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Title: Chinese mettle

Author: E. G. Kemp

Author of introduction, etc.: Sao-Ke Alfred Sze

Release date: September 25, 2023 [eBook #71727]

Language: English

Original publication: Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1921

Credits: Peter Becker and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


Chinese Mettle

A Temple of Healing.



Written and Illustrated by E. G. KEMP, F.R.S.G.S.

Author of “The Face of China,” “The Face of Manchuria, Korea
and Russian Turkestan,” “Wanderings in Chinese Turkestan,”
“Reminiscences of a Sister” illustrated

“Travaile, in the younger Sort is a Part of Education; in the Elder, a Part of Experience.... When a Travailer returneth home, let him not leave the countries, where he hath travailed, altogether behind him.... Let it appeare that he doth not change his country manners for those of Forraigne Parts; But onely pricke in some Flowers of that he hath Learned abroad, into the Customs of his own Country.”—Bacon’s Essays.

Hodder and Stoughton Ltd.
Toronto   London   New York
St Paul’s House Warwick Square E.C.4


Printed in 1921






Books of a descriptive nature, especially on a foreign country, are most difficult to write. Under ordinary circumstances, writers of such books, due to the differences of historical setting and social background, may find it hard to free themselves from prejudice. When the visit is confined to a section of the country, their views are liable to be provincial. On the other hand, hasty travelling, however large an area they may cover, makes their impressions superficial.

It is well said that modern travellers see nothing but the interior of trains and hotels. This is gradually becoming true along the eastern coast of China. To-day one who confines his visit to Shanghai or Tientsin can not be said to have seen China, for it is not there that one sees the real Chinese life. Civilization means more than mechanical improvements. Herein lies the value of Miss Kemp’s book. She has wisely neglected the “show window” by putting seaports at the end. By acquainting the public with the wealth and beauty of the interior—places seldom traversed by sojourners,—she reveals to the readers the vitality and potential energy, both natural and cultural, of a great nation. Throughout the book the authoress combines the sincerity of description with the picturesqueness of details.

Equally instructive is the authoress’ description of Chinese society and some of the prominent Chinese men and women. Great changes are going on in China. Nothing could afford more interest and knowledge to the friends of China than to witness the shifting scenes of the young Republic. The general[6] tendency is undoubtedly towards stability and progress, evolving order out of derangement resulting from so immense a change as absolute monarchy to a modern democracy. The authoress has well illustrated by facts the advance which China has made in education, industry, commerce, etc.

It is a common conviction nowadays that “the future of the world depends largely on what happens in China during the next few decades.” To know China, and to know her intimately, is the first step towards a better international understanding and the assurance of future peace in the Far East. The present volume serves as an admirable guide.

Since the days of Marco Polo scores of books describing China, both good and poor, have been written. As an intimate friend and careful observer of China, Miss Kemp’s new production together with her previous works are certainly to be classified among the best ones. From cover to cover, this volume contains facts and experiences that are entertaining, informative, and valuable.


Chinese Legation, Washington, D.C.

October 24, 1921.



Prologue by His Excellency Sao Ke Alfred Sze (Chinese Minister at Washington)
Introduction 11
I The Long Road 17
Provinces visited: 1 Shansi, the Progressive—Railway Journey from Shanghai to Taiyuanfu. 2 Chihli—A few words about Peking. 3 Shantung—The Japanese domination—Tsinan, a great Educational Centre. 4 Kiangsi—Shanghai, the centre of Great National Movements. 5 Chekiang—Railway Trip to Hangchowfu—Down the Coast by Steamer to Hong Kong and Tongking. Through Indo-China by Rail to 6 Yünnan. From Yünnanfu by Chair into 7 Kweichow, a most backward Province. From Chen Yüen by House-boat through 8 Hunan. By Steamer from Changsha into 9 Hupeh. Down the Yangtze from Hankow through 10 Nganhwei, 11 Kiangsi to Shanghai.
II The Model Governor—Yen Hsi-Shan 49
Description of Taiyuanfu, the Capital—The Hall of Public Worship—Girls’ Schools—Sports—New Institutions for Cattle Breeding, Agriculture, Sericulture—Beggars removed into Workhouses—Introduction of the New Script—Unification of the Language—The Governor as Author—Famine Relief Works—Four Hundred Miles of Road-making—The Model Gaol—Quick Methods of Communication—Transport Lorries from England.
III The Province of Yünnan 67
French Influence—Activity of Brigands—A Modern Robin Hood—Chinese Home Missions—Women’s Initiative—A Visit to the Lake and its Places of Pilgrimage—Mineral Resources of Yünnan—Preparations for Road Journey—Wonderful Scenery and Flora—Stormy Weather—Opium Culture—The Chinese View of Opium Smoking—Sale of Children—Difficulties with Coolies—Weather Symbols. [8]
IV The Province of Kweichow 87
A Land of Mountains and Valleys—Extraordinary Rock Formations—Surface Coal—The Rose Garden of the World—Post Office Facilities—Varieties of Inns—Buffaloes as Neighbours—Wild Animals—Industries at Lang-tai-Fung—Roman Catholic Missions—Anshunfu—Hospitals Needed—Visits to the Haunts of Aborigines—First Miao Church—Tenten—Baptismal Service—A Chinese Farm—Village Shrines—Ta-ting, the Mission Centre for many Tribes—Bridges of Various Kinds—Kwei Yang, the Capital—Buddhist Monks—Valuable Trees—Military Escort Needed—Strict Rules not Strictly Observed—Chen Yüen—Start on River Journey in small House-boat.
V Some Aboriginal Tribes in Kweichow 117
The Miao Family—Their Character, Habits, Dress, Embroideries, Hairdressing, Food, Morals—Tribes Numerous: Not yet Classified—Language: no Written Language—Great Flowery and Small Flowery Miao—The “Wooden Combs” and Black Miao—Ancestor Worship—The I-chia—A Different Set of Tribes—Written as well as Spoken Language—Notes from Dr. Henry’s Observations—On Death Rites, on various Superstitions, on Types, on Language—Animistic Religion—Theory of Nestorian Influence—Sacrifice—MS. Story of Creation and Deluge—Black Miao Version—Festivals—“Courting-talk”—Music and Dancing—Witchcraft—Chinese Attitude towards the Tribes.
VI The Province of Hunan 141
Boat Travel—Fear of Robbers and Evil Spirits—Yuanchowfu—White Wax Industry—Hong Kiang—Medical Work—Shenchowfu—American Ideals—Standard Oil Company—Changteh—Journey by Launch across Tong Ting Lake to Changsha, Capital of Hunan—Fear of Southerners—Red Cross Preparations—Various Missions—Yale College—Dr. Keller’s Bible School—An English Consulate.
VII Present-Day Ironsides—General Feng Yu Hsiang 159
Changsha Headquarters—Work of 16th Mixed Brigade in Sze-Chuan—Arrival at Changsha—Changes in City Life—Suppression of Opium Dens, Gambling Hells, Theatres, etc.—Open-air Evening Schools—Industrial Schools—Women’s Education—General Feng’s Career—Murder of Dr. Logan—The General’s Patriotism—Industrial Training of Army—Strict Discipline—Sunday in the Army—Service for the Ladies—Officers’ Service—Recent Events—Withdrawal of Northern Army from Changsha—Entry of Southern Troops—No Pay for the 16th Mixed Brigade. [9]
VIII The New Chinese Woman—Miss Tseng, B.Sc. (Lond.) 175
Chinese ideas of Woman’s Sphere—Confucius on Woman—“Rules for Women”—Modern Women—Their Patriotic Spirit—Miss Tseng’s Early Life and Training—Adoption of Christianity—English University Career—Return to China—School started for Chinese Girls of Middle Classes—Sports—Decision of Students not to Strike—Miss Tseng’s Influence—Women Journalists and Doctors.
IX The Youth of China 189
Veneration of Old Age Modified—Young Chinese in responsible posts—Youth criticizes Antiquity: Seizes Responsibility—Attitude to Japan—Organized Union defeats Government—Co-operation with Shopkeepers—Effect of Spirit on Literature—Change of Education by Dowager Empress—Further Development under Republic—Contrast between Renaissance of China and Japan—Attitude towards Religion—Noxious Effects of Propaganda by Missions—Importance of Improved Educational Work—Students and Social Service—Famine Relief—National University of Peking—Foreign Lectureships—Hong Kong University—Projected University at Amoy—St. John’s College, Shanghai, and Others—Child Labour—The Boy Scout Movement—Student Demands—Youth Accepting Christian Ideals.
X Some Chinese Seaports and Commerce 205
Wênchowfu and Its Waterways—Foochow—Trinity College and Union—Many Institutions and Industries—Floods—Amoy—Curious Scenery—Y.M.C.A.—Chambers of Commerce—Guilds—Trade Relations—Swatow—Great Commercial Centre and Outlet for Hinterland—Journey by Railway to Home of Tan Family—Fine Ancestral Tablets—American Baptist Community—City of Chao Chowfu—Results of Earthquake—New Hospital—Missionary Memorial Tablet in Buddhist Temple—Swatow’s Industries—Light Railway—Presbyterian Missions—Hong Kong contrasted with Macao—Trip to Canton—Wonderful Maze of Narrow Streets—Many Industries—City of the Dead—Railways—Commercial Outlook—Britain’s Opportunity for Service.
Index 223



A Temple of Healing Frontispiece
A Chinese Ritz 40
Yen Hsi Shan, Statesman 48
Temple of Heaven and Hell, Workhouse 56
The Pilgrim Way, Yünnanfu Lake 72
In Cloudland 72
The Gate of the Elements 80
“Lonely I Stand on the Loneliest Hill-top” 96
Robbers’ Haunts 104
Light for the Spirits 112
Little Flowery Miao Coat 120
Ancient I-chia Script 128
Great Flowery Miao 136
A Roadside Restaurant 136
A Man of Mark 160
A Chinese Leader of Thought 176
“Nor soul helps body more
Than body soul.”
Knowledge is now no more a fountain seal’d:
Drink deep.”
Storm-driven Boats 208


Chinese Mettle

“Why do you go on journeys to such impossible places?” is a question which I am continually asked. “Can it possibly be for pleasure? How can any one like,” and here the eyebrows are raised and a shade of disgust, politely veiled, is visible, “to stop in awful inns and visit cities full of dirt and smells? What is your real reason for travelling in the interior of China?”

Strange as it may seem to the comfort-loving Britisher, Pleasure is the main lure to China, and a sort of basilisk fascination which is quite irresistible. Naturally, there are other reasons also—this time it was to take a young doctor niece to see what the Chinese Empire was like (we passed through thirteen out of the eighteen provinces) before she settled down to work in her own hospital. Besides this, in the interests of geography and a better understanding of the Chinese people by our own people it seems worth while for an artist to try and show what China is like at the present time. That is the reason for writing this book. I frankly own that I hate writing, but am consumed with a desire that people should know what is now going on in China. My rooted conviction is that the future of the world depends largely on what happens in China during the next decade. This is the decisive hour. An American deplored to a Chinaman the troublous condition of the country, and received a reply to the following effect: “You must have patience with us, we are only a nine-year-old Government, and, if my memory does not deceive me, the United States did not get their constitution for thirteen years.”


The amazing fact is that an empire that has outlived every other world-empire of antiquity is now completely changing its whole government and institutions in a time of world-wide disintegration, and is steadily moving forward, despite internecine warfare.

What is more remarkable still is the changing mettle of the race. Its temperamental characteristics seem to be undergoing as great a change as the social fabric. China has an inward force that is stronger than appears: her faults are so glaring that they have obscured this fact completely. She has been wise enough—unlike all other countries—to entrust certain branches of her administration to foreigners until she is capable of taking over control; these branches are the Customs, the Salt Gabelle and the Post and Telegraph Service; and she has been admirably served by them, despite some flaws in the administration. The vital need of to-day is for honest, incorruptible, educated Chinese who will save their country from their worst enemies—the self-seeking, ambitious, unscrupulous Chinese, who play off one party against another and, through fear of foreign foe as well as home treachery, are dragging China to the verge of the precipice.

To the Chinese themselves, therefore, this book is very specially addressed, and I search for winged words to summon them to their great task to act as true patriots and to devote every energy and talent they possess to building up a new and more glorious empire than the Celestial Empire of the past.

The conditions of China are changing not merely from day to day, but from hour to hour, so that my book must seem strangely paradoxical. The mutable jostles the immutable, and—as in life itself—all sorts of things get mixed up together. There are no watertight compartments in nature, and I have taken the liberty of making my book as miscellaneous as the page of a dictionary. It tells of great personalities, of great movements, of wild tribes, of nature and of human nature, of politics, commerce, religion and education, and scores of other things.


The account of the Miao and I-chia tribes opens up a question of considerable importance in the new China, for there are unaccounted tribes throughout the whole of Western China, not to mention those in other parts, such as the Hakka tribe, whose picturesque boats ply on the Han Kiang (= river) on which Chao Chowfu is situated.

The task has been a heavy one, because the worthy treatment of such a vast and complex subject is far beyond my powers, but in past days readers have always treated my books so far more generously than they deserved, that I take courage and send forth this fledgling of my pen and brush.

London, 1921.



Chapter I
The Long Road


“Travel abroad for one year is more profitable than study at home for five years.... Mencius remarks that a man can learn foreign things best abroad; but much more benefit can be derived from travel by older and experienced men than by the young.”—Chang Chih Tung.


Chapter I
The Long Road


The journey through thirteen provinces of China brought us into contact with such an amazing variety of people that it is no easy task to describe clearly what we saw. I propose to give first of all a brief account of the journey as a whole, and then deal with the more important and less-known provinces somewhat in detail. The one salient fact which emerges from the welter of experiences is that the mettle of the Chinese people is changing, even to the remotest bound of the empire. What it will eventually become, the wisest man cannot foretell, but it is amazingly interesting to watch the changes taking place, and I hope that the sympathetic interest of my readers will be quickened by the record.

The journey in China itself lasted six months. We reached Shanghai February 1, via the United States, and at once went by rail to Taiyuanfu, the capital of Shansi. Visitors to China nowadays can get on fairly comfortably without any knowledge of the language, if they keep to the beaten track. The railway runs from Shanghai up to Peking, and only two changes have to be made during the[18] journey of two days and a night; the first is at the Pukow ferry, a very easy matter and well arranged. The train goes down to the Yangtze at Chen Kiang, and the steam tug takes you across in about ten minutes. At the other side we got into a more comfortable train where we had secured sleeping places; in all the long-distance trains there are restaurant cars, where you can get fairly good meals at reasonable prices.

The next afternoon we reached Tientsin at 4.40, and had to change into a crowded train to Peking; there is always, I believe, a sort of free fight to get in at all, and the weakest go to the wall, except in the case of children, for the Chinese are very fond of children, and never fail to make room for them. Peking is reached by 8 p.m. After leaving the train we passed through two great old gateways, linking Past and Present, to another railway station close at hand, and had only sufficient time to get our luggage through the customs, and to start at 9.30 on the Peking-Hankow line for the junction at Shihchiah Chwang. It is not pleasant to do cross-country travelling in any country at night, and to reach a place at 4.20 a.m. on a cold February morning where you have to change stations would be far too difficult a matter for foreigners were it not for mission friends. They never seem to think anything of such trifles as spending nights looking after helpless travellers. We soon got all our goods and chattels out, and handed them over to a Chinese, whom our friend had engaged to look after them till the train left at 7 a.m. for Taiyuanfu. Meanwhile he escorted us to a clean inn, and comforted us with tea and cake and bedding till it was time to start. The bright cold dawn saw us off once more at 6 o’clock, rather enjoying a walk to the station; there we got into quite a comfortable train, and our friend travelled with us back to his own station, the first up the line. All day we passed through fascinating scenery, often following the course of a river, where turbine water-wheels in groups were busy grinding corn.

The line was only begun in 1903 by a French company, but the[19] Chinese have bought it up, and it ought to be increasingly valuable, chiefly for the transport of coal, in which product Shansi is specially rich. How well I remember in the old days seeing the long files of donkeys, each laden with basketfuls of coal, slowly wending their way across the plains and over the hills; whereas now the railway taps some of the chief coal-mines in the Pingtau district. The seams are from eleven to thirty feet in thickness and quite near the surface, and the coal is of excellent quality. The length of the line is only one hundred and fifty-five miles, and we did it in nine hours, whereas on my first journey we were more than nine days travelling up by mule litter and on horseback!

The railway station at Taiyuanfu is outside the great city wall, and we saw as we approached it fine new barracks—Governor Yen has had a macadamized road built to reach one of his barracks, leading through a gate which has been closed over three hundred years. The account of this wonderful man and all his varied activities is set down in Chapter II. The penalty of greatness is seen in the fact that in this famine year refugees from all the surrounding provinces poured by thousands and thousands into Shansi. Relief work was rapidly organized, but it meant a heavy strain on the resources of every one.

After spending ten days with our friends, we went back to Peking, starting in a heavy downfall of snow, which made the Chinese rejoice; it is considered a sign of great prosperity before the approaching New Year. There is so little rain in Shansi and irrigation is so difficult that a good fall of snow is essential for the crops. We found it extremely chilly, however, waiting for three hours at the junction in the middle of the night, without any shelter. The Hankow train was delayed; when it did arrive it was full of Chinese soldiers and others who occupied all the carriages, though we had bespoken sleeping-places in advance. We had to spend the rest of the night in the corridor—a cold and weary time. In the morning a Chinaman came out of a sleeping-carriage and took pity[20] on us, giving us his coupé; but it is a great mistake that the railways are so badly managed, and the military are allowed to monopolize them free of charge whenever they please. Later on in the year they were for some weeks entirely closed to civilian traffic.

At Peking I had the pleasure of being welcomed by the Anglo-Chinese Friendship Society, with which I have been connected ever since it was started. Its object is to cement the friendship between our peoples by putting Chinese and other students when they come to England into touch with congenial English people, and showing them the courtesy and helpfulness they need on arrival in a strange land. It is greatly to be wished that more Chinese of both sexes should come and study in England, and see what is best in our civilization. So many go to America in comparison with those who come here; yet not a few Chinese students have told me that they felt it would be better for them had it been the reverse, because our ideals are nearer to Chinese ones, and our desire for self-realization is so keen. A denationalized Chinaman is a poor product, but a Chinaman who has got his own Chinese culture and adds to it the best we can give of Western knowledge and culture, can, when he returns home, be a tremendous power in the moulding of the new China. He has a reverence for all the great past of his own country, and will strive to preserve its beauty, together with all that is good and great in its literature, art and customs. Wherever I travelled in China this fact was brought home to me. So much that is of historic and artistic value is being ruthlessly swept away, and the tragedy of it is that it is so unnecessary. For instance, in Canton, the most historic Yamen[1] was pointed out to me on a wide new thoroughfare, but its façade had completely lost its dignity and character by the guardian lions having been swept away. There was more than room enough for them, but their value had been ignored. I wanted to see the wonderful old water-clock, the triumph of ancient Chinese science, but was informed it had been taken away in the grand new[21] improvements, and would be set up in a garden. “But do they know how to set it up again so that it will go?” I asked. “Probably not,” said my Chinese guide complacently. So it is with countless treasures in China to-day.

It will cost more money perhaps to send students to England than to the United States, but there are plenty of wealthy men, and still more of women, who are willing to make sacrifices to give their sons and daughters the best possible education, if they realize that they will really get it by coming over here. If only those who come have either friends to look after them, or apply to the Anglo-Chinese Friendship Society, there will not be the disappointment which some have experienced in past times. In Shanghai I was told that students returning with diplomas from England had no difficulty in finding satisfactory posts at once, and are in greater demand than those from America.

France has now entered the lists, and there are some two thousand students in France, most of whom are studying textile manufactures. They have been sent over by the Government, the cost being defrayed by the French remission of the remainder of the Boxer indemnity, and half the cost of the journey is paid by France.

In order to accommodate so many students, the French have had to make special provision, and I met a party of students who originally came to study in England, but were obliged to go to France because they could find no room in English colleges. This is a most deplorable state of affairs.

A French professor, whom I met on the journey out, was welcomed in Peking by old students who attended his lectures at the Sorbonne, and he told me afterwards of the extraordinary warmth of their reception and recognition of indebtedness for his teaching. When he left they told him that they were sending him a tribute of gratitude; some months later he received a very costly cloisonné vase, made expressly for him and bearing an inscription, with the names of the donors incorporated in the design. The professor,[22] when he showed me the vase and its case, was evidently deeply impressed by this unique experience in a long teaching career.

Peking is a most fascinating city, and the new and old jostle one another strangely. Some writers tell you the old has quite vanished, but they are entirely wrong: even the old camel caravans—than which nothing can be more picturesque—may be seen wending their leisurely way beneath its ancient walls, to the clanking music of their bells. The city dates back to two hundred years B.C., and it has been the real capital of the Empire since the thirteenth century A.D. It consists of two cities, called the Outer and the Inner City; they lie side by side—one square and one rectangular. Each city is surrounded by its own wall: that of the Inner being thirty-seven feet high, fifty-two feet wide at the top, and it is thirteen miles in extent. The other city wall is not so lofty. Sixteen great gateways lead into this marvellous city, where within another wall is the old Imperial City. The legation hotels, post offices (there are six foreign post offices), shops and banks, etc., and also a native business quarter, are all in the Inner city, which is becoming very cosmopolitan, and is increasing rapidly. The numerous Government buildings are all in the Inner city—Council of State, Foreign Office, Finance, Home, Communications, Navy, War, Judiciary, Education, Agriculture and Commerce Departments.

Peking is now becoming a great centre of Western learning, and the Rockefeller Institution aims at becoming the main School of Medicine and Scientific Research in China. Its beautiful roofs, in the old Chinese style, have been built regardless of cost: two million gold dollars will not cover the initial expense of this place, and money has been poured out like water to secure not only the best equipment, but also the best brains.

Fine modern roads are being made, and automobiles are (for the wealthy) taking the place of the old slow-going cart and sedan chair; but economy will prevent these and the ricksha from going out of fashion.


The beginnings of industrial life are to be seen in the Government Industrial Factory, where there are five hundred apprentices; the Private Industrial Factory, the Match Factory, the Electric Company (which supplies the city with electric light), and the Tobacco Manufacturing Company—but Peking has never been an industrial centre, nor is it suited to become one.

Peking was so cold and snowy that we were glad to go south after a couple of days, and broke our journey at Tsinanfu. What changes have taken place since first I knew it only twelve years ago! Then it was smarting under German occupation; now it is under a still heavier yoke, and every one says “would we were under the Germans rather than the Japanese!” The latter seem to be far more grasping, and have no lack of funds for securing the things which they do not dare to seize by force. Commerce is one of their main objects, and they are pushing it with feverish zeal, so as to establish themselves securely as traders while they hold undisputed possession. It is sad to think that the militarist party in Japan has at the present time such complete control of her destinies, and that the finest part of the nation, while utterly condemning their policy, is incapable of influencing it. More than once I heard from reliable sources that this party considers that nothing less than foreign force can break the militarism of Japan. Wherever we went, even to the remotest parts of the empire, there is a growing hatred of Japan, and it almost seems as if this were the most potent factor in strengthening and unifying China. In one sense it may be looked on as a blessing in disguise! It certainly is calling out all the hitherto latent patriotism of young China.

The approach by railway to Tsinan suggests a busy manufacturing town; tall chimneys, Chamber of Commerce, big post offices, banks, public buildings, wide well-paved roads, with big houses and gardens, form large suburbs outside the city wall. It is a strange contrast to the old-world city, with its narrow picturesque streets and the lovely lake where wild birds haunt the sedgy islands—


“Here long ago ...
When to the lake’s sun-dimpled marge the bright procession wends,
The languid lilies raise their heads as though to greet their friends.”
Wang Ch’ang Lingcirca A.D. 750.

Oh, there is a charm in China found nowhere else! You pass out of thronged streets into calm poetic retreats where the turmoil of life is hushed; for a brief spell life stands still.

But one turns back into the city, with its teeming inhabitants. A very up-to-date city it is, with its schools, hospitals, museums, arsenal, barracks, and soldiers’ institute,[2] etc., etc. Its commercial interests are increasing by leaps and bounds, now that it is linked by the railways with Peking and Tientsin on the north, with Nanking and Shanghai on the south, and with Chingtao and the sea on the east. But what interested us most of all was the Shantung Christian University, with its School of Medicine, one of the most important schools in China. It is emphatically a union college, being supported by nine different missions, British, Canadian and American. The teaching staff is approximately twenty-six, and the students about one hundred, with some forty-five in the pre-medical department of the School of Arts and Science. Already more than one hundred graduates are practising in Mission, Government and Civil employment.

The training is of a high order, each member of the faculty a specialist in his own department: the teaching is in Mandarin Chinese, but all the students learn English, largely on account of having access to English textbooks. The large well-appointed hospital may not be so imposing in appearance as some of the American institutions, but it is second to none in the work done within its walls. The approximate annual cost of the medical school is[25] Mex. $225,000 (£25,000). It is of paramount importance that all British educational work in China to-day should be impeccable in quality, but the problem is where to find the necessary men and money.

Far more than five million dollars have been spent in building and equipping mission hospitals in China,[3] and it is high time that native men of means should take up the work, either by supporting such institutions as the above, or by undertaking similar ones. The Government of China is only beginning this herculean task, but in many respects it is better that private initiative should be active in hospital work, because the human touch is of infinite value where suffering humanity is concerned.

An interesting extension work has recently become part of the university, namely the Institute, and has proved a great draw to people of all classes. It was originally started by the British Baptist Mission at Tsingchoufu in 1887; it is a sort of glorified museum for the special purpose of making known Western ideas on all the varied sides of life, and promoting a spirit of brotherhood. You go into an airy, well-lighted hall and are confronted with glass cases containing models such as are not to be found elsewhere, and as interesting as they are novel. For instance, there is a large wooded surface with a heavy shower of rain (in the shape of fine glass rods) falling on it, while alongside are barren rocky slopes, bespeaking the land where no rain falls. Who could possibly look at this exhibit without asking the meaning, especially when there is some one at hand eager to talk about afforestation? Incidentally, it may be mentioned that the Government is beginning to take up this subject in all parts of China, and sorely needs the intelligent interest and co-operation of the people in order to ensure success.

A thrilling new exhibit is the work of the Red Cross during the war, containing two hundred separate models, starting with the[26] firing-line and ending with the convalescent wards of the hospital. Little model figures engaged in all sorts of war-work are a source of continual delight to the spectators, who throng the hall every day of the week. “What are they doing to that dog?” says an inquisitive woman. No words can paint her astonishment when she hears that it is a wounded war-dog being carefully bandaged. Lectures on Red Cross work have been listened to with deepest interest, while demonstrations in bandaging were given by nurses attached to the University hospital. An audience of three hundred girls heard what other girls have been doing in the war. Then, too, Boy Scouts learn what part they can play in national service. The History of Hygiene is well illustrated, and the greengrocer and butcher see what happens when a luscious melon or beefsteak is visited by flies. Much has already been done by these striking models to awaken a wholesome fear in the minds of the people. During epidemics most valuable advice has been promulgated from the Institute both by lectures and literature. All the admirable models are made in the workshop of the Institute, under the clever superintendence of Mr. Whitewright, its head and founder. There are models of hospitals, churches, cemeteries, museums, streets of England, which act as texts for explanation.

On the walls are diagrams and comparative tables of statistics, illustrating a great variety of subjects, and specially calculated to awaken the attention of the Chinese to relative conditions between their country and others. That it has more than fulfilled its object is obvious by the effect it has had not only on society in general but also in the special interest it has aroused in the Chinese educational authorities. Their representatives have repeatedly come to see the Institute and to study its methods, and from it educational work of considerable importance has radiated far and wide.

There is a separate department for students of Government colleges, and they have their own reading-room, recreation-room and classroom. This department shows fifteen thousand attendances[27] in the year. An important part of the work of the Institute is the encouragement of friendly relations between the staff and all sections of the community. Visits are arranged for parties of officers, merchants, police, Mohammedans, etc., when receptions are held specially interesting to these people, followed by lectures and cinematograph shows.

This is truly a wide-minded piece of missionary enterprise. The catholic spirit, which thus shows Christianity animating every part of human life, is a fine corrective to some of the narrow sectarian missions which still abound. Millions of people have visited the Institute, and more workers are needed to carry forward this splendid religious and educational venture.

I heard interesting details at Tsinanfu about the returned coolies from the Great War. There was a reading-room for them, and it was amusing to see the recruiting placards by which they had been attracted to the ranks. When first the idea of coolie labour was started in Shantung the British consuls were directed to arrange for recruiting, but they drew a blank. What did the Chinese coolie know of the value of a consul’s promises: he had no personal knowledge of him, and the proposition was an entirely novel one. So the missionary was set to tackle the problem, and he had to explain the scheme and show how the coolie’s family would profit by having a regular and sure source of income during his absence. The tide was turned: as many recruits were forthcoming as were needed, indeed far more. Germany spread a malicious propaganda, that the Chinese were placed in the firing-line to protect our troops. Our Government countered with cinema shows in which the people could recognize their men working in France. A time of dearth emphasized the value of their new income. Men returning from France told their experiences, and most significant of all was the universal expression of willingness to repeat the service in case of need.

I have said so much elsewhere about the city of Tsinanfu[4] that[28] I shall pass on to our next stopping-place—Shanghai. We stayed at the Missionary Home, up the North Szechuen Road, a boarding-house with very moderate prices, which is the rendezvous for missionaries from all parts of the empire. It was most useful to us to be in touch with them, and we revised our itinerary in consequence, and were able to do many interesting things which we should otherwise not have done. Not only missionaries frequent it, but others also, for it is very helpful to any travellers going off the beaten track to be in such a centre of information. For people not knowing the language all needful help is provided in meeting steamers and trains, for which the most moderate charge is made.

Shanghai is the strangest medley of incongruities, but extraordinarily interesting, because it has become the common meeting-ground of all nationalities and the natural centre for great movements. It is the most accessible spot for conferences, being linked by its railways and waterways with all parts of the empire, so that it may almost be considered geographically as the heart of China; but it would perhaps be more accurate to describe it as the skin, or surface, whereby all the interior is related to the outer world. Less than eighty years ago it was merely an insignificant Chinese town, but in 1842 the Chinese Government made it an open port; a British concession was granted—to be followed by French and American ones. Soon the British concession was internationalized, and in course of time became so popular among the Chinese that to-day far more than half the Chinese population of Shanghai is found in it, and of course this far exceeds the foreign population. Its government is rather remarkable; the municipal council is composed of nine foreigners of several nationalities, who are responsible for the self-government of the community. In their hands is the exclusive police control (how dignified the Sikh police are and how picturesque!), the drainage, lighting, roadmaking, sanitation, taxation, control of markets, etc. Each nationality has its own judicial court, and there is the Mixed Court for the settlement of[29] cases between Chinese and foreigners. This extra-territoriality has long been a source of soreness with the Chinese, and has acted as a spur to the reforms now going on in their judicial system. The French alone have continued to keep to a settlement of their own, which is run on similar lines.

Shanghai has naturally become the base of all sorts of experiments, and has a special value to the empire on that account. It is an object-lesson in self-government of no small value. Round it have sprung up mills of all sorts, and shipbuilding on foreign lines, and of course its shipping links it with every part of the globe. In another chapter I shall refer to its value as an educational centre.

An interesting experiment has been successfully made (by an entirely Chinese firm) of our western methods in social welfare (so new to us also) for dealing with employees. The Commercial Press was founded in 1896 to meet the rapidly growing demand for handbooks in Chinese on all sorts of subjects of western knowledge. It grew so rapidly that its branches are to be found in all the large cities of the empire, while its publications reach to the remotest towns. But to me one of its chief interests is to be found in the relations between its officials and staff, which consists of over one thousand persons. In the fine central building the fourth floor has a large dining-room, where three hundred of the employees have their meals, and there is a roof garden for their benefit. The workpeople are well paid, they receive bonuses according to their services, and are entitled to pensions on retirement: when employees die their necessitous families receive pay. There is a savings department which pays nine per cent. interest. There are school and hospital facilities for employees and their families, and they can join Y.M.C.A. and other institutions at a cheapened rate. Special arrangements are made for women at the time of childbirth, and a sum of money is given them at the beginning and end of the time they are absent from work on that account. Babies being nursed are allowed to be brought in to be fed by the mother during work[30] hours. The hours of work are limited to nine per day, and there is a garden in which the workers can spend their leisure time.

Another institution in Shanghai which greatly interested me was a Cantonese Baptist Institutional Church, which I attended one Sunday morning. It was extremely attractive, not only in its setting, but most of all in its human qualities. I arrived while Sunday school was still going on, and saw boys and girls of all ages in classrooms, and scattered about in the big hall. The teachers were, with one or two exceptions, Chinese, and looked thoroughly competent for their tasks. “They are the best workers I have ever met,” said Miss Lyne, my guide. The sight of a stranger was quite a matter of indifference to both teachers and taught, and had no effect on their concentrated attention. An American lady took me all over the building, which seemed admirably suited to its purpose. Upstairs was a large bright room—the chapel—electric lighted, and with a baptistery which was the gift of one of the members in memory of his wife. In the kindergarten the sweetest babes had been making tulips. The hall below is used for a gymnasium, games and other purposes. Religious plays are very popular, and my guide said that although she came prepared to disapprove of them, she had been converted by seeing how they seemed to make the Bible so much more real to the people. A very interesting detail of the place was the excellent bathrooms and sanitary arrangements, hot and cold water laid on, the whole supplied by a thoroughly up-to-date Scotch firm. This section was entirely due to the wish of the young people, who had raised the funds ($300) for it themselves. The building was in a nice garden, with tennis courts and other facilities for games.

The most interesting part of the morning was the service, despite the fact that I do not understand Chinese. The men sat on one side and the women on the other, but there was no partition, and men and girls respectively took up the collection on their own side of the hall. A Chinaman conducted the service, and the singing was[31] hearty and reverent, without any starchiness. After the sermon, candidates for baptism were brought forward, each one by his or her sponsor, for the Church’s approval before admission to the rite; they had been already examined and under training for some two years. Some of the candidates were quite young, others grown up: the pastor’s son and another boy were about eleven years old. They were asked a variety of practical questions by the pastor, but when it came to his own son, he said, “Will some one else ask little brother’s son?” and this was accordingly done. After this the Church members voted as to whether they should receive baptism. I asked if the vote was ever adverse, and was told it was not infrequently the case, although they were not recommended for baptism till they were considered ready.

There are so many Cantonese in Shanghai that missionaries find it necessary to have special work amongst them: they are like a different race, with a different language.

There are all sorts of interesting things to be seen in Shanghai, but it takes time, and the only other place of special interest we saw was the old native city, just the same picturesque, dirty, crowded spot that it was hundreds of years ago, surrounded by its three-and-a-half-mile wall, of which the gates are still shut at night. The old willow-pattern tea-house I was glad to see is still intact, also the garden from which the lovers fled who were turned into doves. It is not safe to venture into the old city unaccompanied, and the beggars are truly awful.

From Shanghai I visited the neighbouring province of Chekiang, which is considered one of the most beautiful by many people. The capital, Hangchowfu, can be reached both by water and by rail, and I much regret that I only went by rail, as an economy of time: it was a mistake, for by all accounts the waterway is most lovely. The journey takes three or four hours by rail and eighteen by boat. As one passes through mulberry groves and wide-stretching rice fields, one sees most picturesque groups of buildings, standing up on slightly[32] raised ground, like oases in the flat land, and lofty sails move slowly across the landscape. In the soft glow of evening light it was perfectly enchanting. We passed near two walled cities, but the railway lines as a rule do not break through such walls, and it is in many ways more convenient to have the station outside the cities. I could not but regret that this rule had been broken in the case of Hangchow, where the railway station was an ugly, though imposing, modern building, erected close to the breach in the wall through which the line enters the city.

