievement worthy to be recorded among the victories of his Gallic wars; but it was a child's plaything in comparison with the bridge over the Yellow River. Caesar's bridge rested on sesquipedalian beams of solid timber. The Belgian bridge is supported on tubular piles of steel of sesquipedalian diameter driven by steam or screwed down into the sand to a depth of fifty feet.
There have been other bridges near this very spot [Page 42] with which it might be compared. One of them was called Ta-liang, the "Great Bridge," and gave name to a city. Another was Pien-liang, "The Bridge of Pien," one of the names of the present city of K'ai-fung-fu. That bridge has long since disappeared; but the name adheres to the city.
What an unstable foundation on which to erect a seat of empire! Yet the capital has been located in this vicinity more than once or twice within the last twenty-five centuries. The first occasion was during the dynasty of Chou (1100 B. c.), when the king, to be more central, or perhaps dreading the incursions of the Tartars, forsook his capital in Shensi and followed the stream down almost to the sea, braving the quicksands and the floods rather than face those terrible foes. Again, in the Sung period, it was the seat of government for a century and a half.
The safest refuge for a fugitive court which, once established there, has no reason to fear attack by sea or river, it is somewhat strange that in 1900 the Empress Dowager did not direct her steps toward K'ai-fung-fu, instead of escaping to Si-ngan. Being, however, herself a Tartar, she might have been expected to act in a way contrary to precedents set by Chinese dynasties. Obviously, she chose the latter as a place of refuge because it lay near the borders of Tartary. It is noteworthy that a loyal governor of Honan at that very time prepared a palace for her accommodation in K'ai-fung-fu, and when the court was invited to return to Peking, he implored her not to risk herself in the northern capital.
Honan is a province rich in agricultural, and probably [Page 43] in mineral, resources, but it has no outlet in the way of trade. What a boon this railway is destined to be, as a channel of communication with neighbouring provinces!
I crossed the Yellow River in 1866, but there was then no bridge of any kind. Two-thirds of a mile in width, with a furious current, the management of the ferry-boat was no easy task. On that occasion an object which presented stronger attractions than this wonderful bridge had drawn me to K'ai-fung-fu—a colony of Jews, a fragment of the Lost Tribes of Israel. As mentioned in a previous chapter, I had come by land over the very track now followed by the railroad, but under conditions in strong contrast with the luxuries of a railway carriage—"Alone, unfriended, solitary, slow," I had made my way painfully, shifting from horse to cart, and sometimes compelled by the narrowness of a path to descend to a wheelbarrow. How I longed for the advent of the iron horse. Now I have with me a jovial company; and we may enjoy the mental stimulus of an uninterrupted session of the Oriental Society, while making more distance in an hour than I then made in a day.
Of the condition of the Jews of K'ai-fung-fu, as I found them, I have given a detailed account elsewhere.[*] Suffice it to say here that the so-called colony consisted of about four hundred persons, belonging to seven families or clans. Undermined by a flood of the Yellow River, their synagogue had become ruinous, and, being unable to repair it, they had disposed of its timbers to relieve the pressure of their dire poverty. [Page 44] Nothing remained but the vacant space, marked by a single stone recording the varying fortunes of these forlorn Israelites. It avers that their remoter ancestors arrived in China by way of India in the Han dynasty, before the Christian era, and that the founders of this particular colony found their way to K'ai-fung-fu in the T'ang dynasty about 800 A. D. It also gives an outline of their Holy Faith, showing that, in all their wanderings, they had not forsaken the God of their fathers. They still possessed some rolls of the Law, written in Hebrew, on sheepskins, but they no longer had a rabbi to expound them. They had forgotten the sacred tongue, and some of them had wandered into the fold of Mohammed, whose creed resembled their own. Some too had embraced the religion of Buddha.
[Footnote *: See "Cycle of Cathay." Revell & Co., New York.]
