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Title: As A Chinaman Saw Us
       Passages from his Letters to a Friend at Home

Author: Anonymous

Editor: Henry Pearson Gratton

Release Date: October 2, 2007 [EBook #22831]

Language: English

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[Pg v]


Since the publication in 1832 of that classic of cynicism, The Domestic Manners of the Americans, by Mrs. Trollope, perhaps nothing has appeared that is more caustic or amusing in its treatment of America and the Americans than the following passages from the letters of a cultivated and educated Chinaman. The selections have been made from a series of letters covering a decade spent in America, and were addressed to a friend in China who had seen few foreigners. The writer was graduated from a well-known college, after he had attended an English school, and later took special studies at a German university. Americans have been informed of the [Pg vi]impressions they make on the French, English, and other people, but doubtless this is the first unreserved and weighty expression of opinion on a multiplicity of American topics by a Chinaman of cultivation and grasp of mind.

It will be difficult for the average American to conceive it possible that a cultivated Chinaman, of all persons, should have been honestly amused at our civilization; that he should have considered what Mrs. Trollope called "our great experiment" in republics a failure, and our institutions, fashions, literary methods, customs and manners, sports and pastimes as legitimate fields for wit and unrepressed jollity. Yet in the unbosoming of this cultivated "heathen" we see our fads and foibles held up as strange gods, and must confess some of them to be grotesque when seen in this yellow light.

[Pg vii]

It is doubtless true that the masses of Americans do not take the Chinaman seriously, and an interesting feature of this correspondence is the attitude of the Chinaman on this very point and his clever satire on our assumption of perfection and superiority over a nation, the habits of which have been fixed and settled for many centuries. The writer's experiences in society, his acquaintance with American women of fashion and their husbands, all ingeniously set forth, have the hall-mark of actual novelty, while his loyalty to the traditions of his country and his egotism, even after the Americanizing process had exercised its influence over him for years, add to the interest of the recital.

In revising the correspondence and rearranging it under general heads, the editor has preserved the salient features of it, with but little [Pg viii]essential change and practically in its original shape. If the reader misses the peculiar idioms, or the pigeon-English that is usually placed in the mouth of the Chinaman of the novel or story, he or she should remember that the writer of the letters, while a "heathen Chinee," was an educated gentleman in the American sense of the term. This fact should always be kept in mind because, as the author remarks, to many Americans whom he met, it was "incomprehensible that a Chinaman can be educated, refined, and cultivated according to their own standards."

With pardonable pride he tells how, on one occasion, when a woman in New York told him she knew her ancestral line as far back as 1200 A. D., he replied that he himself had "a tree without a break for thirty-two hundred years." He was sure she did not believe him, but he found her [Pg ix]"indeed!" delightful. The author's name has been withheld for personal reasons that will be sufficiently obvious to those who read the letters. The period during which he wrote them is embraced in the ten years from 1892 to 1902.

Henry Pearson Gratton.

San Francisco, California,
      May 10th, 1904.


[Pg 1]




Many of the great powers believe themselves to be passing through an evolutionary period leading to civic and national perfection. America, or the United States, has already reached this state; it is complete and finished. I have this from the Americans themselves, so there can be no question about it; hence it requires no little temerity to discuss, let alone criticize, them.

Yet I am going to ask you to behold the American as he is, as I honestly found him—great, small, good, bad, [Pg 2]self-glorious, egotistical, intellectual, supercilious, ignorant, superstitious, vain, and bombastic. In truth, so very remarkable, so contradictory, so incongruous have I found the American that I hesitate. Shall I give you a satire; shall I devote myself to eulogy; shall I tear what they call the "whitewash" aside and expose them to the winds of excoriation; or shall I devote myself to an introspective, analytical divertissement? But I do not wish to educate you on the Americans, but to entertain, to make you laugh by the recital of comical truths; so without system I am going to tell you of these Americans as I found them, day by day, month by month, officially, socially; in their homes, in politics, trade, sorrow, despair, and in their pleasures.

You will remember when the Evil Spirit is asked by the modest Spirit of Good to indicate his possessions he tucks[Pg 3] the earth under one arm, drops the sun into one pocket, the moon into another, and the stars into the folds of his garment. In a word, to use the saying of my friends, he "claims everything in sight"; and this is certainly a characteristic of the American: he is all-perspective, he claims to have all the virtues, and in his ancestry embraces the entire world. At a dinner at the —— in Washington during the egg stage of my experience I sat next to a charming lady; and having been told that it was a custom of the French to compliment women, I remarked that her cheeks bloomed like our poppy of the Orient. She laughed, and responded, "Yes, I get that from my English grandfather." "But your eyes are like black pearls," I continued, seeing that I was on what a general on my right called the "right trail." "I got them from my Italian grandmother," she[Pg 4] replied. "And your hair?" I pressed. "Must be Irish," was the answer, "for my paternal grandmother was Irish and her husband Scotch." It is true that this charmingly beautiful and composite goddess (at least she would have been one had she not been naked like a geisha at a men's dinner) was the product of a dozen nations, and a typical American.

The original Americans appear to have been English, despite the fact that the Spaniards discovered the country, though a high official, a Yankee whom I met at a reception, told me that this was untrue. His ancestor had discovered North America, and I believe he had written a book to prove it. (En passant, all Americans write books; those who have not, fully intend to write one.) I listened complacently, then said, "My dear ——, if I am not mistaken the Chinese discovered America." I recalled[Pg 5] the fact to his mind that the northwestern Eskimos and the Indians were essentially Asiatic in type; and it is true that he had never heard of the ethnologic map at his National Museum, which shows the location of Chinese junks blown to American shores within a period of three hundred years. I explained that junks had been blown over to America for the last three thousand years, and that in my country there were many records of voyages to the Western land, ages before 1492.

You see I soon began to be Americanized and to claim things. China discovered America and gave her the compass as well as gunpowder. The first Americans were in the nature of emigrants; men and women who did not succeed well in their own country and so sought new fields, just as people are doing to-day. They came over in a ship called[Pg 6] the "Mayflower," and were remarkably prolific, as I have met thousands who hail from this stock. At one time England sent her criminals to Virginia—one of the United States—and many of the refuse of the home country were sent to other parts of America in the early days. Younger sons of good families were also sent over for various reasons. Women of all classes were sent by the ship-load, and sold for wives. I reminded a lady of this, who was lamenting the fact that in China some women are sold for wives. She was absolutely ignorant of this well-known fact in American history, and forgot the selling of black women. Among the men were many representatives of old and noble families; but the bulk, I judge from their colonial histories, were people of low degree. Very soon other countries began to ship people to America. Italy, Germany, Russia, Norway, [Pg 7]Sweden, and other lands were drawn upon for constantly increasing numbers as years went by. All tumbled into the American hopper. Imagine a coffee-grinder into which have been thrown Greek, Roman, Jew, Gentile, and all the rest, and then let what they call Uncle Sam—a heroic, paternal, and comical figure, representing the government—turn the handle and grind out the American who is neither Jew, Gentile, Greek, Roman, Russe, or Swede, but a new product, sui generis, and mostly Methodist.