On leaving the station by a wide new thoroughfare, you see numbers of European-looking shops, full of up-to-date European wares, for Hangchow is a large and wealthy manufacturing city, in the centre of an important agricultural district. Learning and Industry have flourished here from the earliest times, and now it has a population estimated at 35,000. I was thankful to get away from the modern town to a good old-fashioned Chinese quarter, where I shared the ever-generous hospitality of Dr. and Mrs. Main. Their hospitals are a sight worth seeing—although in certain respects they would challenge criticism; that is because they grew into being nearly forty years ago and were built up under every kind of difficulty by the untiring zeal of one man, and his hall-mark is seen in every part of them. The Chinese are an industrious people and put our own to shame, but even to them this object-lesson of what can be achieved by one individual is perhaps as valuable as the actual good done to the thousands who have found healing and comfort in these hospitals. There are no less than twenty-two departments of work, of which I shall only enumerate a few of the most important.

Directly after breakfast on the day after my arrival I started on a tour of inspection, and saw over the men’s and the women’s general hospitals, where a cheerful activity reigned. There is a family likeness about mission hospitals, so I shall say nothing further about them; but what amused and fascinated me was my visit to the maternity hospital, which is a thoroughly attractive[33] place. Already five little new-comers into this sad world were lying in a row, all tidy and washed, and one was lifting up a loud remonstrance at her fate; another was only an hour old. Sometimes you may see as many as fifteen, and I hope they do not get mixed up. There were no less than a hundred and seventy-seven in-patients during the year. These maternity hospitals are an unspeakable boon to the country, the more so because they are training schools for midwives. How badly these are needed can only be known by dwellers in the East. The Chinese make admirable nurses, especially the women, and many hospitals who in deference to custom have been in the habit of having men to nurse their own sex, are now giving it up in favour of women, because they are found more reliable and conscientious. This I was told when I deprecated the change.

Next we visited the Lock Hospital, and then the Medical School, where fifty or sixty students are admitted annually. Numbers of well-trained men have passed through this school, but it is hampered by lack of funds, and the premises and gardens are quite inadequate for the number. Girls, too, I saw hard at work in the classrooms. One most interesting part of the work was the series of workshops, in which disabled patients are employed on all sorts of trades connected with the needs of the hospitals. No doubt it is not only a boon to the workers, but a great economy for the hospital, especially in these dear times. It is astonishing to see the metal work done there, not to speak of the carpentering, matting and brushmaking. All wooden cases coming to the place are rapidly transformed into useful pieces of furniture, and everything seems to be capable of being transformed into something useful.

In the afternoon in pouring rain we set off in rickshas to visit another series of hospitals for lepers, incurables, and isolation cases. It was a long drive to the lonely hill-side overlooking the city, where these pleasant homes are situated, for they are indeed homes, as attractive and comfortable as they can be made for lifelong sufferers.[34] It needs something stronger than humanitarianism to tackle such a work, and the spirit of a Father Damien is needed to make it a success. Well may the poor patient say:

“My body, which my dungeon is.”

But they seemed wonderfully content, and eagerly welcomed the doctor’s visit. The expenses of these homes were only 2,788 dollars for the year. In cases of epidemics it is a special boon to have an isolation hospital outside the city, and the Home for Incurables needs no weak words of mine to commend it. All these buildings are newer than the hospitals in the city, and built on very hygienic principles.

From the hospitals we drove to the lovely lake-side, where we had tea in a charming house recently built by Dr. Main for the doctors. The lake-side was glorious, with great beds of water-lilies just coming into blossom. What a staff is required for work like the above described! and what an opportunity for men of noble ambitions! The staff is mainly Chinese, but Englishmen are greatly needed as well, and are sadly lacking. The Church Missionary Society is responsible for this important piece of work.

Close to this house is another new and charming one built for convalescent Chinese ladies, and it stands in a pretty little garden. It was empty at the time I was there, but had been used for the Conference of the China Continuation Committee. It will be interesting to see whether the ladies make use of it; it is in the nature of an experiment, being the only one I saw in China. But Chinese ideas are so rapidly changing and the position of women is so different from what it was even ten years ago, that they will welcome the possibility of such a home for convalescence. The rooms devoted to women, even in big houses, are often miserable, and this experiment may promote a better state of affairs.

On the other side of the West Lake is the latest creation of Dr. Main, which was opened next day. It is a rest-house for Chinese[35] workers, and ought to be valuable in connexion with so large a mission work. The funds have all been raised by Dr. Main.

Next day I got a glimpse of the old world before leaving Hangchow. I was escorted up a steep hill to visit a group of temples and to get a view over the wonderful West Lake. Magnificent old trees cast their welcome shade on the buildings, and a curious serpentine stone pathway which had a symbolical meaning leads up the hill. On the top is a group of stones of curious shapes, which are said to represent the twelve requisites of agriculture, but it required a great deal of imagination to trace the resemblance. The air was scented with wild roses, and the view from the top of the ridge was superb—on one side lay the shimmering lake, with its delicate tracery of raised pathways and bridges leading across certain parts of it, and a fine old red sandstone pagoda; on the other side the busy city and the river leading to the sea. It is an ideal spot for artists, and there is the West Lake Hotel on the margin of the lake, where it is quite pleasant to stay if you are not too exacting.

Hangchow is the starting-place for that wonder of the world, the Grand Canal, which stretches nine hundred miles, and part of which was built nearly five hundred years B.C., with solid stone walls. It is spanned in places by beautiful bridges, sometimes a single arch and sometimes several. The bridges of China are very varied and most beautiful; in no other part of the world have such remarkable blocks of stone been used in their construction, and it is impossible to understand how some of them were placed in their present position. The heavy floods in Fukien prevented my visiting the most celebrated one near Chuan Chow, called Lo-yung-kio; it is three thousand six hundred feet in length and fifteen feet wide. Some of the granite monoliths stretching from one abutment to another actually measure as much as sixty feet in length, so we were told by an English captain who had measured them. As there are only twenty abutments, it is obvious they must be very wide apart. In all such bridges that I have seen, the[36] spaces between the abutments vary in size. Even small bridges, like one on the West Lake near Hangchow, are often quite interesting because of their architectural qualities, the artist’s touch being very marked. The Chinese never seem to grudge labour in the beautifying of things great or small, important or unimportant, which gives one great joy in using the common things of daily life. It is as if the workman worked for sheer creative joy and regardless of recompense. If a man, for instance, engraves a line drawing in the hinge of a door, where it will practically be always out of sight, what motive can he have save the creative faculty?

Hangchow is situated at the mouth of the Tsientang-kiang, a most important waterway for the trade from Kiang-si, which comes down on peculiar junks, sixty feet long and ten feet wide.

There is a remarkable tide bore at the river’s mouth; at full tide there is a column of water six feet high which rushes furiously in from the sea, and which is a source of great danger to shipping. This is a sight well worth seeing.

From Shanghai we went down the coast by the steamer Sinkiang to Hong Kong, only putting into Amoy on the way, and enjoying a few hours ashore with friends. They urged us to come and stay with them, an invitation which I gladly accepted later on. The sea was kind to us most of the way, and we accomplished the journey in four days, reaching Hong Kong at 8 a.m. Here we found the housing problem as acute as at home, and were thankful to be taken in at a delightful house for ladies, called the Helena May Institute. It was the greatest boon to me not only then, but when I returned in July to join the ship for England. The house is beautifully situated and strongly to be recommended to ladies travelling alone.

We were delayed some ten days waiting for a boat to Haiphong, as coasting steamers seem peculiarly uncertain in their sailings.

The journey to Haiphong took three nights and two days. When we finally started we found that no Hong Kong money (Hong Kong[37] has a coinage of its own, being British, and admits no other) would be accepted in Indo-China, and that we must re-bank there before starting inland. Haiphong is a most dull and unprogressive little French town: an intelligent young Frenchman at the custom-house told us that red tape rules everything and makes progress impossible.

We were obliged to stay there two days, the bank not being open on Sunday. The train only runs by day up to Yünnanfu, and starts at a very early hour: the carriages are primitive in the extreme and badly arranged. There is only one corridor coach for first-, second- and third-class passengers, the first-class being in the middle and the passengers for the others passing to and fro through the carriage all the time. Besides this one coach there were a number of seatless luggage vans, in which were herded large numbers of fourth-class passengers, with their belongings. Their legs might frequently be seen dangling out of the unglazed windows. The line was opened in 1910, and is about 150 miles in length.

The scenery was fascinating and varied during our three days’ journey to Yünnanfu. At first it was sub-tropical, passing through forests with great tree-ferns and bamboos, or ricefields where water-buffaloes toiled. Lovely rose bushes and brilliant canna were the chief flowers visible, and tall trees full of crimson blossom. From seven in the morning till 8.30 p.m. we travelled slowly towards the Chinese frontier, and spent the night at Laokay, in a not too bad little French hotel. There was food served on the train, but we mostly relied on our own provisions. The frontier town was quite attractive, at the junction of two rivers; we were supposed to have our luggage examined, but both French and Chinese let us off, and I had time to sketch from the dividing bridge while our less lucky interpreter, Mr. Li,[5] underwent searching examination. It is most difficult for any Chinese to get passports for going through[38] French territory, and you can never foresee what difficulties the officials will put in the way, even when everything is en règle. Li was taken off to the police station and put through an elaborate interrogatory. We had been rather anxious about our own passports, as Sir John Jordan was not able to authorize our having them from Peking, on account of the political division between North and South. He very kindly arranged that the British Consul at Canton (if he considered it safe for us to prosecute our journey) should supply us with them, and we experienced a great sense of relief on finding them awaiting us at Hong Kong. As an illustration of the strictness of French rule, no one is allowed to take more than two dollars out of Indo-China in their coinage; at Haiphong we had obtained Chinese dollars suitable for the province of Yünnan.

One of the most serious questions for China to-day is that of finance, and I was told by a reliable business man that the unification of the coinage would have been settled long ago, but for the fierce opposition of the banking community, who make unheard-of profits by the present system. It is extremely tiresome and injurious to trade, and adds greatly to the difficulty of travelling.

As soon as we had crossed the frontier the scenery changed and became grander. The railway passes through malarious districts, and its construction was impeded (at one time even entirely suspended) on account of the number of deaths which took place among the workmen. It is a narrow-gauge single line, and there are so frequently obstructions and accidents that the train only runs by daylight; it takes therefore three days to accomplish the journey; but it is so interesting that one is glad to go slowly. The stations on the line are few, and the only important town is Mongtsze, a big trading centre. The province is considered one of great natural wealth and beauty, and I was glad to be in it once more, having already traversed it from north-east to west (a distance of over a thousand miles) on foot or carried in a chair. On the second day we passed through glorious wooded gorges, gradually rising to a[39] height of two thousand seven hundred feet. The hill-sides were terraced up to the very summits in places, and despite the sparse population the land was well cultivated wherever possible. We reached the town of Amichow soon after five o’clock, and found a decent little French hotel. Strolling out to watch the glorious sunset, we came to a barracks, where men were drilling in orthodox German style and singing a monotonous sort of chant.

Next morning when we came to pay our seven-dollar bill with the Yünnanese notes we had bought at Haiphong, we had an unusual experience with regard to the exchange, for we found that it only meant three Yünnanese dollars. While I attended to this, my niece went ahead to secure the window seats, for you see very little otherwise. There were other travellers who had secured them the previous day, and we knew the scenery would be magnificent. The line is really a remarkable one, running in and out of the rock, crossing rivers far below, and wholly unlike the tame railway lines at home. One part was singularly beautiful as we emerged from a tunnel at a high level; we saw a lovely jade-coloured lake spread below us, melting away into the far distance. As we approached the capital, Yünnanfu, we left the mountains behind and passed through well-cultivated lowlands, already clad in shining green, or reflecting the blue sky in watery ricefields. We were not sorry, however, to say good-bye to the railway for many weeks to come. Friends had arranged for us to stay at a comfortable French hotel, the Terminus, outside the city wall and with a fine view across the fields to distant hills.

We eagerly inquired as to the prospects of being allowed to go eastwards, and were informed that the robbers were most aggressive and had taken prisoners three missionaries, besides securing much loot from other quarters. I confess my spirits sank low that night, despite our having got a much-longed-for mail, and it was with some misgivings we set off to the British Consulate next morning. The postal commissioner, a portly Frenchman, had told us that[40] he didn’t consider it at all dangerous to go eastward, but it was true that he had ceased to send money orders, owing to the number of robbers! He could transmit no money for us, but promised to see what could be done in the matter through merchants.

We found that the British Consul, Mr. Otterwell, remembered me as an old traveller. I had been his guest at Tengyueh twelve years before, though he was at the time absent in the district. He was quite encouraging, and promised at once to have our passports visé-ed and a military escort obtained for the following week. Our further doings in Yünnan Province are chronicled in Chapter III. Suffice it to say that from Yünnanfu we set off in carrying-chairs, and travelled north-eastward into the province of Kweichow—a wild and beautiful mountainous country, far from railways and steamboats and all the busy bustle of the West. There we were to make friends with strange aboriginal tribes in their native haunts and to see unadulterated China once more.

Kweichow (the Land of Demons) surpassed our most sanguine hopes. It was far more beautiful and interesting than we had been told, and not nearly so difficult to travel in as I had been led to expect. We had provided ourselves with tinned meats, as we were told that we could expect to get no meat or chickens or vegetables in so poor a province, whereas we found all these things in abundance, and every mission station to which we came most hospitable in supplying us with bread and cakes. It is true we only came to five stations in the next seven weeks, that is in crossing the whole province. There is no road in any part of it—sixty thousand square miles, roughly speaking—suitable for wheeled traffic; so no wonder it must be considered as one of the most backward parts of China, and has rarely been visited by travellers. To carry a load of rice for a hundred miles more than doubles its cost.

A Chinese Ritz.

Page 40

From Yünnanfu we took the ordinary route via Malong, Kütsingfu, and the Yünnan Pass into Kweichow Province. It has been[41] admirably and fully described in Sir A. Hosie’s latest book On the Trail of the Opium Poppy, so it is unnecessary for me to do it, and I shall merely describe the things which struck us as of special interest.

The journey from Yünnanfu to Anshun took us seventeen days—a distance altogether of about three hundred miles.[6] From Anshunfu we struck north, through much wilder and less-frequented country, in order to visit the haunts of aboriginal tribes, and made a wide detour, returning to the main road near Kwei Yang, the capital. We greatly wished to visit other tribes in the eastern part of the province, but that was absolutely vetoed by the governor, and we were obliged to follow the high road through Ping-yüe and Huang Ping Chow to Chen Yüen. Here we took to the waterway, from which we did not once swerve till we reached Shanghai. The first part of the journey, up the Yüen Kiang, is a distance of four hundred and forty-six miles, and one may go down it in five days, if it is in flood, with a fair chance of getting drowned! We took ten days, but a good deal of time was spent at places on the way. Coming up stream the journey is long and tedious: it may extend to months instead of days. The natural superstition of the Chinese is displayed on such a journey by the lavish use of crackers[7] and incense to ward off evil spirits. These superstitions will die hard: nothing less vital than genuine Christianity can displace them.

We entered Hunan on May 14, having spent forty-two days in Kweichow Province. The frontier is indicated by two elaborate archways, as we saw on entering the province from Yünnan. Although Hunan is within fifteen days’ reach of Shanghai, it has so far no facilities for travel better than by water. It is true there is a short railway line on its western border, but we were not encouraged[42] to try it, and in summer there is always a good steamship line from the capital Changsha to Hankow—a distance of two hundred and twenty miles. The railway is part of the projected line from Hankow to Canton, and will be of great trade value when it is completed, as there is no good route to connect this part of the country with the south. We intended going from Changsha into Kwangsi Province on account of the beautiful scenery, but unfortunately that was impossible owing to the fighting going on between the troops of the north and the south exactly in the region where our road lay. It might be supposed that we could have taken an alternative route through so vast a country, but such is not the case. If you leave the great high road (and what a misnomer that is!) there is no way except by devious paths through endless mountain ranges, where no accommodation and little food would be obtainable. In a province of 83,398 square miles there appear to be only two main roads running from north to south, and three from east to west; yet it has a population of over twenty-one millions. The two main roads running from north to south are near the eastern and western borders, and all the central part of the province has none. We crossed the province entirely by water, first in a house-boat as far as Changteh, thence in a miserable little native steamer across the Tong Ting Lake to Changsha; from Changsha up the Siang-kiang,[8] across the Tong Ting on to the Yangtze, which bounds the province on the north.

We had no choice, therefore, of leaving Hunan except by going to Hankow, and we found good accommodation on a British steamer, the Sinkiang. There are six good lines between Changsha and Hankow—two British, a Japanese, and several Chinese steamship companies, whose ships run in the summer; owing to the extraordinary subsidence of the lake in winter (see Chapter VI) it has to be discontinued then for several months. The journey from[43] Changsha to Hankow takes about thirty-two hours: at Hankow we transhipped for Shanghai on a most comfortable steamer (with nice beds), the Nganking, belonging to Messrs. Butterfield & Swire. It is quite easy for travellers knowing no Chinese to penetrate by this route into the very centre of China. I am so often asked about the possibilities of doing this that I can only recommend this as a wholly charming and easy way of getting about and much to be preferred to railway travelling.

Hankow itself is a big bustling cosmopolitan town, with a rapidly increasing volume of commerce. It is a link between old and new, and has no less than thirty-six associations, called “hangs,” for different kinds of goods. It has its foreign concessions like the seaports, and the important trading companies have their own floating wharves, where the big ocean liners moor, six hundred miles away from the coast. There are said to be 25,000 junks engaged here in river traffic, and they connect Hankow with all the central and western provinces, often travelling as much as a hundred miles a day.

Hankow is a great centre of educational and missionary activity, and many European nationalities are engaged in it. The great viceroy, Chang Chih Tung, ardently promoted education here when he was in office. He said in his book, China’s Only Hope (p. 61), “In order to render China powerful, and at the same time preserve our own institutions, it is absolutely necessary that we should utilize Western knowledge. But unless Chinese learning is made the basis of education and a Chinese direction is given to thought, the strong will become anarchists, and the weak slaves.” It is most deplorable that this is ignored by so many Chinese of the present day.[9] He urged that old Buddhist and Taoist temples, falling into decay, be transformed into schools, and he estimated that seven out of ten, with their property, might well be devoted to this[44] purpose. This is quite in accordance with what is now being done, especially in Northern China. He argued that the temples are national property, and should be used for the common good.

Hankow is wonderfully situated as the internal trade centre of China, being the meeting-point of its main railways as well as waterways (when the former shall have been completed), linking up north, south, east and west. There are three cities in the angles formed by the junction of the Yangtze and the Han rivers—Hanyang, Hankow and Wu-chang; the last was far the most important in the past, and is the capital of Hupeh, but now Hankow rivals Shanghai in commercial importance, and is rapidly growing. The three cities have a joint native population of 1,150,000, of which Hankow has 800,000, and as its native quarter was completely destroyed by fire during the civil war in 1911, the fine old monuments of the past were destroyed with it. Its whole interest is modern.

Between Hankow and Shanghai are several important cities which must be most interesting to visit, several of them being treaty ports with foreign concessions, such as Chin-kiang and Wu-hu; the steamers stop at least fourteen times on the way. It is delightful to spend the days sitting in comfortable chairs on deck, watching all the varied life on the river, hearing the “honk-honk” of the wild geese soaring overhead, or watching the wedges of ducks crossing the river on strong wing to the big marshes, or lakes, into which it pours its overflow.

From time to time the steamer draws to the riverside and loads or unloads its cargo. One of the most interesting stopping-places is Nanking; indeed, it is said to be one of the most interesting in China, and is only about two hundred miles from Shanghai. It has an hotel kept by an Englishman. We greatly enjoyed the river scenery of the Yangtze: there are so many picturesque monuments in this lower part on the numerous islands and along its banks; although it has not the wild charm of the gorges, it is well worth[45] making the trip. Now there is a steam service all the way up to Chunking, so that travellers can easily do one of the most beautiful journeys in the world at reasonable cost, in reasonable comfort and in reasonable time, going about a thousand miles up the finest of the great rivers of the world.[10]

On reaching Shanghai I had to part with my travelling companion and start the journey home alone, but as events proved my steamer was delayed, and I had several weeks in which to visit the coastal provinces of Chekiang, Fukien and Kwantung, and to study the student movement, as described in the concluding chapters of this book.



Chapter II
The Model Governor—Yen Hsi-Shan


“Who is the true and who is the false statesman?

“The true statesman is he who brings order out of disorder; who first organizes and then administers the government of his own country; and having made a nation, seeks to reconcile the national interest with those of Europe and of mankind. He is not a mere theorist, nor yet a dealer in expedients; the whole and the parts grow together in his mind; while the head is conceiving, the hand is executing. Although obliged to descend to the world, he is not of the world. His thoughts are fixed not on power, or riches, or extension of territory, but on an ideal state, in which all the citizens have an equal chance of health and life, and the highest education is within the reach of all, and the moral and intellectual qualities of every individual are freely developed, and ‘the idea of good’ is the animating principle of the whole. Not the attainment of freedom alone, or of order alone, but how to unite freedom with order is the problem which he has to solve.

“The statesman who places before himself these lofty aims has undertaken a task which will call forth all his powers.”—Benjamin Jowett.


Chapter II[11]
The Model Governor—Yen Hsi-Shan

The province of Shansi boasts having the best governor in the Chinese Empire, and he has accomplished in the last ten years a remarkable change in the entire province—a province which is considerably larger than Great Britain. The city of Taiyuanfu is perhaps the most striking evidence of this change. The whole place is unrecognizable since the days when I first knew it in 1893. The streets are wide and well kept; at night they are lighted by electricity, and an efficient police force keeps order and regulates the traffic, whereas in old days the crowd used to fight their quarrels out in their own sweet way. The horrible pariah dogs which infested the streets without let or hindrance have entirely disappeared; for a dog, licence has now to be obtained, and any unlicensed dogs are promptly destroyed. The Governor Yen Hsi-Shan is the promoter of education in all its manifold aspects; though not a Christian, he realizes that there must be a radical change in morals, as well as in education, if China is to become a strong nation, capable of taking her place among the Great Powers.

To this end he has formed an organization called the “Wash[50] the Heart Society,” which strongly reminds one of the Mission of John the Baptist, although he does not recognize the fact that repentance is only the first step on the upward path. A large hall has been built in a nice open part of the city, close to the city wall, but, alas! not in Chinese style. The Governor is unfortunately under the influence of a Teuton, who is the worst possible adviser in matters of architecture, as well as other things. The hall is a deplorable mixture of every conceivable style of Western art; it holds 3,000 people and services are held there every Sunday morning, each lasting one hour, and each for the benefit of a separate class of people—merchants, military, students. So far there seems to be no provision for women, but perhaps that will come later. The population is bidden to come and reflect on its evil ways and to seek amendment of life. A special feature of the service is a time of silence for self-examination. This Society was started in the province of Shansi, but I found its halls in other parts of the Empire as well, and it is a hopeful sign of the times. The approach to the hall is by a good macadamized road, and near by is a tea-house beside the tiny lake—the Haizabien—and a bandstand where the élite of the city gather on summer evenings to listen to sweet music and sip countless cups of tea.

Yen Hsi Shan, Statesman.

Page 49

Big houses are being built by wealthy Chinese in this neighbourhood, and there are large Government schools for girls as well as boys. Facing the entrance to a girls’ school, which is housed in a disused temple, we saw a list pasted up on a wall, giving the names of successful girl students in a recent Government examination. What an amazing contrast to the old days, when no Government schools for girls were in existence; they only came into being since the downfall of the old regime in 1907, but the Chinese Ministry of Education, which based its present system on that of Japan, is recognizing the importance of women’s education and is encouraging it by this official recognition of success in examinations.

It is not sufficient only to give the women schools, but it is[51] imperative to supply them also with scope for wider culture and congenial activities when they leave school. To this end a kind of club, or institute, is to be started at once on ground opposite the Governor’s hall, and it is in response to the ladies’ own request: they have long been saying, “The men have their Y.M.C.A., why cannot we have such a place?” and although the mission ladies have done their best to meet the need, obviously no private house can be adequate, not to mention the fact that Chinese ladies have too much self-respect to be willing to be always guests of ladies with limited incomes, to whom they can make but scant return. It is hoped that the new hall will do much to forward the woman’s movement in Taiyuanfu; there will be social gatherings, lectures on hygiene (for illustration of which there is to be a complete installation of sanitary fittings), a child-welfare department, invalid cooking, lessons on nursing, and many other classes connected with women’s welfare. There is room for a garden and tennis courts in order that recreation and physical culture may be encouraged and the place made attractive to girls as well as women. The Governor is promoting this last matter indirectly, by putting a fine on foot-binding, which is unfortunately still extremely prevalent. The movement that took place some years ago in favour of a natural foot seems to have died down, and everywhere there is foot-binding in full swing. The queue has practically disappeared from China during the last few years, and men wear their hair mostly rather short, while some go in for a clean shave. I find this quite attractive when the skull is well-shaped, and if the man is in immaculate summer garb, the effect of cleanliness is wonderful. If the women of China were less conservative, and would make an equally clean sweep of foot-binding, it would make an immense difference to their health.

The Governor has encouraged physical culture not only indirectly but directly as well, for he even went so far as to ride in a bicycle race once in Shansi, and in 1918 public sports took place at Taiyuanfu, which Sir John Jordan honoured by his presence, having taken the[52] tiresome nineteen hours’ journey from Peking for the purpose.[12] A disused temple acted as the grand-stand and an angle of the city wall was converted into the arena, the tiers of seats being hewn in the base of the wall. Quite a fine sports ground was prepared under the superintendence of one of the missionaries, whose advice in practical matters is continually sought by the Governor. The only matter for regret on this occasion was the deplorable weather, for even sunny Shansi has moments when a dusty fit of temper obscures its lustre.

One of the Governor’s most valuable new institutions is a farm for cattle-breeding. It is just outside the city and has been successfully started by an American and his wife. The main object is to improve the breed of horses, cows, sheep, etc., and for this purpose stock is being imported from the United States, whose Government has recently supplied the necessary transport for horses, when this difficulty of shipment arose with regard to animals already purchased; a large number of sheep have already been imported from Australia. Shansi is a suitable province for this experiment and missionaries have already proved there the excellent results of cross-breeding cows, obtaining supplies of milk of improved quality, as well as largely-increased quantity. In a recent book on China, highly recommended to me, an American writer states that there is only one milk-giving cow in the Empire, and that tinned milk supplies the rest, but evidently the traveller had not travelled far!

Another of the Governor’s institutions is a College of Agriculture and Forestry in connexion with which there are many mulberry trees being planted for the promotion of sericulture. This has never been pursued with success in Shansi; hitherto only the commoner kinds of silk have been produced, but it is considered a patriotic deed to promote it, and the most exquisite and costly silk is now being made in a disused temple, by Yen’s order. Perhaps the almost[53] religious way in which it was regarded in bygone times, when the Empress herself took a ceremonial part in the rearing of silkworms 3,000 years ago, has caused this revival of schools of sericulture. I visited one in the South, and after seeing all the processes was invited to take a handful of worms away as a memento! Governor Yen has sent 100 students to France to study textiles. Afforestation is nowhere more needed than in Shansi, and it is to be hoped that the Government will push this side of the work of the college. We found such a college had been started in remote Kweichow also, cut off from most of the new movements in China. Plantations had been made in various parts, but they will need to be carefully guarded, as the poverty of the inhabitants lead them to destroy ruthlessly every twig they can for firewood; where there used to be large forests nothing now remains of them. The genius of the Chinese race for agriculture is so remarkable that one may well expect great results from these colleges: the vast population has been able in the past to produce food more or less according to its needs, but when there is a dearth of rain, or other cause producing bad harvests, there is at once terrible scarcity, and the application of Western knowledge and agricultural implements ought to be of considerable value.

There are in some parts such as Chekiang as many as four harvests per annum, and no sooner is one reaped than the land is prepared for the next. The introduction of new trees, vegetables, etc., would add greatly to the wealth of the country, and with its unrivalled climate and soil there is every reason to promote the multiplication of agricultural colleges.

One of the most noticeable changes in Taiyuanfu is the complete absence of the beggar of hideous mien, who dogs the steps of strangers in every other city in China, and who seems to be the most immovable feature of life in the East. He was an integral part, one had been taught to believe, of the social fabric, and as hallowed as the very temple itself; yet Taiyuanfu has the glory of having solved[54] this difficult problem. All the male beggars have been collected into the splendid old temple of Heaven and Hell to be taught a trade, so as to be able to earn a living, and they are not dismissed until they are capable of doing so. They seemed quite a jolly crew, and were hard at work in various buildings, though others of these were closed for the New Year. The most interesting part of the institution was the town band which has been formed out of the younger part of the beggar population. They were summoned to play for our amusement, and they ended by playing for their own. The performance was most creditable, especially considering that the band was only seven months old; if there was some defect in tune, there was an excellent sense of rhythm, which I have found lacking in many bands of long standing at home; and it was really fascinating to see the gusto with which they all played. The band has already taken part in various town functions, and is making itself useful. The music is, of course, Western, as are the instruments. Chinese musical instruments do not give enough sound, as a rule, for large gatherings.

The rules of the workhouse seem good, and the inmates can earn money (five dollars per month) so as to have something in hand when they leave. The women’s department is in another part of the city and we had not time to visit it. It is very noticeable how the temples are being everywhere used for such useful purposes, for the housing question is here, as at home, a serious problem. No doubt it would be good from a practical point of view that these buildings should be replaced by new ones, built for the purpose, but the loss of beauty would be incalculable. The temple of Heaven and Hell has glorious turquoise-blue roofs and handsome tiles and large medallions of green pottery on the walls. It is the most beautiful of all the temples, in my opinion, though the Imperial Temple, where the Dowager Empress stayed on her historic flight to Sianfu, is also very fine. This is now used as a school for the teaching of the new script, which is a simplified form of the Chinese character.[55] It was devised in 1918 by the Ministry of Education in order to make literacy easier for the population. The ordinary Chinese boy takes three or four years longer than the Western boy to learn to read. When the old system of education was abolished in 1907 a new one had to be devised, but it is an extremely difficult thing to carry out such a reform throughout so vast an empire. Governor Yen Hsi-Shan is an ardent promoter of the scheme, and he has established the school for the express purpose of promoting it. Every household in Taiyuanfu is required to send at least one member to study the script; in order to make it easier, there are a few characters, with their equivalent in the old script, put up outside many of the shops, so that people may learn it as they go about their business. Not only so, but all over the city may be seen notice boards with the two scripts in parallel columns, and these boards have generally some one studying them, not infrequently with notebook in hand. Many of the schools are teaching it, but it is difficult to add this to an already well-filled time-table. It may be of interest to know that it is “a phonetic system containing thirty-nine symbols (divided into three denominations, viz. twenty-four initials, three medials and twelve finals).”—North China Daily News.

This is one part of an important movement for the unification of the language, the importance of which can only be fully realized by those who have travelled widely in China. Not only every province varies from every other province, but also every district from every other district. There are sixty-four dialects in Fukien alone. The unification of the Empire would be greatly promoted by the unification of the language, and this has been frankly recognized by the Ministry of Education, which has issued a notice to that effect:

“We recognize that because of the difference between our classical and spoken language, education in the schools makes slow progress, and the keen edge of the spirit of union both between individuals and in society at large has thereby been blunted. Moreover, if[56] we do not take prompt steps to make the written and the spoken language the same quickly, any plans for developing our civilization will surely fail.

“This Ministry of Education has for several years made positive advances in promoting such a National Language. All educationists, moreover, throughout the country are in favour of a change by which the teaching of the national spoken language shall take the place of the classical language. Inasmuch, therefore, as all desire to promote education in the National Language, we deem it wise not to delay longer in the matter.

“We therefore now order that from the autumn of this current year, beginning in the primary schools for the first and second years, all shall be taught the National Spoken Language, rather than the National Classical Language. Thus the spoken and written languages will become one. This Ministry requests all officials to take notice and act accordingly.”

It is not sufficient, as we all know, merely to issue such an order. Governor Yen has taken various practical ways of enforcing it. Posters with large script characters have been widely set up, exhorting the people to study the script, and a daily paper is issued in it. He has had 2,500,000 copies printed of a simple script primer, and has published at a nominal price, and in vast numbers, various educational books, such as What the People Ought to Know,[13] New Criminal Laws of the Republic, and Handbook for Village Leaders. The last-named is of special importance in view of the fact that by his order reading- and lecture-rooms have been established in all the cities and large villages of the province, where lectures and talks are given from time to time on various subjects of interest to the people. A regular educational campaign may be said to have been inaugurated by Yen. On every post and wall in the remotest[57] villages may be seen maxims inculcating honesty, diligence, industry, patriotism and military preparedness.

Temple of Heaven and Hell, Workhouse.

Page 53

An important new book which Governor Yen has recently published, is called What Every Family Ought to Know, and is a description of what he conceives to be a good home and the happiness which results from it. “If we desire to have a good home, virtue is of first importance,” he says, but alas! he gives no clue as to how it is to be achieved.

The chief rules for family life are, (i) Friendliness, (ii) Magnanimity, (iii) Dignity, (iv) Rectitude, (v) Diligence, (vi) Economy, (vii) Cleanliness, (viii) Quietness. He makes the Head of the House responsible, as setting the example, and exhorts him to repentance (if he falls short) before God and his ancestors. The whole book is eminently practical, and he recommends what would be a startling change of immemorial custom, that the son should not marry until he is grown up and able to support a wife in a home of his own—namely, not under his father’s roof. This is an innovation which is beginning to be seen elsewhere, as the result of foreign intercourse.

As a writer, Governor Yen is concise and practical: he has completely broken away from the old Chinese classical style. His last work is written, like all his books, in simple mandarin instead of in beautiful classical mandarin, so that every one may be able to understand it. This is the more noteworthy, because the additional cost entailed was $5,400 per leaf; he states this fact in the preface of What the People Ought to Know.

His one object appears to be the uplift of the people in every way, and he believes in God and in righteousness. As an index of his view of life it may be interesting to quote a few of the forty Family Maxims which form the concluding chapter of his above-named book.

“Unjust wealth brings calamity.”

“Vitiated air kills more people than prison.”

“To be cruel to one’s own is to be worse than a beast.”


“Of people who lack a sense of responsibility—the fewer the better.”

“If your conscience tells you a thing is wrong, it is wrong: don’t do it.”

“The experience of the uneducated is much to be preferred to the inexperience of the educated.”

“The wise are self-reliant, the stupid apply to others.”

“There is no greater calamity than to give reins to one’s desires, and no greater evil than self-deception.”

Governor Yen, it will be seen, from his words as well as from his deeds, is a clear-sighted, independent thinker, and he believes in religious liberty. His reforms deal with a wide range of things—opium-smoking, narcotics, polygamy, infanticide, early marriages, early burial, gambling, training and morals of the troops, compulsory free education for boys, the introduction of uniform weights and measures, alteration in legal affairs. All these and other matters have within the last five years occupied his thoughts and been practically dealt with—no small achievement, especially when the insecurity of his position and lack of trained men to carry out his projects is taken into consideration.

As will be readily understood, all these enterprises cost money, and taxation is never looked on kindly by the taxed, so there is some discontent among the people of Shansi, and the Central Government, instead of showing satisfaction at the prosperity and good government of the province, which is in striking contrast to that of so many others, has taken the opportunity of threatening to impose a Civil Governor in Shansi—that means a heavy squeeze, and in consequence, the stoppage of many of the Governor’s schemes. He is continually threatened by those who would like to see him out of the way, and is consequently rarely seen, and then strongly guarded.

The system of having military governors is extremely bad, but in the case of an exceptional man like Yen it has worked well, and[59] the Government saved its “face” by uniting the civil and military governorship in his one person. At the present time the Government has ordered the military governor of Shensi to retire in favour of another Tuchun. He refuses to do so, and his various military friends are all hurrying to the rescue. It is estimated that there are one and a half million soldiers in China, largely unpaid, so that they are glad of any excuse to loot and pillage. Feng Yu Hsiang has been sent up to Shensi by the Government to compel the Tuchun to leave, and has carried out the work with brilliant success. He has in vain been demanding money to pay his troops, while turbulent, unscrupulous generals have been receiving large sums to prevent them from committing excesses.