My report was listened to with much interest by the rich Jews of Shanghai, but not one of them put his hand in his pocket to rebuild the ruined synagogue; and without that for a rallying-place the colony must ere long fade away, and be absorbed in the surrounding heathenism, or be led to embrace Christianity.
I now learn that the Jews of Shanghai have manifested enough interest to bring a few of their youth to that port for instruction in the Hebrew language. Also that some of these K'ai-fung-fu Jews are frequent attendants in Christian chapels, which have now been opened in that city. To my view, the resuscitation of that ancient colony would be as much of a miracle as the return from captivity in the days of Cyrus.
[Page 45] CHAPTER IX
THE RIVER PROVINCES
Hupeh—Hankow—Hanyang Iron Works—A Centre of Missionary Activity—Hunan—Kiangsi—Anhwei—Native Province of Li Hung Chang
By the term "river provinces" are to be understood those provinces of central and western China which are made accessible to intercourse and trade by means of the Yang-tse Kiang.
Pursuing our journey, in twelve hours by rail we reach the frontier of Hupeh. At that point we see above us a fortification perched on the side of a lofty hill which stands beyond the line. At a height more than double that of this crenelated wall is a summer resort of foreigners from Hankow and other parts of the interior. I visited this place in 1905. In Chinese, the plateau on which it stands is called, from a projecting rock, the "Rooster's Crest"; shortened into the more expressive name, the "Roost," it is suggestive of the repose of summer. It presents a magnificent prospect, extending over a broad belt of both provinces.
Six hours more and we arrive in Hankow, which is one of three cities built at the junction of the Han and the Yang-tse, the Tripolis of China, a tripod of empire, the hub of the universe, as the Chinese fondly regard it. The other two cities are Wuchang, the capital [Page 46] of the viceroyalty, and Hanyang, on the opposite bank of the river.
In Hankow one beholds a Shanghai on a smaller scale, and in the other two cities the eye is struck by indications of the change which is coming over the externals of Chinese life.
At Hanyang, which is reached by a bridge, may be seen an extensive and well-appointed system of iron-works, daily turning out large quantities of steel rails for the continuation of the railway. It also produces large quantities of iron ordnance for the contingencies of war. This is the pet enterprise of the enlightened Viceroy Chang Chi-tung; but on the other side of the Yang-tse we have cheering evidence that he has not confined his reforms to transportation and the army. There, on the south bank, you may see the long walls and tall chimneys of numerous manufacturing establishments—cotton-mills, silk filatures, rope-walks, glass-works, tile-works, powder-works—all designed to introduce the arts of the West, and to wage an industrial war with the powers of Christendom. There, too, in a pretty house overlooking the Great River, I spent three years as aid to the viceroy in educational work. In the heart of China, it was a watch-tower from which I could look up and down the river and study the condition of these inland provinces.
This great centre was early preempted by the pioneers of missionary enterprise. Here Griffith John set up the banner of the cross forty years ago and by indefatigable and not unfruitful labours earned for himself the name of "the Apostle of Central China." [Page 47] In addition he has founded a college for the training of native preachers. The year 1905 was the jubilee of his arrival in the empire. Here, too, came David Hill, a saintly man combining the characters of St. Paul and of John Howard, as one of the pioneers of the churches of Great Britain. These leaders have been followed by a host who, if less distinguished, have perhaps accomplished more for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ. Without the cooeperation of such agencies all reformatory movements like those initiated by the viceroy must fall short of elevating the people to the level of Christian civilisation.
The London Mission, the English Wesleyans, and the American Episcopalians, all have flourishing stations at Wuchang. The Boone school, under the auspices of the last-named society, is an admirable institution, and takes rank with the best colleges in China.
At Hankow the China Inland Mission is represented by a superintendent and a home for missionaries in transit. At that home the Rev. J. Hudson Taylor, the founder of that great society, whom I call the Loyola of Protestant missions, spent a few days in 1906; and there Dr. John and I sat with him for a group of the "Three Senior Missionaries" in China.