This process has never ceased for an hour. America has been from 1492 to the present time, in the language of the American "press," the "dumping-ground" of the nations of the world, the real open door; yet this grinding assimilation has gone on. It is, perhaps, due to the climate, perhaps the water, or the[Pg 8] air; but the product of these people born on the soil is described by no other word than American. It may be Irish-American, very offensive; Dutch-American, very strenuous, like the Vice-President;[1] Jewish-American, very commercial; Italian-American, very dirty and reeking with garlic; but it is American, totally unlike its progenitor, a something into which is blown a tremendous energy, that is very wearisome, a bombast which is the sum of that of all nations, and a conceit like that possessed by —— alone. You see it is incurable, also offensive—at least to the Oriental mind. Yet I grant you the American is great; I have it from him and from her; it must be so.

You have the spectacle here of the nations of the world pouring a stream, that is not pactolean, and not perfumed with[Pg 9] the gums of Araby, flowing in and peopling the country. In time they had grievances more fancied than real, yet grievances. They rose against the home government, threw off the English yoke, and became a republic with a division into States, which I will write of when I tell you of the American politician. This was the first trust—what they call a merger—but it occurred in politics. They have killed off a fair percentage of the actual owners of the soil, the Indians, swindling them out of the balance, and driving them back to a sort of ever-changing dead-line. Without delay they assumed the form of a dominant nation, and announced themselves the greatest nation on the earth.

Immigration was resumed, and all nations again sent their refuse population to America. I have facts showing that for years English poorhouses and [Pg 10]hospitals were emptied of their inmates and shipped to America. It was a distinct policy of the anti-home-rule party in Ireland to encourage the poor Irish to go to America; and now when there are more Irish in America than in Ireland the fate of Ireland is assured. Yet the American air takes the fight out of the Irishman, the rose from his cheek, and makes a natural-born politician out of him. America still continued to receive immigrants, and not satisfied with the natural flow of the human current, began to import African slaves to a country founded for the benefit of those who desired an asylum where they could enjoy religious and political freedom. The Africans were sold in the cotton belt, their existence virtually creating two distinct political parties. America long remained a dumping-ground for nearly all the nations of the world having an excess of[Pg 11] population. Great navigation companies were built up, to a large extent, on this trade. They sent agents to every foreign country, issued pamphlets in every European language, and uncounted thousands were brought over—the scum of the earth in many instances. There was no restriction to immigration until the Chinese were barred out. After accepting the outlaws of every European state, the poor of all lands, they shut the door on our "coolie" countrymen.

In this way, briefly, America has grown to her present population of 80,000,000. The remarkable growth and assimilation is still going on—a menace to the world, but in a constantly decreasing ratio, which has become so marked that the leading Americans, the class which corresponds to our scholars, are aghast at the singular conditions which exist. Non-assimilation shows itself in[Pg 12] labor riots, in the murder of two Presidents—Garfield and Lincoln—in socialistic outbreaks in every quarter, and in signal outbreaks in various sections, at lynchings, and other unlawful performances. I am attempting to give you an idea of the constituents of America to-day; but so interesting is the subject, so prolific in its warnings and possibilities, that I find myself wandering.

To glance at conditions at the present time, about 600,000 aliens are coming to America yearly. What is the result? I was invited to meet a distinguished German visiting in New York last month, and at the dinner a young lady who sat by my side said to me, "I wish I could puzzle him." "Why?" I asked, in amazement. "Oh," was her reply, "he looks so cram full of knowledge; I would like to take him down." "Ah," I said. "Ask him which is the third largest German[Pg 13] city in the world. It is New York; he will never guess it." She did so, and I assure you he was "puzzled," and would scarcely believe it until a well-known man assured him it was true. There are more Germans in Chicago than in Leipsic, Cologne, Dresden, Munich, or a dozen small towns joined in one. Half of the Chicago Germans speak their own tongue. This city is the third Swedish city of the world in population. It is the fourth Polish city and the second Bohemian city. I was informed by a professor in the University of Chicago that, in that strange city, the number of people who speak the language of the Bohemians equaled the combined inhabitants of Richmond, Atlanta, Portland, and Nashville—all large cities. "What do you think of it?" I asked. "We are up against it," was the reply. I can not explain this retort so that you[Pg 14] would understand it, but it had great significance. The professor, a distinguished philologist, was worried, and he looked it. A lady who was a club woman—and by this I do not mean that she was armed with a club, but merely a member of clubs or societies for educational advancement and social aggrandizement—said it was merely his digestion.

I learned from my friend, the dyspeptic professor, that over forty dialects are spoken in Chicago. About one-half only of the total population speak or understand English. There are 500,000 Germans, 125,000 Poles, 100,000 Swedes, 90,000 Bohemians, 50,000 Yiddish, 25,000 Dutch, 25,000 Italians, 15,000 French, 10,000 Irish, 10,000 Servians, 10,000 Lutherans, 7,000 Russians, and 5,000 Hungarians in Chicago. You will be surprised to learn that numbers do not count. The 500,000 Germans are[Pg 15] not the dominating power, nor are the 100,000 Swedes. The 10,000 Irish are said absolutely to control the political situation. You will ask if I believe that this monster foreign element can be reduced to a homogeneous unit. I reply, yes. Fifty years from to-day they will all be Americans, and a majority will, doubtless, show you their family tree, tracing their ancestry back to the Mayflower.


[1] This passage was written just before the assassination of President McKinley.

[Pg 16]



Hash—and I do not mean by this word a corruption of hasheesh—is a term indicating in America a food formed of more than one article chopped and cooked together. I was told by a very witty and charming lady that hash was a synonym for E pluribus unum (one from many), the motto of the Government, but I did not find it on the American arms. This was an American "dinner joke," of which more anon; nevertheless, hash represents the American people of to-day. The millions of all nations, which have swarmed here since 1492, may be represented by this delectable dish, which, after all, has a certain homogeneity. Englishmen are at once recognized here, and[Pg 17] so are Chinamen. You would never mistake one of our people for a Japanese; an Italian you would know across the way; but an American not always in America. He may be a Swede, a German, or a Canadian; he is not an American until he opens his mouth. Then there is no mistake as to what he is. He has a nasal tone that is purely American.