The Tuchuns have been encouraging opium-growing in order to get funds, and now there is hardly a province where it is not done more or less openly. Governor Yen has set his face against it, but smuggling goes on all the time, mainly from Japan, and morphia is also becoming increasingly popular. No wonder Young China is clamouring for the suppression of the Tuchuns and disarmament: there can be no peace in China till this is done.

One of the most interesting places in the city is the model gaol, which was planned and carried out by Mr. Hsü, who studied in Japan and has progressive views. It covers a considerable space of ground and is entirely one-storied; it is in the shape of a wheel, with many spokes radiating from the centre. The entrance is charming, as unlike as it is possible to imagine to any English prison. Within the gates is a lovely garden, for Chinese are first-rate gardeners, and the prisoners raise all the vegetables necessary for the inmates, and a grand show of flowers to boot. An avenue of trees leads to the offices, and when we were there in February we saw beautiful little trees of prunus in full bloom on the office table! All the prisoners have to work at useful trades, and if it were not for their fetters it would be difficult to imagine one was in a prison at all. The workshops were bright and airy; every one looked[60] well cared for and not unhappy. A feature of the workrooms was the boards on which all tools were hung up when not in use, each tool being numbered and outlined on the board, so that it should be hung on its own peg. Every kind of trade was in full swing, and the work is so well executed that there is never any lack of orders. Certainly one would be only too glad to have things made under such good conditions.

The sleeping accommodation was excellent: the cells and beds of remarkable cleanliness and comfort; no one could object to them. The bath-house was of some interest. All the inmates have to undergo a weekly bath on Sundays, in batches of ten at a time, and their clothes are also kept thoroughly clean. The kitchen looked most attractive, and the rice and soup, which form the staple of their food, compared favourably with what one sees in the inns. The prisoners, too, are allowed as much as they like at their two daily meals. Throughout the Army there are no more than two meals a day. The place of punishment looked uncommonly like a theatre stage, and one cannot but hope that soon all executions will take place within the prison precincts instead of in public; but as Europe has not yet learnt to do this, one cannot be surprised that China has not.

After inspecting the Delco Engine, which provides light for the whole place, we went to visit the women’s prison, which is within the same enclosure as the men’s, though separated by a wall. It was very much smaller in extent but equally well kept, and even, I must add, attractive. The matron was a pleasant-faced, comely woman, and her own room quite a picture. The white-curtained bed, pretty coverlet, vase of flowers, and various little treasures suggested a home, and as she took us round, it was easy to see that she was happy in her work. We passed through the dining-room, where the tables were spread with clean cloths, and bowls and chopsticks were ready for the forthcoming meal. The prisoners were only about thirty in number, and were busy making mattresses and[61] clothing, knitting and crocheting. It was suggested that they should sing a hymn, which they did with evident pleasure, and some of them talked with the missionary, who comes to see them once a week. The matron is not a Christian, but finds the singing and reading does them so much good that she has taken to learning and to teaching them herself. The missionaries were originally invited by the master to come and speak to the prisoners, and it is now a regular custom. One woman who is in for murder has become quite a changed character, and her term has been shortened in consequence of her good behaviour. Some were in for opium-smoking, which is here a punishable offence, while in other parts of the empire it is frankly encouraged.

The prisoners are allowed to have a visitor once a month, but no complaints are allowed to be made. Visits are stopped if this happens. The prisoners can earn money—if they work sufficiently well—which is placed to their credit for payment when their sentence is up.

The prison system was appalling in China previous to 1912, but it was then decided that it must be radically changed. It was reckoned that it would take seven years completely to re-model it in the twenty-two provinces. I have only seen one other of these new prisons at Tientsin, and it was not nearly so attractive as the Taiyuanfu one, but still worthy of imitation in many European countries. It had a sort of chapel in which moral addresses were given, but, it is only in the one at Changteh—under General Feng’s jurisdiction[14]—that a chapel was to be found where missionaries had regular services, each mission being responsible for a month at a time, in rotation. The Chinese Government has no small task still before it, for it is estimated that a sum of at least $24,000,000 will be required to provide the new gaols, besides which the Government scheme provides reformatories, Prisoners’ Protection and Aid Societies.


So much is said at present in the European Press about the disorders and misgovernment in China, that it is only fair to let people know that a steady tide of reform is flowing on at the same time, which will render possible a great forward movement when once there is a settled government. Not only are there new gaols, but new barracks, and a large military hospital of which the M.O. is a fine capable Chinaman, trained in the Mission Hospital; he is always ready to lend a hand there still when needed. I was interested to see him doing so one day when the young Chinaman in charge had a serious operation to perform, and if comparison were to be made between that and some European ones I have seen, it would not be in favour of the latter. The mission-trained Chinese are the only men capable of carrying out many of the reforms now taking place in China, owing to the dearth of trained Chinese. The Governor has sent nine students, selected by competitive examination, to study medicine at the Tsinanfu Christian university,[15] and 100 to France to study textiles.

One of the latest reforms of Governor Yen is particularly interesting: it is the power to make his will known in any part of the 70,000 square miles (or thereabouts) of Shansi within twenty-four hours. Considering that the railway line only runs up to Taiyuanfu—seventy miles or less through the province, and that the telegraph wires coincide with it—this is a truly amazing achievement. It is managed by means of telephone and of fast runners.

The mineral wealth of Shansi is phenomenal, and Baron v. Richthoven estimated that its coal would supply the whole world for several thousand years. Anthracite and iron are found in large quantities, besides other minerals. Given, therefore, a stable government and a progressive Governor like Yen, the province of Shansi is capable of becoming a most important place, in fact, of world-wide importance.


The difficulty of transport is one of the main drawbacks at present, and the loess formation is not only a bar to this, but also to irrigation of Taiyuanfu, owing to the curious ravines, sometimes as much as a hundred feet deep, through which traffic often passes, and the sides of which may at any time give way, burying the luckless travellers beneath them. The Governor has sent to England to buy 100 second-hand Government transport lorries, and no doubt he has plans for overcoming the difficulties, if only he is left in peace to develop them. He was formally proclaimed “Model Tuchun” by the Chinese Government in 1918, and although he is not yet forty, has proved himself one of China’s ablest governors.



Chapter III
The Province of Yünnan


“International life—a product of science, industry and economic relations—is hardly yet born; yet it is daily becoming a more and more comprehensive reality, including within its sphere items whose numbers and importance are steadily increasing. Nor is this common life merely international. Might not one say that it is also inter-ethnic, in the sense of embracing the most diverse races, not only in Europe, but also in America, Asia and Africa? Over the whole globe we are witnessing the spread and propagation of ideas that are also forces—motor ideas, which are everywhere identical and are drawing very different minds in the same directions.”—Alfred Fouillée.


Chapter III
The Province of Yünnan


Yünnanfu, the capital of the province, is a most fascinating place and situated in a most lovely district. I visited it thirteen years ago, before the coming of the French and their railway, and found it very interesting to study the changes which have taken place. These are important, but not so deep-reaching as in other cities, and I asked myself what the reason was.

There has grown up quite a foreign suburb round the station, and there are French hotels, in one of which we stayed—the Terminus. There are plenty of shops there, full of the cheaper kind of European goods; but beyond this small area French influence does not seem to extend. It seems out of harmony with the Chinese psychology, and all that we heard about their relations was disappointing. The railway has been useful for trade purposes, but has not promoted a good understanding between the races. The management of it leaves much to be desired in every way, and there is constant friction between the French and the Chinese.

It is extremely desirable that France should be represented in[68] China by a different quality of people from those at present in Yünnan: the bulk of them entirely ignore the French traditions of courtesy and treat the Chinese as a lower and subservient race; almost they look upon them as if they had been conquered. It is a tragedy that Westerners should invade any areas against the will of the people, and still further increase the ill-will by their lack of manners in daily intercourse. Of course it is not only French people who do this, but Europeans of every kind, and the day of reckoning will surely come.

We went to see our missionary friends, who had entertained us on our last visit, and found their premises were overflowing with guests, as all the missionaries working in the district to the north and west had been called in by the officials on account of the activity of the brigands. In fact we met no less than three who had been prisoners in their hands. Two of these had made their escape, with hairbreadth adventures, and gave us most interesting accounts of these people. We also heard a lecture by one who had been seven weeks in the hands of the brigands, and from him we gathered a vivid picture of their life; always pursued, and fleeing day and night from the soldiers sent out against them. It made us feel much sympathy for that particular band.

Many brigands are disbanded soldiers who have taken to the life as a last resource. Their pay was rarely forthcoming, and they have been not infrequently disbanded with no means of earning a living. The captain of this band is a modern Robin Hood, with certain chivalrous ideals and strict in enforcing discipline. He treated his prisoner with consideration, allowed him to ride his beast while he himself walked. Mr. S. had to endure the same hardships as the robbers, but no more; the hardships were, however, too great a strain on his health, which speedily gave way, and he was very seriously ill by the time he was rescued, as the result of urgent remonstrances of his American Consul.

His robber guards treated him with genuine kindness and lent[69] him their wraps at night to keep him warm. The chief was very anxious that Mr. S. should mediate with the Governor of Yünnan on his behalf, and promised that he and his men would settle down to a peaceful life, if they might have a free pardon for their past misdeeds. They had got a considerable amount of loot shortly before, which may have influenced them in this. He also offered to make Mr. S. his chaplain, with a salary of a thousand dollars a month and six months’ salary deposited in advance in a bank in Yünnanfu! He promised that all his men should become Christians: some of them certainly were in sympathy with Christianity. But Mr. S. knew that it was impossible to succeed in obtaining any favourable terms for the robbers, and declined to attempt it. A French abbé, at great personal risk, got permission to visit the sick man and was the greatest comfort to him, but the abbé told me that he never expected to be allowed to go away. What the reason of the robbers was for leaving the abbé at liberty is decidedly obscure.

Mrs. S. had begged the robbers to take her prisoner with her husband, but they refused, as in the case of another missionary’s wife. This was a great encouragement to us, as we were women; but when I told it to our young interpreter, he asked tragically, “But what about me?” and was by no means reassured when I pointed out that he was neither a man of substance nor of political importance, and so need have no fear.

The captain of the robbers was extremely particular with regard to the treatment of women and girls by his men. They were strictly forbidden to molest them. On one occasion, Mr. S. told us, the parents of a girl came to complain that a smart young fellow had taken her from their home the night before. After inquiry into the matter and finding that the accusation was just, the captain had the culprit taken eighty yards up the road and shot, all the band being witnesses and obliged to pass the dead body as they left the village where this happened. I quote this story because we so often[70] heard ghastly stories about the ferocity of brigands that justice seems to demand that something be said in their defence. If there were a better Government, brigandage might soon be put down, as may be seen by the fact that it has entirely ceased in the province of Shansi, under Yen Hsi Shan’s wise rule.

We stayed for ten days at Yünnan and saw many interesting things while the preparations for our journey went on apace. As soon as we had got permission for it we ordered chairs, which had to be made, and looked out for a cook. By means of the Y.M.C.A. we got an admirable one, called Yao. The Y.M.C.A. is run by Americans and is mainly educational in character at Yünnan: they have a charming Chinese house for their premises, but look forward to the day when funds will be sufficient to have an American one!

One of the most important pieces of work done by foreigners is the C.M.S.[16] Medical Mission, and they are building a fine new hospital besides having a beautiful native house in the city. Dr. Bradley told us of the successful work done in curing opium smokers, who wished to break themselves of the habit. A wealthy young official had presented complimentary tablets in gratitude for his cure. The work was rather in abeyance pending the completion of the hospital.

There is also a fine, well-managed French hospital for Europeans, but it is not in the railway suburb, as it was built a great many years ago, before the railway was built, in the days when the French were first getting a footing in the province.

But the most interesting thing to us of all the things we saw was the Chinese Home Mission—a Society formed in 1919, by which the Chinese take up the evangelization of China as their own special duty. This is as it should be. The time has come when the burden of responsibility should begin to be taken up by the Chinese Christians, because it is of paramount importance that Christian mission work should cease to be looked on as a foreign institution. The Chinese Church of the future is beginning to take shape, and must grow in[71] accordance with national needs. It is to be the outcome of the honest hard spiritual work of many sections of the Christian Church, but the copy of none. It is of happy augury that in this particular section seven members of the party represented the Presbyterians, Methodists, and American Board; while twelve different societies are represented on their advisory board. They have not so far formulated any creed, but have gone out rather as pioneers to learn the needs of the people and the way in which they can best work. They will then report to those who sent them. Not only are Christians of all churches supporting the movement financially, but also non-Christians show a great interest in it. The chief of the Governor’s staff in Yünnan wrote most cordially, welcoming their coming and promising to help them in any way he could. The missionaries have all done the same, and they are now working most happily alongside one another. We went to call on the two ladies of the C.H.M. settled in the city, the others of the party being unfortunately some distance away in robber-ridden areas of the country. Miss Li Ching Chien and Miss Chen Yu Ling have a girls’ school in a charming old temple building, and we found about thirty girls there, some having a lesson in the classics, others doing needlework. They are drawn from the exclusive upper-class families, whose doors are rigorously closed against the foreigner. They are glad to have their daughters instructed in Western knowledge, even if it does include Christian doctrine. The teachers told them in the opening ceremony that the main object of the school was to promote Christianity. They did not speak much English, but we took our interpreter, who was pleased to find he knew one of them in Peking, when she was working in the North China Union College for Women. They told us how they now visit in more than a hundred houses, owing to their school work, and are allowed to talk freely of the message, which is their chief aim. On Sundays they hold a service in their house and a Chinese pastor preaches: to this service men come as well as women and girls.

Meanwhile the men of the Chinese Home Mission have been[72] visiting different parts of the province, Pastor Ding Li-mei going as far as Tengyueh, on the western border of Yünnan. He not only made a careful survey of the various districts, but also preached wherever he went. He is a man of high repute, one of the most successful and widely known evangelists in the East of China. His wife had taken up kindergarten work in the capital, as that has been her special line. Another of the party, Mr. Sang, went to visit a large tin-mining district in the south, and made a survey of Ku Chin, a prosperous city. The people of the district are greatly addicted to opium-smoking, which is on the increase. The Southern Government, which is supreme in Yünnan, openly encourages opium-smoking. There is no missionary work going on in this part of the province at present; in fact, there are not a dozen mission centres in the whole of this huge province, 146,680 square miles, with an estimated population of twelve millions. No wonder that the Chinese Home Mission felt that this was the place where they were most needed; hence their decision to start work in Yünnan, hoping to extend their work to other provinces. Another of the party, Mr. Li, visited the northern part of the province, crossing the border into Szechuen. At one place he found a group of Christians, who begged him to become their pastor.

The work of the C.H.M. is gradually getting organized and has promise of a fine future; its inception was mainly due to women, and they seem destined to play an important part in it. Chinese women have initiative and great staying power. One of its chief promoters was Dr. Mary Stone,[17] an able Chinese doctor, whose reputation is known throughout the empire. In her interesting book, Notable Women of Modern China, Miss M. E. Burton gives a graphic sketch of Dr. Stone’s life, from the time when her father brought her as a child of eight to an American lady doctor, saying, “Here is my little girl. I want you to make a doctor of her.” She grew up to be one of[73] the people who tackle hard jobs of every kind and who inspire others, as in the case of the Chinese Home Mission. And the success of the Mission can only be secured if others take their share in it, for “they also serve who only stand and wait.” A charming instance of this came to my notice at Amoy. A friend took me to visit an old pastor and his wife who had just celebrated their combined birthday of a hundred and fifty. They said to me, “We are too old and infirm to carry on our work, so now we have set ourselves to pray for the Mission, and every day ten of us meet together for the purpose, and we give what little we can.” I told them I was going to see the ladies at Yünnan, and they were pleased at the thought of sending a message direct. Miss Li and Miss Chen were no less pleased to receive it.

The Pilgrim Way, Yünnanfu Lake.

Page 74

In Cloudland.

Page 74

There are in China some hundred and twenty different societies at work, but I venture to think that there is still room for many more Chinese workers, if not societies. At Yünnanfu I talked to an old and experienced missionary,[18] and he told me that he is convinced that the Chinese are best reached by their own people, and that now he confines himself almost entirely to superintendence and organization, while he has an ever-increasing number of evangelists who do all the speaking and teaching. It seems clear that the Chinese themselves feel the need of this support, seeing that the Chinese Home Mission has elected to have a foreign advisory committee. It is also essential to have foreign training centres, such as Dr. Keller’s school at Changsha (see page 152). At present the training of these men is often most inadequate, owing to the difficulty and expense of sending them long distances to the schools, especially from the less accessible mission stations.

We did not spend all our time in the city, while preparing for our journey eastward. Once again the lure of the lake came irresistibly on me, and we sent our interpreter to engage a boat in advance to take us across to the celebrated shrines. It is a long day’s expedition[74] and requires strong rowers. When we reached the spot, by ricksha, from which we were to start, the boat proved quite unsuitable: it was so heavy that it would have taken all day to get across. The only thing was to make a fresh bargain for something more suitable, and we were amused to find that it was women only who seemed to be in charge of this trade. A pleasant, hefty-looking woman undertook to do the job to our satisfaction, and we were soon gliding across the smooth waters. There were many heavily-laden boats with lovely sails and as picturesque a crowd of passengers as you could wish to see, who were crossing the lake either to or from the city. Other boats were employed in fishing. The air was most lovely and the colouring of lake and sky and mountains a dream of beauty. Our two men and two women rowed like Trojans, and in two hours we landed at the foot of fine crags on the further shore. We climbed up a steep zigzag path, often up a rock stairway, through the pine-trees. The air was filled with the scent of roses, and the birds sang; nothing disturbed the delicious stillness of the place. From time to time we reached a shrine where the devout pilgrim worships, and always found a terrace or balcony with stone balustrade on which were perched quaint carved beasts, and from which there was a glorious view across the shimmering lake. Sometimes we passed through fine carved gateways, and we found the thousand steps rather long and weary! At one shrine a young acolyte, suffering from hip disease, prepared tea for us, before we attacked the topmost stage of pilgrimage. This led by a passage cut in the face of the rock to a very lofty little shrine, where squirrels were sporting among the overhanging shrubs. We entered the dragon gate, over which was inscribed the legend “Blessing to all who come.”

A party of Chinese women had actually climbed all the way up on their tiny feet and welcomed us with charming courtesy. After they had chatted for a few moments they turned in absorbed interest to their religious duties: cash were dropped in the box, incense[75] lighted and due obeisances and prayers offered to the god carved in the solid wall of rock.

The view from the terrace was sublime, and far below the water was dotted with white sails that looked like insects on its surface. The overhanging cliff was of great height, and there was a sheer drop of hundreds of feet to the narrow belt of cornland on the margin of the lake, whose further shore was lost in the midday haze. The lake is called K’un-Yang-Hai; it is forty miles long and from five to eight miles wide; no wonder the people call it the “sea”! As we came down we noticed some scribbling on one of the temples “against Japanese goods,” with a rough drawing of a man with a pistol. Everywhere this hatred is shown in one form or another.

We had much interesting talk with an Englishman in our hotel, who had been there for more than six months trying to establish trade relations with the local authorities on behalf of his firm. The mineral wealth of Yünnan is proverbially great: it has rich mines of gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, coal, zinc, tin, and also salt and petroleum wells. The ores are of good quality and easily extracted, so that Yünnan has boundless wealth, if she chooses to develop it. But the Yünnanese are thoroughly unprogressive and a lazy, lethargic people, very different from other Chinese. The officials absolutely declined to sell their raw products, and it was precisely the ore which the English firm wished to buy: it was quite useless in its manufactured form. Their envoy hoped to have completed his business in a few weeks, but months had already elapsed, and although he thought the end was in sight, it was still a matter of uncertainty. Probably a substantial bribe would have accelerated matters; but not only is bribery unworthy of our trade traditions, but in the long run injurious to trade itself. The trade relations of China are by no means easy, and all nations are bidding for special facilities.

What a pity that the world as a whole cannot be converted to the policy of Free Trade! What a clearing of the moral atmosphere[76] it would make; and what temptations would be saved to frail human nature!

Nine days after reaching Yünnanfu we started on our journey eastward. No one who has not experienced it can imagine the thrill of delight with which we set forth in search of adventures! We said good-bye to many helpful friends, got all our papers in order, and a letter of recommendation to the Governor of Kweichow; at an early hour of the day an escort of ten white-uniformed soldiers was waiting outside, ready to accompany us. We had seventeen coolies, and looked quite an imposing procession. First came our two four-bearer chairs, then the interpreter’s three-bearer chair, the cook’s two-bearer chair (it is important to preserve the etiquette of position), and finally four coolies carrying the luggage; part of the escort led the way and part brought up the rear.

How amusing it is to see the way in which human nature asserts itself, and how many are the little comic touches of travel, which are too small to enumerate, but which lend such charm to daily life, when you have a congenial fellow traveller at your elbow! Very soon our interpreter found his mountain chair not suitable to his dignity, and told me he had decided to travel in a “paper box”: this is an accurate definition of the chair which is commonly in use, and which is so carefully enclosed that from its depths you can scarcely see anything of the scenery. When the front blind is down there is nothing to be seen, but the passenger in this chaste seclusion can indulge in philosophic meditation—or sleep. Our cook, on the other hand, found his chair an unnecessary luxury, and soon the thrifty fellow asked permission to have the money instead of the coolie hire. I willingly agreed, as he never lagged behind and was always eager to do any stray job, and to collect wild flowers for us from the fragrant rose bushes and hedgerows.

That first day from Yünnanfu we passed fields full of beans and corn and rape, not to mention opium poppy, which was to be the main crop we saw all along the way in these southern provinces.


Very soon our joy was chastened by a tremendous rainstorm, but we were glad to find that our chairs were perfectly rainproof. The top was covered with American cloth and there were blinds of the same material to let down on all sides. When we reached our inn, Yao had a room ready for us, which he had swept out. Our procedure from that time forward was to send him on ahead after lunch, and he would secure the best possible room—pretty bad at that—sweep it out, together with any movable furniture, and have clean straw mats—or as clean as were obtainable—laid down. When we arrived it took very little time to set up our camp beds, table, chairs and washstand. We had a canteen with us, so that all the food was cooked in our own pans, and Yao proved an excellent cook and foraged well on the road. We only took such necessaries as butter, jam, milk, tea, bread and biscuits with us, but Yao was clever in making bread under great difficulties when we happened to run short of it. All travellers, however, experience the generous hospitality of missionaries, who seem to consider it a commonplace to provide travellers with bread and cakes galore. We rarely failed to come to a mission station once a week, and then our provision baskets were re-stocked. We only carried two baskets of provisions, namely one coolie load, for three months’ journey, and had a good deal left at the end: some of the things were special foods in case of illness, but fortunately they were not required.

From the time we left the capital we gradually rose till we came to the pass leading into Kweichow. The very first day we came to an altitude of fifty-nine hundred feet, and this was at the foot of an imposing mountain called Tu-Du-Shan, or Lord of the Earth; all the next day we skirted round its base. This day the road was not considered dangerous, so we only had unarmed police as our escort. They were more decorative than useful, as generally was the case, but the following day we saw a ghastly spectacle, which suggested a possible need for protection—two human heads in a tree and other remains being devoured by a dog in a neighbouring[78] field. The beauty of the road and all the loveliness of nature seemed blighted, and it was difficult to rid oneself of the painful impression. Yet my father saw the body of a criminal swinging in chains on an Essex common not a hundred years ago, and the musical world listens with enchantment to “Le Gibet” and enjoys Ravel’s realistic presentation of it. Some people love horrors: I confess it is the one thing that took the joy out of our wanderings.

We were asked by one of the missionaries before leaving Yünnan to make a slight detour on our way to visit a sick woman, as he had done what he could to relieve her, but not being a doctor he was uncertain as to treatment, and wished my niece to diagnose the case; if any medicine could be of use, he would see that she got it. Our arrival created much interest in the village, and every one would have liked to be spectators when the medical examination was made. In fact the paper windows disappeared as by magic, so we had to have a shutter put up, and a native lamp threw little light on the patient. The one noticeable fact was that although she was too ill to do any housework the place was scrupulously clean, and the husband had everything ready in the way of water for washing. The contrast between a Christian and a non-Christian house in the matter of cleanliness was really remarkable.

In several of our halting-places there were small Christian communities, though no resident missionary. They always welcomed us with great cordiality and invited us to their meetings. These are held in rooms which are usually paid for by some member of the community, which carries on the work without much help from any mission: just an occasional visit and the knowledge that the missionary will help them in any time of need. In the village of Yi-ling there was an evangelist, who came to call on us with one of his chief helpers, a grocer; this man had been most generous in furnishing the hall, and they begged us to come to meeting that evening. There was quite a large crowd present and the service[79] was a hearty one; the people looked mostly of a low type and very unlike Chinese. They asked me to speak, and listened well. After interpreting for me, Mr. Li, our interpreter, gave an impassioned address, which revealed to me the fact that he was more keen than I had realized. His first inquiry in every place was to know if there was a Christian community.

We were more and more enchanted with the fine scenery as we rose to greater heights. White and yellow jasmine, white and yellow Banksia roses, both single and double, filled the air with their fragrance, and vivid bushes of azalea made glorious patches of colour on the steep hill-sides. At night we were about sixty-four hundred feet up, and in the daytime we climbed to considerably higher altitudes. The dangers of the road were supposed to be increasing as we neared the picturesque town of Malong, so our military escort rose to ten, further supported by two policemen not in uniform. Other travellers eagerly took advantage of their protection and we looked quite an imposing procession. The way led up very steep mountains and dived sharply down into deep valleys. Trees full of white or pale mauve blossom were numerous, and scarlet azalea made a fine contrast. The people in the villages looked hideously poor and degraded, some of them obviously imbeciles and many with large goitres: in some villages there were fifty per cent. suffering from goitre; the beggars were simply terrifying. Again we had a severe thunderstorm, which came on quite suddenly when we were lunching by the wayside, and we made ourselves as small as possible in crevices of the rock. Our poor coolies got very wet and took us at a great pace, as soon as the rain stopped, to our next halting-place—Malong. The temperature was 61°.

The night was stormy, and in the morning clouds betokened the thunderstorm which soon broke, driving us to take scanty refuge in the crevices of the hill-side. We were glad to reach a mission station early in the afternoon at Küticul, where we stayed the night. We heard much about the poverty of the district and the increasing[80] cultivation of opium poppy. It is tragic to see this when a few years ago the land was filled with crops needed for the daily food of the people. In some parts half the crops are opium, and it demands a great deal of labour! The land has to be twice ploughed, the second time crosswise, well manured, and the seed (mixed with four times its quantity of sand) is sown three times between October and March. After the sowing the land has to be harrowed, then the young plants are hoed and weeded, generally by the women and children. I have seen the women sitting on stools to do it on account of their poor little bound feet. This weeding goes on from early spring till the poppy flowers—generally in May. The petals fall quickly and the capsule swells till it is about one and a half inches in diameter; this takes about nine to fifteen days. A special instrument has to be used to make an incision three-quarters of the way round the capsule, and this must be done with care as it must not penetrate more than a certain depth, or the juice will flow inward instead of outward. The incision is generally made after the middle of the day, on account of the heat, and the juice must be collected next morning, being scraped off with a knife and put in a poppy leaf. It is said that the knife has to be moistened with saliva after every alternate poppy, to prevent the juice from sticking to it! As soon as the poppy leaf is filled with juice, another leaf is put over it and it is laid aside in the shade to dry. This takes several days; the opium in each varies from two ounces to two pounds, according to the district where it is grown. Sometimes the juice is collected twice, or even three times, though no second incision of the capsule is required. It makes one tired to think of the labour required, especially at the time of collecting the juice, which is necessarily limited, despite the three sowings.[19]

Opium is said to have been introduced into China in the seventeenth[81] century, and the first Imperial edict forbidding the use of it was in 1729. The Portuguese were mainly employed in the trade in those early days. Fresh edicts against it failed to prevent its being smuggled in, as at the present day, though they became increasingly severe, till the death penalty was inflicted. The last edict under the Imperial rule was in 1906, but the dowager empress herself enjoyed her opium pipe, so she ordained that people over sixty were not to come under the scope of the act!

The Gate of the Elements.

Page 84

The great Chang Chih-Tung is very emphatic in his denunciation of the drug. “A hundred years ago the curse came upon us, more blasting and deadly in its effects than the Great Flood or the scourge of the Fierce Beasts, for the water assuaged after nine years, and the ravages of the man-eaters were confined to one place. Opium has spread with frightful rapidity and heartrending results through the provinces. Millions upon millions have been struck down by the plague. To-day it is running like wild-fire. In its swift deadly course it is spreading devastation everywhere, wrecking the minds and eating away the strength and wealth of its victims. The ruin of the mind is the most woeful of its many deleterious effects. The poison enfeebles the will, saps the strength of the body, renders the consumer incapable of performing his regular duties, and unfit for travel from one place to another. It consumes his substance and reduces the miserable wretch to poverty, barrenness and senility. Unless something is soon done to arrest this awful scourge in its devastating march, the Chinese people will be transformed into satyrs and devils!”[20] Many thoughtful Chinese are apprehensive that opium will finally extirpate the race. This is a severe indictment, but there are plenty of leading men who will endorse it.

The Republican Government determined to stamp out the evil, and none but the Chinese could have accomplished so great a reform[82] so rapidly: in many of the northern provinces there is no poppy grown. But the Southern Government has not followed suit. No doubt the question of revenue prevents it; for opium is one of the most lucrative crops as regards taxation. Naturally there are times of great scarcity, and then it is quite common for the people to sell their children for food. A missionary told us of one child being sold for one and a half dollars (about three shillings): this was a boy of three years old. We saw two nice little girls on the road being taken to be sold as slaves.

After leaving Küticul we found our coolies very troublesome, and had to have recourse to the magistrate on two occasions, with a good result. One day the men firmly refused to go more than an absurdly short stage, and deposited us in the middle of a village. Our head man stormed and raged, not another step would they budge. Finally we made a compromise: we stayed there on the understanding that they would do a hundred and five li next day, about thirty-two miles. The magistrate later in the day had an interview with Li and the head coolie, and emphasized the fact that the agreement had got to be carried out, and the escort was instructed to come early.

The spell worked! We started about six o’clock on a lovely misty morning, the dew lying heavy on the grass, and our men walked with a will for some hours. But like the mist, their zeal evaporated: after lunch they said they must each have a dollar to go on. Li was in despair at seeing his remonstrances unheeded. I sent him off to the magistrate. He counselled giving them ten cents each, and ordered them to start: there was nothing to be done save agree to it, as the head coolie had disappeared, evidently feeling unable to cope with the situation. The men grumbled, but set off, and by a quarter past six we reached Ping-yi, a stiff twelve hours’ journey. We felt a little sorry for the luggage coolies and wondered if the loads were not rather heavy, but as they raced at the end of the stage to see who would be in first, we felt our pity[83] was misplaced. We stayed in mission premises where a kind old caretaker was most solicitous for our welfare. Yao could hardly be persuaded not to prepare our evening meal, but we decided to prepare it for ourselves and sent him off to the inn with Li.

This was our last night in Yünnan, and we had a wonderful moonlight view over the valley, which, combined with a hard bed, led me to spend much of the night beside the window, writing letters. It was an unwonted pleasure to sleep upstairs and to have a view.

Next day in our escort we had a most friendly young policeman, who was keen to help us pick flowers after assiduously dealing with our luggage. We crossed several fine bridges and counted seven varieties of roses, five varieties of azaleas, iris, Japanese anemones, etc., etc. By midday we had climbed up to the dividing line between the provinces of Yünnan and Kweichow: it was marked by a most dilapidated archway leading into a little village. The usual tutelary stone lions are on either side the pailou, but those facing into Yünnan have dust and fishy scales carved on their backs, while those facing into Kweichow have only scales. What is the meaning of this symbolism? Dust stands for wind and scales for water, and truly Yünnan has not only rain but also wind in full measure, while as for Kweichow, we no sooner crossed the threshold than the sun disappeared and down came the rain.

One day we asked a Kweichow man who had attached himself uninvited to our company, when we might hope to see the sunshine! He took a long time to answer the question, and appeared to have been giving Li an exhaustive discourse on the nature of sunshine. However, the summary of the discourse was that under the old Imperial regime things were fixed, and you could count upon them—but under a Republic you could be sure of nothing!



Chapter IV
The Province of Kweichow


“Methinks there’s a genius
Roams in the mountains.
But dark is the forest
Where now is my dwelling,
Never the light of day
Reaches its shadow.
Thither a perilous
Pathway meanders.
Lonely I stand
On the lonelier hill-top,
Cloudland beneath me
And cloudland around me.
Softly the wind bloweth,
Softly the rain falls,
Joy like a mist blots
The thoughts of my home out.”
—(Ch’ü Yüan: Fourth Century B.C.)
Translated by Cranmer Byng.


Chapter IV
The Province of Kweichow


Not only is there a gateway leading out of Yünnan, but also one of a quite different character leading into Kweichow, and situated at the other end of the little frontier village. It is a solid stone gateway in a stone wall. We passed along a short bit of level street at a height of 6,200 feet before we came to the wall, and then we plunged down a steep rocky path, with a wonderful view of deep valleys surrounded by abrupt and jagged mountains.

We found that day seven new varieties of roses, all very sweet-scented, also rhododendrons, azaleas and irises. At our halting-place for the night (5,300 feet) we climbed a little hill crowned with a Buddhist temple, and looked down on trees, which formed a floor of delicate white blossom as light as snowflakes, trees quite unknown to me, and no one there seemed able to give us even a Chinese name for them. It is very difficult to get information, and we had not the time for making collections.

I tried to learn about them when I came home, and found that there is in existence a large folio of manuscript of descriptions and specimens of plants collected by French fathers in this province; but[88] as no one visits Kweichow there was no demand for such a work, and there is no hope of it being published. The collection is at the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. It was the same with other things: the mountains often had the strangest forms, and I made careful drawings of their outlines. Photos were usually out of the question, as the mountains were too close; they rose up like walls all round us, and the light was always in the wrong quarter. On my return home I went cheerfully to learned societies with confident hope of slaking my thirst for knowledge, but alas! No books on such an unknown part, the very name of course unknown. When my drawings had been duly inspected, the remark made was, “I must compliment you on your sketches, I have never seen mountains like that!” Was there a touch of irony in the remark?

Truly Kweichow is a wonderful country and beautiful in the extreme, as the late Dr. Morrison (adviser to the Chinese Government) told me when I went to get his advice before starting. “You could not have chosen a more interesting part to travel in,” he said, “nor a more beautiful one”; and he had travelled in almost every part of China. It is full of different aboriginal races of whom very little is known, its flora is remarkably rich and varied, and its geology a continual surprise.

The second day across the border we crossed a small plain from which rise a series of round low mounds, like pudding-basins, from the flat ricefields—an extraordinary contrast to the lofty, jagged mountains from which we had just descended. In the midst of it all was a curious tumbled heap of lava-like appearance, looking as if it had been ejected from the earth by some colossal earthworms. Sir Alexander Hosie says[21] that there is a parallel row of these mounds about ten miles to the south: they run east and west. In the ricefields I saw a brilliant kingfisher, hanging poised in mid-air in search of prey, while a heron stalked away at our approach.


The rain grew more and more persistent, and the roads were muddy and slippery to the last degree. Even the sure-footed Chinese kept tumbling down, and it was almost less trying to walk than to be bumped down in our chairs. As we advanced into the province the culture of the opium poppy (papaver somniferum) increased till it was as much as ninety-nine per cent. of the crops, and the appearance of the inhabitants showed only too plainly its disastrous effects. In some of the villages the children were naked, although it was still cold weather, being only the beginning of April. In the markets the goods were of the meanest and cheapest description, and the people looked abject. They rushed out to beg from us. The main industry of the district was evidently the making of coal balls. The coal lies actually on the surface, and has only to be scraped together, mixed with a little earth and water, and then dried: it burns quite well. Some of the coal is used for fertilizing the ground, being reduced to ash by being burnt in pits with stones piled on it. Lime also is used for the poppy fields. Sometimes the coal holes by the wayside are a couple of yards in diameter. The coir palm is to be seen in every village, and loquats and walnut trees are cultivated for their fruit.