The river provinces may be divided into lower and upper, the dividing-line being at Ichang near the gorges of the Yang-tse. Hupeh and Hunan, Kiangsi and Anhwei occupy the lower reach; Szechuen, Kweichau, and Yuennan, the upper one. The first two form one viceregal district, with a population exceeding that of any European country excepting Russia.
[Page 48] Hupeh signifies "north of the lake"; Hunan, "south of the lake"—the great lake of Tungting lying between the two. Hupeh has been open to trade and residence for over forty years; but the sister province was long hermetically sealed against the footprints of the white man. Twenty or even ten years ago to venture within its limits would have cost a European his life. Its capital, Changsha, was the seat of an anti-foreign propaganda from which issued masses of foul literature; but the lawless hostility of the people has been held in check by the judicious firmness of the present viceroy, and that city is now the seat of numerous mission bodies which are vying with each other in their efforts to diffuse light and knowledge. It is also open to commerce as a port of trade.
One of the greatest distinctions of the province is its production of brave men, one of the bravest of whom was the first Marquis Tseng who, at the head of a patriotic force from his native province, recaptured the city of Nanking and put an end to the chaotic government of the Taiping rebels—a service which has ever since been recognised by the Chinese Government in conferring the viceroyalty of Nanking on a native of Hunan.
Lying to the south of the river, is the province of Kiangsi, containing the Poyang Lake, next in size to the Tungting. Above its entrance at Kiukiang rises a lone mountain which bears the name of Kuling. Beautifully situated, and commanding a wide view of lake and river, its sides are dotted with pretty cottages, erected as summer resorts for people from all the inland ports. Here may be seen the flags of many [Page 49] nations, and here the hard-worked missionary finds rest and recreation, without idleness; for he finds clubs for the discussion of politics and philosophy, and libraries which more than supply the absence of his own. Just opposite the entrance to the lake stands the "Little Orphan," a vine-clad rock 200 feet in height, with a small temple on the top. It looks like a fragment torn from the mountain-side and planted in the bosom of the stream. Fancy fails to picture the convulsion of which the "Little Orphan" is the monument.
Farther down is the province of Anhwei which takes its name from its chief two cities, Anking and Weichou. In general resembling Kiangsi, it has two flourishing ports on the river, Anking, the capital, and Wuhu. Of the people nothing noteworthy is to be observed, save that they are unusually turbulent, and their lawless spirit has not been curbed by any strong hand like that of the viceroy at Wuchang.[*] The province is distinguished for its production of great men, of whom Li Hung Chang was one.
[Footnote *: This was written before the Nanchang riot of March, 1906.]
[Page 50] CHAPTER X
PROVINCES OF THE UPPER YANG-TSE
A Perilous Passage—Szechuen—Kweichau, the Poorest Province in China—Yuennan—Tribes of Aborigines
Thus far our voyage of exploration, like one of Cook's tours, has been personally conducted. From this point, however, I must depend upon the experience of others: the guide himself must seek a guide to conduct him through the remaining portions of the empire.
We enter the Upper Yang-tse by a long and tortuous passage through which the "Great River" rushes with a force and a roar like the cataracts of the Rhine, only on a vastly greater scale. In some bygone age volcanic forces tore asunder a mountain range, and the waters of the great stream furrowed out a channel; but the obstructing rocks, so far from being worn away, remain as permanent obstacles to steam navigation and are a cause of frequent shipwrecks. Yet, undeterred by dangers that eclipse Scylla and Charybdis, the laborious Chinese have for centuries past carried on an immense traffic through this perilous passage. In making the ascent their junks are drawn against the current by teams of coolies, tens or hundreds of the latter being harnessed to the tow-lines of one boat and driven like a bullock train in South Africa. Slow [Page 51] and difficult is the ascent, but swift and perilous the downward passage.