All the old cities, as Boston, New York, Richmond, and Philadelphia, have certain nasal peculiarities or variants. The Bostonian affects the English. The New Englander, especially in the north, has a comical twang, which you can produce by holding the nose tightly and attempting to speak. When he says down it sounds like daoun. It is impossible for him not to overvowel his words, and nothing is more amusing than to hear the true Yankee countryman talk. The Philadelphian is quite as marked in tone[Pg 18] and enunciation. A well-educated Philadelphian will say where is me wife for my. I have also been asked by a Philadelphian, "Where are you going at?" It would be impossible to mistake the intonation of a Philadelphian, even though you met him in the wilds of Manchuria in the depths of night.

Among the most charming and delightfully cultured people I met in America were Philadelphians of old families. The New Yorker is more cosmopolitan, while the Southern men, to a certain extent, have caught the inflection of the negro, who is the nurse in the South for all white children. The Americans are taught that the principal and chief end of man is to make a fortune and get married; but to accomplish this it is necessary first to "sow wild oats," become familiar with the vices of drink, smoking, and other forms of dissipation,[Pg 19] a sort of test of endurance possibly, such as is found among many native races; yet one scarcely expects to find it among the latest and highest exponents of perfection in the human race.

The American pretends to be democratic; scoffs at England and other European lands, but at heart he is an aristocrat. His tastes are only limited by his means, and not always then. Any American, especially a politician, will tell you that there is but one class—the people, and that all are born equal. In point of fact, there are as many classes as there are grades of pronounced individuality, and all are very unequal, as every one knows. They are included in a general way in three classes: the upper class (the refined and cultivated); the middle class (represented by the retail shop-keepers); and last, the rest. The cream of society will be found in all the cities to be among the[Pg 20] professional men, clergymen, presidents of colleges, long-rich wholesale merchants, judges, authors, etc.

The distinctions in society are so singular that it is almost impossible for a foreigner to understand them. There are persons who make it a life study to prepare books and papers on the subject, and whose opinions are readily accepted; yet such a person might not be accepted in the best society. What constitutes American society and its divisions is a mystery. In a general sense a retail merchant, a man who sold shoes or clothes, a tailor, would under no circumstances find a place in the first social circles; yet if these same tradesmen should change to wholesalers and give up selling one article at a time, they would become eligible to the best society. They do not always get in, however. At a dinner my neighbor, an attractive matron, was much[Pg 21] dismayed by my asking if she knew a certain Mr. ——, a well-known grocer. "I believe our supplies (groceries) come from him," was her chilly reply. "But," I ventured, "he is now a wholesaler." "Indeed!" said madam; "I had not heard of it." The point, very inconceivable to you, perhaps, was that the grocer, whether wholesale or retail, was not readily accepted; yet the man in the wholesale business in drugs, books, wine, stores, fruit, or almost anything else, had the entrée, if he was a gentleman. The druggist, the hardware man, the furniture dealer, the grocer, the retailer would constitute a class by themselves, though of course there are other subtle divisions completely beyond my comprehension.

At some of the homes of the first people I would meet a president of a university, an author of note, an Episcopal[Pg 22] bishop, a general of the regular army (preferably a graduate of the West Point Academy), several retired merchants of the highest standing, bankers, lawyers, a judge or two of the Supreme Bench, an admiral of good family and connections. I have good reason to think that a Methodist bishop would not be present at such a meeting unless he was a remarkable man. There were always a dozen men of well-known lineage; men who knew their family history as far back as their great-grandparents, and whose ancestors were associated with the history of the country and its development. The men were all in business or the professions. They went to their offices at nine or ten o'clock and remained until twelve; lunched at their clubs or at a restaurant, returned at one, and many remained until six before going to their homes. The work is intense. A dominating factor or[Pg 23] characteristic in the American man is his pursuit of the dollar. That he secures it is manifest from the miles of beautiful residences, the show of costly equipages and plate, the unlimited range of "stores" or shops one sees in large cities. The millionaire is a very ordinary individual in America; it is only the billionaire who now really attracts attention. The wealth and splendors of the homes, the magnificent tout ensemble of these establishments, suggests the possibility of degeneracy, an appearance of demoralization; but I am assured that this is not apparent in very wealthy families.

It is not to be understood that wealth always gives social position in America. By reading the American papers you might believe that this is all that is necessary. Some wealth is of course requisite to enable a family to hold its own, to give the social retort courteous, to live[Pg 24] according to the mode of others; yet mere wealth will not buy the entrée to the very best society, even in villages. Culture, refinement, education, and, most important, savoir faire, constitute the "open sesame." I know a billionaire, at least this is his reputation, who has no standing merely because he is vulgar—that is, ill-bred. I have met another man, a great financier, who would give a million to have the entrée to the very best houses. Instances could be cited without end.

Such men and women generally have their standing in Europe; in a word, go abroad for the position they can not secure at home. A family now allied to one of the proudest families in Europe had absolutely no position in America previous to the alliance, and doubtless would not now be taken up by some. You will understand that I am speaking[Pg 25] now of the most exclusive American society, formed of families who have age, historical associations, breeding, education, great-grandparents, and always have had "manners." There are other social sets which pass as representative society, into which all the ill-mannered nouveau riche can climb by the golden stairs; but this is not real society. The richest man in America, Rockefeller, quoted at over a billion, is a religious worker, and his indulgences consist in gifts to universities. Another billionaire, Mr. Carnegie, gives his millions to found libraries. Mr. Morgan, the millionaire banker, attends church conventions as an antipodal diversion. There is no conspicuous millionaire before the American public who has earned a reputation for extreme profligacy.

There is a leisure class, the sons of wealthy men, who devote their time to[Pg 26] hunting and other sports; but in the recent war this class surged to the front as private soldiers and fought the country's battles. I admire the American gentleman of the select society class I have described. He is modest, intelligent, learned in the best sense, magnanimous, a type of chivalry, bold, vigorous, charming as a host, and the soul of honor. It is a regret that this is not the dominating and best-known class in America, but it is not; and the alien, the stranger coming without letters of introduction, would fall into other hands. A man might live a lifetime in Philadelphia or Boston and never meet these people, unless he had been introduced by some one who was of the same class in some other city. Such strange social customs make strange bedfellows. Thus, if you came to America to-day and had letters to the Vice-President, you would, without doubt, if [Pg 27]properly accredited, see the very best society. If, on the other hand, you had letters to the President at his home in the State of Ohio you would doubtless meet an entirely different class, eminently respectable, yet not the same. It would be impossible to ignore the inference from this. The Vice-President is in society (the best); the President is not. Where else could this hold? Nowhere but in America.