We struggled along through a thick mist one day, and one after another went down like ninepins on the slippery path. One of my bearers cut his ankle, and was thankful for the doctor’s attentions. Suddenly I heard an ominous roaring sound, and looked in vain for the cause. It proved to be produced by a big stream, which disappeared into a hole in the earth; this appears to be quite a common phenomenon, and later on we saw one bubble out of the ground in the same strange fashion.

Another shape of hill attracted my attention, and as I tried to reproduce it accurately on paper it became obvious that this was one of the Chinese mountain forms with which one has been familiar from childhood in their pictures, and which one had supposed to be a work of imagination. As they always hold in their canons of art[90] that “form” is quite subsidiary to “spirit,” I imagined that it was not inability to imitate form accurately, but a deliberate intention of ignoring it in order to express some more important truth that was the cause of their drawing, what seemed to me, such unnatural mountains. But here one discovered that these forms are natural in China, and it is after all only our ignorance that makes us so misjudge them.

There were hedges by the roadside all bursting into leaf and blossom, and I never saw such a wealth of ferns of many kinds. There was material for a whole volume on ferns alone. Lofty trees of catalpa bungei with their purple blossom, and Boehmeria nivea grew by the roadside, and rhea grass in the village gardens.

We generally started the day in a damp mist, and were happy when it cleared away, even though there was no sunshine. We scanned the hedges for roses, and felt quite aggrieved if we failed to find fresh varieties every single day. A lovely blush rose filled us with delight, but pink moss-roses were only seen on one occasion. We decided that nowhere else could a greater variety of roses be found: we counted twenty-three varieties before we left the province, and felt sure we should have found many more had we stayed longer, for they were hardly in full bloom by the end of April. One day I picked up a broken branch on the road, thrown away by some passer-by no doubt because it had no blossoms on it, but the bright green leaves were a lovely violet on the under side, and I searched in vain to find a bush of it growing, in order to see what the flowers were like.

Then, too, the birds were reminiscent of home—magpies, larks, woodpeckers, wagtails, and even the aggravating cuckoo. But there was one elusive little fellow, known to all dwellers in Kweichow, though no one could tell me his name: he had a long shrill note with a short tut-tut-tut at the end. We both watched for him daily, as he seemed to haunt our path continually, but never could we catch a sight of him, so dexterously did he hide himself. Occasionally we thought we saw him, but it was so momentary a glimpse that[91] we were never sure; the bird we saw looked about the size and shape and colour of a linnet.

The fourth day in Kweichow we came to a splendid three-arch bridge in a fertile valley, and spent the night in a very different village from most—Kuan Tzu Yao. A number of fine new houses were in course of construction, built largely of stone; amongst others, a post office next door to our inn. The postal system in China is really wonderful, even in this backward province, and we had a most charming surprise at the first post town we entered. Our interpreter went to the post office, and was surprised at being asked if he were travelling with English ladies. On admitting this, he was asked to inform us that if we were in need of money we could draw as much as was necessary at any office we came to, by order of the postal commissioner at Kwei Yang. The reason for this delightful arrangement was that the English Commissioner at Taiyuanfu, whose advice we had asked about transmitting money, said he would write to his Chinese colleague and ask him to help us if we got into difficulties, because of the prevalent highway robberies. This gentleman was ill at the time the letter reached him, but he telegraphed to Taiyuanfu as soon as he was fit, that he would do what he could—and this was his splendid way of meeting the difficulty. No finer testimony could be wanted of the way the Chinese trust our people.

The postal system is a fine piece of organization: it reaches to the utmost bounds of the empire, and although the mails are mainly carried by runners on foot, they travel very rapidly. The stages are not long, and there is no delay when the bags are handed from one runner to the next. For instance, we were told that on this particular road, what we did in seventeen days the mails would do in four, and we did an average of eighteen miles a day. We had postal maps given us of the provinces we were going to visit. On them are marked all the postal stations, with the distances from one to another; the line of route; the various grades of offices; the[92] limit of the district; daily or bi-daily day and night service; daily, bi-daily or tri-daily service; less frequent ones; postal connexion by boat; telegraphic connexion; rural box offices, etc. The names of the main towns are in both Chinese and English, the others only in Chinese. On the whole, letters travel wonderfully safely. The old postal system was quite hopeless, and in the interior the missionaries used to organize their own. Even Peking used to be closed to the rest of the world yearly for several months. I remember six months when we had no letters from my sister in Shansi, due to a misunderstanding at a transmitting station, and there was no telegraphic communication in those days. Now the old Chinese system has practically died out.

We had another proof of the thoughtfulness of the Chinese commissioner later. Having heard from one of the missionaries that we were going into the Miao country before coming to the capital, he sent up all our letters, a tremendous boon after being weeks without any. The postal service is under international control, having been originated in 1896 and built up by Sir Robert Hart in connexion with the customs: in each province there is a commissioner; nearly all are Europeans.

As we got further into the province the vegetation grew more and more luxuriant. The banks were carpeted with lycopodium and primula and the hedges were full of roses, white and yellow jasmine, hawthorn, clematis montana, Akebia lobata—a very curious creeper with wine-coloured blossom, both male and female. The brilliant yellow-blossomed cassia forms a most impenetrable hedge, with upstanding thorns, like nails, all along its tough stems. We tied water jars into our chairs, so as to keep the flowers fresh, and by the end of the day the chairs were perfect bowers, our men vying with one another to get us the choicest blossoms. Perhaps the most beautiful of any was the large white, sweet-scented rhododendron, the Hymenocallis. This is rare; we only found it once.

The scenery was very grand; long ranges of jagged mountains[93] and precipitous cliffs, but the road was not in the least dangerous from that point of view. It was extremely slippery and a heavy mist lay over everything in the early hours of most days: our men kept tumbling down. The only one who seemed always steady was Yao, and he constituted himself my guardian on slippery days, holding my elbow with a relentless grip, which certainly prevented my tumbling down and gave me confidence.

At Kuan Tzu Yao we found a nice clean new inn, courtyard behind courtyard, and each raised a step or two above the last: ours was the innermost, and we felt unusually secluded. The next night our immediate neighbours were two fine water buffaloes with their calves. They are the most valuable domestic animals throughout this country, as they plough the ricefields quite happily when they are under water. These two were taken out to work in the early morning, and we were amused to see a little tatterdemalion bringing them back in a perfect fury to fetch their calves, which had been left in the shed. The buffaloes seem to be generally left in the care of boys, who manage them with much skill, and love to disport themselves on their broad backs, often lying negligently at ease along them, looking as much at home as if they were an integral part of the creature. They are sluggish animals, coming originally from the Philippines.

Leaving Tu Tien our men seemed possessed of a sudden energy, and went at a great rate, doing nearly seven miles in two hours. Sometimes we thought we were lacking in humanity to give them such heavy loads; but then again our scruples seemed foolish in the light of certain experiences. For instance, one man carried two heavy suit-cases and a chair, another two large carved window-frames and a bed, but it didn’t prevent them taking a steep bank at a run, or having a race at the end of a thirty-mile stage to see who would be in first. The Chinese coolie is really an amusing creature, and even if he is clad in rags he finds life a cheerful business. I used to try and count the patches on the coat of one of my coolies,[94] and never made them less than forty-six between the neck and waistband, not including those on the sleeves!

Then the incidents of travel have a humorous side, even on a wet day in a dangerous neighbourhood. Instead of having our light midday meal as usual by the roadside near the village, where the men get theirs, one is obliged to have it in the chairs, placed side by side in the main street of a busy town. Our escort draws an imaginary cordon round us, and no one dares approach within two yards as long as they mount guard. It was a thrilling sight for the assembled crowd to watch the barbarians wielding knives and forks, instead of the dear, familiar chopsticks. I must say they behaved beautifully.

When I sat down to sketch a lovely river scene outside a village gateway, though many came to look on they did not jostle. These entrance gates are often quite imposing and of infinite variety. Just inside was a fine litter of pigs, with a most important-looking sow, and it was amusing to watch their antics. On a doorstep, extended at full length lay a large hairy black pig. Its face wore a beatific expression, with half-closed eyes of rapt enjoyment, while a woman vigorously groomed it with her brush.

The mountains of Kweichow give shelter to many wild animals, and even tigers, as well as leopards, are to be found, which cause great havoc in some of the villages. One story we heard throws an interesting light on the way the natives look at them. A tiger had been doing so much damage that the peasantry determined to have a battue, having tracked it to a certain hill, from which they thought it would be impossible for it to escape. They formed a cordon round the hill and gradually drove it to the top. The tiger, in search of refuge, looked into a shrine, and its pursuers saw this: they exclaimed, “It is certainly the God of the Hill”; so they turned tail and fled. Naturally, the tiger seeing this took the opportunity of attacking them in the rear, and several were badly mauled.[22]


Some of the mountains are very barren, others wonderfully cultivated, on terraces right up to the very top, and in rocky hollows only about a foot in diameter, with a mere handful of soil in them. How the scanty population can do such a vast amount of cultivation was a mystery we could never solve. One day we started from an altitude of eighteen hundred feet and climbed over a pass of forty-eight hundred, whence there was a wonderful panoramic view; our road could be seen for many miles, winding along the mountainside above a narrow valley; then diving down into it and up the opposite side. Our men said the last part of that day’s march, ten li (three miles), would be on the level, which sounded pleasant news. In point of fact we dropped nine hundred feet. A fine entrance gate led into Lang Tai Fung. Just outside the wall were the ruins of an old temple with a handsome stone carved bridge in front of it, enclosed within a wall. The inn was a good one, and the weather having suddenly turned cold we were glad of a brazier. The town seemed much more prosperous than most. There were large cotton looms, where weaving was going on in the open air, as well as in a disused temple. Handsome carved window-frames delighted me so much that I determined to have some made for the women’s institute at Taiyuanfu. They were about a yard square in size with a good deal of carving, so the sum named (twenty dollars including carriage to Anshun, about fifty-five miles distant) did not seem excessive! It took us three days to get to Anshun, and the windows arrived within the fortnight stipulated. We picked them up later, and they formed rather a large item of our luggage, requiring an extra coolie.

As we neared Anshun the road was less mountainous and the villages better built. Many of the houses are of grey stone, some built with mortar, some without. There was a fine waterfall, a hundred and sixty feet in depth, into the Rhinoceros Pool, near the town of Chen Lun, and above it a five-span bridge of noble proportions.[96] A busy market was going on in the town; and a funeral, with the usual paper horses and servants for burning at the grave, formed an additional interest to the gay crowd. There were a number of picturesque tribeswomen, looking as usual very sulky, and not mixing with the Chinese. From afar we saw the lofty turrets of a Roman Catholic Church, so we went to see what it was like. The architecture and fittings were entirely Western, and we had no sooner entered the church than the fine-looking old French priest came forward and greeted us. He invited us into his room and we had an interesting, long talk. He had been thirty-two years in China, but only two in this district, and seemed very discouraged. I asked about the numbers of converts, and he said there were about sixteen hundred, but added dejectedly that they were not at all satisfactory. How hard it must be to go on working under such circumstances, and with no hope of return to his own country.

“Work without hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And hope without an object cannot live.”

Generally missionaries seem a wonderfully hopeful set of people, even under very adverse circumstances, and we came to a most cheerful group at Anshunfu, where we had a few days of welcome rest in their hospitable house.

Anshun is a very pretty town, with its shady trees, its winding waterways and handsome stone balustrades along them. On a picturesque bridge were shrines, which made a subject to delight an artist’s eye: indeed it was a continual trial to me to have so little time for drawing when there was such a wealth of material. Facing the house where we stayed was a temple transformed into a government school, and it had an ornamental wall such as I had not seen elsewhere. There were panels at intervals, about three and a half feet from the ground, of various sizes, with open stucco work, looking like designs from Æsop’s fables. They lent a great charm to the garden, in which the wall seemed to be only of decorative value. Throughout China the human figure and animals are used in all sorts[97] of architectural ways which would never occur to us. Anshun is situated in a small plain, and a fine road leads to it with pailous (memorial arches) at intervals. We walked across the fields one day and climbed a neighbouring hill, surmounted by the usual temple; from it there was a magnificent view of all the country round. A lurid thunderstorm heightened the effect. There were oleanders in full bloom in the courtyard, and the priests were polite and friendly, bringing tea to us, while we waited for the storm to clear away.

“Lonely I stand
On the loneliest hill top.”

Page 98

There is a hospital at Anshun built by the Arthington Fund, but as there is only one doctor attached to it, and he was away on furlough, the place was closed. As it is the only hospital for hundreds of miles, indeed there is only one other hospital in the province, for 11,300,000 people, this seemed a dreadful pity. The coming of my doctor was quite an event, especially for a lady who badly needed her advice. In the whole province there are only these two European hospitals, as far as I heard, and no Chinese ones.

We made Anshunfu our starting-point for a trip into the unfrequented mountains, where aboriginal tribes are to be found in great numbers. No census can be taken of them, and it is only by years of unremitting toil, in the face of continual danger, that missionaries have succeeded in making friends with them. Mr. Slichter, of the C.I.M., was our guide, and as soon as we left the city we struck up a pathway into the hills to the north of it. After several hours’ travelling we came to a river, which until recent years was the boundary, beyond which no foreigner was allowed to go because of the acute hostility felt by the tribes-people against all strangers. It was a rapid, swirling river, lying in a deep narrow gorge, and we were ferried across.

We climbed up a long hot ascent on the further side, and reached a Keh-lao village,[23] where a fair was going on. The contrast was[98] extraordinary, quite as great as if we had gone from one European country into another. It was only with difficulty, and because he was known, that Mr. Slichter could persuade some one to boil water for us, and then it was only very little, whereas in any Chinese village you could get as much as you wanted. We spent about twelve hours reaching our destination—a village perched up on a steep hill-side. Seeing us from afar, a laughing group of Miao boys and girls came running down the path to greet us, looking a most picturesque group in their red, white and blue clothes.

In another chapter I shall try and give a detailed account of these people, so will for the present only say a little about the country. From the top of the crag on which the village of Ten-ten is situated there may be counted fourteen ranges stretching away into the far distance, and in such hollows as are practicable for agriculture, wheat, poppy, rice and hemp are grown. There are most curious trees, which we saw for the first time, called Rhus vernicifera, from which varnish is obtained. They are plentiful in the district, and itinerant tappers come round from time to time to hire their services to the owners, for the varnish is a valuable crop, but must be carefully handled. It is most poisonous, and people even lose their lives by handling it carelessly. We found Mrs. Slichter at Ten-ten; she had been seriously ill as the result of using a branch of the tree for a walking-stick. The varnish causes terrible pains in the head, loss of sight for several days, and an eruption of the hands rendering them useless for a time.

The first Miao church was built at Ten-ten, and would hardly be recognized as such, I fear, by the orthodox: it looked like a cross between a goods shed and a hall, with a ladder at each end leading to a couple of rooms to accommodate visitors. The only clerical detail was a pulpit, but close beside it was a cooking-stove, and in vain I protested that our meals were not to be prepared while service was going on. The people seemed to find it quite natural, and when Yao was not too concerned in his cooking he lent an interested ear to what was being said. One thing was clear, and that was that the[99] congregation was thoroughly in earnest, and gave undivided attention to the service. It meant so much to them and especially to the women, who took part in the prayer-meeting quite simply and fervently. On the Sunday morning we were about one hundred people, who attended a baptismal service, which was performed in a dammed-up stream in the ricefields. It was extraordinarily picturesque to see the Miao in their short full-kilted skirts, trooping down the zigzag path to the spot, where twenty-five received baptism. They have names given them, as many, if not most of them, have none.

After spending a few days at Ten-ten we continued our journey northwards, but were somewhat tried by the difficulty of getting any guide. One of the tribes-people took us a certain distance across the mountains, but the path was not only steep and rough, but the lanes were so narrow and thorny that we thought our chairs would be torn to pieces, and our clothes to ribbons: the thorns and brambles overhanging the path made it difficult to get the chairs along. We found it decidedly preferable to walk, and enjoyed the glorious scenery up hill and down dale, the air laden with the scent of roses and sweetbrier, and the hill-sides carpeted with mauve-coloured orchids and primulas.

We soon lost our way, and there was no one to be seen in all the wide landscape to set us right. We wandered on for hours till we came to a tiny hamlet, where we found a pottery in full swing. With much persuasion and the promise of a good tip, we barely succeeded in coaxing a boy to show us the way to the village of I-mei, where we proposed spending the night. We set off again in more cheerful mood, but alas! for our hopes: after about two hours the lad admitted that he didn’t know the way. We wandered on down a tiny valley, watered by a charming stream, where countless wagtails and other little birds beguiled us by their chatter. As we emerged from the valley into some fields the lad suggested this must be I-mei, but when we asked some women at work in the fields they said “Oh no! it is far away.” They went on to tell us that if we[100] succeeded in reaching it that night, we should probably find no accommodation. There was a comfortable-looking farm-house within sight, and they thought we might get put up there, so we sent to inquire. They were friendly folk, who were willing to vacate a room for us and to lodge the rest of the party somewhere; so we were quite pleased to have this new experience. I had never slept in a Chinese farm-house before, and in point of fact we did not get a great deal of sleep, as the partitions were thin and there was plenty of animal life, both large and small, to share the building, all living on the most intimate terms with the owners. A cat was very put out about it, and hurried to and fro in our room in the middle of the night. We tried to shoo her away, and then heard a reproachful voice from the other side of the partition calling gently “Mimi, Mimi!” upon which the pussy-cat quickly sidled away to her master.

Next day we were up betimes, and our host said his white-haired brother would act as our guide. These two old gentlemen still wore attenuated queues, almost the only ones we saw on the journey. We found the whole family kind and interested in their visitors. I feel sure no other Europeans had ever visited the little valley. We gave the lady a piece of soap, evidently quite a novelty to her: it seems strange to have to explain the use of such a thing. But this province has curious natural resources in the way of soap. One tree, the Sapindus mukorossi, has round fruit, which have only to be shaken in water to make it quite soapy, and the pods of the Gleditschia sinensis are to be found for sale in most of the markets: they are used in washing clothes. European firms have started the soap industry in China, and there is certainly a good opening for the trade.

We had a long climb up a lovely mountain pass, well named in Chinese “Climbing to the Heavens,” and came across magnolia and other delicious shrubs. After a stage of about fourteen miles we reached the town of Pingüan, and stayed there till next day, as it was such a pleasant, clean-looking place. Our room had varnished[101] walls—quite a novelty—and small panes of glass among the paper ones. We had a larger crowd of interested spectators than usual, but at intervals Yao came out like a whirlwind and scattered the chaff. Our hostess brought us a bunch of camellias and peonies as an excuse for consulting the doctor about her cough!

We left Pingüan early next morning, and facing the gateway by which we went out was a typical bit of landscape—in the foreground a bridge leading to a little poppy-covered plain, out of the centre of which rose a steep rock crowned with a pagoda and a temple. At the foot of the rock were several shrines. It seemed impossible for the Chinese to miss making use of any such natural feature of the landscape for a religious purpose in past days; though now the shrines are so neglected, except under the stress of plague, famine or rapine, which incites the worshippers to devotion. The crops in this district were entirely opium poppy.

At our next halting-place, Ch’a-tien, we had to put up with miserable quarters: our tiny room looked on to the street, so that we had a large and interested audience all the time; they lined up on the window-sill across the road, a good point of vantage, while the small fry discovered quite a unique point of observation. There was a hiatus at the bottom of the woodwork of the wall about a yard long and six inches deep, so by lying with their faces flat on the ground and close to the opening they could get a fair view of our doings. The row of bright eyes and gleaming teeth was quite uncanny. Our thermometer registered 66°, so we felt it rather stuffy with every breath of air excluded.

During the day we had passed most attractive newly-built houses in lath and plaster. They had small oval windows in the gable ends with simple but effective designs in them. The contrast was very striking with the other villages in this district, where the inhabitants wore the filthiest-looking rags I have ever seen, and had a most degraded look.

At the entrance to every village is at least one little shrine, which[102] generally has a god and goddess sitting side by side in it; but in this neighbourhood we noticed a good many shrines without images. They had inscriptions instead, such as “The only true God, from ancient to present times.” They looked very neglected as a rule, and hardly ever did we see a newly-erected one.

Our next inn at Ch’a Tsang had a highly decorated wall about eighteen feet high, facing the chief guest-rooms. There was a large parti-coloured mosaic made out of broken crockery at the top, below which were two hares rampant in stucco, supporting a shield between them; they were flanked by ornamental plants in pots. It was interesting to find so elaborate a decoration in so humble an inn, but that is one of the charming surprises on the road, even in the by-ways of China.

Ta-ting was our next important stopping-place, as word had been sent to the mission there, requesting them to summon as many tribes-people as possible to meet us. It is the centre of work among them, and there is a flourishing boys’ school and also a training school for evangelists. The whole school had turned out in our honour, and made a gay show on the hill-side, waving boughs of crimson rhododendrons, which contrasted with their bright blue gowns. They had come by a winding road two or three miles outside the city wall, headed by one of the ladies on horseback: the welcome was as picturesque as it was cordial, and they had learned an English greeting for us, which they gave in great style, as soon as we got out of our chairs. Then they turned back, and we brought up the rear of their procession in single file, passing through a fine gateway before we reached the entrance to the city.

Ta-ting is a Chinese town, although it is in the centre of a district full of tribes-people, with whom they have always been in conflict. A mission station was opened there many years ago especially for work amongst the aborigines, and at the present time is manned by four German ladies, of whom two were on furlough at the time of our visit. When the order came from the Chinese Government that[103] all Germans were to leave the country, as China was joining the Allies, the magistrate of Ta-ting begged that these ladies be allowed to remain, as there had been so much less trouble with the tribesmen since they had come under their influence. This request was granted, and I take this opportunity of stating my firm conviction that the direct result of mission work is to bring these warring races into friendly relations with one another and with the Chinese. The Chinese despise them on account of their illiteracy and low morality, and both these objections are changed by Christian teaching.

We spent a few days very happily at Ta-ting, but it was long enough to see how isolated a life the missionaries must lead, and under most trying climatic conditions. The city lies in a hollow surrounded by mountains at an altitude of 5,100 feet, continually shrouded in mist. The sun is only visible one day in four all the year round, and then perhaps only for a few minutes. We did not see the complete outline of the mountains while we were there, and we were constantly reminded of Scotch mists, rolling up for a few moments and then obliterating everything again. This was the only place where we heard so dismal a report of the weather.

Some Chinese ladies came to call on us and brought us charming embroidered spectacle-cases and puffed rice as gifts, but practically all our time was devoted to studying the aborigines and hearing about them. They were extraordinarily friendly, and one old hunch-back, who came from a village more than thirty miles away, had brought two fine fowls as gifts to the ladies and ourselves. I presented her with a woollen jacket, as the people suffer much from the cold, and when she next came to service on a broiling August day she was still wearing it with great pride!

I should like to have spent months making studies of these people, and tried in vain to make notes of all the details possible of such interesting and various types; but the people were anxious to get back to their homes, and after one day spent almost continuously in meetings and classes, the gathering broke up. It was a great[104] thing to be able to study them at such close quarters, and to find them willing to be sketched and photographed. About two hundred and fifty were present, so that one could get a good idea of the various tribes.

We left Ta-ting by the same gate as we entered it, and followed our former route for about fifteen miles. By dint of making rather long stages we reached Kwei Yang, the capital, on the fifth day, instead of the usual time, the sixth day. While on the journey we passed some pleasant-looking homesteads, which no doubt belonged to wealthy Chinese, as we heard that it was not at all unusual for people living in towns to have country houses as well. Later on I visited two such country houses near Swatow, and was much impressed by their air of refinement, not to mention the beautiful works of art with which they were decorated. Country life appeals strongly to the Chinese. While on this part of the journey we came to a fine five-span bridge with a gateway at each end and decorative carved stonework balustrades, but alas! it was in so ruinous a condition that it probably no longer exists. It is one of the most disappointing things in China that nothing architectural is kept in repair; yet the Chinese are such past masters in the art of restoration when forced to do it for reasons of safety or economy!

The roads were worse than ever, and incredibly slippery and muddy. On the outskirts of Lan-ni-Kou, which we reached on the second day, we saw people busily engaged picking nettles, their hands protected by thick gloves. We were glad to find an unusually good inn there, where we got a brazier and were able to dry our sopping clothes. We had walked a good deal in pelting rain, for the stage was long and arduous, up and down precipitous hills: we did sixty miles in two days. On the third we had to descend the face of a cliff by a steep stone staircase covered with slippery mud. There were long strings of pack animals heavily laden, and they jolted down in front of us, sliding and slithering in a most precarious way. The scene was magnificent—masses of roses hanging in long festoons[105] from the rocks, and the narrow verdant plain far below, with the shining river, Ya-chih-ho, flowing through it. We did not reach it without several tumbles, and found a custom station on the bank, where a lot of mail-bags were waiting to be ferried across. There was a motto over the custom house urging every one to advance the trade of the country. The valley was full of flowering trees; catalpa, orange, azalea, iris, all added to the wealth of scent and colour. The little village on the further side of the river had particularly attractive gardens with hedges of spindle cactus, but the rain still poured down, and it was a weary climb for the next two hours.

Robbers’ Haunts.

Page 108

Compensation awaited us, however, at Wei Shang, in the form of a really clean inn, where our room was like a glass case, the whole of one side being glazed, and a few panes missing, which afforded necessary ventilation. There was a slight lack of privacy, but we were in an inner courtyard and could manage to rig up some shelter from the public gaze.

As we neared the capital, things looked more prosperous, and the amount of opium-poppy cultivation decreased. The road was decidedly better and the weather improved. The immediate approach to the city is decorated with no less than twenty-seven memorial arches, many of which are put up to the memory of good mothers and widows. Kwei Yang is a city of a hundred thousand people, and most attractive both in its surroundings and in itself. We enjoyed the hospitality of the only missionaries in the station, Mr. and Mrs. Pike (Australians), of the China Inland Mission. No one realizes how delightful such hospitality is unless they have had an equally arduous journey—to find bright airy rooms, with little intimate touches to welcome you, preparations for a hot bath, freshly-made cakes, all the kindly thought above all, to make you happy and at home: this is an experience of infinite charm, and practically universal in missionary circles. It has often been taken advantage of by unsympathetic travellers, and yet happily it persists.

We were presently asked to say what our plans were, and what[106] places we wished to visit in the neighbourhood, that everything might be arranged; and indeed everything was beautifully arranged for us in a way that could not have been done without help. Mr. Li was dispatched with our cards and a letter of thanks to Mr. Liu, the Postal Commissioner, who had so befriended us (see page 91). He proved to be a friend and supporter of the mission, and came to call on us—a man speaking excellent English who has been Commissioner for twenty-three years. He lives in English style, which, by the way, is much cheaper than Chinese. Unfortunately his wife was ill, so we could not call on her; but we made friends with her sister, a lady doctor who had come the long journey from Fukien to give her medical assistance. We saw her several times; she played the harmonium for the Sunday service in church, and in the afternoon she and her brother-in-law joined us in an excursion to the top of a hill overlooking the town, which was crowned with the usual Buddhist monastery. The view was superb: below we saw thousands of graves, taking up the whole ground-space of the hill-side. Mr. Liu told us he and a friend had once carefully examined a great number of the tombstones, but found none dating back more than eighty years. It seemed a pity that so much valuable land should be taken up by the dead so close to the city. As we walked back in the lovely evening light, kite-flying was in full swing and crowds were taking the air.

Another thing to be done was to arrange for our further journey, and Mr. Pike got a personal interview for our interpreter with the Governor, to whose yamen he has the entrée. The Governor is of the old school—does not encourage progress. When Sir John Jordan telegraphed to inquire about the opium cultivation, he replied evasively, “With me there is none”; but it is a question whether that would be accurate, even if applied only to the yamen! Mr. Liu told us that one official made $50,000 on it last year, and whereas the price of opium two years ago was six dollars per ounce, it has fallen to forty cents and will probably fall much lower owing[107] to the bumper harvest now being reaped. The Governor agreed that we might proceed to Chen Yüen, but absolutely refused to allow us to go off the main road to visit the district where the black Miao live. Mr. Liu had already told us that his postal runners had been robbed less than a fortnight before, and two hundred bags of silk had nearly been captured from them. His escort of twenty men had been attacked by six hundred robbers, it was said, but they put up a plucky fight and reinforcements arrived in time to save the situation. The Governor said we must have an escort of thirty men, and promised they should be ready to start on Monday morning—this being Saturday.

We visited a remarkable Buddhist monastery, a little distance outside the city, where the bodies of deceased monks are always cremated. This is a most unusual practice, and there is a stone crematorium just outside the temple precincts, near to a paved cemetery. Here are handsome stone tombs of varying importance, in which the ashes are placed. We saw a monk going the round of these tombs, burning incense before each one and genuflecting with great apparent earnestness. Sometimes it was done twice, sometimes three times, according, no doubt, to the importance of the dead man; we were informed that this takes place always twice a day. The monastery was most beautifully situated amongst the trees on a hill-side. There are now eight sects of Buddhists in China, and probably cremation of monks is peculiar to one of them.

It was with regret that we left Kwei Yang, for evidently the shops were worth visiting, and we got some silk which was quite different in design and colouring from any we had seen elsewhere. Beautiful silk covers are made here for bedding, and the province is noted for its “wild” silk. In leaving the city we passed through streets full of embroidery shops; other trades were to be seen, each in their own locality, and we longed for time to make fuller acquaintance with this most attractive city. As we crossed one handsome bridge we saw another with nine arches and a prolongation across a road where[108] the archway was much finer. There are large tanneries on the outskirts and an agricultural college, whose activities we saw in plantations further along the road. As Kweichow is particularly rich in different kinds of trees, this ought to be a most useful institution. There are many beautiful pine trees, especially the Cunninghamia; Liquidambar formosano (from which the tea chests are made); the Rhus vernicifera (already mentioned); the Boehmeria nivea (of which grass cloth is made, which is so universally used in China for hot-weather clothes and which is now largely imported to Europe and America in the shape of embroidered tablecloths and d’oyleys); the Gleditschia sinensis (the soap tree); Sapium sebiferum (the vegetable tallow tree); the Aleurites Fordii (wood-oil tree); the Sapindus mukorossi (paper mulberry); the Broussonetia; the Agle sepiaria, a kind of orange tree, with curious divided leaf, and many others.

We set off from Kwei Yang accompanied by thirty armed soldiers (some of those we had previously with us were not armed, and few had any ammunition even when they carried rifles) and three policemen under the command of a Captain, who certainly was a pattern of inefficiency and slovenliness. His dress was in keeping with this: he wore white puttees, always dirty and generally wreathed loosely round his fat calves. When it rained he wore a long macintosh, which had to be held up like a lady’s skirt in the old days. He kept no discipline, and when we neared the most dangerous part of the road he travelled in a chair, so as to be thoroughly rested before a possible attack! The men carried with them a banner with which they go into battle, and had a little military flag, which was always set up outside the inns where we halted. These soldiers were a noisy, cheerful crew, and rather spoilt the comfort of the journey, but probably saved us from having our belongings looted, if from nothing worse.

The discipline of our escort left much to be desired, and they prepared for the expected fray with the brigands by constant brushes[109] between themselves! Having a doctor in the party must have seemed quite a fortunate thing to them. One evening Li asked her to put a few stitches in a soldier’s cut head; next came one with a sore arm by too heavy use of a stick on it. I drew the line at this, and forbade any more such cases to be brought to the doctor, remarking that next they would ask to be cured of stomach ache! In point of fact, this happened the very next morning, and our burst of laughter discouraged them from further requests for medical attendance. We heard more and more gruesome stories as we proceeded, and I found it difficult to decide whether the fear expressed was simulated or real. The soldiers begged for a pork feast at a point of great danger (?) to give them the necessary courage. As it was important to keep them in good temper with ourselves, I agreed; and great preparations went on that evening. Some chickens instead of pork having been procured at the market, the whole inn yard seemed full of flying feathers. The result was a thoroughly chicken-hearted crew next day: that is, I feel sure, in accordance with proper Chinese theory! One of the men applied to M. for treatment of a sore foot, and as it appeared probable that the swelling on the sole would develop into an abscess, she ordered him to remain behind. He appeared very disappointed and said that he had come determined to fight, even if it cost him his life. One of the soldiers, we were told, was of the utmost bravery and equal to fighting ten robbers. We were informed later on that two men had been killed on the road just after we had passed, but I had a shrewd suspicion that all these stories were told to enhance the value of the escort when it came to giving the pourboire at the end of the journey.

One most unpleasant thing happened which might well have proved a much more serious affair. The men were very careless in their behaviour when they thought there was no immediate danger, and straggled along the road at irregular distances, a fact which pleased us, as we were not so annoyed by their ceaseless chatter. They would hand their rifles to one another (they were never loaded),[110] and often one man would carry three. Yao, our admirable cook, being a willing fellow, was carrying a rifle nearly all day. He continued to do so when he went ahead at midday, as he always did, to secure our rooms at the halting-place for the night. When we were entering the town, the Captain, who had preceded us, turned back and told us not to go any further, as he was going to the yamen to see about quarters and that all the inns were full. Li saw that something was the matter, but we decided to go on and see for ourselves. Soon we found Yao sitting weeping on a doorstep and our luggage scattered along the main street. He blurted out somewhat incoherently that he had been set upon by the soldiery of the place, because he was carrying a rifle, and accused of being a robber. In vain he asserted that he was the servant of foreigners, who were with a military escort; they beat him and kicked him. Yao reported further that our escort had taken all the rooms in the inn for themselves. We made our way there and found his story correct, and that they had left a dark little room for our use. I felt that it would never do to give in to this, and showed my indignation plainly: but as the officer was not present it was rather difficult to see what was the best plan of procedure. To leave the inn might have given them an excuse for saying they had been relieved of responsibility. I said we would look at the upper rooms, which are only used as storerooms, and happily we found a nice large loft which only needed sweeping out. We said the soldiers were to bring our things up the rickety ladder, for Yao was still in a collapsed state, and they did so with good will. He was considerably comforted by a rubbing down with Elliman, and was allowed to “coucher” (one of his few French words): I heard later that he might have lost his life for his offence in being found with a military rifle, so we had cause to congratulate ourselves that things were no worse. The soldier’s offence in being found without a rifle was an offence punishable with death. Next day Yao was fit for duty again, but a very chastened-looking object.

When we came near to the special danger zone, the escort became[111] more careful, and our party grew daily larger till it reached at last a hundred persons, many people taking advantage of our escort. On all the points of vantage dotted along our road were beacon towers, from which danger signals are flashed in times of rebellion. I could not resist having a joke at Li’s expense when we came to a wooded ravine, where he said the robbers were certainly lurking; “Then I must sketch it,” I told him, and called a halt, to his obvious dismay. I was merciful, however, and we didn’t stop more than a few minutes, while I did an outline of the robbers’ haunt.

This escort went with us till we reached Chen Yüen, whence we travelled by boat. Although it was somewhat risky to be without one, we decided that it would be intolerable to have it in the restricted quarters of a small house-boat. Our courage was rewarded by our immunity from disaster, whereas a missionary party who took the Yangtze route in order to escape it fell into the hands of brigands. Our friends, the Pikes, at Kwei Yang had a most unfortunate experience on their last journey. Their luggage was seized and all the contents emptied on to the muddy road, and the robbers took whatever pleased their fancy; the remainder of the things were not improved by their handling, and when they reached their destination it was found that odd shoes, broken objects, and a dirty collection of clothes filled the boxes. The good temper with which they took their losses was remarkable, considering the difficulty and delay in replacing necessary things, such as shoes.