No doubt engineering may succeed in removing some of the obstacles and in minifying the dangers of this passage. Steam, too, may supply another mode of traction to take the place of these teams of men. A still revolution is in prospect, namely a ship canal or railway. The latter, perhaps, might be made to lift the junks bodily out of the water and transport them beyond the rapids. Two cities, however, would suffer somewhat by this change in the mode of navigation, namely, Ichang at the foot and Chungking at the head of the rapids. The latter is the chief river port of Szechuen, a province having four times the average area.
The great province of Szechuen, if it only had the advantages of a seacoast, would take the lead in importance. As it is, it is deemed sufficiently important, like Chihli, to have a viceroy of its own. The name signifies the "four rivers," and the province has as many ranges of mountains. One of them, the Omeshan, is celebrated for its beauty and majesty. The mountains give the province a great variety of climate, and the rivers supply means of transportation and irrigation. Its people, too, are more uniform in language and character than those of most other regions. Their language partakes of the Northern mandarin. Near the end of the Ming dynasty the whole population is said to have been destroyed in the fratricidal wars of that sanguinary period. The population accordingly is comparatively sparse, and the cities are said to present a new and prosperous aspect. Above Szechuen [Page 52] lie the two provinces of Kweichau and Yuennan, forming one viceroyalty under the name of Yuenkwei.
Kweichau has the reputation of being the poorest province in China, with a very sparse population, nearly one-half of whom are aborigines, called shans, lolos, and miaotzes.
Yuennan (signifying not "cloudy south," but "south of the cloudy mountains") is next in area to Szechuen. Its resources are as yet undeveloped, and it certainly has a great future. Its climate, if it may be said to have one, is reputed to be unhealthful, and among its hills are many deep gorges which the Chinese say are full of chang chi, "poisonous gases" which are fatal to men and animals—like the Grotto del Cane in Italy. But these gorges and cliffs abound in better things also. They are rich in unexploited coal measures and they contain also many mines of the purest copper ore. The river that washes its borders here bears the name of Kinsha, the river of "golden sands." Some of its rivers have the curious peculiarity of flowing the reverse way, that is, to the west and south instead of toward the eastern sea. The Chinese accordingly call the province "Tiensheng" the country of the "converse streams."
Within the borders of Yuennan there are said to be more than a hundred tribes of aborigines all more or less akin to those of Kweichau and Burma, but each under its own separate chief. Some of them are fine-looking, vigorous people; but the Chinese describe them as living in a state of utter savagery. Missionaries, however, have recently begun work for them; and we may hope that, as for the Karens of [Page 53] Burma, a better day will soon dawn on the Yuennan aborigines.
The French, having colonies on the border, are naturally desirous of exploiting the provinces of this southern belt, and China is intensely suspicious of encroachment from that quarter.
[Page 54] CHAPTER XI
Shansi—Shensi—Earliest Known Home of the Chinese—Kansuh
Of the three northwestern provinces, the richest is Shansi. More favoured in climate and soil than the other members of the group, its population is more dense. Divided from Chihli by a range of hills, its whole surface is hilly, but not mountainous. The highlands give variety to its temperature—condensing the moisture and supplying water for irrigation. The valleys are extremely fertile, and of them it may be said in the words of Job, "As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and underneath it is turned up as it were fire." Not only do the fields yield fine crops of wheat and millet, but there are extensive coal measures of excellent quality. Iron ore also is found in great abundance. Mining enterprises have accordingly been carried on from ancient times, and they have now, with the advent of steam, acquired a fresh impetus. It follows, of course, that the province is prolific of bankers. Shansi bankers monopolise the business of finance in all the adjacent provinces.
Next on the west comes the province of Shensi, from shen, a "strait or pass" (not shan a "hill"), and si, "west."