The Americans affect to scorn caste and sect, yet no nation has more of them. Sets or classes, even among men, are found in all towns where there is any display of wealth. The best society of a small town consists of its bank presidents, its clergymen, its physicians, its authors, its lawyers. No matter how educated the grocer may be, he will not be received, nor the retail shoe dealer, though the shoe manufacturer, the dealer in many[Pg 28] shoes, may be the virtual leader, at least among the men. Each town will have its clubs, the members ranging according to their class; and while it seems a paradox, it is true that this classification is mainly based upon the refinement, culture, and family of the man. A well-known man once engaged me in conversation with a view to finding out some facts regarding our social customs, and I learned from him that a dentist in America would scarcely be received in the best society. He argued, that to a man of refinement and culture, such a profession, which included the cleaning of teeth, would be impossible; consequently, you would not be likely to find a really cultivated man who was a dentist. On the same grounds an undertaker would not be admitted to the first society.

With us a gentleman is born; with Americans it is possible to create one,[Pg 29] though rarely. An American gentleman is described as a product of two generations of college men who have always had association with gentlemen and the advantages of family standing. Political elevation can not affect a man's status as a gentleman. I heard a lady of unquestioned position say that she admired President McKinley, but regretted that he was not a gentleman. She meant that he was not an aristocrat, and did not possess the savoir faire, or the family associations, that completely round out the American or English gentleman. I asked this lady to indicate the gentlemen Presidents of the country. There were very few that I recall. There were Washington, Harrison, Adams, and Arthur. Doubtless there were others, which have escaped me. Lincoln, the strongest American type, she did not consider in the gentlemen class, and General Grant,[Pg 30] the nation's especial pride, did not fulfil her ideas of what a gentleman should be.

You will perceive, then, that what some American people consider a gentleman and what its most exclusive society accepts for one, comprise two entirely different personages. I found this emphasized especially in the old society of Washington, which takes its traditions from Washington's time or even the pre-Revolutionary period. For such society a self-made man was impossible. Such are the remarkable, indeed astounding, ramifications of the social system of a people who cry to heaven of their democracy. "Americans are all equal—this is one of the gems in our diadem." This epigram I heard drop from the lips of a senator who was the recognized aristocrat of the chamber; yet a man of peculiar social reserve, who would have nothing to do with the other "equals." In a[Pg 31] word, all the talk of equality is an absurd figure of speech. America is at heart as much an aristocracy as England, and the social divisions are much the same under the surface.

You will understand that social rules and customs are all laid down and exacted by women and from women. From them I obtained all my information. No American gentleman would talk (to me at least) on the subject. Ask one of them if there is an American aristocracy, and he will pass over the question in an engaging manner, and tell you that his government is based on the principle of perfect equality—one of the most transparent farces to be found in this interesting country. I have outlined to you what I conceived to be the best society in each city, and in the various sections of the country. In morality and probity I believe them to stand very high; lapses[Pg 32] there may be, but the general tone is good. The women are charming and refined; the men chivalrous, brave, well-poised, and highly educated. Unfortunately, the Americans who compose this "set" are numerically weak. They are not represented to the extent of being a dominating body, and oddly enough, the common people, the shopkeepers, the people in the retail trades, do not understand them as leaders from the fact that they are so completely aloof that they never meet them. A sort of inner "holy of holies" is the real aristocracy of America. What goes for society among the people, the mob, and the press is the set (and a set means a faction, a clique) known as the Four Hundred, so named because it was supposed to represent the "blue blood" of New York ten years ago in its perfection. This Four Hundred has its prototype in all cities, and in some[Pg 33] cities is known as the "fast set." In New York it is made up often of the descendants of old families, the heads of whom in many instances were retail traders within one hundred and fifty years ago; but the modern wealthy representatives endeavor to forget this or skip over it. It is, however, constantly kept alive by what is termed the "yellow press," which delights in picturing the ancestor of one family as a pedler and an itinerant trader, and the head of another family as a vegetable vender, and so on, literally venting its spleen upon them.

In my studies in American sociology I asked many questions, and obtained the most piquant replies from women. One lady, a leader in New York in what I have termed the exclusive set, informed me with a laugh that the ancestor of a well-known family of to-day, one which cuts a commanding figure in society, was[Pg 34] an ordinary laborer in the employ of her grandfather. "Yet you receive them?" I suggested. The reply was a shrug of charming shoulders, which, translated, meant that great wealth had here enabled them to "bore" into the exclusive circle. I found that even among these people, the crême de la crême in the eyes of the people, there were inner circles, and these were not on intimate terms with the others. Here I met a member of the Washington and Lee family, a descendant of Bishop Provoost, the first Episcopal bishop of New York, and friend of Washington and Hamilton. This latter family is notable for an ancestry running back to the massacre of St. Bartholomew and even beyond. I astonished its charming descendant, who very delicately informed me that she knew her ancestry as far back as 1200 A. D., when I told her that I had my "family tree,"[Pg 35] as they call it, without a break for thirty-two hundred years. I am confident she did not believe me, but her "Indeed!" was delightful. In fact, I assure you I have lost my heart to these American women. I met representatives of the Adams, Dana, Madison, Lee, and other families identified with American history in a most honorable way.

The continuity of the Four Hundred idea as a logical system was broken by the quality of some of its members. Compared to the society I have previously mentioned it was as chaff. There was a total lack of intellectuality. Degeneracy marked some of their acts; divorce blackened their records, and shameless affairs marked them. In this "set," and particularly its imitators throughout the United States, the divorce rate is appalling. Men leave their wives and obtain a divorce for no other reason than that a[Pg 36] woman falls in love with another woman's husband. On a yacht we will say there is some scandal. A divorce ensues, and afterward the parties are remarried. Or we will say a wife succumbs to the blandishments of another man. The conjugal arrangements are rearranged, so that, as a very merry New York club man told me, "It is difficult to tell where you are at." In a word, the morale of the men of this set is low, their standard high, but not always lived up to. I believe that I am not doing the American of the middle class wrong and the ultra-fashionable class an injustice in saying that it is as a class immoral.

Americans make great parade of their churches. Spires rise like the pikes of an army in every town, yet the morality of the men is low. There are in this land 600,000 prostitutes—ruined women. But this is not due entirely to the Four [Pg 37]Hundred, whose irregularities appear to be confined to inroads upon their own set. Nearly all these men are club men; two-thirds are in business as brokers, bankers, or professional men; and there is a large percentage of men of leisure and vast wealth. They affect English methods, and are, as a rule, not highly intelligent, but blasé, often effeminate, an interesting spectacle to the student, showing that the downfall of the American Republic would come sooner than that of Rome if the "fast set" were a dominating force, which it is not.