One of the most interesting places in Kweichow is the town of Chen Yüen, and I was glad we kept to the road instead of going by boat from Seh Ping, although the rapids are said to be very fine. The distant view of Chen Yüen as it first appears to the traveller through a gap between the mountains is impressive: it seems to lie in a complete cul-de-sac, lofty cliffs surrounding it on every side, with the river like a deep jade-green ribbon winding between the serried ranks of sepia-coloured roofs. Tempestuous clouds filled the sky as we approached the city, but the setting sun lighted up a[112] lofty crag studded with temples which blocked up the end of the valley. The cliffs are so precipitous that the people have built the city wall starting from the edge of a precipice at a point some hundred feet above the city, saying that the Almighty had protected it so far, and certainly His protection was of a very different quality from that of the wall!

High up the cliffs we climbed to a temple, from which a tocsin sounds in case of fire: it is certainly a splendid point of view, commanding the whole city, which winds along the banks of the serpentine river. It seems strange to see big junks with white-winged sails so far inland, and to reflect that you can go the whole distance to Shanghai without setting foot on shore, some fifteen hundred miles. It is a much quicker way of travelling when going down stream, but terribly slow in the other direction, not infrequently a three months’ journey.

The temples at Chen Yüen contain some of the finest wood carvings I have seen in China, and are wonderfully situated up the face of a cliff, with magnificent creepers hanging down from its crags and forming a background to the zigzag stairways which lead from terrace to terrace. The situation of the temples is chosen with consummate skill, and from each balcony a new and lovely view is obtained, stretching farther and farther up the valleys. The whole of the province is composed of mountains, with the exception of three districts in the centre and north, where there are plains of a limited size. Considering that the province is sixty-seven thousand square miles in extent, this is a remarkable fact, and a large part is inhabited by the aboriginal tribes: it is extraordinary that the average population is a hundred and twenty-two to the square mile.

Our altitude varied from 1,400 to 5,700 feet, and the highest pass we crossed was 7,200; our average was about 3,200, as we usually stopped at villages hidden in the depths of the valleys, and continually crossed over mountain passes.

Light for the Spirits.

Page 113

We were quite sorry to leave the province, and I should like to[113] have visited the southern part, which we were told was even more beautiful than the north, though it is hard to believe it. We were so anxious, however, to visit Changteh, that we refused to be persuaded to change our route, and found no cause to regret our decision.

We saw a curious detail in one village—a lamp at the top of a lofty stand—with long cords by which to lower and raise it for lighting purposes. Below it are ancestral tablets in a shrine and it stands in the centre of the street. The use of the lamp is to act as a beacon to wandering spirits who died away from home. It is only lighted on certain festivals, and there is one at each end of that village—query, was there great loss of life of the inhabitants during some absence from home? I have only seen this spirit beacon on one other occasion, and that was in the neighbouring province of Yünnan.



Chapter V
Some Aboriginal Tribes in Kweichow


“I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sat reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
Through primrose tufts in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:
But the least motion which they made,
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
If such belief from Heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan;
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man.”
W. Wordsworth.


Chapter V
Some Aboriginal Tribes in Kweichow


Kweichow is supposed to be the original home of the Miao stock. The mountainous character of the province with its rugged fastnesses and deep valleys is admirably suited to be the refuge for the many tribes who have continually been driven back throughout the centuries by their enemies, the Chinese. Many have taken refuge in the neighbouring province of Yünnan and even in French territory south of the Red River. The hostility of the Chinese to them is due to three causes, as far as I can gather: (i) to the low morality of the tribes, (ii) to their illiteracy, and (iii) to their dissimilarity of character to the Chinese. The first two points are very vital to the Chinese: they are at the root of all their civilization, for no ancient race has laid greater stress on the necessity of morality and learning. Their contempt for the Miao is unbounded and out of all proportion. Our interpreter was astonished to find how different they were from all that he had ever heard, and decided that he must enlighten Peking on the subject when he returned home!

The character of the people is in striking contrast to that of the Chinese. They are warlike, frank, lawless, primitive, open-hearted, opposed to trading and city life: some are great riders, but we never saw one on horseback. This was due to their poverty, and[118] we heard of no rich ones: no doubt the headmen have a certain relative wealth. In the north of Yünnan we heard of their having curious horse-races, when the course would be strewn with feathers. The men wore capes, which gave them a weird look of being birds of prey, as they swept along the course with outstretched arms in clouds of dust and feathers. It is like the Caucas Race in Alice in Wonderland: nobody wins.

The Miao are all agriculturists. They cultivate everything they require for food and clothing except salt, which is a Chinese Government monopoly: they only enjoy this luxury about twice a year, we were told at Ta-ting.

In self-defence they live in villages, many of which are almost inaccessible to the outside world and are only penetrated by missionaries. One of our friends describes her descent from one such village, with a man on each side holding her on to the saddle, while a third held on to the pony’s tail to prevent him going down headlong! The Miao huts are small and dark, and their love of colour is entirely confined to personal adornment. Red, white and blue are the dominant colours in their dress, and the material is hempen, the hemp for which is grown, spun, woven and dyed by themselves. The dyes are vegetable, and are of vivid colour. The different tribes have various designs, but, roughly speaking, all the women wear short full kilts and jackets.

The Ta Wha Miao (Great Flowery Tribe) are the gayest in colour that we saw: their designs are bold and effective, the colours used are scarlet and dark blue on a whitish ground, and very exact in line. The design consists of simple geometrical outlines, but these are often filled in with colour, and use is made of a roughly-stencilled pattern which is tacked on the material and worked over in coarse thread. I succeeded in purchasing a partly-worked piece of embroidery from one of the men of this tribe, his wife being away from home, though he evinced some anxiety as to what she would say on finding out that he had done so when she returned. The women seem very[119] strong and independent, do most of the work in the fields, and I can fancy she might have a heavy hand! Also they are thoroughly feminine in their love of clothes. Many of them make quite an elaborate wardrobe, and when a girl is going to a festival of any sort she will take as much as forty pounds weight of clothes, which her young swain will carry for her, so as to have a variety of costume! One kilt I possess weighs nearly four pounds, and some kilts will have as many as thirty-one breadths of material in them. They swing their kilts with all the jauntiness of a Harry Lauder. Although the men are only about five feet in height and the women about half an inch less and very sturdy, their erect carriage lends them a certain attractive dignity. The women cling tenaciously to their national dress, but not infrequently the men discard their loose-flowing clothes for Chinese trousers, and many of them speak the local Chinese dialects.

Formerly these people had no distinctive names and kept no count of their age. Probably it is due to Western influence that they now have adopted them. Sometimes the Chinese would take the women as wives and settle down among them, but no Miao was allowed to marry a Chinese wife. One of them told this to my interpreter.

As a rule they wear nothing on their feet; but some of those who could afford it wear sandals, and the wealthier Miao (if so they can be called) had prettily embroidered ones for special occasions, with an embroidered band along the outer side of the foot, and fastened across the instep with a scarlet thread. The Miaos of both sexes wear stout puttees wound round and round their legs till they look like pillars; or a piece of felt tied with a white band. They are generally dyed a dark blue colour. Sometimes the girls’ unprotected feet get the skin cracked or cut with the stones on their rough mountain paths. They think nothing of sewing them up with needle and thread, as if they were stockings.

The style of hairdressing among the Great Flowery Miao is quite[120] different from those of other Miao tribes. Their coarse black hair is very abundant; as long as they are unmarried girls they wear it in two plaits, hanging from close behind the ears to well below the waist. When a girl marries she coils her hair into a long horn, which stands out just above, and in a line with the shoulder. When she becomes a proud mother her horn is exalted into a lofty pyramid, rising straight upwards from the crown of her head.

The men wear the same kind of embroideries as the women, placed like a shawl across their shoulders, and a sort of long hempen garment falling below the knees and girded in at the waist. Their upper garment has loose sleeves, looped up about the elbow with ornamental braid, which they make on primitive little looms. Round their heads they wind cloth turbanwise, or else wear nothing. They live on the simplest diet, nothing but flour cooked before grinding, which they mix with water into a kind of porridge and eat twice a day: this, with some vegetables or herbs, is their staple food. They are addicted to drinking and fed no shame in it; both sexes have drinking bouts. No Chinese woman is ever seen drunk, and it is a most unusual vice among them: but if she should be drunk, she would be far too proud to be seen out of doors in such a condition. Morally the Ta Wha Miao seem to be at the bottom of the scale, and the Heh (black) Miao at the top.

Considering their extreme poverty we were much touched by these people asking Mr. Slichter to express to us their regret at not being able, on that account, to offer us hospitality. This was in reply to a message he had given them from us, expressing our pleasure at being with them and regret at not being able to visit their various villages, or talk to them in their own language.

Little Flowery Miao Coat.

Page 120

There are supposed to be a very large number of different Miao tribes; the Chinese put the number at seventy. No one has yet attempted to classify them. Their language is practically the same throughout the tribes, with considerable local variations; but none of them have any written language, so that unless a careful study[121] is soon made of it, there will be no lasting record kept. As they become assimilated with the Chinese, such a study will become increasingly difficult. The language seems to be limited in range, as one might expect. There is no word to express joy, gaiety, and it almost seems as if the reason may be that they experience so little happiness under usual conditions. All those we met in markets or on the road looked extremely dull and sullen, in marked contrast to the Chinese. I watched carefully and never saw a smile; yet those who have become Christians are the very reverse. A merrier crew it has never been my lot to see, and they beam from ear to ear. The Great Flowery Miao are never to be seen away from their own villages unless they are on the road to religious services. When they come to these services they often travel long distances, sixty or seventy miles, and bring their food in a bag on their backs; as they receive nothing from the missionaries of a material nature, it is evident that they are not “rice Christians.”

The Little Flowery Miao are so called because their clothes are embroidered in the finest little designs and remarkably beautiful both in design and colour. There are subtle touches of spring green introduced into a harmony of brown, black, white and yellow. There are no less than thirty-four rows of cross-stitch to the inch, and as accurate as though they had been ruled. To heighten the value of this delicate design there are long narrow rows of different-coloured superimposed folded pieces of material, sometimes as many as eight in number in the following order—orange, red, white; or orange, green, red, bright blue, indigo, orange, red, white. The last three colours are especially used in conjunction, sometimes as a sort of small panel of appliqué work in the midst of cross-stitch designs.

It is most interesting to note the complete contrast in design of the needlework of all these tribes with that of the Chinese. The latter is exclusively naturalistic, more so in fact than that of any other people, and includes the widest possible range of subject. The[122] inexhaustible fertility of Chinese imagination is shown in their treatment of landscape, life in all its many forms, the unseen world, human and demonic passion; and everything depicted by the needle just as much as by the brush is full of life and action. The tribes-people, on the other hand, depict nothing naturalistic; all their designs are geometrical and of no mean quality. The fact that in primitive art elsewhere the naturalistic comes first and in course of time becomes conventionalized and geometric makes the work of these tribes an interesting problem. The only figures in their work are little rows of men and animals in cross-stitch. These are worked in red, blue, yellow, white and black on a black ground, only two or three stitches of each colour together, and other little designs mixed in with it. The result is ineffective. The figures are so small and inconspicuous that you only see them on close scrutiny.

The material on which the embroidery is made is a fine hempen native-made cloth, and it takes at least two years to complete the making of a garment, from the time the hemp is grown till the workmanship is finished. The general material worn is remarkably like the hessian cloth used in our kitchens, only more closely woven.

The Black Miao form a very striking contrast to the Flowery Miao. They are so called because their clothes, even the head-dress, are practically all black, and the embroidery on them is so small, so fine, so subdued in colour that the general effect is sombre. The men wear also very dark brown or black clothes. They live mostly in the south-eastern part of the province, but we met them in various places, and they looked decidedly more intelligent and less sulky than the others. They are quite a different type, though they all have very broad faces and black hair.

We met a large number of the “Wooden Comb” Miao at Tenten. They are much taller than the other Miao. They are so called because both men and women wear their long black hair rolled up[123] and fastened on the top of the head with a wooden comb. These combs are mostly plain and unvarnished, but I have one which is very prettily decorated in several colours. They have quite a peculiar type of face, large Semitic noses, and the men wear a thickly-folded white band round their head. Their clothes are for the most part white, with a touch of blue, for instance, in the waistband, on to which a pocket is slung in front. The women dress mainly in dark blue, with an occasional touch of red in the skirts. The girls wear their jackets open down to the waist; but married women wear a kind of felt apron suspended from just above the breast. This felt is made of wool, which is beaten until it reaches the required thickness and density and becomes a solid mass. The cloth of which the jacket is made has a shiny surface like sateen, which also is produced by beating. Some of them wear thick twisted coils of scarlet thread wound twice round the head and fixed with a scarlet wooden comb.

I got my interpreter to make a list of the different Miao tribes living in the part of the province we visited. He did this at the dictation of one of their number. The various Miao-chia (chia means “family”) are mainly named on account of differences of clothing, especially as regards colour, but also sometimes by their occupation, as the “Shrimps” (Sa Miao), so called because they sell fresh-water fish and shrimps; the “Magpies,” called after the birds, because their dress is black and white; and the “West of the Water Miao” (Hsen-hsi Miao) because they live on the west of the river that we crossed between Anshunfu and Ta-ting: they are said to number only six villages.

Pei Chun Miao (they wear aprons on their backs).
Ta Hsiang ( broad sleeves).
Hsiao Hsiang ( small sleeves).
Ching ( green clothes).
Ching[24] ( large combs).[124]
Yi Chun ( their clothes tucked up into their belts).
Wu Chian
Chuan (= River Miao).
Fu Tu

In S. R. Clarke’s book, Among the Tribes in South-West China, much useful information is given about these tribes, under the headings of four groups, the Miao, the Heh-lao, the Chung-chia and the I-chia, or Lolo, or Nosu. Having lived for thirty-three years in China, mainly in Kweichow, he has collected many legends and details of their beliefs. The most interesting group to me was the I-chia, of whom my interpreter made a long list at the dictation of an evangelist, who was an I-chia. The tribes seem to have kept pretty distinct from one another up to the present time, but if peace reigns and they all become civilized, it is likely that the barrier to intermarriage will tend to break down.

The “Wooden Combs” are ancestor worshippers like the Chinese, and we had the good fortune to be given three of their “dooteepoussas” (I do not know how this word should be spelt, but have written it phonetically), namely sections of bamboo, each containing “a soul,” wrapped in cotton wool and fastened with a thread. A wooden pin runs crosswise through the bamboo, which prevents the “soul” being drawn out by a tiny bunch of grass, which protrudes from the top of the soul-carrier. As will be seen by the illustration, these are exactly in the shape of crosses and they have little cuts on the bamboo varying in number, which refer to the deceased. The Lolos also have these soul-carriers. In Yünnan Province the shape of these soul-carriers approximates to the Chinese ancestral tablets and Clarke gives another form of them which he calls a spirit hamper. The name “lolo” given to these tribes by the Chinese is said to come from this fact, lolo meaning a basket. The Lolos consider the name to be a term of terrible reproach, but do not object to be[125] called Nosu or I-chia. They keep these spirits in their houses, or a tree, or hidden in a rock. The ones I possess are kept in a long box fastened against the outer wall of a house, with a shelter over it like a shrine: sometimes more than one family keeps their soul-carriers in the same box. The funeral rites of these people are very elaborate and extend over a whole year. Dr. A. Henry has kindly given me permission to quote his account of these people and their language from the Journal of the Anthropological Society for 1903. He spent much time studying their habits and language in Yünnan, and brought back from there large quantities of MSS., ancestral tablets and dresses.

“The ceremonies and rituals in case of death and burial are numerous and complicated. After death a hole is made with a pole in the roof of the house to enable the breath or soul to escape. A cow is brought to the door of the house, and from its head is extended a white cord, which is fastened to the hand of the corpse lying inside the coffin, and a ritual called Su-pu is read. If the death is unclean (all cases of death by accident, childbirth, suicide, etc., are impure, also a death is considered impure unless some one has been present when it occurred), a preliminary purificatory ritual is necessary, after which the usual rituals can be recited. On the second and third days after death two important rituals, the meh-cha and wu-cha, are read. When the coffin is being carried out for burial, a paper effigy is placed on it, which represents clothes for the soul of the dead man. At this time also the priest recites the “Jo-mo” or road ritual, and he accompanies the coffin a hundred paces from the house. The ritual begins by stating that as in life the father teaches the son, and the husband the wife, it is only the priest who can teach the dead man the road that his soul must travel after death. The threshold of the house is first mentioned, then the various places on the road to the grave, and beyond that all the towns and rivers and mountains that must be traversed by the soul till it reaches the Taliang Mountain, the home of the Lolo[126] race. (The Lolos come mainly from Szechwan and the borders of Tibet.) Here the priest says that he himself must return, and entreats the dead man to pursue his way beyond the grave alone. The dead man then enters Hades, and stands beside the Thought Tree and the Tree of Talk, and there he thinks of the dear ones left behind and weeps bitterly. After this ritual is read, the priest returns to the house, and the coffin goes on to the grave.

The Lolos believe that for each person on earth there is a corresponding star in the sky. So when a man is ill, a sacrifice is often made of wine in cups to his star, and four-and-twenty lamps are lighted outside his room. On the day after a funeral a hole is dug in the death-chamber at a spot indicated by rolling an egg on the ground till it stops. A ritual is recited praying the star of the dead man to descend and be buried in this hole. If this were not done the star would fall and possibly hurt some one.

The ancestral tablet is made on the second day after the funeral and erected in the central room of the house on the ninth day, with an appropriate ritual. It is worshipped on certain dates and on all important occasions in life. It is called I-pu (= ancestor). It consists of a structure of wooden pieces, made out of the Pieris tree, the log of which was the ark of the Lolo deluge. A transverse bundle of grass is made of the same grass as is used for thatch. Two pieces of bamboo root represent the deceased father and mother, one having nine, the other seven joints. The inscription reads: “The dwelling place of so-and-so (giving the name), the pair, man and woman, our ancestors.” It is written by the priest with ink, the water of which is brought by the son of the house from a secret spring in the forest, from a locality only known to the family of the deceased.”

My three soul-carriers contain the souls of the men of three generations—son, father, grandfather. The Lolos have a Book of the Dead which Dr. Henry considers to be not unlike that of the ancient Egyptians.


There are a great many Lolo tribes, and the one which we came in contact with at Ta-ting is of great antiquity, showing virile and intellectual qualities that promise well for future development, should they leave their old isolation and get drawn into the stream of present-day Chinese progress. They are tall and well built, quite unlike the Chinese in appearance and carriage. Naturally the open-air life of all these tribesmen gives them a freer gait, and the absence of etiquette and formality shows itself in all their movements. The shape of their faces is oval, unlike the broad Miao type; their eyes are large and level; their cheekbones prominent and the contour of the face rounded; their noses long, arched and rather broad; their chins pointed. Their faces are apt to grow very wrinkled. The poise of the head of all these men struck me as indicative of an independent spirit.

All the tribes are practically autonomous, although nominally under Chinese rule: they have their own rulers, but these are responsible to, and many of them nominated by, the Chinese authorities. They frequently rent lands from them for cultivation, and law suits are very common among the I-chia about land and about daughters-in-law. Since the recrudescence of opium-poppy growing they have been compelled to use a certain proportion of land for its cultivation. They are not addicted to opium-smoking, and the Christians object to it on moral grounds: they have in consequence suffered considerable persecution and have even been evicted from the lands they had previously cultivated. They are terribly poor, and when the crops fail many of them die of starvation; this has happened during the last two years, which has been a period of great scarcity.

I quote in full Dr. Henry’s extremely interesting account of their language. “The Lolo language is of extreme simplicity, both as regards its phonology and syntax, and its manner of making new words. It belongs to the monosyllabic class of languages, of which Chinese is the most highly developed member. Attempts have been[128] made to deny the primitive monosyllabic nature of the Chinese language, and to consider it as broken down from some pre-existent polysyllabic agglutinative tongue. I am of opinion that a comparative study of Chinese, Lolo, Miao, etc., will establish that this tonal monosyllabic class is primitive, and that we have the vocabularies of these languages’ original roots unchanged.

“To illustrate the simplicity of Lolo phonology, I may state that all words are monosyllables, composed of either a vowel or of a consonant followed by a vowel, as A, O, BA, BO, BI, BU. Such combinations as AB, ARD, STO, STAR are impossible. The initial consonants may all be considered simple, though such varieties occur as T and aspirated T, and four sibilants, as S, Z, TS and DZ. There is one apparent exception, namely SL, in SLA, SLO, SLU; but I found that this occurred in another district as THL, showing a certain instability of sound; and further research established that the original sound, still kept in Lolodom, is an aspirated L, so that we have L’O, L’A, L’U. Similar aspirations occur in connexion with T, P, CH, K and NG.

“Tones in Lolo are three or four, according to locality. There are no inflections whatsoever, the simple roots being unchangeable. All the words are simple roots, but by simple addition they can be used to express new ideas, thus gunpowder is now called fire-rice. I could only find one modification of the simple roots, occurring in four causative verbs, and they are these:

DZO, to eat. CHO, to give to eat, to feed.
DA, to drink. TA, to give to drink.
DU, to go out. TU, to cause to go out.
DEH, to wear. TEH, to give to wear.

“The syntax is very simple, the place of words in the sentence being the most important factor. Post-positions, personal and demonstrative pronouns, interrogative words, adverbs of time, and a few auxiliary verbs occur; but relatives and conjunctions are[129] absent. Numeral co-efficients are present, as in all the Chinese group of languages and in Malay. We cannot say two men, ten trees, but must say man two person, tree ten stem. The plural, tenses of verbs, etc., are rarely expressed, unless absolutely needed; and a Lolo sentence is very suggestive of baby talk. Thus, ‘If he comes I shall not see him,’ is expressed as ‘He come I he not see’; and ‘When he came I did not see him’ as ‘He come that time I not see.’

“I consider that the simple phonology and primitive syntax of the Lolo language are important to study, as we there see a primitive monosyllabic tongue, composed of simple roots, the type by which all languages must have begun.”

Ancient I-chia Script.

Page 130

The Miao people were invited many years ago by the missionaries to learn to write their own language in romanized script, but they refused, saying they preferred their children to learn to read and write Chinese. It is obvious that this would be far better for them from a practical point of view. A Miao who knows Chinese thus can make a good living by translating Chinese contracts or official documents for his neighbours.

The religion of all these tribes is mainly animistic, but the Lolos have priests, though not temples. The priests have tents, divided into two parts, of which one is holy and the other holier. Their sacrifices have to be of flawless creatures, cows and fowls. Their creed might be summed up as “I believe in evil spirits, necromancy, ancestor worship and a future life.” By far the most potent factor in their existence is terror of demons. All their existence is overshadowed by fear. There are all kinds of horrible demons of various colours, green and red and blue: some have dishevelled hair and some have hair standing on end. To add to the horror, although they are like men in appearance, they are invisible. They shoot arrows of disease and send bad dreams to men.

“Very softly down the glade runs a waiting, watching shade,
And the whisper spreads and widens far and near:
And the sweat is on thy brow, for he passes even now—
He is Fear, O Little Hunter, he is Fear.”

In Yünnan they worship a stone placed at the foot of a Dragon tree, either in a wood behind the village or close to the houses. I did not see any in Kweichow, though I sketched just such a stone in Macao, where there were offerings of incense and scarlet paper. There is a sacrifice of a pig and a fowl made twice a year at the stone. The origin of this worship is not known, but it is now supposed to be addressed to a god in the sky, who protects the people. As regards the tree, it is a curious fact that it is not of any particular species, but that every village in the province of Yünnan, whether of the Chinese or of the aborigines, has one; they have the same belief about its being inhabited by a dragon, which protects the village.

The Ya-ch’io Miao offer in sacrifice an ox to Heaven and a pig to Earth, and once every thirteen years they sacrifice buffaloes to Heaven. Their sorcerers are men who wield great power, and it is a hereditary profession. The sorcerer must wear a special kind of hat when he is engaged in divination: without it he is powerless. He has special books (of which I am fortunate enough to possess one) with movable disks, superimposed one on another, for casting horoscopes. These books are handed down from generation to generation, and used to be copied out by hand; but nowadays they are printed. Such books were brought by an I-chia, who had become a Christian, in order to have them burnt; the missionary asked leave to keep them instead, explaining their historic value. The accompanying illustration is taken from one of these priceless old MSS. describing the Creation. It is written on a brittle kind of paper, extremely worn and fragile, and the leaves are fastened together with twisted strips of paper, acting as a string. This is a peculiarly Chinese way of binding, such as you may see students practising any day in class to fasten their notes. The colour of the paper is brown, the characters black, and the illustrations are painted in several shades of yellow and brown, forming a harmonious whole.[131] The upper circle, containing a bird, is the moon; and the lower circle, containing a beast, is the earth.

Dr. Henry brought a large number of MSS. back from Yünnan, which are now in the British Museum, but they differ in certain respects from mine. In the first place, they contain no diagrams; secondly, they are all divided up metrically into groups of five characters, or seven; mine are not all divided into groups (as may be seen from the illustration, Ancient I-chia Script), and those that are in groups vary in number, four, or five, or six. He says that the subject-matter of all the MSS. which he studied is religious ritual, genealogies, legends and song, and all are written in verse. The script is quite unique: it is pictographic in origin, not ideographic like the Chinese. Many Chinese words are compound, one part denoting sound, the other part denoting meaning: Lolo words are never compounds.

The characters, as will be seen from the illustration, are decidedly simpler than Chinese. I had the good fortune to submit my MSS. when I was at Swatow (a couple of months later) to a learned Chinese scholar, who seemed greatly interested in them. He took them into his hands with devout reverence and care, as if they were of priceless value. He said that he had indeed seen such MSS. before, but that it was extremely rare: he at once said that it came from no Chinese source, but from aborigines in the north of Kweichow. When I asked if it were some hundreds of years old, he replied, “Oh! much older than that,” and stated that the numerals and certain other characters were the same as the Chinese script of three thousand years ago. One of the characters which he pointed out was that for the moon:

My MS. gives
Dr. Henry’s

I have also compared my MS. with pages of Lolo writing published by Colborne Baber in the Geographical Society’s Supplementary Paper, 1882, and can find no exact correspondence between them.[132] Surely it would be a most interesting study for some one to undertake, the more so that there is already a wealth of material lying ready to hand at the British Museum. The Lolo writing is also different from Chinese in that it is read in columns from left to right and the book begins at the same end as ours. It corresponds with the later Syriac mode of writing, and Dr. Henry suggests it may have had some connexion with the Nestorians, who were to be found in all parts of China from the seventh to the thirteenth centuries. S. R. Clarke mentions a spirit who controls the crops, and is called by the Lolos Je-so: the Christians suggested that this name be the one adopted for Jesus Christ, but it was not done.

The above-mentioned theory would account for some of the Lolo practices and beliefs, which are otherwise very difficult to account for, such as their keeping the Sabbath every sixth day, when no ploughing is allowed to be done, and the women are not even allowed to sew or wash clothes on that day. Of course this does not apply to all Lolos, but only to some in Yünnan. They have also the remarkable crosses (as seen in the soul-carriers), and they believe in patriarchs who lived to abnormal ages, such as six hundred and sixty or nine hundred and ninety years, as in the Old Testament records, not to mention the stories of the creation and the deluge. Their name for Adam has the two consonants d and m, it is Du-mu. The patriarchs are supposed to live in the sky: the chief of them is called Tse-gu-dzih, and this patriarch is also a deity who opened the box containing the seeds of death; he thus gave suffering humanity the boon of death. He also caused the deluge.

“The legend of the deluge,” says Dr. Henry, “runs that the people were wicked, and Tse-gu-dzih to try them sent a messenger to earth, asking for some blood and flesh from a mortal. All refused but Du-mu. Tse-gu-dzih then locked the rain gates, and the water mounted to the sky. Du-mu (? Adam) was saved with his four sons in a log hollowed out of the Pieris tree; and there were also saved otters, wild ducks and lampreys. From his sons are descended[133] civilized people who can write, as the Chinese and Lolos. The ignorant races descend from men that were made by Du-mu out of pieces of wood. Du-mu is worshipped as the ancestor of the Lolos, and nearly all legends begin with some reference (like our ‘once upon a time’) to Du-mu or the Deluge. Du-mu and precedent men had their eyes placed vertically in their sockets; after him came the present race of men, who have their eyes placed horizontally. This quaint idea may have some reference to the encroachment of the oblique-eyed Mongolians, who have horizontal eyes, as it were, i.e. eyes narrow in height, whereas Europeans and other races have eyes that may be called vertical, i.e. wide from above downwards.

“The Lolos have a cosmogony. Their account of the Creation is that there were two Spirits, A-chi and A-li. A-chi made the sky, and made it evenly and well. A-li slept, and on awakening saw that the sky was completed. In his hurry to do his work, he dumped hurriedly earth here and there. This accounts for the inequalities of the earth’s surface. When the sky was first created the sun and moon were dull, and did not shine properly. They were washed by two sky-maidens, and have remained clean and bright ever since.”

Some of the Lolo tribes have the story of the Creation, but not all of them, whereas the story of the Deluge is universal, though not always the same. In some cases Noah has three sons, and in some no animals are mentioned. The Black Miao story is told thus by S. R. Clarke, to whom it was dictated:

“Who made Heaven and Earth?
Who made insects?
Who made men?
Made male and made female?
I who speak don’t know.
Vang-vai (Heavenly King) made Heaven and Earth,
Ziene made insects.
Ziene made men and demons,
Made male and made female.
How is it you don’t know?
Heavenly King is (or was) intelligent.
Spat a lot of spittle into his hand,
Clapped his hands with a noise,
Produced heaven and earth.
Tall wild grass made insects.
Stones made men and demons.
Made male and made female.
How is it you don’t know?
Made heaven in what way?
Made earth in what way?
Thus by rote I sing,
But don’t understand.
Made heaven like a sun-hat.
Made earth like a dust-pan.
Why don’t you understand?
Made heaven a single lump,
Made earth a single lump.”[25]

This is just a sample of their ideas; now I will give a sample of their habits. They have big carouses on the open mountain slopes. A man desirous to enter into relationship with a girl will watch his opportunity for seeing her alone, and give as a signal a wide sweeping movement of the arm: if she acquiesces she will go to the carouse. These do not take place at stated intervals, but a party of young men will go off with girls in groups of twenty or thirty and sit round a big fire, singing their amorous ditties. These are mostly of a coarse nature not suited for publication, but Dr. Henry has translated the following song by girls working in the fields addressed to boys:

“We girls three
The black earth’s silver bridge,
Together with you youths, we have crossed it;
The white sky’s golden hat,
With you we have worn it;
The golden fan of the sun and moon,
Together we have seen it wave.
We girls and boys to-night have met.
Singing and playing comes from the hearts of boys and girls;
Silver comes from China;
Silk from the capital;
The rice from the plain;
The wheat from the mountain,
But courting-talk comes from the mouths of boys.”

While the “courting-talk” goes on round the fire, there is a goodly store of weapons lying behind the singers. Any moment they may be attacked by the parents, brothers or friends of the girls. When this happens and the attack proves successful the luckless revellers are stripped naked.

The custom of the Little Flowery Miao is somewhat similar. Twice a year the men make music outside the houses where the girls live, and those who please go off with them to the hills for a carouse. Once a year the men choose their girls, and the other time the girls choose their men! The girls usually marry about fifteen or sixteen, and if they happen to be poor they go to the mother-in-law’s house very young. Among the tribes there are go-betweens to arrange marriages, but undoubtedly the young people have a better chance of selection by mutual liking than have the Chinese.

The music of the people is mostly produced from pipes, and has a certain charm; it is flute-like in sound, and some we heard was not unlike that of bagpipes without the drone. The I-chia are all fond of music and dancing. They were rather shamefacedly persuaded to dance for us, while one of them played. The steps were rather slow and stealthy, alternating with rapid pirouetting. They sank almost to the ground on one bent leg, while the other leg shot out in front to its furthest limit.


Witchcraft is firmly believed in by all the tribes. The witch-doctor has a great hold over them, and trades on their superstition shamelessly, getting wine, tobacco, or corn by means of what is called his “daemon,” without apparently stealing the things himself. The witch-doctor uses snake-poison to injure or kill people, and only he can make them well again! He also induces madness, so that the madman may fling off his clothes, which the doctor then picks up and carries off!

A curious story was told by an eye-witness to my friends in Ta-ting. He was present at the building of a house in the country by two stonemasons. They began quarrelling, and finally one went off in a great rage, refusing to finish his job. The other remarked confidently, “It does not matter; I shall get him back before evening”; but the onlookers did not believe it. The narrator of the story saw him go off to the hill-side and gather a bunch of grass and straw. He fashioned these into the figure of a man and cast spells upon it, after which he returned to his job and went on as if nothing had happened. Before he had finished the day’s work, the other man returned in great haste, dripping with perspiration; he apologized for his conduct and resumed work. He explained that after he had left in the morning he became very ill and suffered such agonies of pain that he felt sure he would die if he did not return at once.

Such is the kind of story that is current everywhere. It is a matter of common belief that the witch-doctor never has any children, and that this is a punishment from heaven. The influence of the missionaries brings them frequently into contact with strange happenings: one of them in Ta-ting. Miss Welzel was asked to visit a woman who had taken poison, to see if she could do anything for her: on inquiring into the case she was told that there had been no quarrel or any other known reason for her committing suicide. The woman said she had seen daemons come into the house through the window, who told her to take two ounces of opium in brandy,[137] which she immediately did, after which she announced the fact to her family. They sent for Miss Welzel, but it was too late: the woman died a few moments after her arrival.

Great Flowery Miao.

Page 125

A Roadside Restaurant.

Page 140

The funeral rites, which take place in the fields, include the burning of buffaloes’ horns, cows’ bones, etc., on a kind of altar.

Our stay among the tribes and all we heard about them led us to believe that they are capable of becoming a valuable asset to the empire, and the progress now being made in civilizing them is most encouraging. Some have even been sent as elected members of the first Parliament of the Chinese Republic. They have proved themselves capable of taking literary degrees on the same footing as the Chinese. One of the most powerful viceroys in Western China was a Nosu. In S. Pollard’s book, In Unknown China, he mentioned the interesting fact that he had obtained (through a friend) the opinion of the brilliant Dr. Wu Ting Fang (formerly Chinese Minister at Washington) as to the position of the tribes in the new five-coloured flag. He places them in the red bar, which stands first of the colours, reckoning them as Sons of Han, namely among the Chinese.



Chapter VI
The Province of Hunan


“You’ve seen the world
—The beauty and the wonder and the power,
The shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades,
Changes, surprises—and God made it all!
—For what? Do you feel thankful, aye, or no,
For this fair town’s face, yonder river’s line,
The mountain round it and the sky above,
Much more the figures of man, woman, child,
These are the frame to? What’s it all about?
To be passed over, despised? or dwelt upon,
Wondered at?...
... This world’s no blot for us,
Nor blank; it means intensely, and means good:
To find its meaning is my meat and drink.”
R. Browning.


Chapter VI
The Province of Hunan


We spent about three weeks in Hunan, and the weather was broken all the time. Many days it rained, and occasionally there were violent thunderstorms, so that our journey was delayed. We left the province of Kweichow on May 14, and found ten days in our little house-boat quite entertaining and recuperative, as it afforded time for rest after the strenuous journey over the highways and by-ways of that province. The river scenery was often very grand, though not equal to the Yangtze gorges. There was constant variety to occupy our attention, stopping at towns and villages, watching the other river craft, and making up arrears of correspondence. We had also been provided by Mr. Davies with a bundle of newspapers, and were glad to learn what was going on in the outer world, from which we seemed so completely shut out for the time being. It really did not matter that the papers were a few weeks old; the main thing was that we should not be so entirely ignorant of what had happened during our absence, when once more we reached home.