[Page 55] Here was the earliest home of the Chinese race of which there is any record. On the Yellow River, which here forms the boundary of two provinces, stands the city of Si-ngan where the Chou dynasty set up its throne in the twelfth century B. C. Since that date many dynasties have made it the seat of empire. Their palaces have disappeared; but most of them have left monumental inscriptions from which a connected history might be extracted. To us the most interesting monument is a stone, erected about 800 A. D. to commemorate the introduction of Christianity by some Nestorian missionaries from western Asia.
The province of Kansuh is comparatively barren. Its boundaries extend far out into regions peopled by Mongol tribes; and the neighbourhood of great deserts gives it an arid climate unfavourable to agriculture. Many of its inhabitants are immigrants from Central Asia and profess the Mohammedan faith. It is almost surrounded by the Yellow River, like a picture set in a gilded frame, reminding one of that river of paradise which "encompasseth the whole land of Havilah where there is gold." Whether there is gold in Kansuh we have yet to learn; but no doubt some grains of the precious metal might be picked up amongst its shifting sands.
[Page 56] CHAPTER XII
Manchuria—Mongolia—Turkestan—Tibet, the Roof of the World—Journey of Huc and Gabet.
Beyond the eastern extremity of the Great Wall, bounded on the west by Mongolia, on the north by the Amur, on the east by the Russian seaboard, and on the south by Korea and the Gulf of Pechili, lies the home of the Manchus—the race now dominant in the Chinese Empire. China claims it, just as Great Britain claimed Normandy, because her conquerors came from that region; and now that two of her neighbours have exhausted themselves in fighting for it, she will take good care that neither of them shall filch the jewel from her crown.
That remarkable achievement, the conquest of China by a few thousand semi-civilised Tartars, is treated in the second part of this work.
Manchuria consists of three regions now denominated provinces, Shengking, Kairin, and Helungkiang. They are all under one governor-general whose seat is at Mukden, a city sacred in the eyes of every Manchu, because there are the tombs of the fathers of the dynasty.
The native population of Manchuria having been drafted off to garrison and colonise the conquered [Page 57] country, their deserted districts were thrown open to Chinese settlers. The population of the three provinces is mainly Chinese, and, assimilated in government to those of China, they are reckoned as completing the number of twenty-one. Opulent in grain-fields, forests, and minerals, with every facility for commerce, no part of the empire has a brighter future. So thinly peopled is its northern portion that it continues to be a vast hunting-ground which supplies the Chinese market with sables and tiger-skins besides other peltries. The tiger-skins are particularly valuable as having longer and richer fur than those of Bengal.
Of the Manchus as a people, I shall speak later on.[*] Those remaining in their original habitat are extremely rude and ignorant; yet even these hitherto neglected regions are now coming under the enlightening influence of a system of government schools.
[Footnote *: Part II. page 140 and 142; part III, pages 267-280]
Mongolia, the largest division of Tartary, if not of the Empire, is scarcely better known than the mountain regions of Tibet, a large portion of its area being covered with deserts as uninviting and as seldom visited as the African Sahara. One route, however, has been well trodden by Russian travellers, namely, that lying between Kiachta and Peking.
In the reign of Kanghi the Russians were granted the privilege of establishing an ecclesiastical mission to minister to a Cossack garrison which the Emperor had captured at Albazin trespassing on his grounds. Like another Nebuchadnezzar, he transplanted them to the soil of China. He also permitted the Russians [Page 58] to bring tribute to the "Son of Heaven" once in ten years. That implied a right to trade, so that the Russians, like other envoys, in Chinese phrase "came lean and went away fat." But they were not allowed to leave the beaten track: they were merchants, not travellers. Not till the removal of the taboo within the last half-century have these outlying dependencies been explored by men like Richthofen and Sven Hedin. Formerly the makers of maps garnished those unknown regions
"With caravans for want of towns."
Sooth to say, there are no towns, except Urga, a shrine for pilgrimage, the residence of a living Buddha, and Kiachta and Kalgan, terminal points of the caravan route already referred to.