In the great middle class of the American men I find much to admire; half educated, despite their boasted school system, they put up, to quote one of them, "a splendid bluff" of respectability and morality, yet their statistics give the lie to it. Their divorces are phenomenal, and they are obtained on the slightest[Pg 38] cause. If a man or woman becomes weary of the other they are divorced on the ground of incompatibility of temper.

A lady, a descendant of one of the oldest families, desired to marry her friend's husband. He charged his wife with various vague acts, one of which, according to the press, was that she did not wear "corsets"—a sort of steel frame which the American women wear to compress the waist. This was not accepted by the learned judge, and the wife then left her husband and went away on a six or eight months' visit. This enabled the husband to put in a claim of desertion, and the decree of divorce was granted. A quicker method is to pretend to throw the breakfast dishes at your wife, who makes a charge of "extreme incompatibility," and a divorce is at once obtained. Certain Territories bank on their divorce laws, and the mismated have but to go[Pg 39] there and live a few months to obtain a separation on almost any claim. Many of the most distinguished statesmen have been charged with certain moral lapses in the heat of political fights, which, in almost every instance, are ignored by the victims, their silence being significant to some, illogical to others; yet the fact remains that the press goes to the greatest extremes. No family secret is considered sacred to the American politician in the heat of a campaign; to win, he would sacrifice the husband, father, mother, and children of his enemy. So remarkable is the rage for divorce that many of the great religious denominations have taken up arms against it. Catholics forbid it. Episcopalians resent it by ostracism if the cause is trivial, and a "separation" is denounced in the pulpit.

[Pg 40]



The American is an interesting, though not always pleasant, study. His perfect equipoise, his independence, his assumption that he is the best product of the best soil in the world, comes first as a shock; but when you find this but one of the many national characteristics it merely amuses you. One of the extraordinary features of the American is his attitude toward the Chinese, who are taken on sufferance. The lower classes absolutely can conceive of no difference between me and the "coolie." As an example, a boy on the street accosts me with "Hi, John, you washee, washee?" Even a representative in Congress insisted on calling me "John." On [Pg 41]protesting to another man, he laughed, and said, "Oh, the man don't know any better." "But," I replied, "if he does not know any better how is it he is a lawmaker in your lower house?" "I give it up," was his answer, and he ordered what they term a "high-ball." After we had tried several, he laughed and asked, "Shall we consider the matter a closed incident?" Many diplomatic, social, and political questions are often settled with a "high-ball."

It is inconceivable to the average American that there can be an educated Chinese gentleman, a man of real refinement. They know us by the Cantonese laundrymen, the class which ranks with their lowest classes. At dinners and receptions I was asked the most atrocious questions by men and women. One charming young girl, who I was informed was the relative of a Cabinet[Pg 42] officer, asked me if I would not sometime put up my "pig-tail," as she wished to photograph me. Another asked if it was really true that we privately considered all Americans as "white devils." All had an inordinate curiosity to know my "point of view"; what I thought of them, how their customs differed from my own. Of course, replies were manifestly impossible. At a dinner a young man, who, I learned, was a sort of professional diner-out, remarked to a lady: "None of the American girls will have me for a husband; do you not think that if I should go to China some pretty Chinese girl would have me?" This was said before all the company. Every one was silent, waiting for the response. Looking up, she replied, with charming naïveté, "No, I do not think so," which produced much laughter. Now you would have thought the young man[Pg 43] would have been slightly discomfited, but not at all; he laughed heartily, and plumed himself upon the fact that he had succeeded in bringing out a reply.

American men have a variety of costumes for as many occasions. They have one for the morning, which is called a sack-coat, that is, tailless, and is of mixed colors. With this they wear a low hat, an abomination called the derby. After twelve o'clock the frock-coat is used, having long tails reaching to the knees. Senators often wear this costume in the morning—why I could not learn, though I imagine they think it is more dignified than the sack. With the afternoon suit goes a high silk hat, called a "plug" by the lower classes, who never wear them. After dark two suits of black are worn: one a sack, being informal, the other with tails, very formal. They also have a suit for the bath—a robe—and a [Pg 44]sleeping-costume, like a huge bag, with sleeves and neck-hole. This is the night-shirt, and formerly a "nightcap" was used by some. There is also a hat to go with the evening costume—a high hat, which crushes in. You may sit on it without injury to yourself or hat. I know this by a harrowing experience.

Many of the customs of the Americans are strange. Their social life consists of dinners, receptions, balls, card-parties, teas, and smokers. At all but the last women are present. At the dinner every one is in evening dress; the men wear black swallowtail coats, following the English in every way, low white vest, white starched shirt, white collar and necktie, and black trousers. If the dinner does not include women the coat-tails are eliminated, and the vest and necktie are black. Exactly why this is I do not understand, nor do the Americans. The[Pg 45] dinner is begun with the national drink, the "cocktail"; then follow oysters on the half-shell, which you eat with an object resembling the trident carried in the ceremony of Ah Dieu at the Triennial. Each course of the dinner is accompanied by a different wine, an agreeable but exhilarating custom. The knife and fork are used, the latter to go into the mouth, the former not, and here you see a singular ethnologic feature. Class distinctions may at times be recognized by the knife or fork. Thus I was informed that you could at once recognize a person of the gentleman class by his use of the knife and fork. "This is infallible," said my young lady companion. If he is a commoner, he eats with his knife; if a gentleman, with his fork. This was a very nice distinction, and I looked carefully for a knife eater, but never saw one.

There is a vast amount of ceremony[Pg 46] and etiquette about a dinner and various rules for eating, to break which is a social offense. I heard that a certain Madam —— gave lessons in "good form" after the American fashion, so that one could learn what was expected, and at my first dinner I regretted that I had not availed myself of the services of the lady, as at each plate there were nearly a dozen solid silver articles to be used in the different courses, but I endeavored to escape by watching my companion and following her example. But here the impossibility of an American girl resisting a joke caused my downfall. She at once saw my dilemma, and would take up the wrong implement, and when I followed suit she dropped it and took another, laughing in her eyes in a way in which the American girl is a prodigious adept; but completely deceived by her nearly every time, knowing that she was[Pg 47] amusing herself at my expense, I said nothing. The Americans have a peculiar term for the mental attitude I had during this trial. I "sawed wood." The saying was particularly applicable to my situation. My young companion was most engaging, and presently began to talk of the superiority of America, her inventions, etc., mentioning the telephone, printing, and others. "Yes, wonderful," I replied; "but the Chinese had the telephone ages ago. They invented printing, gunpowder, the mariner's compass, and it would be difficult," I said, "for you to mention an object which China has not had for ages." She was amazed that I, a Chinaman, should "claim everything in sight."