Mr. Davies had considerable difficulty in getting us a boat, as the boatmen were all anxious to get loads of opium for smuggling down river. There was a bumper crop, and the price of transport is heavy. Finally he succeeded in securing the boat in which he and his family had come up earlier in the season. The bargain was made for sixty-two dollars for the trip, with a bonus of two extra at the end, if we were satisfied. There were to be four rowers, but they didn’t keep to the agreement. They wanted to have military escort in addition, which we declined on account of the limited deck space in which they and the owners have to live.

The accommodation of a river-boat is small: ours consisted of three tiny compartments, of which we took two, finding that our beds occupied exactly half the space, with a well between them, and our chairs and table the remainder. The cooking was done in a sort of well in the small deck in front of us, and it was a great satisfaction to watch the way in which it was done by Yao and his meticulous cleanliness. There was no lack of water, so each vegetable was washed in clean water about five or six times. I believe the correct number of times to wash rice before cooking is ten. It was really astonishing to see the dishes Yao prepared on the handful of charcoal which was used to cook not only our meals but also those of the crew.

The scenery was very wild and beautiful, and on the whole our crew rowed well. There was an engaging little girl of three years old, who amused us not a little with her clever manipulation of the chopsticks, never dropping a grain of rice: she wore two silver bangles and two rings. Each night we moored by the bank in what was considered a safe place, for the robbers were much dreaded by the crew. Our live stock—chickens and ducks—were tethered out to graze. At one place they took on a couple of unarmed police, unknown to us, but as they would have been no use whatever had we been attacked, I ordered them to be put ashore at the next town. The robbers had burned many villages, we were told, driving[143] off the cattle, killing some of the inhabitants, and looting all that was of value to them. All the way we passed shrines dotted along the river-bank—one hideous fat Buddha was painted on the rock—and incense was burnt continually by the owners of the boat. The quality of their zeal varied relatively to the danger incurred, so we had no need to make inquiry. At the worst part of all we had to support the courage of the crew by a pork feast, portions of which were flung into the air and caught by wicked-looking crows, which hovered screaming overhead. These crows are looked upon as evil spirits of the river needing to be propitiated.

The first important town we reached in Hunan was Yuan Chowfu, and we found there some missionaries of the China Inland Mission who had many interesting experiences to tell of revolutionary days. Hunan has always been a particularly anti-foreign province, and work has progressed slowly: it is not at all surprising that the people should be slow to understand the object of foreigners coming to settle among them, and every one mistrusts what they do not understand. It needs something to break down prejudice, and in this case the something was of a tragic nature. The missionary came home one day to find his wife lying in the veranda with a fractured skull and brain exposed to view: she had been attacked by a madman, who left her for dead. It was long before she was nursed back to a certain measure of health, with speech and memory gone. This happened two years ago, and now she is slowly regaining strength and her lost powers, and welcomed us with exquisite hospitality; despite having an attack of fever, she insisted on our staying to tea and the evening meal. Mr. and Mrs. Becker have the supreme satisfaction of finding that from the time of the accident their work has taken on a wholly different complexion; the people have rallied round them and look to them for support in troublous times. With but slight medical training Mr. Becker organized Red Cross classes, and took charge of the wounded in the mission premises. At one time the city was threatened by revolutionaries, the officials lost[144] control, and for three days he took full command and saved the situation. He received medals and a complimentary board from the Government, acknowledging the great services he had rendered to Yuan Chow.

No less than nine times Mr. Becker has been caught by robbers, but has never had a single thing stolen by them, which certainly constitutes a record. When a pistol was put to his head, he presented a visiting card, saying, “Take this to your Chief”: it is a fine example of “a soft answer turneth away wrath.” On recognizing who he is, they have always released him without any injury. He told us that recently the robber bands have been broken up, and thought we need have no anxiety about them. We were regaled with the first strawberries of the season from their garden, which contained a promising supply of vegetables, and there were goats and kids in pens. We went away loaded with good things, and deeply impressed by the sight of these heroic workers and their colleagues.

The principal industry of the place is white wax: special ash trees grow here on which the insects live, but every year the insects necessary to produce the wax have to be brought from the neighbouring province of Szechwan. “When they reach the right stage of development they are put in paper boxes, in bamboo trays, and carried by the swiftest runners. These men only travel by night, as it is essential that the process of development should not proceed too rapidly. The boxes have to be opened every day and ventilated, and the men secure the best rooms in the inns, so that other travellers have to suffer if they are on the road at the same time” (Face of China, p. 183). There were also large numbers of paulownia trees, with their lilac flowers in full bloom: they produce a vegetable oil used for cooking and for furniture. All this district is noted for its trees, and much wood is brought down by a tributary river from the Panghai district, where it is cut down by the Black Miao tribe.

The next town where we halted was particularly attractive,[145] surrounded by red sandstone walls and grey stone battlements. We made a complete tour on the top of the city wall, but the houses are so high that you cannot see into any of the courtyards. At one point there was a fine, picturesque group of trees overhanging the wall, otherwise the houses were built very close together, like a rabbit warren. On the battlements were a number of most comical little guns, some carefully protected from the weather by shrines built over them. They looked as if they might have come out of the ark, but were only about seventy years old, some being dated.

In the market we bought wild raspberries, which had quite a good flavour when cooked, but they were rather tart, as they were not fully ripe. We found wild strawberries by the wayside, but were told that some varieties are poisonous, and those we ate were quite tasteless.

Our next halting-place was Hong Kiang, where we arrived at 8.30 a.m., and spent a pleasant day with two missionary families, one being a doctor’s. He was rather depressed, because the town is under the control of a military governor of irascible temper. The doctor’s cook had recently been suffering from insanity and was being treated in the hospital, when he was suddenly seized and condemned to death. The doctor, on hearing of it, went instantly to the Governor to explain matters, but he pleaded in vain, and found the man had been shot while he was with the Governor. Executions are continually taking place, and so badly done that frequently the offenders linger wounded for hours after they have been shot. Often the doctor is begged to go and help, but what can he do? On occasion he has been allowed to go and bring them back to life! In one case he had taken stretchers on which to bring the sufferers back to the hospital, but they were one too few, so that he told one man he would come back for him. The man dare not wait for his return, and managed, despite being in a terrible condition, to drag himself to the hospital on foot.

Mr. Hollenwenger took us up a high hill behind the city to see[146] the view, and it was certainly worth while, although the heat was great. The river winds round a long strip of land, and a narrow stream across it could easily be made navigable so as to save the junks having to make a detour of several miles. Another big tributary joins the river almost opposite the stream, by which quantities of wood are brought down from the hills. The valley is full of ricefields, and we saw men transplanting the rice with incredible rapidity from the small field in which it is originally raised to the larger fields where it attains maturity.

When we got back to lunch we found Dr. Witt had to go at once to an ambulance class, which the Governor had requested him to undertake in view of the troops being sent to fight in the struggle now going on between North and South. In various parts of the country we found missionaries being used by the authorities in this way. At the time that China joined the Allies during the war they told the German missionaries to leave the country, but exceptions were made in the case of many like these, whose work was felt to justify their remaining.

The next town of importance that we reached was Shen Chowfu, where there is quite a large group of American missionaries with hospitals, schools, etc., whom we had been asked to visit. Their buildings stood up conspicuously at both ends of the long river-front of the city. We were told that the hospital had been built with indemnity money paid by the Chinese Government on account of the murder of C.I.M. missionaries many years ago, but which the C.I.M. declined to accept. It is a well-known fact that such money never comes from the guilty parties, but is extorted from the people, and consequently is always a source of ill-will. We were told by some charming American ladies there, how bitter the feeling had been against them, and that for years they were guarded by soldiery and never left their houses unaccompanied by a guard. They had spacious gardens, and the missionaries’ families lived there without ever going into the streets. It seemed a strange kind of existence,[147] and brought home to us acutely the question of mission policy. There seem to me to be two classes of American missionary ideals—roughly speaking—one of which is responsible for some of the finest work possible in China and which every one must heartily admire; such work may be seen at St. John’s University, Shanghai, and in the American Board at Peking. But there is another increasingly large class whose faith seems to be pinned on a strange trinity—money, organization, and Americanization. The first necessity for them is large and showy buildings, generally apart from the busy city life, or at least on the outskirts of the city—this may be all right in the case of boarding-schools, but for hospitals it renders them practically useless. I have seen groups of residential premises miles away from the work. The welfare of the missionaries is the foremost consideration. The means of transport are slow, so that hours must be spent every day by the workers getting to and from their work, and they live a life wholly apart from the Chinese. The work is highly organized, and they have much larger staffs than our missions provide, as they seem to have unlimited means and men. Undoubtedly we err grievously in the opposite direction: our missionaries have all far more work than they can perform. Added to that, our missionaries have about one-third of the holiday that the Americans do and less money to make the holiday a real one. Our societies are all hard hit by the question of finance, but it would be better to cut down our work rather than spoil its quality by insufficient staffing and underpay.

The third point is Americanization. A large section of missionaries so value their own culture that they believe they can do no better than try and denationalize the Chinese, or Indians, or whatever other nations they may be working amongst, and transform them into Americans. In the case of China this seems to me a most disastrous policy, and founded on serious error. The Chinese and British characteristic of reserve which we consider a quality they consider a defect, and believe that familiarity breeds not contempt[148] but friendship. The breaking down of the reserve in the Chinese character is only too frequently a breaking down also of moral barriers—a disintegration of character, and opposed to the genius of the race. The Chinese student returning from the United States is often completely spoiled by having cast off the charming old-time manners of his own country in favour of the hail-fellow-well-met manners of young America. He cannot be accepted into a European or Chinese household on his return without taking what seems to them unwarrantable liberties, while he himself is sublimely unconscious of the effect produced. In the same way in mission schools the students are encouraged to familiarity with their teachers—as for instance in the case of mixed bathing in summer resorts. The teacher and the taught are all put on the same level, and the respect which we have been taught to consider due to age and learning, ceases to exist. “Manners maketh man,” and the difference in manners is one of the greatest bars to united work, which Christians of all denominations are trying so hard to build up in China at the present day.

To return to our brief stay at Shen Chow. It seemed an interesting place with fine large shops, and we should like to have made closer acquaintance with them. However, our boatman, who always wanted to loiter where there was nothing to be seen, showed a sudden determination that we should leave the town before sundown and reach a certain safe spot to spend the night. As we were always urging him to hurry, we felt obliged to give in, and reluctantly went on board. The Standard Oil Co. is very energetic there, and has a large advertisement, happily in Chinese characters, which are not aggressively ugly (like our Western advertisements) all along the river-front, the last thing we saw as we floated down stream.

Next day we shot the big rapid, and much incense and paper was burnt to ensure our safety. Rain fell heavily in the evening, as it had so often done during our journey. Before stopping for the night we came to a custom-house, where our boat was thoroughly[149] searched for opium. It meant that at last we were come to a place where opium was strictly forbidden, namely into the territory under General Feng’s jurisdiction. The Customs officers, however, were most courteous, though thorough, and I believe would have taken our word with regard to our personal belongings, but I preferred that they should see we were quite willing to be examined.

At midday on the morrow we reached Changteh, and walked through wet slippery streets a long way till we came to the C.I.M. house. Mr. and Mrs. Bannan received us most cordially and invited us to be their guests, as Mr. Locke (who had invited us when we were at Shanghai) had been transferred to a school five miles down the river and was sure we should prefer to be in the city. This was much more convenient, and we found a week only far too short to see all the interesting things. We spent a couple of nights at the school with Mr. and Mrs. Locke, and took part in a Christian Endeavour meeting. This movement has proved very successful in some parts of China, especially for training the women and girls to take active part in evangelization. We went down the river in a minute motor launch, which was very handy, especially as we had to leave at an early hour to call on General Feng. I leave to another chapter an account of him and the city, which so obviously bore his impress when we were there. The level of Changteh is below the river-level sometimes to the extent of fifteen feet; then the city gates have to be sandbagged to keep the water out.

From Changteh we went by passenger boat to Changsha, and had two little cabins which we converted into one for the voyage. The whole of the roof was covered with third-class passengers and their belongings; at night they spread their bedding, and in the daytime squatted about or wandered round the very narrow gangway outside the cabins, a proceeding which left us in a darkened condition. Yao managed to prepare us savoury meals in some minute nook, having brought the necessary stores and a tiny stove on which to cook them. The day after leaving Changteh we crossed[150] the wonderful lake of Tong Ting, a lake more than two thousand square miles in extent during the summer, and non-existent in winter. This strange and unique phenomenon is due to an overflow of the Yangtze, and in the summer there is a regular steamship service across the lake, connecting Changsha with Hankow, two hundred and twenty-two miles distant, by the river Siang and a tributary of the Yangtze. Eventually they will be connected by a railway, which is to run from Hankow to Canton, and of which the southern part is already in existence—and also a short section from Changsha to Chuchow; this is only thirty-eight miles and is mainly valuable on account of its connexion with a branch line to the Ping Siang collieries.

Changsha is an important city, the capital of Hunan. It is large and clean, the centre of considerable trade, and one of the newest treaty ports, opened in 1904. The variety of its exports is interesting: rice, tea, paper, tobacco, lacquer, cotton-cloth, hemp, paulownia oil, earthenware, timber, coal, iron and antimony. I was anxious to buy some of the beautiful grass cloth for which it is noted, and was taken by a friend to some of the big shops, but found them busily packing up all their goods, in case their shops should be looted by the approaching Southern troops. Such doings are by no means uncommon, and all Americans and Europeans seemed to take it as a matter of course. Arrangements were being made to receive terrified refugees into mission premises, and the Red Cross was extremely busy preparing for the wounded. The rumours as to the Governor fleeing varied from hour to hour, and it soon became plain that the city would be undefended. Our kind American hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Lingle, were having little Red Cross flags made to put up as signals on places of refuge, and he came in to tell us how the tailor who was making them had just appealed to him for help: a retreating soldier thought to make hay while the sun shone, and was taking possession of the sewing-machine, demanding that it should be carried away for him by the tailor’s[151] assistant. Mr. Lingle also prevented another sewing-machine being stolen: evidently they were in great request.

No more striking proof could be seen of the progress of Christianity in China than the difference of attitude shown towards missions in time of danger and difficulty. When I first visited China a mission station was the most dangerous place to live in; now it is the place of safety par excellence, to which all the Chinese flock when they are in danger. An interesting illustration of this took place last year. In a certain district in Shensi a notorious band of robbers came to a Baptist Missionary and a Roman Catholic priest, and promised to save the town where they were working if they would procure for them six rifles. They succeeded in getting the rifles, and took them to the brigands. When they attempted to use them, the brigands found they had been tampered with, and decided to loot the town in consequence. They respected, however, their promise to the men who had brought them, evidently believing in their good faith, and said they would spare all the Christians. The problem was how to recognize them, for at once there were a large number who claimed to be Christians. The robbers decided by looking at them who was genuine and who was not. In cases of uncertainty they appealed to the missionaries, who assure us that they had proved quite accurate in their judgment. Christianity ought to mould the expression of a face.

There are many missions of various nationalities at Changsha, and all seemed extremely prosperous, most of them in large and handsome buildings. The girls’ school, of which our hostess was the head, stood in spacious grounds outside the city wall, and near it is the imposing pile of the Yale mission buildings. The mission started in 1905 when Dr. Gaze began the medical work, a hospital was opened in 1908, and the first students graduated in 1912: it is essentially a medical school, and differs from others as regards the staff in having short course men sent out from Yale University as volunteers. They are not necessarily missionaries. There are[152] fine laboratories for research work, a large new building for science students, splendid up-to-date equipment in all branches of medical and surgical work, schools for male and female nurses, beautiful houses for the large staff of professors, library, a really beautiful chapel, lecture rooms, dormitories, playing grounds, tennis courts; in fact everything that can be desired on the most lavish scale, the greatest conceivable contrast to every other mission I have seen in China. There is a special ward for Europeans. The new Rockefeller hospital in Peking is to outshine it in beauty, I believe, but will find it difficult to equal it in all-round equipment, and of course will lack the acreage, which makes many things possible in Changsha which are impossible in Peking. “The Hunan Provincial Government has met all the local expenses of the College of Medicine and the Hospital for the last six years.” The Rockefeller Foundation has provided funds for salaries of additional medical staff, and Yale Foreign Missionary Society academic teachers and a few of the medical staff. The fees of the patients cover about half the running expenses of the hospital. “The campus of Yale in China in the north suburb is on rising ground between the railroad and the river, where its buildings are conspicuous to travellers arriving by either train or steamer” (see Yale College in China). The only drawback seems to be lack of patients.

One of the finest pieces of mission work I saw was Dr. Keller’s Bible School, which is supported by a Society in Los Angeles: it is for the training of Chinese evangelists for all missionary societies, and they divide the time of training between study and practical work. They looked a fine body of men, and have been greatly appreciated by the missionaries for whom they have worked. Application for their help is made to the school, and they do not go unasked into any district occupied by a society. When asked to conduct a mission, a band of men is sent, and their modus operandi is as follows: they make a map of the district, taking an area of about three square miles—and after a day spent in prayer the men visit systematically[153] every house in that area and try to get on friendly terms with old and young, giving them some portion of Scripture and inviting them to an evening meeting. As soon as the people have become interested, evening classes are started respectively for men, women, boys and girls. The children are taught to sing, as they very quickly learn hymns and like to practise the new art both early and late. The special feature of their work is that they go as Friends to the people, and as their own race; and it is to Chinese only that many Chinese will listen. The character of many a village has been changed, the missionaries say, by these national messengers, where they themselves have been utterly unable to get a hearing. This is an important feature of present-day missionary enterprise, and is the link between the Past Phase of foreign evangelization and the Future Phase of home Chinese mission work. Changsha is full of foreign workers of many nationalities, but mainly American.

Dr. Keller’s work has been greatly strengthened in the eyes of the Chinese by the noble example of his mother, whose spirit has impressed them far more than any words could have done. When her son was home for his last furlough, he felt that he could not leave her alone, an old lady of eighty, recently widowed, and he decided to give up his mission work for the time being. She would not agree to this, but decided to go out with him and make her home in China for the remainder of her life. Who can gauge the sacrifice of giving up home and friends at such a time of life and going to an unknown land where men spoke an unknown tongue? She had to undergo very great hardships at first, and now after four years the solitude presses heavily on her. At first she was able to read a great deal and lived in her books; but she told us that now her sight is failing the time seems very long.

We visited a Danish mission of some size, Norwegian Y.M.C.A. workers, and a Russian lady in charge of a little blind school. She had had no word from home for the last two years, but was pluckily sticking to her task. The London Missionary Society has withdrawn[154] from work in Hunan, but the Wesleyan Mission has a high reputation under the charge of Dr. Warren. He is one of the men who takes a special interest in the political side of Chinese life, and gave me much valuable information about the different parties. Just now the changes going on are so rapid that anything one put down would be out of date before it could be printed. The secret forces at work keeping up hostility between North and South were everywhere attributed to Japanese militarism: but it is only too obvious that the present Government is not strong or patriotic enough to deal with the situation. It is hard enough to carry on good government in so small and stable a country as our own, so need we wonder at the inability to transform the whole political and social system of the vastest country in the world.

Meanwhile the civil war is a very curious one, and happily does not cause the bloodshed one would expect, considering the forces engaged. We had some talk with our British Consul about the dangers of the road, as we wanted to go south to visit the sacred mountain of Hengshan and thence to cross fine mountain passes into the neighbouring province of Kwangshi. Mr. Giles told us that it would be hopeless to attempt it, as an English steamer had been fired on the day before in the very direction we must take. The Northern and Southern troops were in active fighting, and every day they were coming nearer to Changsha. The Governor would probably desert the city when the Southern army had driven back the Northern, and no one could say what would happen! After so discouraging a report it may seem strange that Mr. Giles said there was to be a reception at the Consulate next day, in honour of the King’s birthday, to which he invited us.

War seemed infinitely remote from the charming gathering, where all the foreign community met in the sunny garden on the river-bank. English hospitality is very delightful so far away from home, and the cordial spirit of the host and hostess lent a special attractiveness to the occasion. I was particularly pleased to meet[155] a Chinese friend there, Miss Tseng, who invited us to visit her school next day. In Chapter VIII I have tried to give an account of this famous scion of a famous race.

With all the educational and religious and philanthropic institutions to be visited, it was most difficult to find time to see the monuments of the past, but we determined not to miss the beautiful golden-roofed temple, dedicated to Chia Yi, a great statesman of the second century B.C. It is now transformed into a school, and we saw the boys drilling; but they seemed an insignificant handful in those noble courtyards, and there were no signs of proper or even necessary equipment.

Our time at Changsha was all too short, and it ended very pleasantly with an evening spent at the Consulate. By this time many of the Chinese were in full flight, because of the coming Southerners, and the city was supposed to be set on fire by incendiaries at 8 p.m. Our steamer had retired into the middle of the river, because of the rush of passengers clamouring to be taken on board, and the captain was unable therefore to fulfil his engagement to dine at the Consulate. We were promised a fine sight of the blazing city—only happily the show did not come off—from the Consulate garden across the river. We stayed there in the delicious summer air till it was time to go on board, and found it difficult not to step on the slumbering people who covered the deck when we reached the steamer. At midnight we slipped down stream, following in the wake of the departing Governor. The Southern troops came in a few days later, but without the looting and fighting which has so often happened in similar circumstances.



Chapter VII
Present-Day Ironsides—General Feng Yu Hsiang


“There shall never be one lost good! What was shall live as before;
The evil is null, is nought, is silence implying sound;
What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;
On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven the perfect round.
All we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall exist;
Not its semblance, but itself; no beauty, nor good, nor power
Whose voice has gone forth, but each survives for the melodist
When eternity affirms the conception of an hour.
The high that proved too high, the heroic for earth too hard,
The passion that left the ground to lose itself in the sky,
Are music sent up to God by the lover and the bard;
Enough that He heard it once: we shall hear it by and by.”


Chapter VII
Present-Day Ironsides—General Feng Yu Hsiang


China is a land full of surprises, and at the present day there is an amazing variety of individual efforts for the regeneration of the country by her patriotic sons and daughters. In some ways the chaotic political state of China makes these individual efforts possible where perhaps a more settled government would not admit of them. For instance, each province is governed by a military or civil governor, or both; and within a province may be found large territories practically controlled by some autocratic military official, the presence of whose army is the potent warrant for his wishes being executed. In the province of Hunan, roughly speaking in the centre of China proper, is such an area, of which Changteh is the army headquarters.

Having travelled for many weeks through districts infested with robbers, where law and order are mainly conspicuous by their absence, where the land is one great poppy garden for the opium trade, it came as a shock of surprise and delight to enter a district where we found the exact reverse of these things.

In 1918 there was fighting between the forces of the North and of the South throughout this district, and as the Northern forces were defeated and the City of Changteh captured by the Southerners, General Feng was sent from the neighbouring province of Szechuan[160] to re-take the city. He had not only defeated the Southern Army there, but had treated them in an entirely new way. Feng disbanded the Southern troops after disarming them, and presented each officer with ten dollars and each private with five dollars, so that they might be able to return to their homes without resorting to pillage, the source of so much sorrow in China. The General led his troops to Changteh and found that the Southern forces had withdrawn, so that he entered the city unopposed, though by no means with the goodwill of the inhabitants. They were only too familiar with the tyranny of ordinary Chinese troops; for it is not by foreigners only that they are evilly spoken of, but by all Chinese.

In the two years which had elapsed since then this attitude was completely changed, for the army was paid regularly and not obliged to prey upon the habitants for sustenance, the strictest discipline was observed, and no soldier was allowed to loaf about the streets. The city itself underwent a wonderful purification: gambling dens, opium-smoking halls, houses of ill repute were swept away, and theatres transformed into schools; now a woman even can walk the streets day or night without fear. A notice of three days to quit was given to the above-mentioned houses, and the order was no dead letter. Severe fines were inflicted on traffickers in opium. The streets of the town became wonderfully clean in another sense of the word; the General is so particular about this that if any of the army mules or horses pass through it they are followed by scavengers in order that no traces of their passage may remain; for as there is no wheeled traffic and the streets are extremely narrow there are no side-walks. There are notices in the centre of the streets with regard to the rule of the road, but this is too recent an innovation to be quite understood as yet. Everywhere one is confronted with signs of the General’s determination to raise the moral of the people. When he closed the opium dens he opened refuges for the cure of the smoker, instead of putting him in prison, as is done in certain parts of the North. The patient was photographed on[161] entering and on leaving (à la Barnardo). General Feng punishes with death the soldier proved to have been trafficking in the sale of opium, while the civilian is punished by being flogged and paraded bare-backed afterwards through the streets, preceded by a notice board stating his offence. The city gaol is the only one in the country which has a chapel and the missionary bodies in the town have charge—a month at a time by turns. As you pass along the streets your eye is attracted by posters of a novel kind. They are pictures descriptive of evil habits to be shunned: a cock is vainly sounding the réveillé to which the sluggard pays no heed; the vain woman on her little bound feet watches from afar the industrious woman doing her task in cheerful comfort with normal feet, and so on. In odious contrast to these pictures are the British and American cigarette posters to be found all over the country, and I was told that one of the leading Englishmen in the trade said regretfully that he thought they had done the country no good turn in introducing cigarettes to China. They are considered a curse by thoughtful Chinese, and at the request of the officers, the General has prohibited the use of them in the army, though there is no embargo on other tobacco-smoking.

A Man of Mark.

Page 158

Another noticeable feature of the city is the open-air evening school, the sign of which is a blackboard on a wall, sheltered by a little roof which may be seen in many an open space. When the day’s work is over benches are produced from a neighbouring house and school begins. The General has established over forty night schools dotted along the five miles of the city on the river-bank, besides the industrial schools open during the daytime. We visited one large training school for girls and women, which he has established and supports in order to promote industry, and to which workers from the country districts are welcomed. They have six months’ training and one meal a day gratis, and they are taught weaving, stocking-making (on machines), dressmaking and tailoring, etc., and the goods turned out find a ready market. The instructors[162] are all very well paid, and the work done is thoroughly good, despite the disparaging remarks of an elderly overseer who evidently had the conventional contempt for the Chinese woman’s intelligence.

General Feng is a firm believer in women’s education, and has established a school for the wives of his officers, to which they come not altogether willingly, I fear. The unwonted routine and discipline are naturally a trial, especially to women no longer in their première jeunesse; and despite the fact that he succeeded in persuading a highly-trained and charming woman to come from the north to take charge of it, there have been many difficulties to surmount. She lunched with us one day and told us an instance of this which makes one realize the situation: a certain lady resented the fact of her teacher being the wife of a veterinary surgeon (lower in rank than her husband), and disregarded her continual efforts to curb her feminine loquacity and make her attend to her studies. Finally there was a complete rupture between the ladies, and the unwilling pupil indignantly left the school. The teacher pondered over this and could not bear the thought of having quarrelled with a fellow Christian. She determined to try and make it up, so she called upon the lady, who refused to see her. Nothing daunted, she tried a second time, and again the lady was “not at home,” but sent her husband to speak to her. The teacher explained to him all she felt—he was so moved by her appeal that he fetched his wife, a complete reconciliation took place, and she returned to school.

The General has a short religious service in his own house every Sunday morning for these ladies, at which he, his wife and some officers are present, and at which he invited me to speak.

Having described in outline the changes effected in Changteh by General Feng, it is time to try and describe the man himself and his past life. He is tall and powerful, with a resolute, masterful air as befits a man who is ruler of men; but his ready smile and the humorous twinkle in his eye reassures the most timid.[163] He was born in 1881 in the northern province of Nganhwei, of humble parentage, and had no educational advantages. He has amply made up for this, however, having a keen sense of the value of knowledge and giving to others what was not given to him. The study of English is being eagerly pursued by himself and his officers, and he will soon pick it up if he comes to England, as he wishes to do.

General Feng entered the army as a common soldier, and in 1900 was present (on duty), but only as an onlooker, at the Boxer massacre of missionaries at Paotingfu. This was his first contact with Christian people, and it made a deep impression on him. This was strengthened by further contact with a medical missionary, who cured him of a poisoned sore and charged nothing, but told him of the love of God, Who had sent him to heal the sick. There is no doubt that medical missions have been one of the best possible instruments for winning the Chinese to Christianity, and one cannot but regret that it is now becoming necessary to abandon the practice of non-payment, except for the most necessitous cases, on account of the terrible rise in prices and the lack of funds for the upkeep of our hospitals. However, it appears to be inevitable.

The turning-point in General Feng’s life took place when he was stationed at Peking in 1911, having already risen to the rank of Major. He was feared and disliked by officers and men on account of his fierce temper, which caused him to strike them when he was angry, while his wife also had to submit to being beaten when she displeased her lord and master in the most trivial details. There was as complete a change in his life as in Saul’s when he obeyed the heavenly vision. This was the result of attendance at a meeting by Dr. Mott, and he was assigned to Bishop Morris’s care for further teaching. The strongest influence brought to bear on him at that time, however, seems to have been that of Pastor Liu, of the Wesleyan Mission, who became one of his best friends. It is not easy at the age of thirty-one to conquer an ungoverned temper and[164] tongue, but the fact remains that he is now adored by his troops, and that he has never abused or ill-treated his wife (a General’s daughter) since becoming a Christian. How difficult this is may be judged by the fact that one of the finest characters among the Christian Chinese clergy, Pastor Hsi, says that he found it so impossible to conquer the lifelong habit of abusive language to his wife that he had to make it a special matter of prayer before he could succeed, though he was such a saint. The question of bad language throughout the army is remarkable; an American missionary, after spending a year constantly in and out amongst the men, said he had heard none, for the General has a wonderful way of getting his wishes observed, and has been instrumental in winning the bulk of both officers and men to Christianity. He has compiled a treatise on military service, redolent of Christian morality, which every one of his men can repeat by heart. This treatise has been taken as the basis of General Wu Pei Fu’s handbook (a friend of General Feng), who quotes Cromwell’s army of Ironsides as a model for the soldier’s imitation, though he does not profess to be a Christian! It may be thought that the Christianizing of the army is of doubtful reality, but this is certainly not the case; for in the first place the amount of Bible teaching they are undergoing is far beyond what would ordinarily be the case here at home before admitting candidates to Church membership, and the only difficulty about this teaching is to find the teachers necessary for such numerous candidates: they are keen to learn about Christianity. Before baptism they have to submit to a searching examination of their character and behaviour, and must have an officer’s certificate to that effect. In addition each man must sign a statement promising to spend time daily in prayer and study of the Bible, to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to obey the teaching of the New Testament.

Nevertheless, they have been baptized by hundreds, so that already more than a third of the army (and I think the proportion must be much greater now, as over one hundred were postponed as[165] being not sufficiently ready some time ago) are already members of the Visible Church.

Many of the men have been won to Christianity by a tragic happening of last year. Dr. Logan, of the Presbyterian Mission, was shot by a lunatic whom he had been asked to examine medically in the General’s room. The General flung himself on the man to disarm him and was himself shot in two places. A colonel who rushed into the room on hearing the shots, saw both Dr. Logan and the General on the floor, and asked the latter, “Shall I take the man out and shoot him?” but the answer was “No.” The man, not being responsible for his actions, was only to be put in a place of safety where he could harm no one. Dr. Logan died in about an hour, but the General was taken to hospital and recovered. A day or two later Mrs. Logan was told by one of the officers that the lunatic was in fetters and that he had struck him in the face, and was surprised at her indignation on hearing it. She at once went to headquarters where the lunatic was confined and ordered the astonished officer in charge to take off all the man’s fetters. He naturally demurred, but on hearing who she was, he exclaimed: “This man murdered your husband, and do you mean to say that you want us to treat him kindly?” The result of her deed was that a large number of the soldiers decided to become Christians: they had expected severe reprisals to be demanded and said that no religion could compare with a religion producing such deeds as Mrs. Logan’s. The impression made was profound and widespread.

All we saw and heard of General Feng made us anxious to see so remarkable a man, and the missionaries very kindly arranged an interview which took place about 8.30 a.m. The General and Mrs. Feng received us in their simple home at headquarters, and we had a long talk about China and other matters, for he is an ardent patriot and shares the universal anxiety about the disturbed state of China and the Japanese invasion. On a later occasion he asked what our dresses were made of, and on hearing that it was Chinese silk, he was[166] pleased and said they were very nice. Our hats he did not like, and said we ought to wear straw ones like his wife. She put hers on to show us at his request, and of course we made such polite remarks as the occasion demanded, so he sent out an orderly at once to buy two, and we had to put them on, while our own hats were put in a paper parcel for us to take home! The hat was certainly much more suitable to the time of year than the one I was wearing, and he asked if I should take it back to England: he had been trying to persuade the other taitais (ladies) to wear them, but without much success. Most of the Chinese are extremely keen to have European things, and European headgear as seen in the bazaars is too appalling for words. Often a charming Chinese costume is completely spoiled by some garish woolwork cap, with artificial flowers of varied hues.

The General believes in five things:

(i) Religion;
(ii) Work;
(iii) Education;
(iv) Discipline;
(v) Cleanliness.

These things are not a matter of theory, but of practice. He has taken heed to the words, “Ye that love the Lord HATE EVIL,” and while he puts down all that appears wrong, he is equally energetic in promoting good things. For instance, he requires every officer as well as every private to learn a trade or profession, so that when he leaves the army he will not remain unemployed. We went all over the army workshops where many trades are represented, and found them extremely clean, well-ventilated and attractive. There is a ready sale for all their products and they make all the army clothing, towels, socks, boots, etc. Each soldier is required to do one year’s training in the workshops for seven hours a day. There is also educational work in full swing and special three-months’ courses of instruction. To these one private and one lieutenant are elected[167] for each company at a time, and although no promotion follows special success in the examinations, they are taken cognizance of when there is a question of promotion. Much attention is paid to athletics and physical drill, and efficiency is the hall-mark of every department. They looked to my unprofessional eye the smartest, best-turned-out soldiers in China, and the record of certain route marches I dare not set down because they make too great a demand on our belief, whose physical endurance is infinitely less. Woe betide the man on whom the General’s eagle eye detects lack of polish or scrupulous care in his accoutrements! To anyone who knows China, I must seem rather untruthful in stating that bad smells do not exist in the camp, and every bed is clean and provided with a mosquito net.

It must be added that the army is not all concentrated at Changteh, but there are various camps scattered over the area governed by General Feng, the population inhabiting which is estimated at seven to eight million people. He is aided in the city by an efficient young magistrate who is in sympathy with his aims, and who was appointed by him. He certainly knows how to select men, and is training a valuable body of officers to occupy—one cannot but hope—a much wider sphere of service for the country later on. The achievement of the last two years makes anything seem possible to one who has seen it, and one of the Britishers who has been in close touch with him while he has been in Changteh remarked on the striking development of the General’s personality during that time. He is a practical democrat, shares teaching and work with his men, and has actually succeeded in getting his officers to take part in the meanest work, such as water-carrying, to show that there is nothing contemptible in honest labour. The General attends the English class on Thursday evenings with the other officers and shows no official arrogance of any kind. At the Sunday services he retires to a backless bench at the far end of the hall like any “Tommy.”

This brings me to one of the strangest experiences of my life.[168] The evening after our interview with the General he sent one of his officers to ask me to give the address at the military service on Sunday morning. As he knew I was no missionary and no one could have told him that I had ever preached or was accustomed to speaking in public, the only explanation of the invitation seems to be his intense desire to seize any possible chance of stirring his people to fresh endeavour. His interpreter would act as mine unless I preferred having my own. Having received my answer in the affirmative, next day the officer came again to know what portion of Scripture I wanted read in order that it might be well read. The service took place at 7 a.m. on a lovely summer morning, and was held in a big barrack-like hall with a platform at one end with pots of flowers on it; a gallery ran round the hall, in which was the military band, and beyond that some of the officers’ wives and children, including the General’s family. The Chief of Staff conducted the service, which was just like an ordinary Nonconformist service at home, beginning with the National Anthem by the band. The prayers were led by officers among the audience and were short and impressive, the singing of the hymns was hearty, led by a choir, and many of those present had Bibles as well as hymn-books so as to follow the lesson. A boys’ school of officers’ sons sat at the front. It was a wonderful inspiration to speak to such an audience as they listened in rapt attention to the story of the “Contemptible Little Army”, and other historical instances of God’s use of weak things to confound the mighty; every now and then a little burst of irresistible applause broke from them, and quite a number were taking notes all the time. What would I not have given to speak in their own tongue! for it is just paralysing to speak through an interpreter, and weak words become weaker still. The text comforted my despair.