Kiachta is a double town—one-half of it on each side of the Russo-Chinese boundary—presenting in striking contrast the magnificence of a Russian city and the poverty and filth of a Tartar encampment. The whole country is called in Chinese "the land of grass." Its inhabitants have sheepfolds and cattle ranches, but neither fields nor houses, unless tents and temporary huts may be so designated. To this day, nomadic in their habits, they migrate from place to place with their flocks and herds as the exigencies of water and pasturage may require.
Lines of demarcation exist for large tracts belonging to a tribe, but no minor divisions such as individual holdings. The members of a clan all enjoy their grazing range in common, and hold themselves ready to fight for the rights of their chieftain. Bloody feuds lasting for generations, such as would rival those of [Page 59] the Scottish clans, are not of infrequent occurrence. Their Manchu overlord treats these tribal conflicts with sublime indifference, as he does the village wars in China.
The Mongolian chiefs, or "princes" as they are called, are forty-eight in number. The "forty-eight princes" is a phrase as familiar to the Chinese ear as the "eighteen provinces" is to ours. Like the Manchus they are arranged in groups under eight banners. Some of them took part in the conquest, but the Manchus are too suspicious to permit them to do garrison duty in the Middle Kingdom, lest the memories of Kublai Khan and his glory should be awakened. They are, however, held liable to military service. Seng Ko Lin Sin ("Sam Collinson" as the British dubbed him), a Lama prince, headed the northern armies against the Tai-ping rebels and afterwards suffered defeat at the hands of the British and French before the gates of Peking.
In the winter the Mongol princes come with their clansmen to revel in the delights of Cambalu, the city of the great Khan, as they have continued to call Peking ever since the days of Kublai, whose magnificence has been celebrated by Marco Polo. Their camping-ground is the Mongolian Square which is crowded with tabernacles built of bamboo and covered with felt. In a sort of bazaar may be seen pyramids of butter and cheese, two commodities that are abominations to the Chinese of the south, but are much appreciated by Chinese in Peking as well as by the Manchus. One may see also mountains of venison perfectly fresh; the frozen carcasses of "yellow sheep" [Page 60] (really not sheep, but antelopes); then come wild boars in profusion, along with badgers, hares, and troops of live dogs—the latter only needing to be wild to make them edible. This will give some faint idea of Mongolia's contribution to the luxuries of the metropolis. Devout Buddhist as he is, the average Mongol deems abstinence from animal food a degree of sanctity unattainable by him.
Mongols of the common classes are clad in dirty sheepskins. Their gentry and priesthood dress themselves in the spoils of wolf or fox—more costly but not more clean. Furs, felt, and woollen fabrics of the coarsest texture may also be noticed. Raiment of camel's hair, strapped with a leathern girdle after the manner of John the Baptist, may be seen any day, and the wearers are not regarded as objects of commiseration.
Their camel, too, is wonderfully adapted to its habitat. Provided with two humps, it carries a natural saddle; and, clothed in long wool, yellow, brown or black, it looks in winter a lordly beast. Its fleece is never shorn, but is shed in summer. At that season the poor naked animal is the most pitiable of creatures. In the absence of railways and carriage roads, it fills the place of the ship of the desert and performs the heaviest tasks, such as the transporting of coals and salt. Most docile of slaves, at a word from its master it kneels down and quietly accepts its burden.
At Peking there is a lamasary where four hundred Mongol monks are maintained in idleness at the expense of the Emperor. Their manners are those of highwaymen. They have been known to lay rough [Page 61] hands on visitors in order to extort a charitable dole; and, if rumour may be trusted, their morals are far from exemplary.
My knowledge of the Mongols is derived chiefly from what I have seen of them in Peking. I have also had a glimpse of their country at Kalgan, beyond the Great Wall. A few lines from a caravan song by the Rev. Mark Williams give a picture of a long journey by those slow coaches:
"Inching along, we are inching along, At the pace of a snail, we are inching along, Our horses are hardy, our camels are strong, We all shall reach Urga by inching along.