There is a peculiar etiquette relating to every course in a dinner. The soup is eaten with a bowl-like spoon, and it is the grossest breach to place this in your[Pg 48] mouth, or approach it, endwise. You approach the side and suck the soup from it. To make a noise would attract attention. The etiquette of the fish is to eat it with a fork; to use the knife even to cut the fish would be unpardonable, or to touch it to take out the bones; the fork alone must be used. The punch course is often an embarrassment to the previous wines, and is followed by what the French call the entrée. In fact, while the Americans boast that everything American is the best, French customs are followed at banquets invariably, this being one of the strange inconsistencies of the Americans. Their clothes are copied from the English, though they will claim in the same breath that their tailors are the best in the world. For wines they claim to be unsurpassed, producing the finest; yet the wines on their tables are French or bear French labels. Game is served[Pg 49]—a grouse or perhaps a hare, and then a vast roast, possibly venison, or beef, and there are vegetables, followed by a salad of some kind. Then comes the dessert—an iced cream, cakes, nuts, raisins, cheese, and coffee with brandy, and then cigars and vermuth or some cordial. After such a dinner of three hours a Southern gentleman clapped me on the back and said, "Great dinner, that; but let's go and get a drink of something solid," and I saw him take what he termed "two fingers" of Kentucky Bourbon whisky—a very stiff drink. I often wondered how the guests could stand so much.

The dinner has no attendant amusement, no dancing, no professional entertainers, and rarely lasts over two hours. Some houses have stringed bands concealed behind barriers of flowers playing soft music, but in the main the dinner is a jollification, a symposium of stories,[Pg 50] where the guests take a turn at telling tales. Story-tellers can not be hired, and the guest at the proper moment says (after having prepared himself beforehand), "That reminds me of a story," and he relates what he has learned with great éclat and applause, as every American will applaud a good story, even if he has heard it time and again. At one dinner which I attended in New York story-telling had been going on for some time when a well-known man came in late. He was received with applause, and when called on for a speech told exactly the same story, by a strange coincidence, that had been told by the last speaker. Not a guest interfered; he was allowed to proceed, and at the end the point was greeted with a roar of laughter. This appeared to me to be an excellent quality in the American character. I was informed that these stories,[Pg 51] forming so important a feature of American dinners, are the product mainly of drummers and certain prominent men; but why men that drum are more skilful in story inventing I failed to learn. President Lincoln and a lawyer named Daniel Webster originated a large percentage of the current stories. It is difficult to understand exactly what the Americans mean.

The American story is incomprehensible to the average foreigner, but it is good form to laugh. I will relate several as illustrative of American wit, and I might add that many of these have been published in books for the benefit of the diner-out. A Cabinet minister told of a prisoner who was called to the bar and asked his name. The man had some impediment in his speech, one of the hundred complaints of the tongue, and began to hiss, uttering a strange [Pg 52]stuttering sound like escaping steam. The judge listened a few moments, then turning to the guard said, "Officer, what is this man charged with?" "Soda-water, I think, your honor," was the reply. This was unintelligible to me until my companion explained it. You must understand that soda-water is a drink that is charged with gas and makes a hissing, spluttering noise when opened. Hence when the judge asked what the prisoner was charged with the policeman, an Irishman, retorted with a joke, the story-teller disregarding the fact that it was an impertinence.

A distinguished New York judge told the following: Two tenement harridans look out of their windows simultaneously. "Good-morning, Mrs. Moriarity," says one. "Good-morning, Mrs. Gilfillan," says the other, adding, "not that I care a d——, but just to make conversation."[Pg 53] This was considered wit of the sharpest kind, and was received with applause. In their stories the Americans spare neither age, sex, nor relatives. The following was related by a general of the army. He said he took a friend home to spend the night with him, the guest occupying the best room. When he came down in the morning he turned to the hostess and said, "Mrs. ——, that was excellent tooth-powder you placed at my disposal; can you give me the name of the maker?" The hostess fairly screamed. "What," she exclaimed, "the powder in the urn?" "Yes," replied the officer, startled; "was it poison?" "Worse, worse," said she; "you swallowed Aunt Jane!" Conceive of this wretched taste. The guest had actually cleaned his teeth with the cremated dust of the general's aunt; yet he told the story before a dinner assemblage,[Pg 54] and it was received with shouts of laughter.

I did not hear the intellectual conversation at dinner I had expected. Art, science, literature, were rarely touched upon, although I invariably met artists, litterateurs, and scientific men at these dinners. They all talked small talk or "told stories." I was informed that if I wished to hear the weighty questions of the day discussed I must go to the women's clubs, or to Madam ——'s Current Topics Society. The latter is an extraordinary affair, where society women who have no time to read the news of the day listen to short lectures on the news of the preceding week, discussed pro and con, giving these women in a nutshell material for intelligent conversation when they meet senators and other men at the various receptions before which they wish to make an agreeable impression.

[Pg 55]

The American has many clubs, but is not entirely at home in them. He uses them as places in which to play poker or whist, to dine his men friends, and in a great measure because it is the "proper thing." At many a room is set apart for the national game of poker—a fascinating game to the player who wins. Poker was never mentioned in my presence that some did not make a joke on a supposed Chinaman named Ah Sin; but the obscurity of the joke and my lack of knowledge regarding American literature caused the point to elude me at first, which was true of many jokes. The Americans are preeminently practical jokers, and the ends to which they go is beyond belief. I heard of jokes which, if perpetrated in China, would have resulted in the loss of some one's head. To illustrate this, in the Spanish-American War the camps at Tampa were besieged[Pg 56] with newspaper reporters, and one from a large journal was constantly trying to secure secret news by entertaining certain officers with wine and cigars; so they determined to get rid of his importunities, and what is known as a "job" in America was "put up" on him. He was told that Colonel —— had a detailed map of the forthcoming battle, and if he could get the officer intoxicated he doubtless could secure the map. This looked very easy to the correspondent, so the story goes, and he dropped into the colonel's tent one night with a basket of wine, and began to celebrate its arrival from some friends. Soon the colonel pretended to become communicative, and the map was brought out and finally loaned to the correspondent under the promise that it would not be used. This was sufficient. The correspondent hied him to his tent, wrote an article and sent[Pg 57] the map to his paper in one of the large cities, where it was duly published. It proved to be what dressmakers call a "Butterick pattern," a maze of lines for cutting out dresses for women. The lines looked like roads, and the practical jokers had merely added towns and forts and bridges here and there.