After service we went with the General to breakfast: it was a cheerful meal, as he is full of humour and devoted to his family. The characteristic Chinese love of children was very evident in the involuntary caresses he bestowed upon the little girls while he was[169] talking, as they nestled against his arm. Rather an amusing instance of his humour was told us by our charming Irish host, a tall, spare man. He was crossing the drill ground one day with a short Chinese officer to speak to the General, who was standing chatting with a group of officers on the further side. As the General watched their approach he made a remark which was greeted with laughter. Our host’s curiosity being aroused, he inquired from one of them afterwards what the joke was. “The General said, ‘Don’t you think the missionary looks as if he ought to be the officer and the officer the missionary?’” The breakfast was entirely Chinese with the exception of knife, fork and spoon being provided for us, but we pleased our host by our use of chopsticks instead. After breakfast we had a little rest in Mrs. Feng’s room, and all the rooms we saw were characterized by simplicity, extreme tidiness and cleanliness. We noticed a bright little servant girl, and heard she had been rescued from slavery some years ago by the General’s wife.

General Feng gave me the photograph of himself and family, and at my request wrote the name of each of the children. His own name is at the right hand of the photo.

What struck me most at the ladies’ meeting which followed was the fact of the General coming to it and taking part, showing his real interest in woman’s welfare; it is remarkable how keenly he is working—not only for the army, but for women in general as well as in particular, and for the whole population of his district. He and his officers have pledged one another to work for the evangelization of the civil population, each one making it a rule to try and win at least one of the official class per annum. In this may be seen the instinct for the continuation of a Christian policy if the Christian army should be ordered elsewhere.

As we were taking leave of the General at the close of the meeting, he said to me: “I think you will speak to my officers this evening,” which meant the five o’clock service for officers. I felt overwhelmed, as the two services had been very exhausting, but my host suggested[170] that I should give them an account of what we had seen of the Chinese Home Missionary Society, and of the work amongst the aborigines, and the General said that would interest them very much. He said that the morning address had been not at all like what he expected, but did not explain the statement. Of course, it was impossible to decline, and I took for granted there would be only a small gathering—perhaps two or three dozen men. At five o’clock we were back at the hall and there must have been from two to three hundred officers present and many ladies in the gallery. Again the same quiet spirit of worship and eager expectancy dominated, and the expression of those upturned faces will never fade from my memory, as I told the story of the missionaries coming to barbarian Britain, delivering their Message and leaving the living Message to fulfil itself, the British Church in its turn becoming the missionary to China, who, in its turn, is now called to take up the task, and is beginning to do so. After the General had seen us out of the hall he turned back, and did not rejoin us for some time, the reason being (as I learned, after leaving Changteh, from my interpreter, who was the friend of the General’s interpreter) that he went back to urge the audience to pay heed to the thing which had been said, and to say a few words about the speaker. In the whole matter he acted with such striking self-forgetfulness and tact as I have rarely, if ever, met.

It was not to be expected that such a happy state of affairs would be allowed to continue more than a limited time; for the forces of evil do not accept tamely such a defiance. As in the old days at Ephesus, seeing the source of their wealth attacked, there were plenty of people ready to counter-attack by fair means or foul. A few months later General Feng got his orders to leave Changteh. No sooner had he done so than the Southern troops swarmed back into the undefended city. The houses of ill fame were at once reopened, under military sanction, with soldiers posted at the doors. A time of much unrest followed, and no one knows from day to day what[171] will happen. There is great disorder among the ill-paid troops, and shooting among themselves took place in the streets. An officer was shot close beside the mission premises where we stayed. The schools have been closed and the opium dens and theatres reopened. The Southern troops now hold all the important part of the province, a serious loss to the Government at Peking. Business is at a standstill.

Since Sun Yat Sen has been chosen President of the Southern Government, there is a split among the Southern provinces. The man who was looked on with such hopes by many as a sincere patriot, has proved very much the reverse; he is now a fresh source of discord, and bitter fighting is going on between the provinces of Kwang-Tung and Kwang-si.

And what, meanwhile, of General Feng and his army? They were ordered to go to Chu-ma-tien in Honan. This is on the railway line from Peking to Hankow, and is some hundred and fifty miles north of the latter. It was formerly a place of no importance, but since the coming of the railway its trade has increased rapidly, and it is becoming a big market for the agricultural produce of the surrounding country. As there is a large depôt for railway material and water tanks, it is no doubt important that the place should be properly guarded. But Honan is under military governorship, and the present Tuchun, General Chow Ti, is a bitter opponent of General Feng, and is working hard to get rid of him. He has succeeded in getting the Provincial Assembly to accuse Feng to the authorities at Peking of illegally extorting money at a place called Hsuchow. There are at present three military leaders at Peking, who so far have refused to act in this matter, and they are trying to bring the two generals to an agreement. They are afraid of fresh conflicts arising in the province. The Honanese are not the easiest people to govern, the province is densely populated. “They are of an independent turn of mind,” says one who knows them well, “and will not brook reproof; very conservative, they do not welcome foreign innovation.”


Meanwhile the troops are starving and urgent demands for arrears of pay have no effect upon the War Lords at Peking.

What the outcome of the controversy will be, time will soon reveal.


Chapter VIII
The New Chinese Woman—Miss Tseng, B.Sc. (Lond.)


“There can be no question at all that the education of women is, in every grade, quite as important as the education of men, and that educational training is quite as important in the case of women teachers as in the case of men. Indeed in view of the fact that character is largely determined in the early years and by the influence of the mother in the home, the education of women acquires a place of first importance.... All the women’s educational work in a district should be planned in co-ordination with the corresponding work for men and boys.”—World Missionary Conference Report on Education, 1910.


Chapter VIII
The New Chinese Woman—Miss Tseng, B.Sc. (Lond.)


Unlike the women of other races of the East, the Chinese woman has always shown a marked strength of character, and evidently, as Mrs. Poyser so truly remarked, “God made ’em to match the men.” That the men did not approve of this is equally plain, for, looking back some thousands of years, we find the great Confucius teaching the best way of counteracting this inborn self-will and strength of character.

“It is a law of nature,” he says, “that woman should be kept under the control of man and not allowed any will of her own. In the other world the condition of affairs is exactly the same, for the same laws govern there as here.”

“Women are as different from men as earth is from heaven.... Women are indeed human beings, but they are of a lower state than men, and can never attain to a full equality with them. The aim of female education therefore is perfect submission, not cultivation and development of the mind.”


Not only Confucius spoke thus strongly about the education of women, but all through the centuries Chinese writers of note refer to the subject of woman’s duty and education, and her attitude towards man. This is graphically set out in the important work, The Ritual of Chau—What a revelation of Chinese home life it is!

“In conversation a woman should not be forward and garrulous, but observe strictly what is correct, whether in suggesting advice to her husband, in remonstrating with him, in teaching her children, in maintaining etiquette, in humbly imparting her experience and in averting misfortune. The deportment of females should be strictly grave and sober, and yet adapted to the occasion; whether in waiting on her parents, receiving or reverencing her husband, rising up or sitting down, in times of mourning or fleeing in war, she should be perfectly decorous. Rearing the silkworm and working cloth are the most important of the employments of a female; preparing and serving up the food for her husband and setting in order the sacrifices follow next, each of which must be attended to. After them study and learning can fill up the time.” This last detail shows clearly that it was no unusual thing for the women to have a knowledge of literature, and there is no mean list of women writers in the field of belles-lettres, while one even wrote on the sacrosanct subject of dynastic history in the fifth century. The first treatise on the education of women was written by a Chinese woman some eighteen centuries ago, and it is rather interesting to see what her ideal for womanhood was, and to compare it with the present-day ideal. “The virtue of a female does not consist altogether in extraordinary abilities or intelligence, but in being modestly grave and inviolably chaste, observing the requirements of virtuous widowhood, and in being tidy in her person and everything about her; in whatever she does to be unassuming, and whenever she moves or sits to be decorous. This is female virtue.” In the Rules for Women, written by Lady Tsao, the heading of no less than five out of the seven chapters refers to the attitude of woman towards her menfolk, which shows that she was[177] wise in her generation: and this work naturally became a classic and has been studied by all succeeding generations down to the present day!

A Chinese Leader of Thought.

Page 174

After this reference to the past, we come to a consideration of the present-day Chinese woman, and it has been my good fortune to meet some of the finest of the new school. They are taking a high place and winning the respect and consideration not only of their own countrymen, but of British, French and Americans by their ability, their singleness of purpose and undaunted determination. In the law school in Paris lately a Chinese girl took her degree; doctors who have studied in America and England have attained great distinction in their homeland after their return, and have overcome all the opposition aroused, in early days last century, by their foreign training and innovations.

Chinese women have evinced a keen patriotic spirit, sometimes shown in strange ways. When we were at Changteh they had demonstrated against the Japanese aggression by cutting their hair short! This did not meet the approval of the civil authorities, and they sent round the town crier, beating his drum, to prohibit women from doing this, under pain of receiving six hundred stripes! If the girls’ action was ill judged, it meant at all events a great sacrifice, so the penalty seems severe.

Perhaps the best way of showing the new trend of thought is to give a sketch of one of the most remarkable of the new generation, and who may be known to some of my readers, as she spent five years in England and took a London degree in science, with honours in botany, in 1917. Miss Pao Swen Tseng belongs to one of the great families whose genealogies have been carefully kept for the last twenty-five hundred years or so, and whose notable men have left their mark on the page of history. In the sixth century B.C. a philosopher of the family was one of the exponents of Confucian teaching, another was a great general at the time of the Taiping Rebellion and was largely instrumental in putting an end to it. For these services he received a beautiful estate with buildings, temple,[178] lake and gardens in it from the Emperor, and also gifts from the guilds of Changsha, in Hunan, where the estate is situated. Here his descendant the Marquis Tseng lived, who became a well-known figure at the court of St. James, being Chinese minister here and afterwards at the Russian court. Even before he left Hunan—the most foreign-hating province of China—he was an ardent student of the English language, although he had no teacher and was obliged to study it only from most inadequate books. The family library was housed in a larger building than the family, which indicates the family tradition; but as may be supposed, it was no easy task that the Marquis had undertaken. When he lived in Peking he defied all precedent, and allied himself with the foreign British community; although his English was naturally most difficult to understand he persevered, and continually entertained Englishmen at his house and received their hospitality in return. This was done contrary to the strong feeling of opposition then existing at the court of Peking, where no Chinaman, even in a subordinate position, would be seen in company with a European or entering his house. I mention these facts because they reappear so vividly in the history of his granddaughter, Pao Tseng.

Miss Tseng’s education began at an early age: she had a tutor when she was three years old and two tutors by the time she was five. No wonder that she rebelled, and history relates that one day she took refuge in a tree, from which she was finally cajoled by one of her Chinese teachers to come down by promises which he forthwith ignored. It may be a source of surprise that she was able to climb a tree, but happily for Pao Tseng she had an enlightened grandmother, who, at a time when such a thing was unheard of, had the strength of mind to save the girls of her family from the torture and disablement of bound feet, knowing in her own person the cost of such disablement.

At ten years old Pao Tseng was a keen student of Chinese history, and the seed was sown, which later sprang up into an ardent patriotism and desire for the ancient glory of her race to be restored. She injured her eyesight by too close study, and two years later had[179] become a Chinese classical scholar, a feat of which it would be impossible for anyone to realize the magnitude unless they knew something of the classics. She then begged leave to go and study Western knowledge, and was sent to one of the new Government schools at Hangchow, some thousand miles distant, to reach which there was no railway in those days. The tone of the school was so displeasing to her, that she soon left it and went to the (C.M.S.) Mary Vaughan High School for girls, where she found a sympathetic friend as well as teacher in the head mistress, Miss Barnes. In the turmoil and distress of mind caused by the condition of her country she found comfort in the study of the Christian faith and wrote to her father that she wished to become a Christian. He was evidently a man of rare wisdom, and stipulated that before taking so important a step she should study the writings of its European opponents. It is strange to think of such a child being set down to a course of Herbert Spencer, Frederick Harrison, and other leading non-Christian writers: her views were not changed by it. She again wrote to her father to this effect, and he gave his consent to her open profession of Christianity, coupled with the wise advice that she should become the best possible type of Christian. She decided to join no particular sect, looking forward to the time when China would have a church suitable to her needs and character.

In 1912 Pao Tseng obtained the family’s consent that she should go to England for further training. She had accepted as her vocation the call of her country to a life of educational work in China. Her family would not allow her to go abroad without a guardian, and Miss Barnes undertook the post, relinquishing the head mistress-ship of the High School in order to do this. Pao Tseng entered the Blackheath High School, and from there passed to Westfield College. It was at this time that I had the pleasure of making her acquaintance, having already heard of the impression she had made at the college. No one could be with her without being aware of the deep seriousness of her nature, and she was greatly liked by her fellow-students.[180] Chinese girls always seem to get on well in England, and to fit in easily with our idiosyncrasies. There is nothing like the gulf between them and us which seems to separate us in our ways of thinking and of looking on life from our Indian fellow-subjects.

After taking her degree and studying educational methods and training at St. Mary’s College, Paddington, she returned to China at the age of twenty to begin her life work at her old home in Changsha, the capital of Hunan.

When the monarchy was overthrown in 1911, the new republic confiscated the property of many of the gentry, amongst others that of the Tseng family, using the buildings as barracks for the troops: they caused great havoc in them. It was only after much difficulty and many delays that the family succeeded in getting the property restored to them, though a part of it is still requisitioned for the soldiers, and a flimsy partition put up to screen it from the rest. This might prove a danger to the school, but so far, Miss Tseng told me, they had behaved extremely well, their only misdeed being to cut down two trees. It was necessary to rebuild the house for a school. The garden is really charming, in true Chinese style, with carved bridges over the winding stretch of water, shady paths and quaint rockery; dazzling golden orioles and kingfishers make their home in the classic willow trees that overhang the lake, and the stillness which broods over all makes it an ideal spot for study.

But study is not the only thing in education, and Miss Tseng has adopted English ideals with regard to the value of sport in a girl’s education as well as in a boy’s. Since my visit the stillness of the tiny lake is joyously broken by girls learning the art of boating, under the coaching of Mr. and Miss Tseng, and they have two boats. They also study American games, and were recently challenged by a boys’ school to a match at lacrosse. They had only been learning a very short time and knew themselves too weak for their opponents, but a sporting instinct prevented their declining the challenge. As may be supposed, they sustained a severe beating, but bore it so[181] gallantly that the onlookers said that they were like the British: they had learnt to take defeat smiling!

It is difficult to believe that some of these girls did not know their alphabet two years ago; that discipline, as we understand it, was unknown to them. They all learn English and some had got on amazingly well with it. They have a “Round Table,” at which meetings all must take a share in whatever is the subject under discussion: this is to teach them how to take part in public meetings and how to express themselves.

The spirit of service is strongly developed. In a three days’ public holiday the girls set themselves to collect money from their friends for the famine relief in the north. Their aim was five hundred dollars, but they collected double the amount. Christianity is taught as the basis of social service, as it is at the root of this fine piece of educational work. The whole staff is united in this bond, and they have already succeeded in setting a new standard among the schools at Changsha.

In 1918 Miss Tseng opened her school, under the guardianship (if one may so call it) of Miss Barnes, and splendidly helped by two of her men cousins, whom I knew as fine students in London, and both of whom are honorary workers. All the élite of Changsha were present, including the Minister of Education, the British consul and the missionary community. This was the planting of the mustard seed destined one day to grow into a tree. There were but eight pupils, varying in age from fourteen to twenty-two, a number which was increased fivefold in two years. As befits a Chinese school, it has a poetic name, I-Fang—“The Garden of Fragrance,” and the school motto is “Loyalty and Sympathy,” the two words by which the philosopher Tseng had summed up the teaching of Confucius some two thousand five hundred years ago.

It was at a garden party in honour of the King’s birthday held at the British Consulate that we met Miss Tseng last summer, and she most kindly bade us to lunch next day, and asked me to speak to her[182] students. I had no idea at the time of what she had done since we parted in London, or even that she lived at Changsha. It was with a shock of delighted surprise that we passed from the hot, busy, dusty street into the cool loveliness of the garden. Our time was woefully limited, and I should like to have sketched all day as well as talked, but there was so much to see and hear that it is impossible to do justice to it in this brief account. If the Tseng family can leave their impress on the charming bevy of girls we saw, they will have rendered the greatest possible service to their country, and I feel confident that such will be the case. When I reflect on the state of unrest which existed during the birth of this school and the masterly way in which Miss Tseng has overcome all the difficulties of the situation, I find no words adequate to express my admiration.

In another chapter I have dealt with the student movement, which produced strikes all over the Chinese empire: not a school or university escaped its influence. Miss Tseng explained to her students her feelings with regard to the movement, and told them to reflect on the subject, and discuss it among themselves before deciding whether they would strike. She brought no pressure to bear on them, while very strong pressure was brought to bear on them from outside, but their unanimous decision was to “carry on,” and this school alone out of thirty-six in the city continued its work steadily and continuously, while the others—both boys and girls—were on strike. Miss Tseng wrote a letter to the Central Chinese Post, a paper published in English, which won widespread admiration. The editor of the paper wrote to her: “Allow me to congratulate you on the sane and patriotic views which you hold, and on your splendid mastery of the English language. Your letter is by far the best thing which has appeared on the subject of the students’ boycott.” When it is considered that it is written by one so young it is indeed remarkable, and I make no apology for quoting part of it, with the explanation that the mistress-ship to which she refers was one that she had been persuaded to accept by strong governmental pressure—that of the[183] first Normal School for Girls: she soon found herself obliged to resign the post.

To the Editor, Central China Post.

Dear Sir,—You would have known by this time the details of the extraordinary developments of the student activities in Hunan. Perhaps you would allow me the use of your valuable columns to make a few criticisms and an appeal in connexion therewith.

The frank opinion, in Hunan at any rate, of every unbiased observer is that the primary wrong rested with the Provincial Government. As I have just sent in my resignation of the Principalship of the first Provincial Normal School for Girls—a post I was invited to fill by the educationists here only a few months ago—I feel I can speak more freely and with a certain amount of authority. The Government has neglected education so much that all the schools dependent on Government funds have been confronted with starvation and bankruptcy in growing proportions for the last two or three months. This absolute poverty has reduced the none too perfect education in Hunan to the mere shadow of a name. Satan always finds evil work for every idle hand, so no wonder discontents will foment.

The actual thunderbolt came on the 3rd inst., when the Government interfered in the burning of Japanese goods by students. There in front of hundreds of students and thousands of onlookers, Chang Chingtang, the Governor’s brother, forbade the destruction at the eleventh hour. He struck with his own fist the secretary of the Chang Chun Middle School, who had dared to show impatience at the abusive language that was being poured out. At the same time his soldiers welcomed the students with the butt-ends of their rifles. Then of course the glove was down and the students took it up. All the pent-up hatred against the Government broke out with redoubled force. A secret meeting was held on the 5th among the students, and by Sunday, the 7th, all the schools excepting one or two began to[184] disperse, declaring that they would never return till Chang Ching-yao is driven out of Hunan. To-day only the Fang Siang School and our School are in regular work. Even the Yale and Hunan Yale medical colleges are given official “holidays.” The Government has succeeded in wrecking the entire fabric of education in the most masterly fashion, that even surprised its ardent admirers.

In view of the foregoing one cannot but deeply sympathize with the motive of the students, but their method of making a protest will, I am afraid, have certain undesirable effects. Etc. etc.

I was much struck with the frank, pleasant tone of the girls: some were able to talk English. In connexion with the student strike a master of one of the other schools said to one of the girls:

“Your Principal has managed splendidly to keep her students from striking.”

“Yes, indeed,” she replied, “but our Principal did not force us, we all agreed unanimously with her not to strike.”

This detail is characteristic of both teacher and taught—Liberty and Frankness. The Christian temper of “sweet reasonableness” irradiates the place, but no one will be urged to become Christian. Brightness, cleanliness and gaiety rule everywhere, and the dormitories and classrooms are thoroughly attractive. What a pleasant sphere for any English girl who goes as teacher there, and the growing needs of the school demand such help at once; a B.Sc. is required, and none but highly qualified teachers are suitable for such educational posts in China.

It seemed passing strange to realize that Changsha was the storm-centre of fighting between Northern and Southern troops, and the very next day the latter were expected to invade the city.

Knowledge is now no more a fountain seal’d:
Drink deep.”

Page 184

“Nor soul helps body more
Than body soul.”

Page 184

It may be thought that educational work is specially suitable for Chinese women, and perhaps something of it is already known in England, while other forms of activity are less known and less approved, but from the time of the opening of China’s doors to[185] Western influence they have been eager to seize the new opportunities, and have become an important factor in the national life. “While not yet numerous, modern Chinese women,” says Dr. Rawlinson, “are beginning to exert a tremendous influence” (China in Contemporaneous Literature). The first woman’s newspaper in the world was written and edited by Chinese women, and in Peking the ladies of the gentry some nine or ten years ago organized a club under the leadership of Princess Kalachin, called the “Women’s Mutual Improvement Club,” and this is entirely unconnected with foreigners. The special object of this club is discussion, and Chinese women have proved themselves already to be excellent speakers, having very pleasant voices and a good self-possessed manner, which inspires respectful attention. They have appeared on platforms where such a thing would have been scouted with horror not twenty years ago.

As doctors, Chinese women have already proved their efficiency, and the names of Dr. Ida Kahn and Dr. Mary Stone are everywhere held in high respect.[26] In the new Rockefeller Medical School at Peking women students are admitted, and girls as soon as it was announced entered their names. In various parts of China women are training for the medical profession, as well as in Great Britain and America. I was greatly impressed by the nurses also in various hospitals, especially those in the Women’s Hospital at Swatow. There had been over a hundred and thirty midwifery cases in the previous six months, and Dr. Heyworth told me she had been able to leave nearly all of them to her Chinese assistants and nurses. They are often sent for to visit outlying villages and they are doing splendid work. What is everywhere the one essential is to have thoroughly competent foreigners to train Chinese girls till such time as native training schools in Western methods have been established.



Chapter IX
The Youth of China


“Crabbèd Age and Youth
Cannot live together:
Youth is full of pleasance,
Age is full of care;
Youth like summer morn,
Age like winter weather;
Youth like summer brave,
Age like winter bare.
Youth is full of sport,
Age’s breath is short;
Youth is nimble, Age is lame;
Youth is hot and bold,
Age is weak and cold;
Youth is wild, and Age is tame.
Age, I do abhor thee;
Youth, I do adore thee.”
The Passionate Pilgrim.


Chapter IX
The Youth of China


The Spirit of Youth is one of the most marvellous possessions of humanity. It is not possessed by young people in all countries, nor indeed by all the young in any country, or at any given time. We heard a good deal about Young Turkey and Young Egypt, but neither of those countries have the Spirit of Youth, nor had China until quite recently. Of all the poets Shakespeare speaks most of this Spirit of Youth, for he lived in a time when it shone forth resplendent, spelling high endeavour, the joy of life, ardour, courage, chivalry, beauty, faith. It has its drawbacks, of course—conceit, wilfulness, turbulence, impatience of control, of law, of order. But it is a splendid thing, and the salvation of a weary world.

“There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
He has his Summer, when luxuriously
Spring’s honey’d cud of youthful thought he loves
To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
Is nearest unto heaven.”


This spirit of youth has taken possession of the student world of China to-day, and is mainly responsible for the rapidly changing mettle of the whole race. It is frequently in sharp antagonism to the traditions of the past, as for instance with regard to age itself. The reverence due to age is a great quality and has been of untold value to the Chinese, but carried to the extreme of veneration it has arrested progress and has won a false value.

In the old days all positions of importance were given to middle-aged or elderly men—men of weight. Such a fact as Pitt becoming prime minister at the age of twenty-four would have seemed to them grotesque and foolish in the extreme. That a young man should be a man of weight was unthinkable. But now you find young Chinamen in most responsible posts, as their nation’s representatives at the court of St. James, or in Paris or Washington. It is a young Chinaman who by his eloquence and personality wins the admission of China to the Council of the League of Nations. They are men who have all had Western training, but that alone does not account for their influence.

From one end of China to the other I found that the temper of the youth was wholly unlike what it was ten years ago (on the occasion of my last visit), although the change had already begun then. Not only is the veneration for the aged changing, but also the veneration for antiquity, which has been one of the greatest hindrances to progress in the past. Everywhere the young people are taking upon themselves an active share in local affairs and also in affairs of the State. Sometimes this shows itself in rather an amusing way and sometimes with regard to matters of vast importance. Of the latter it will suffice to mention the decision of the Republican Government to make Confucianism the state religion. No sooner was the announcement made than from every quarter the Government was bombarded with telegrams from bodies of students, protesting “we will not have Confucianism as a state religion”; and they won the day.


As an instance of the authority of students in local matters, I came across a college, a member of which had gone to study in Japan. He was engaged to be married to a Chinese girl, but fell a victim to the charms of a Japanese girl and married her. On his return he decided, after some difficulties with the family of his fiancée, to marry her as his secondary wife. Then the students were all up in arms. He had committed the crime against patriotism of marrying a Japanese, and now, forsooth, he would add another by taking a Chinese girl as secondary to the Japanese! They not only forbade him to do this, but also fined him a heavy sum of money and made him pay it.

The Japanese question has roused every student community in this empire, and they have allied themselves with merchants on the subject—an entirely new combination. They have not merely shown their feelings by extensive looting and destruction of Japanese goods, and boycotting of them in the markets, but after the Treaty of Versailles they rose as one man to execrate the officials who were concerned with the betrayal of Chinese interests to Japan, and demanded that they should be dismissed from office. All the schools and colleges went on strike and hundreds of students were imprisoned. In vain the Government tried to put down the movement, but it was so universal, and had so won the support of the shopkeepers (these put up their shutters with notices that this was done in support of the students’ demands), that the Government was again forced to give way and punish the offenders.

While much is known here of the divided political condition of China, but little is heard of this important solidarity. The importance of such occurrences lies mainly in the fact that these are the outward signs of a “Tide of New Thought,” as it has been called in Chinese. This new vitality is pulsating more or less through the people of the whole empire, but especially and with intense vigour in the student world. It has driven them to violent and undisciplined action, so that many people see in it the germs of revolution. But one must not forget that the political Revolution has already become[192] an accomplished fact, and that the new movement is mainly one of educational and social reform, and that the political faith of students is Republicanism. The anti-Japanese feeling is due to the determined infiltration of the Japanese into the country, and more especially their action with regard to Shantung. Japan lost a priceless opportunity of making alliance with China and vindicating herself before the world, when she broke faith with regard to giving back Tsingtau to China at the end of the war. This has had important results on the student movement by leading the students to rapid concerted action and showing them their power to control the action of Government. However, this is but a temporary matter, while the recent literary and social renaissance is likely to have a permanent influence on the national life.

The effect of the new movement on literature of all kinds is particularly interesting. The daily press and the reviews and magazines are full of new thoughts and reflect all the currents of opinion of the Western world. The critical spirit leaves no problem unstudied; the political agitation in India, the Sinn Fein outrages in Ireland, the labour troubles in England are accurately reported in the Chinese daily press. Judgment is being passed on the results of our civilization, and the future shaping of China’s destiny depends largely on that judgment.

One of the most momentous days in all the history of the race was when the Dowager Empress decided to sweep away the old system of education after her great defeat by the Western Powers in 1900. It was an amazing volte-face on the part of one of the most bigoted autocrats that the world has seen. She saw that the root of all her difficulties in finding the right kind of officials was lack of well-educated persons in the social class from which such officials are chosen, so she issued an edict in 1904 which bore the stamp of Yüan Shih-k’ai and Chang Chih-tung, destroying at one blow the old educational system. The document is curious and even a little pathetic. She ordained that graduation in the new colleges should[193] be the only way to official position, pointing out that colleges had been in existence more than two thousand five hundred years ago, and that the classical essay system was quite modern—only having existed about five hundred years.

She also gave orders that more students should be sent to Europe and America—some were already going there—instead of to Japan, whose revolutionary influence she mistrusted.

The greatest difficulty in effecting so great a change was to find teachers fitted for the task. The seed had happily been planted during the last half-century in mission schools, and from them a certain small supply of teachers was obtainable. Chang Chih-tung considered that three months’ study of textbooks would make a competent teacher! Another immense difficulty was to find funds for so vast an enterprise. The gentry were urged to found and support schools, and an official button was granted to those who did so. Chang Chih-tung worked out the whole scheme: colleges, schools of various grades, curricula, regulations as to discipline, etc. etc. All these things are set forth in five official volumes, and thus the national system of education was inaugurated. Obviously so great a change could not be wrought without many difficulties cropping up. The main difficulty was lack of discipline, and that is the case to-day; the student considers that he, or she (for the same spirit pervades girls’ schools), ought to dictate to the master, instead of master to pupil. In the early days of the system it was the easier for the pupils to succeed, in that so many of the teachers were wholly inexperienced and were afraid of losing their posts unless they gave way. Although the above edict professes to train men in China itself for official positions it was supplemented by provision for sending students abroad, in order that they might be the better able to bring their country into line with Western civilization.

With the coming of a Republican Government further progress was made in the educational system in connexion with change in the language, of which I have given details in Chapter II. The most[194] important fact with regard to the educational change is that it found a prepared soil in which to grow, and there is reason to believe that the roots are striking deep. The rapidity with which Japan adopted Western ideas is known to every one, for it has enabled her to become a world power by developing her army, navy and commerce in an incredibly short space of time. She has used Western science as the tool to secure military glory and territorial expansion. These are not the things which appeal to the Chinese. Their renaissance is on wholly different lines. Their gaze is turned inward rather than outward, and the things of the foreign world interest them mainly as shedding light on their own problems. This is the one characteristic of the old Chinese temper which remains unchanged. The fierce ray of criticism is turned on their own past; history, art, philosophy and literature are now being sifted to see what is their actual value. But the chief object of study in China to-day is man himself, his progress and welfare, both in this world and in the next.[27]

The decay of the old religions must have a great influence on student life, and the fact that a large proportion of the temples are now used as school buildings is proof—if proof be needed—that the use for them as temples has gone. Many people have thought it a great step in advance that the old superstitions are being swept away; but what is to take their place? The Chinese are feeling after a more philosophical form of religion. Men like Yen Hsi Shan spend time daily in meditation and worship of the one true God. The tide of rationalism and positivism in Europe has swept even as far as the shores of China, and has influenced many thoughtful men. In an important journal called La Jeunesse, a well-known Chinese writer, Peng-I-Hu, says, “I am not a member of any church, I am not interested in protecting any organization or advocating the excellency of any particular religious faith. But I have often felt that religion contains within it the highest ethics, and so I think that[195] if we want imperfect mankind to make progress towards perfection, we cannot lightly set religion aside.”

Large numbers of students have come into contact with Christianity, and at this moment more than ever before they are critically examining what it is worth. By means of the literature dealing with the higher criticism (which is to be found in all the cities of China), they are familiar with the problems confronting students in the West: and these problems interest them immensely. But in the long run it is not so much theory as practice that will influence young China in its religious beliefs.

In the past, Chinese students have mainly got their Western education in Western schools and colleges, where Christian doctrine is an important part of the curriculum. They have had the opportunity of studying the lives of their teachers and judging the practical value of Christian ideals. Where use has been made of such institutions for political or commercial propaganda, the result is obvious; but this has been the rare exception in the past, though there seems to be a growing tendency to it in certain recent institutions. Governments which complain of the difficulties which missions have brought into international relations, have often in the past made use of these same difficulties to promote their own interest. No more cynical statement could be made than that of the German Government with regard to Shantung about the murder of two German missionaries: “La Providence a voulu que la nécessité de venger le massacre de nos missionaires nous amenât a acquérir une place commerciale de première importance.” The Chinese have long memories, and they will not forget such things. It is foolish to expect people to discriminate accurately between the actions of a foreign power and the missions of the same race.

The worst indictment that can be made against the missionaries and their institutions, in my opinion, is that their teaching has been in some cases narrow and in many cases superficial for want of sufficient teachers and educational requisites, due to lack of funds.[196] The strain on missionary societies to supply these funds has been far heavier than the general public is aware of, and the need has been only met by a small section of the Christian community. Had the community as a whole realized their responsibility, China would have had better and more thorough teaching: even now it is not too late to help her in the great educational enterprise on which she has embarked. America is alive to the fact, but England is not. One great step in advance is, however, in course of achievement, and that is the union of the greater number of the different societies in the work of central colleges and universities, which is a great gain, both from the educational and the religious point of view.

At the present time the one vital requisite for China is to have a thoroughly efficient training in all branches of education, especially, of those men who are to be her leaders. Statesmen, lawyers, doctors, engineers, bankers, men of science, literature and art are needed, and all must, above all things, be men of high purpose and spotless integrity. It is the corruption of men in authority which has brought China to so low a condition, and which hinders her taking her place among the ruling nations. Obviously she is not in a position to-day to do this without help. The students in training to-day number roughly eight millions, not to mention the vast number of boys employed in agriculture and industry, who also have a claim to teaching. One interesting feature of the student movement is the sense of obligation now growing up amongst the students to share their knowledge with their poorer neighbours. Night schools are being established by them (in which they teach) not only for poor children, but also for farmers, labourers, etc., in all parts of the country. They also give popular lectures on such subjects as hygiene, patriotism and politics.

During the terrible famine raging last winter, numbers of students did relief work, and not only helped the sufferers, but had valuable practical training in organized social service. Another feature of the movement is this social service; here again trained leaders are[197] urgently needed. The experience which we have so painfully gained during the last century we ought surely to share with them.

There are very few purely Chinese educational institutes of the highest grade. The most important of any is without doubt the National University of Peking, founded twenty-three years ago. Under the influence of the present Chancellor, Tsai Yuanpei, it has become an efficient school and centre of the new educational movement. He has collected a staff of men trained in Western thought to replace the former inefficient elderly staff. The present Minister of Education, Fan Yuen Zien, made a trip to Europe and America in 1918, and as a result of it has initiated a scheme for having special scholars from the West to become annual lecturers at the university. The first appointment was John Dewey, from Columbia, U.S.A., then Bertrand Russell, from Cambridge, England, and now it seems likely that Bergson will be invited from France and Einstein from Germany. This suggests the spirit of the new learning. Such a Minister of Education has much influence, and is promoting a liberal educational policy. The university has departments of Law, Literature and Science. Its influence is felt not only in Peking, but throughout the country.

The Hong Kong University is of considerable importance, but as the teaching is entirely in English, that is still a bar to many students. It was started by Sir Frederick Lugard, and with the generous help of many Chinese and a wealthy Parsee merchant, not to mention the grant of a magnificent site by the Government of Hong Kong, the university was launched in 1912. It was established mainly for the use of the Chinese, but open to “students of all races, nationalities and creeds,” and was to promote the “maintenance of good understanding with the neighbouring Republic of China”—so runs the Hong Kong Government ordinance of 1911. The first three chairs established were Medicine, Applied Science, and Arts. In order to meet the needs of men adopting an official career in China, the requisite Chinese subjects are included.

A new university has been already planned by a Chinese merchant[198] at Amoy, Mr. Dan, and I visited the site on which it is to be built. The donor is a man of humble birth. He has already founded boys’ and girls’ schools near Amoy on most generous and modern lines, of which further details are given in the following chapter. Although not a member of any Christian body, he is most generous in lending the buildings for Christian conferences and allowing absolute liberty to Christian teachers in his schools to give religious teaching to the scholars out of school hours.