"The things that are common, all men will despise; But these in the desert we most highly prize. For water is worth more than huge bags of gold And argols than diamonds of value untold." —A Flight for Life, Pilgrim Press, Boston.
Politically Turkestan is not Mongolia, but Tamerlane, though born there, was a Mongol. His descendants were the Moguls of India. At different epochs peoples called Turks and Huns have wandered over the Mongolian plateau, and Mongols have swept over Turkestan. To draw a line of demarcation is neither easy nor important. In the Turkestan of to-day the majority of the people follow the prophet of Mecca. Russia has absorbed most of the khanates, and has tried more than once to encroach on portions belonging to China. In one instance she was foiled and compelled to disgorge by the courage of Viceroy Chang, a story which I reserve for the sequel. The coveted region was Ili, and Russia's pretext for crossing the [Page 62] boundary was the chronic state of warfare in which the inhabitants existed.
Tibet is the land of the Grand Lama. Is it merely tributary or is it a portion of the Chinese Empire? This is a question that has been warmly agitated during the last two years—brought to the front by Colonel Younghusband's expedition and by a treaty made in Lhasa. Instead of laying their complaints before the court of Peking, the Indian Government chose to settle matters on the spot, ignoring the authority of China. Naturally China has been provoked to instruct her resident at Lhasa to maintain her rights.
A presumptive claim might be based on the fact, that the Grand Lama took refuge at Urga, where he remained until the Empress Dowager ordered him to return to his abandoned post. China has always had a representative at his court; but his function would appear to be that of a political spy rather than an overseer, governor, or even adviser. Chinese influence in Tibet is nearly nil. For China to assert authority by interference and to make herself responsible for Tibet's shortcomings would be a questionable policy, against which two wars ought to be a sufficient warning. She was involved with France by her interference in Tongking and with Japan by interference in Korea. Too much intermeddling in Tibet might easily embroil her with Great Britain.
In one sense the Buddhist pope may justly claim to be the highest of earthly potentates. No other sits on a throne at an equal elevation above the level of the sea. Like Melchizedeck, he is without father or mother—each occupant of the throne being a fresh [Page 63] incarnation of Buddha. The signs of Buddhaship are known only to the initiated; but they are supposed to consist in the recognition of places, persons, and apparel. These lamas never die of old age.
While in other parts of the Empire polygamy prevails for those who can afford it, in Tibet polyandry crops up. Which is the more offensive to good morals we need not decide; but is it not evident that Confucianism shows its weakness on one side as Buddhism does on the other? A people that tolerates either or both hardly deserves to be regarded as civilised.
The Chinese call Tibet the "roof of the world," and most of it is as barren as the roof of a house. Still the roof, though producing nothing, collects water to irrigate a garden. Tibet is the mother of great rivers, and she feeds them from her eternal snows. On her highlands is a lake or cluster of lakes which the Chinese describe as Sing Su Hai, the "sea of stars." From this the Yellow River takes its rise and perhaps the Yang-tse Kiang. A Chinese legend says that Chang Chien poled a raft up to the source of the Yellow River and found himself in the Milky Way, Tienho, the "River of Heaven."
Fifty years ago two intrepid French missionaries, Huc and Gabet, made their way to Lhasa, but they were not allowed to remain there. The Chinese residents made them prisoners, under pretext of giving them protection, and sent them to the seacoast through the heart of the empire. They were thus enabled to see the vast interior at a time when it was barred alike to traveller and missionary. Of this adventurous [Page 64] journey Huc's published "Travels" is the immortal monument.
We have thus gone over China and glanced at most of her outlying dependencies. The further exploration of Tibet we may postpone until she has made good her claims to dominion in that mountain region. The vastness of the Chinese Empire and the immensity of its population awaken in the mind a multitude of questions to which nothing but history can give an adequate reply. We come therefore to the oracle whose responses may perhaps be less dubious than those of Delphi.