The Americans are excellent parents, though small families are general. The domestic life is charming. The family is denied nothing needed, the only limit being the purse of the head of the family, so called, the real head in many cases being the wife, who does not fail to assert herself if the proper occasion opens. Well-to-do families have every luxury, and no nation is apparently so well off, so completely supplied with the necessities of life as the American. One is impressed by their business sagacity, their cleverness in finance, their complete[Pg 58] grasp of all questions, yet no people are easier gulled or more readily victimized. An instance will suffice. In making my investigations regarding methods of managing railroads, I not only obtained information from the road officials, but questioned the employees whenever it happened that I was traveling. One day, observing that it was the custom to "tip" the porters (give money), I asked the conductor what the men were paid. "Little or nothing," was the reply; "they get from seventy-five to one hundred dollars a month out of the passengers on a long run." "But the passengers paid the road for the service?" "Yes, and they pay the salary of the porter also," said the man. With that in view the men are poorly paid, and the railroad knows that the people will make up their salaries, as they do. If you refused you would have no service.

[Pg 59]

This rule holds everywhere, in hotels and restaurants. Servants receive little pay where the patronage is rich, with the understanding that they will make it up out of the customers. Thus if you go to a hotel you fee the bell-boy for bringing you a glass of water. If you order one of the seductive cocktails you fee the man who brings it; you fee the chambermaid who attends to your room. Infinite are the resources of these servants who do not receive a fee. You fee the elevator or lift boy, or he will take the opportunity to jerk you up as though shot out of a gun. You fee the porter for taking up your trunk, and give a special fee for unstrapping it. You fee the head waiter, and when you fee the table waiter he whispers in your ear that a slight fee will be acceptable to the cook, who will see that the Count or the Judge will be cared for as becomes his station.[Pg 60] When you leave, the sidewalk porter expects a fee; if he does not receive it the door of the carriage may possibly be slammed on the tail of your coat. Then you pay the cabman two dollars to carry you to the station, and fee him. Arriving at the station, he hands you over to a red-hatted porter, who carries your baggage for a fee. He puts you in charge of the railroad porter, who is feed at the rate of about fifty cents per diem.

The American submits to this robbery without a murmur; yet he is sagacious, prudent. I can only explain his gullibility on the ground of his innate snobbery; he thinks it is the "thing to do," and does it, and for this reason it is carried to the most merciless lengths. To illustrate. In the season of 1902, when I was at Newport, Mr. ——, a conspicuous member of the New York smart set, known as the "Four Hundred," lost his hat in some[Pg 61] way and rode to his home without one. The ubiquitous reporter saw him, and photographed him, bareheaded, and his paper, the New York ——, gave a column the following day to a description of the new fad of going without a hat. Thus the fashion started, and the amazing spectacle was seen the summer following of men and women of fashion riding and walking for miles without hats. This is beyond belief, yet it attracted no attention from the common people, who perhaps got the cast-off hats. Despite this, the Americans are hard-fisted, shrewd, and as a nation a match for any in the field of cunning.

I can explain it in no way than by assuming that it is due to overanxiety to do the correct thing. Their own actors satirize them, one especially taking them off in a jingle which read, "It's English, quite English, you know." It is said of[Pg 62] the men of the "Four Hundred" that they turn up their trousers when it rains in London, special reports of the weather being sent to the clubs for the purpose; but I cannot vouch for this. I have seen the trousers turned up in all weathers, and found no one who could explain why he did so. What can you make of so contradictory a people?

[Pg 63]



The most remarkable feature of America is the women. Divest your mind of any woman you know in order to prepare yourself to receive my impressions. To begin with, the American woman ranks with her husband; indeed, she is his superior in that all men render her homage and deference. It is accounted a point of chivalry to stand as the defender of the weaker sex. The American girl is educated with the boys in the public school, grows up with them, and studies their studies, that she may be their intellectual equal, and there is a strong party, led by masculine women, who contend for complete political rights[Pg 64] for women. In some States they vote, and in nearly all may be elected to boards of various kinds and to minor offices. The Government departments are filled with women clerks, and all, from the lowest to the highest, are equal; hence, it is a difficult matter to find a native-born American who will become a servant. They all aspire to be ladies, and even aliens become salesladies, cook ladies, laundry ladies. They are on their dignity, and able to protect it from any point of attack.

The lower classes are particularly uninteresting, for they have no individuality, and ape the class above them, the result being a cheap, ludicrous imitation of a lady—an absurd abstraction. The women of the lower classes who are unmarried work in shops, factories, and restaurants, often in situations the reverse of sanitary; yet prefer this to good [Pg 65]situations in families as servants, service being beneath their dignity and tending to disturb the balance of equality. I doubt if a native-born woman would permit herself to be called a servant; indeed, all the servants are Irish, Swedes, Norwegians, French, German, or negroes; the American girls fill the factories and the sweat-shops of the great cities. When I refer these girls to the lower classes it is merely to classify them, as morally and intellectually they are sometimes the equal of the higher classes. The middle-class women or girls are an attractive type, well educated and often beautiful. You obtain an idea of them in the great shops and bazaars of the great cities, where they fill every conceivable position and receive from five to six dollars per week.

But it is with the higher classes that you will be most interested, and when I[Pg 66] say that the American girl, the product of the first families, is at once beautiful, refined, cultured, charming physically and mentally, I have but faintly expressed it; yet the most pronounced characteristic is their "daring," or temerity. There is no word exactly to cover it. I frequently met women at dinners. With few exceptions, it appears impossible for the American girl to take one of our race, an Oriental, seriously. She can not conceive that he may be a man of intelligence and education, and I can not better describe her than to sketch in its detail a dinner to which I was invited by the —— at Washington. The invitation was engraved on a small card and read "The ---- and Mrs. —— request the honor of the presence of the —— at dinner on Wednesday at eight o'clock, etc." I immediately sent my valet with an acceptance and a basket of orchids to the[Pg 67] hostess, this being the mode among the men who are au fait.

A week later I went to the dinner, and was taken up to the dressing-room for men, where I found a dozen or more, all in the conventional evening dress I have described—now with tails, it being a ladies' affair. In a corner was a table, and by it stood a negro, also in a dress suit, identical with that of the others. I was cordially greeted by a guest, who said, "Let me introduce you to our American minister to Ijiji and Zanzibar," and he presented me to the tall negro, who was turning out some bottled "cocktail." I shook hands with him, and he laughed, showing a set of teeth like an elephant's tusks, and asked me "what I would have." He was a servant dealing out "appetizers," and this was an American joke. The perpetrator of this joke was a minor official[Pg 68] in the State Department, yet the entire party apparently considered it a good joke. Fortunately, I could disguise my real feeling, and I merely relate the incident to give you an idea of the sense of the proprieties as entertained by certain Americans. All that winter the story of the American minister to Zanzibar was told at my expense without doubt.