Having referred to one of the most important non-religious educational institutions for the Chinese, I will mention the most important missionary ones. Of these St. John’s College, Shanghai, is one of the oldest and most efficient, and is responsible for the training of some of the leading men in China to-day. Recently the college has added Medicine to the subjects taught in what has now become the St. John’s University. It grants degrees, and is in close touch with American universities. There are two other American denominational universities, and five union and interdenominational universities, also many important colleges, such as the Anglo-Chinese College at Tientsin, the Trinity College at Foochow, the Canton Christian College, the Hangchow College, the Shanghai Baptist College, etc. etc.; but what are these in comparison with the millions of China?

One very grave drawback to the present state of educational affairs is that our British universities have made no attempt to recognize the degrees and diplomas granted by these colleges and universities with the exception of the Hong Kong University, which has a special charter to that effect. Whereas in America every university of importance welcomes Chinese students for post-graduate study and grants them diplomas, not one of our universities does this. All the students study the English language, and every year sees them more prepared to make use of training in our universities; but those educationists who know China best are convinced that it is far better for her sons and daughters to study in their own land till they have got a good sound general education, and then come to[199] England, say at the age of about twenty; they will then be able to gain much more from what they see and learn than they could do at an earlier age. With a mature judgment they will not be so apt to get false impressions, as they are otherwise likely to do, and will know how to select from the wealth of knowledge to which they have access.

Nowadays the question of child labour is being considered, and this is the more important because factories are springing up everywhere. Field labour is hard on child life, but not nearly so injurious as factory life. A large part of this industrial expansion is American and European; therefore it is a grave responsibility for such firms to ensure that the Chinese shall see Western industrialism at its best, especially as regards the welfare of children and women.

It would be neglecting a matter of great potential importance to the future of young China if the history of the Scout Movement were omitted. Curiously enough it seems to have been started at New York, by the Chinese Students’ Club, in 1910, and from there to have been carried to China itself about a couple of years later. In 1915 there was a special rally of scout troops from Canton and Shanghai, in which three hundred boys took part, and Chinese boys figured at the great scout Jamboree in England in 1920, when twenty thousand boys of all races met in one great Brotherhood. The movement has been so far mainly promoted by missionary institutions, who have wisely recognized its attractiveness and importance to Chinese boys. The great difficulty has been to find suitable scoutmasters, but time should mend this. The Scout Rule is the same here as elsewhere, and membership is open to every class of the community. Its international value is a matter of no small importance.

A natural question arises in every one’s mind with regard to the possibility of maintaining the same high spirit in a troop of Oriental boys as in an English troop, where tradition already helps this so tremendously. I make no apology for quoting a striking illustration from a recent magazine article of the fact that the Scout spirit of[200] honour, of preparedness, of active goodwill and of physical fitness is found in Chinese scouts. “The young captain of the ‘soccer’ team was visibly nettled. The game was a stiff one. His team were all, like himself, Chinese boys at the Griffith John College, in Central China. But a forward had ‘muffed’ an open shot at goal and a half-back had ‘funked’ tackling a big fast forward of the opposing team, while one or two of the opponents had run perilously near to fouling.

“So his nerve had got ‘rattled.’ One of the English masters was watching the game. He was also Scoutmaster of the troop in which the Chinese boy was a scout of some standing. He saw the boy fast losing his temper. Suddenly, in a momentary lull in the game, the master from touch whistled the refrain of the Scout Call.

“In a flash the Chinese boy-captain realized the childishness of his action and recovered himself. His face broke into its old customary smile. With a laugh he rallied his side and swung forward with them. They won the match.” (Outward Bound.)

To sum up the main points of the student situation: their actual demands at the present time are for self-determination, self-government and the abolition of the Tuchun system, namely the military government of the provinces. If these are their demands, it is well to consider what they have already accomplished: they have created a student organization, with unions in every part of the country; they have broken down sex prejudice in an extraordinary way; they have aroused the interest of the masses of the common people; and they have proved strong enough to alter Government action. These are things which certainly justify their title to serious consideration of their demands.

There is a wonderful spirit of hope and courage growing up, and it is worth noting that this new nationalism has been singularly free from the outrages to be found in popular movements in the West. The natural ebullience—to use an ugly but expressive word—of youth has on the whole shown itself wiser and more keen-sighted[201] than could have been expected under the circumstances, and gives great hope for the future. The special stress laid on social service and voluntary work is of great promise, and missions may justly claim that it is the outcome of their work for the sick, the insane, the blind, the deaf and dumb, the orphans and the poor. They have put an ideal before the race, and the young are accepting it.

A medical student.



Chapter X
Some Chinese Seaports and Commerce


“The problems of the Pacific are to my mind the world problems of the next fifty years or more. In these problems we are, as an Empire, very vitally interested. Three of the dominions border on the Pacific; India is next door; there, too, are the United States and Japan. There, also, in China the fate of the greatest human population on earth will have to be decided. There Europe, Asia and America are meeting, and there, I believe, the next great chapter in human history will be enacted. I ask myself, what will be the character of that history? Will it be along the old lines? Will it be the old spirit of national and imperial domination which has been the undoing of Europe? Or shall we have learned our lesson? Shall we have purged our souls in the fires through which we have passed? Will it be a future of peaceful co-operation, of friendly co-ordination of all the vast interests at stake? Shall we act in continuous friendly consultation in the true spirit of a society of nations?”—General Smuts.


Chapter X
Some Chinese Seaports and Commerce


Last year I went down the China coast twice from Shanghai to Hong Kong, and it is a most interesting trip, especially if you stop at the ports and see their multitudinous activities. Their variety is most striking: no two are alike, and even the sails are different in every port down the coast.

I have already spoken of Hangchow, capital of Chekiang, so the next on my list is Wênchowfu, in the same province. The approach to it is up a lovely creek and river, as fair a scene as can be imagined. When I looked at it in the evening light from the top of a hill, the wealth of vegetation and the network of river and canals for irrigation show how rich the land is; the waterways are also the roads by which the district is most easily visited. Besides lofty trees, there were clumps of bamboo, which seem to be used for every imaginable purpose. They grow an inch in a night, and it is usual for bamboos to grow thirty inches in a month: this is their average height, but some varieties grow to 120 feet. Then they put out numerous shoots and the main stems harden. The delicate shoots are eaten like asparagus, and the seeds are also used as food: there is a Chinese proverb that[206] they are specially numerous when the rice crop fails. The stem is high and hard and jointed: one joint is big enough to make an excellent bucket, another will be used for a bottle or a cooking vessel, and the outer shell is so siliceous that it acts as a whetstone.

On reaching Wênchowfu I took a ricksha and went in search of the missionaries. Though an unexpected guest, I received a friendly welcome from Mr. and Mrs. Slichter, of the China Inland Mission, and they took me to see the city and surroundings. It is a treaty port, facing the Eastern Sea, and its streets are bright and clean, full of attractive shops. Inlaid soapstone is one charming industry: the silks manufactured here are fine and costly, two or three dollars per foot. The people are brusque and independent in their manners, but very responsive to missionary work, and they become staunch and loyal adherents to Christianity. We visited an interesting temple put up recently by the local trade guilds to two officers who refused to acknowledge the Republic. These guilds are thoroughly democratic and date from time immemorial: they are still all-powerful in China and regulate trade throughout the empire, despite the changing times. Every self-respecting merchant belongs to one. The guilds are now showing signs of dealing with the price of labour, which is a highly significant fact. They do not brook Government interference with their members, of whom they take a sort of paternal care.[28] These guilds are not only of great value to the Chinese, but also to foreigners, who can apply to their members either directly or by agents, called compradores, belonging to the same guild, whom foreigners can employ to transact business for them. In Canton there are no less then seventy-two guilds.

We went to visit an English United Methodist community, but as it was Saturday afternoon we found no one at home. They have a large work in a hundred and fifty stations, but only one European worker! They also have a big hospital, but their one and only[207] English doctor had been absent two years on furlough, leaving it in charge of two Chinese doctors: they have no English nurse. It is really deplorable to see such a condition of things and a slur on England’s good name. As a contrast we found excellent work both as to numbers and quality by the Chinese, of whom the C.I.M. have three hundred voluntary workers in their hundred and sixty-eight stations. Their evangelists give one week per month of service without payment, and the local institutions pay their salaries. The Christian Endeavour is a particularly strong branch of the work, and has produced a body of capable workers, one main object of the society being to train men, women and children to take part in Christian service of some kind. Bible schools are another strong point of the work here, and the interest shown in Bible study augurs well for the future of the mission.

It may be thought that I have said a great deal—too much in fact—about mission work in this book, but that is inevitable, because the reforms initiated in Chinese life are practically all due to missionary activity. The education of the poor and of women, the care of the sick, the blind, the insane, were all started by missions, and they are the main agencies in undertaking relief work in famine and plague measures, even at the present day. While the people of England sent out thirty thousand pounds for famine last year, large additional sums were sent out by the missionary societies, of which there is of course no official recognition. Happily England still retains some modesty with regard to her generosity.

My next halting-place was Foochow; this visit was one of the most delightful events of the trip. The coasting steamers cannot go up the river, so it is necessary to tranship on to a launch at Pagoda Anchorage. We had spent more than six hours waiting to cross the bar, and it was a lovely sight at dawn to see all the myriads of fishing-boats; as we came slowly up the river they looked like flocks of birds with widespread wings. It was nine miles up to the city, and as we reached a stopping-place I inquired from a fellow-passenger if it were[208] the place for me to get off, but was told the main landing-stage was further up. Before reaching it a pleasant young Chinaman asked in excellent English if he could be of service; having heard me mention the C.M.S., said he belonged to it. He was most helpful, took charge of my luggage, escorted me to the office where he was employed, telephoned to Trinity College to say I had arrived, got tea, and finally set me on the road with a guide. Mr. L. K. Wang certainly was a credit to his school. I met my kind hostess, Mrs. Norton, on the road to meet me with her servant, having already sent him down three times that morning to look for me. The arrival of steamers is a most uncertain business.

Foochow is a treaty port and of no great antiquity: it was founded in the fourteenth century and was opened to foreign trade in 1861. The population is reckoned from six to eight hundred thousand, and it is the headquarters of an ever-increasing number of foreign firms in consequence of its growing trade. The tea trade is the most important. The city lies on both banks of the river, and there are two long bridges called the Bridge of the Ten Thousand Ages connected by a little island, leading from one part of the city to the other. We took about an hour in swift-running rickshas to go from the college to the centre of the city on the further side of the river to visit Miss Faithfull-Davies’ school. It was just breaking up for the summer holidays, as also Miss Waring’s girls’ school, which we visited another day; but we saw in full swing schools for the blind,[29] which seem to be admirably conducted, and an orphanage, where there was an elaborate plant design in the garden made by the boys. I asked if it was the name of the school, but was told it was the date of “the day of shame,” namely of the Japanese triumph; it is striking to see how deeply this is felt everywhere and that it should show itself in such a manner.

Storm-Driven Boats.

Page 209


It rained and rained and rained at Foochow, and the floods rose high round the garden, which is situated on a hill, till we could no longer go through the main entrance. It was dreadfully disappointing, as it put all excursions out of the question. However, the days flew past with great rapidity, and I went on visiting hospitals and schools; the school of sericulture was interesting, and we saw the various processes. On leaving, the director paid me the compliment of offering me a handful of worms! One of the most interesting forms of lacquer work, for which Foochow is famous, is that done on silk. Bowls are made of it and are as light as a feather and flexible. They take about eight to twelve months to make and are wonderfully resistant to water and heat, so that they can be boiled without injury. Other beautiful lacquer things are made on finely carved wood, and the lacquer is most lovely in colour when gold and silver dust are used. They wrap the articles up in the softest, toughest, thinnest paper I have ever seen; it feels like silk.

It was a matter of continual interest to me to be living in the middle of a college, and to see the four hundred boys and youths at work and play. Trinity College is so called because it is part of the Dublin University Fukien Mission, and was the result of the Pan-Anglican Conference in London, 1908. The three schools already existed and were combined to form this college in 1912; a beautiful chapel was also built, a gymnasium, houses for the masters, and a vernacular middle school in memory of the martyr, Robert Stewart. The spirit of the place was fine, and I once again realized how far ahead the mission field is in the spirit of unity and progress, when the headmaster asked me, woman and Nonconformist, to address the boys in the chapel: it was an inspiring audience.

I began to be afraid as the floods continued to rise that it would be a difficult matter to leave Foochow. In order to reach the shipping office (to take my passage) we had to go through the streets in boats, and actually through a garden to the window of the office. Boys were having a great time punting precariously on doors, which[210] served as rafts, and headlong plunges into the water were greeted with shrieks of laughter. I left next day, with the water still rising, and was truly sorry to say good-bye to my friends and Foochow.

The launch took me rapidly down stream to the steamer Haiching which was due to sail at dawn, and the storm clouds and driving rain formed a fine background to the encircling mountains. All down the China coast the scenery is wild, and innumerable rocky islands make navigation very dangerous. The captain beguiled us at meals with stories of the dangers we were encountering in this “dirty weather.” When the weather is bad in the Pacific it alters all the currents round the coast, although the surface may look smooth. At one point he used to allow a margin of seven miles to round certain rocks, yet found himself one day just shaving round them: after that experience he allowed ten miles. The weather is continually wet and foggy in these seas, but this season was exceptionally bad, and for the first time in his experience there had been no cargo from Foochow.

The boat bobbed up and down like a cork. There was a fine mascot on board in the shape of a black sow. She was very clean and very dainty, with an appetite for chocolates, and oranges, which she required to be peeled. She had been five years on board and had gone through the campaign, when the ship visited Basra and other places on war duty. The captain was warm in praise of his Chinese crew, preferring them to all other nationalities: they do their work well and contentedly and require no bullying. A voyage of twenty-four hours brought us to smooth water outside Amoy, and the cook from the English Presbyterian ladies’ house came at 6.30 in a sampan to take me ashore, for there is no landing-stage. It was still raining and very hot.

Amoy is a most extraordinary place, with round black rocks like puddings in every direction. One of the features of the place is the little graves, just like plates on the surface of the ground, due to the[211] curious way they deal with the dead. After they have been buried for a certain length of time, they take up the coffins and carefully count the bones that none may be missing and put them in a jar with a lid on: it is this lid which shows when the jar is put in the earth.

I found my kind hostesses overwhelmed with work, but they nobly made time to take me to see the various schools and colleges, and also a visiting missionary took me across the bay to visit some alms-houses (built by a Chinese lady) and also the first Chinese church built in Amoy. The pastor took us by a delightful paved pathway to see a noted Buddhist shrine. I have occasionally met Buddhist present-day saints, but here I saw one in the making. He is enclosed in a hole in a rock and is locked in, as if in a cage; once a day his food is brought and we saw a monk unlock the door and put it in, speaking no word. The embryo saint must never speak. It takes several years of this stultifying life to attain sainthood. A much more attractive Buddhist was one of the attendants at the temple, on whose head I observed the marks of branding. I asked our guide to inquire how he had endured the torture, and his face quite lighted up as he replied: “Your Christ felt no suffering on the cross, nor did I for the joy of winning salvation.”

A charming Chinese secretary, Mr. Wang, showed us over the Y.M.C.A., which has the most picturesque building imaginable amongst the black boulders, to one of which there is a bright red paved causeway. Mr. Wang took us into the Chamber of Commerce, where we met two Edinburgh trained engineers who are engaged on a scheme for sanitation and a new road. Almost every city in China now has a Chamber of Commerce: this is quite a modern innovation and is a Government concern under the Ministry of Commerce. Only rich merchants can belong to them because the fees are so high. They are not very popular among the people because of their attitude during the student strikes; but they have a certain value for general trade purposes, although the guilds are much more important.


I had pleasant evenings at our consulate and at the postal commissioners’, making the acquaintance of the British and American colony. Their gardens were gay with flowers. But again the rain came down, and when we visited a Chinese school at Chien Be our day was rather spoilt by it. Mr. Wang borrowed a little steam launch to take us there, as it is a considerable distance away. He told us how Mr. Dan had made a fortune in the Straits Settlements, where he had seen much of the British and had conceived a desire to imitate their philanthropy. Having had little education as a boy he decided to build schools and finally a university on European lines. He was his own architect, and had succeeded in building spacious and well-planned school house, dormitories, etc.; he is now putting up a similar school for girls. At present they are housed in a neighbouring village, while Mr. Dan and his family live in a cottage in the simplest manner possible. It is really a fine place and most generously supported in every way. The salaries of teachers are from twenty-five to thirty-five dollars, whereas in the missions they receive five dollars. This is one of the new difficulties confronting all missions: the salaries of their workers must be quadrupled in order to approach those of Government and other employees.

I left Amoy in pouring rain and had a good little voyage to Swatow on a most comfortable steamer, reaching it at 6 a.m. Here again one has to go ashore in a sampan, and the ladies sent their cook in one to fetch me. The English Presbyterian Mission has charming quarters, their only drawback being that they are too near the execution ground, and they may have houses built in front of them. At present they have a lovely view over the bay. Dr. Heyworth has charge of a nice big women’s hospital, where there is an admirable Chinese staff of nurses. It is an infinite pity that there should be so small a European staff—only a man and a woman apiece for the two hospitals, and they have in addition to train their own staff. Miss Paton has charge of the girls’ school, and I must again note how such busy workers found time to give me the most delightful[213] hospitality. Of course there are European hotels in Amoy, Swatow and Foochow, etc., for there is an ever-increasing number of foreign merchants in these cities, but I have had the good fortune to stay with missionary friends, so cannot speak of the hotels from personal experience. It makes travelling for foreigners, however, much simpler than it used to be, and a trip along the China coast is a delightful one, for the scenery is most beautiful and there are all kinds of interesting places to visit—when it does not rain!

Dr. Heyworth took me for an excursion by rail up to the town of Chao Chow, stopping on the way to visit a Chinese family, who have beautiful ancestral halls and some of the finest modern stone carvings in the architecture of these buildings. The stone is green, and the effect of the carving is heightened by cunning touches of green and gold paint. We went by chair across the ricefields from the railway to the village, about two miles distant. The rice was being hastily cleared from the stone threshing floors where it had been husked, on account of a lowering sky, and the village was humming like a busy hive of bees. Mr. Tan and a cousin met us on his threshold, and it was a revelation to see this perfect type of a Chinese country house. The restrained beauty of detail was great; for instance, a large courtyard had an orange curtain as a canopy, casting a subdued golden light over the tall earthenware tubs, from which stately lotus blossoms and leaves reared themselves. The ancestral shrine faced this courtyard and the tablets were of choicest lacquer, surrounded by handsomely carved furniture. Mr. Tan’s grandfather built this family shrine, and it took ten skilled sculptors thirty years to accomplish it. There were bronzes and a wealth of artistic things reflected in the marble floors, the only jarring note being the European lamps and chandeliers. After being introduced to the ladies of the family we were taken to call at two houses, where we made the acquaintance of other members of the family. The most noticeable feature of these houses were the porcelain decorations of the roofs. All sorts of blossoms, rose and white and other colours, stood out in delicate[214] tracery against the sky. These porcelain decorations are a speciality of southern Chinese art, and on the ancestral temple at Canton are most elaborate groups of figures and even landscapes. Panels of open-work pottery are let into the walls.

Mr. Tan took us to see a school supported by his family where a hundred bright smart-looking boys were hard at work. He has a large business in Singapore, and it is a curious fact that from Swatow and district goes forth a continuous stream of colonists to the Straits Settlements, Hong Kong and elsewhere. They always return with accumulated wealth. Swatow itself is the fifth largest trading port of China, and has a population of some ten millions behind it, for which it is the natural outlet.

Mr. Tan took leave of us at the Baptist Chapel, where we received a very friendly welcome. The Southern American Baptists have a great many village stations and about fifty workers, not counting the Chinese staff—a great contrast to our English missions! They do mainly educational and evangelistic, also some medical work. In Swatow they have a hopeful field for social service, but as they live on the further side of the bay I had not time to go across to see their fine buildings, schools, hospital, etc.; they propose building a big church in Swatow. The American Government has established cinema lecture courses for Chinese communities, and they get the missionaries to use them in order to make known American trade and commerce, and American life in general.

We returned by chair to the railway and were met at Chao Chowfu by Dr. Wight. It is a station of the English Presbyterian Mission, but he was the sole European representative there at the time. No doubt the Chinese workers are thereby obliged to take more responsibility and work than would otherwise be the case, but really it is too hard on the one Englishman, and how can a hospital be satisfactorily run on such lines?

There was a severe earthquake some years ago which brought the church and hospital buildings to the ground, but happily all the[215] patients were rescued in time. We saw over the new hospital, which seemed well planned and in good working order. The city needs such a hospital, and one regretted to see the American Mission Colony across the river, so far away from the busy haunts of men. The bridge was as fascinating as it was curious—large masonry piers, with stones reaching from one to the other some fifteen to eighteen feet long. Shops ply a busy trade on the piers and a big shady tree grows out of one of them. In the centre of the Han River there is a wide bridge of swaying boats connected on either side by a stone stairway with the adjacent piers. On the river we noticed most picturesque boats with threefold sails; these belong to the Hakka people, an indigenous race, quite different from the Chinese, who live further inland.

The streets of the town are most attractive, full of amusing shops, and we noticed that private houses had little doorways for their dogs: some of these had suspended doors, so that the dogs could push their way in. As there is a population of some three or four hundred thousand in Chao Chowfu, with a hundred and eighty villages in the adjacent district, it is a busy place; and there are sixty to seventy schools in it. One most interesting Buddhist temple we visited, in which a stone monument has been put up by the city in honour of Dr. Ross and Mr. James for their work during a cholera epidemic.

We returned next day to Swatow, where the guide-book tells you there is nothing to see. On the contrary, I found a great deal to see under Dr. Whyte’s guidance. A temple was being redecorated with beautiful paintings of most delicate and imaginative workmanship all along its walls. The tireless skill and industry of the artists filled me with envy. The trades of the place were fascinating; as for instance the soldering of pans with holes in them. The mender has his boiling metal in a portable heater and handles it with a glove, dabbing little patches round the hole till it is filled up. While watching with absorbed interest I felt a stealthy hand taking a few[216] stray cash out of my pocket, but the thief was so inexperienced that when I caught his hand he dropped the cash into mine! Another interesting but rather hot sight was the blowing of glass lamp-chimneys. Yet another less pleasing industry was the canning of lychees; about a hundred dirty little girls are employed in it. I will draw a veil over this, or no one would eat the delicacy, which I had greatly enjoyed up to that time. A vision of Tiptree flashed across my mind: it would be a beautiful thing to have Tiptree in China. The fruits at Swatow are so lovely: to see the stalls piled up with pomeloes, pineapples, peaches, lychees, bananas, dragon’s eyes and other fruit make one’s mouth water. Equally beautiful—though horrible in smell—are the fish stalls, but here the names are quite beyond me.

One afternoon we had an amusing ride through the ricefields, where the process of harvesting was in full swing. The vehicle for such travel is a comfortable wicker chair to hold two persons (first class), or four (second class) in a less comfortable chair. The chairs are on runners, on a light railway line; they are pushed by swift coolies, so that they go at a good pace. Extra cash = express speed!

We met a few missionaries here on their way for a summer holiday to a health resort, but it takes time and money to reach any such place, and travelling up-country here seems very fatiguing, especially with slender means. I regretfully parted from the congenial group of missionaries who had conspired to give me such a pleasant time, and set off with several ladies for Hong Kong.

It is always delightful to me to stay there; it is one of the most beautiful spots in the world, but it makes me feel inordinately proud of being British. It is a feather in our cap that the Chinese love to come and live there. When it was first ceded to Britain in 1841 its native population was 4,000 (including the leased port of Kowloon, across the bay); in 1911 it was 444,664 Chinese and 12,089 other nationalities—that is a remarkable record for seventy years. We[217] have 4,673 British military and naval forces there. It is the greatest shipping and the greatest banking centre of the East. No contrast could be greater than that afforded by a visit to the neighbouring port of Macao, the first foreign settlement in China, and only forty miles away. It was first opened for Portuguese traders to build factories there in 1557, and was the only open port till we obtained Hong Kong. The Portuguese were an adventurous and energetic race in those days: it was the emporium of trade in Eastern Asia for three hundred years. To-day it is the most dead-alive place that I have ever visited, and its population is eighty thousand. It is a charming spot, with delicious sea breezes, making the climate far preferable to that of Hong Kong. Its industries (?) are gambling and opium smuggling, with their attendant vices.

An interesting detail is that the dominant colour of Macao is red. The dominant colour in China, on the other hand, is blue. It may interest some of my readers to note this, and to compare it with the fact that the dominant colour in India is red, the sensuous, as contrasted with blue, the non-sensuous. It seems to me very characteristic of race differences.

We were fortunate enough to be at Macao for an interesting aeroplane function: the opening of an American aerial service between Macao, Hong Kong and Canton. A large and cheerful party of Americans came to the hotel where we were staying, and there was a turn-out of the whole population to see the ceremony. On every rock and vantage point above the lovely bay figures were perched expectant, and the quay was crowded. Unfortunately the necessary petrol had not arrived, and the machines just put inquisitive noses outside their sheds and then withdrew. We did not succeed in penetrating the mystery why the American Company should have selected Macao for such a purpose. No doubt they have some astute reason. The service between Hong Kong and Canton ought to be a useful one commercially.

The lack of railways and roads in China is a tremendous handicap[218] to the country, and the Government has already turned its attention to aviation. An English firm was successful in obtaining from it the contract (in 1918) to supply a hundred commercial aeroplanes, and to construct the necessary aerodromes, supply and repair depôts, etc. The aeroplanes have already been completed, and a service is started from Peking to Shanghai. It will be most interesting to see how the experiment turns out. The planes are like those used for crossing the Atlantic and can carry twelve passengers and luggage. The adviser to the Chinese Government is Lt.-Col. F. Vesey Holt, who is at Peking, with a staff of skilled pilots and engineers.

We enjoyed the hospitality of the Customs Commissioner, and heard of the difficulties of combating opium smuggling and of working an international customs service. The Japanese unfortunately are pushing the opium trade with considerable success.

I made another excursion from Hong Kong of the greatest interest, namely to Canton. It is now the seat of the Southern Government, which is not recognized, however, by any of the foreign powers. The Cantonese are very different from the Northern Chinese and their language is wholly unintelligible to them. They are the cleverest and most advanced people in the empire, and have traded with Europeans regularly since the seventeenth century; they have in consequence been influenced by Western ideas to a certain extent. The native population is estimated at two millions, of whom two hundred thousand live in boats; there are many foreign merchants as well as missionaries of various nationalities. Its hospitals and schools are justly celebrated. I went by the night boat, arriving about 6 a.m., and had engaged a guide to take a young French lady and myself to see all the main sights. Canton is a most fascinating city, and as one was carried in a chair through its narrow granite-paved streets (their average width is twelve feet, and they are eighty miles in extent), one is dazzled by the wealth of beautiful and curious things displayed on every side.

I had been given Sir F. Treves’ description to read before starting,[219] in order to discourage me from visiting Canton; but it simply baffles me that anyone can be so blind to its charm and so keen to note the unpleasant side of things. We first visited the workshops for making kingfisher feather jewellery, and the workmen are wonderfully skilful in this art; none but a Chinaman would do it. The feathers are first cleaned by small boys, who act as apprentices and receive no wages for four years. Then the feather is delicately cut the exact size of the surface of the silver mount on which it is to be laid. The designs are incredibly fine and elaborate. All the workmen wear strong magnifying glasses and work with rapidity as well as meticulous exactness. The bridal head-dress of Chinese ladies are elaborate structures, a foot or more in height, made of this feather work, and they retain for many years the dazzling iridescence of the kingfisher.

There are several most ancient temples and pagodas to visit, nine-tenths of which are Buddhist. The most interesting of these is the Wa-lam-tsz, where we saw Marco Polo wearing a hat, seated amongst the five hundred life-size figures of Buddha’s immediate disciples. History does not confirm his conversion to Buddhism!

The ancestral temple of the Chen family is very beautiful, though modern, with its figured roofs, to which I have already referred. Although it was erected for one family, admission is granted to others also on payment. Those wishing a first-class position pay a hundred and forty dollars, but there are different grades at varying prices, and even ten dollars will gain admittance. There is a City of the Dead, where apartments can be rented for the deceased pending such time as they are buried: this may not take place for some time, and we were informed that some coffins had been there thirty years already. We visited the Flowery Pagoda and other temples before returning to the shops, and we seemed to cover a great many miles. The shops were tempting in the extreme—wonderful embroideries, baskets, paintings and books, silks, fans, ginger and other fruits, lacquer, furniture, silver and pewter ware, leather goods and curios of every kind. The antique bird-cage is one of the most fascinating[220] creations, with its exquisite inlaying, delicate architectural structure, ornamental food pots and table.

At Canton may still be seen, but not often, I was told, the magnificent old house-boats, the very acme of perfection in artistic decoration. There are numbers of house-boats still which are used as places of entertainment; which certainly seems strange to a Westerner.

We visited other workshops to see fine carving of ivory and jade, and everywhere were impressed by the infinite patience and endurance of the workmen. They certainly rank higher as a class than in any other country. One-fourth of the population of China are labourers and they are sober, laborious, reliable and contented, living on the meanest wages and asking for no holidays, except the rare national ones. Naturally no white people can compete with them, so they are rigorously excluded from most countries. The problem is a difficult one to solve, but the main thing that should be done is to safeguard their own country and to preserve the northern part of Asia from being invaded by non-Asiatic colonists. If Japan and China became friends and had a just settlement of their mutual claims, granting room for expansion for their rapidly increasing population, there would be an unexampled area of prosperity before both countries. Railway communication is confined to seven thousand miles in China: it has been more remunerative than in any other country, and what was started by British enterprise should be carried forward by British tenacity. There is scope enough for all countries in this matter, but we are singularly slow to seize our opportunities; perhaps it is owing to the discouragement of our own railway system. There is a railway line connecting Canton with Hong Kong, and we enjoyed the three hours’ journey back by it through lovely scenery. When Canton is linked up with Hankow by rail, it will be a great help to the unifaction of the empire, as well as to the expansion of commerce.

One of the last duties before leaving China was of course to visit the Bank, and this brings me to the last problem I should mention of[221] all China’s changes—the question of currency. It seems extraordinary that every province and almost every city of importance still has its own coinage. Long ago, I was told, this would have been altered, had it not been for the native banker, who profited amazingly on the system. The Chinese bankers, however, have had much to endure of late years, and were heavily looted by Yuan Shi Kai and other Government officials. They are always in danger of being pounced on, so at last they have decided to initiate a wholly new policy. The new spirit of initiative and organization has entered into them with startling results.

They believe that China is able to support herself and that her financial distress is entirely owing to maladministration. Therefore they have come forward as a body, offering to undertake a financial scheme of their own to solve the problem. “They believe that they can place and maintain China’s finances on so sound a basis that the unavoidable political unrest of the new era, which they realize is still far from concluded, will not greatly impair the Treasury’s credit. They are idealists, but pragmatic idealists.” When the Government was in terrible straits at the New Year (the financial settling day of China), the new union of bankers, through the Shanghai Association, served an ultimatum on the Minister of Finance, prohibiting his issuing a new credit paper, and saying that the banks would refuse to accept it. At the same time they offered to assist the administrative departments out of their difficulty, if the Government would place the matter in their hands and authorize their working out a programme for China’s future finance. This took place, and the Government received six hundred million Mexican dollars, with which its liabilities were met.

The new financial scheme is being prepared, and an important part of it is the sweeping retrenchment in military expenditure. This extravagant and wasteful expenditure is a source of untold evil to the country at the present time. If the scheme can be achieved it will be a great factor in quieting the country; but the[222] disbanding of large bodies of troops is no easy matter. The worst military leaders are extorting large sums of money from the Government, while the claims of those like Wu-pei-fu and Feng-Yu-Hsiang, who are keeping order, are disregarded. A tremendous sum of ready money would be required to pay the arrears of troops before disbandment: but it can be done if public confidence can be won by necessary guarantees.

I have tried to show many channels through which the new spirit of the Chinese race is flowing. I have taken advantage of the knowledge of men of all sorts and nationalities, in order to appeal to men of all sorts and conditions in the West. For we have the right of brotherhood in all world movements, and there is an infinite variety of mutual service possible to those who have undergone and are still undergoing the pangs of a new birth. My task has been to draw pictures with pen and brush, and my consolation in the inadequacy of its fulfilment is the poet’s view that “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” If the book proves a ladder’s rung by which others mount, it will have served its end.


There is no standardised spelling of Chinese names.



[1] Yamen is the term used for official buildings in China.

[2] This is the first institution of the kind in China, and is much needed, considering the fact that there is a garrison of seven thousand soldiers. The Institute has a fine lecture hall, two classrooms, two reception rooms, reading and recreation rooms; but it lacks a man to devote himself to developing the work as it should be, and to give his whole energy to work among soldiers.

[3] See Dr. Harold Balme’s An Inquiry into the Scientific Efficiency of Mission Hospitals in China.

[4] See The Face of China, Chapter V.

[5] We were fortunate in finding an intelligent young English-trained Chinese in Peking to act as our interpreter.

[6] It may interest the reader to know that the coolie hire for nineteen men was $165 (about £50 at the rate of exchange at that date) for the journey from Yünnanfu to Anshun.

[7] Crackers are much used in Chinese worship.

[8] Up this river at a place called Chên-Chow are the richest tungsten mines in the world. The raw product is sold at two thousand dollars per ton.

[9] In one American school the boys are fined if heard speaking Chinese, and are not taught to read Chinese; in many there is no teaching of Chinese classics.

[10] There is an excellent handbook called An Official Guide to Eastern Asia, Vol. IV. published by the Imperial Japanese Government Railways in 1915, which is beautifully illustrated, and which gives all the necessary information for making such a trip. It is to be bought at Sifton Praed’s, St. James’s Street, and elsewhere, price 20s.

[11] Chapters II, VII and VIII have appeared by agreement with the publishers in Outward Bound.

[12] He was entertained in a large guest-house which we visited. The Governor has recently built it for such occasions.

[13] The first edition of What the People Ought to Know was 2,750,000, and was distributed gratis throughout the province. One section is headed “The Three Fears”—these being (i) God, (ii) the Law, (iii) Public Opinion.

[14] See Chapter VII, the account of General Feng’s influence on town of Changteh.

[15] He intends to add a medical faculty to those already established in the Shansi university.

[16] C.M.S. = Church Missionary Society.

[17] Chinese students studying abroad frequently adopt English names for the sake of convenience. A student called Ng, for instance, experienced much difficulty till he did this.

[18] See illustrations, p. 49.

[19] This description is drawn from an official report of opium culture. No doubt it varies somewhat in different places, but the fact of the great labour required is true of it everywhere.

[20] China’s only Hope—written by Chang Chih-Tung, China’s greatest Viceroy after China’s defeat by Japan. More than one million copies of it were sold, so great was its popularity.

[21] On the Trail of the Opium Poppy, Vol. II, p. 3. For the names of many trees and plants given in this volume I am indebted to this writer.

[22] The high priest of Taoism in Kiangsi is called “High Priest of the Dragon and Tiger Mountains” (Hackmann’s Der Buddhismus, p. 186), and I have seen tiger shrines on Mount Omi.

[23] The Keh-lao are a group of tribes quite distinct from the Miao and I-chia, with a language of their own. The Ya-Ya Keh-lao are so called because every bride has a front tooth (= ya) broken.

[24] The character “ching” is different from the above.

[25] S. R. Clarke’s Among the Tribes in South-West China, pp. 41, 42.

[26] See M. E. Burton’s admirable book, Notable Women of Modern China (published by Fleming Revell).

[27] I am indebted for much information on this point to T. Tingfang Lew, M.A., B.D. (Yale), Lecturer on Psychology, National University, Peking, etc. etc.

[28] I am greatly indebted to a series of articles by Mr. T. Bowen Partington in the Financier for these and other trade details in different parts of the book.

[29] The blind boys have been wonderfully trained by Mrs. Wilkinson in music. Their singing had the touching pathos so often heard in the singing of the blind, and their orchestra is known for its skill in places remote from Foochow.


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