Having been "fortified," and some of the men took two or three "cocktails" before they became "tuned up," we went down to the drawing-room, where I paid my respects to the host and hostess, who stood at the end of a beautiful room. As I approached the lady greeted me with a charming smile, extending her gloved hand almost on a direct line with her face, grasping it firmly, not shaking it, saying, "Very kind of you, ——. Delighted, I am sure. General"—turning[Pg 69] to her husband—"you know the ——, of course," and the general shook my hand as he would a pump-handle, and whispered, "Our minister to Zanzibar treated you all right, eh?" and with a wink indescribable, closing the right eye for a second, passed me on. The story had got down-stairs before me. Americans of the official class have, as a rule, an absolute lack of savoir faire and social refinement; lack them so utterly as to become comical.

I now joined other groups of officers and officials, there being about thirty guests, half of whom were ladies. The latter were all in what is termed full dress. Why "full" I do not know. Here you see one of the most extraordinary features of American life—the dress of women. The Americans make claim to being among the most modest, the most religious, the most proper people in the[Pg 70] world, yet the appearance of the ladies at many public functions is beyond belief. All the women in this house were beautiful and covered with jewels. They wore gowns in the French court fashion, with trains a yard or two in length, but the upper part cut so low that a large portion of the neck and shoulders was exposed. I was embarrassed beyond expression; such an exhibition in China could only be made by a certain class. These matrons were of the highest respectability. This remarkable custom of a strange people, who deluge China with missionaries from every sect under the sun and at home commit the grossest solecisms, is universal, and not thought of as improper. There was not much opportunity for introspective analysis, yet I could not but believe that such a custom must have its moral effect upon a nation in the long run.

[Pg 71]

It was a mystery to me how the upper part of some of the gowns was supported. In some instances there was no strap over the shoulders, the upper third of these alabaster torsos and arms being absolutely naked, save for a band of pearls, diamonds, or other gems, of a size rarely seen in the Orient; but I learned later that the bone or steel corset, which molds the form, constituted the support of the gown. I gradually became habituated to the custom, and did not notice it. My friend ——, an artist of repute, explained that it all depends on the point of view. "Our people are essentially artistic," he said. "There is nothing more beautiful than the divine female contour; the American women realize this, and sacrifice themselves at the altar of art." Yet the Americans are such jokers that exactly what my friend had in mind it was difficult to arrive at.

[Pg 72]

After being presented to these marvelously arrayed ladies we passed into the dining-room, where I found myself with one of the most charming of divinities, a woman famous for her wit and literary success. I have described the typical dinner, so I need not repeat my words. My companion held the same extraordinary attitude toward me that all American women do; amused, half laughing, refusing absolutely to take me seriously, and probing me with so many absurd questions that I was forced to ask some very pointed ones, which only succeeded in making her laugh. The conversation proceeded something as follows: "I am charmed that I have fallen to your Highness." "Equally charmed," I replied; "but my rank does not admit the adjective you do me the honor to apply." "No?" was the answer. "Well, I'll wager you anything that when the[Pg 73] butler pours your wine in the first course he will call you Count, and in the next Prince. You see, they become exhilarated as the dinner progresses. But tell me, how many wives have you in China, you look very wicked?" Imagine this! But I rallied, and replied that I had none—a statement received with incredulity. Her next question was, "Have you ever been a highbinder?" Ministers of grace! and this from a people who profess to know more than any nation on earth! I explained that a highbinder ranked with a professional murderer in this country, whereupon she again laughed, and, turning to General ——, in a loud voice said, "General, I have been calling the —— a highbinder," at which the company laughed at my expense. In China, as you know, a guest or a host would have killed himself rather than commit so gross a solecism; but this is America.

[Pg 74]

The second course was oysters served in the shell, and my companion, assuming that I had never seen an oyster [ignorant that our fathers ate oysters thousands of years before America was heard of and when the Anglo-Saxon was living in a cave], in a confidential and engaging whisper remarked, "This, your 'Highness,' is the only animal we eat alive." "Why alive?" I asked, looking as innocent as possible; "why not kill them?" "Oh, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will not permit it," was her reply. "You see, if they are swallowed alive they are immediately suffocated, but if you cut them up they suffer horribly while the soup is being served. How large a one do you think you can swallow?" Fancy the daring of a young girl to joke with a man twice her age in this way! I did not undeceive her, and allowed her to [Pg 75]enlighten me on various subjects of contemporaneous interest. "It's so strange that the Chinese never study mathematics," she next remarked. "Why, all our public schools demand higher mathematics, and in the fourth grade you could not find a child but could square the circle."

In this manner this volatile young savage entertained me all through the dinner, utterly superficial herself, yet possessed of a singular sharpness and wit, mostly at my expense; yet she was so charming I forgave her. There is no denying that you become enraged, insulted, chagrined by these women, who, however, by a look, dispel your annoyance. I do not understand it. I found that while an author of a novel she was grossly ignorant of the literature of her own country, yet she possessed that consummate American froth by which she[Pg 76] could convince the average person that she was brilliant to the point of scintillation. I fancy that any keen, well-educated woman must have seen that I was laughing at her, yet so inborn was her belief that a Chinaman must be an imbecile that she was ever joking at my expense. The last story she told me illustrates the peculiar fancy for joking these women possess. I had been describing a storm at Manchester-by-the-Sea and the splendor of the ocean. "Did you see the tea-leaves?" she asked, solemnly. "No," I replied. "That is strange," she said. "I fear you are not very observing. After every storm the tea-leaves still wash up all along Massachusetts Bay," alluding to the fact that loads of tea on ships were tossed over by the Americans during the quarrel with England before the Revolution.

The daring of the American woman[Pg 77] impressed me. This same lady asked me not to remain with the men to smoke but go on the veranda with her, where tête-à-tête she produced a gold cigarette-case and offered me a cigarette. This I found not uncommon. American women of the fast sets drink at the clubs; an insidious drink—the "high-ball"—is a common one, yet I never saw a woman under the influence of wine or liquor. The amount of both consumed in America, is amazing. The consumption per head in the United States for beer alone is ten and a half gallons for each of the eighty millions. My friend, a prohibitionist, a member of a political party whose object is to ruin the wine industry of the world, put it stronger, and, backed by facts, said that if the wine, beer, whisky, gin, and alcoholic drinks of all kinds and the tea and coffee drank yearly by the Americans could be collected it[Pg 78] would make a lake two miles square and ten feet deep. The alcoholic drinks alone if collected would fill a canal one hundred miles long, one hundred feet wide, and ten feet deep. May their saints propitiate this insatiate thirst!

It would amuse you to hear the American women of literary tendency boast of their schools, yet when educational facilities are considered the average American is ignorant. They are educated in lines. Thus a girl graduate will speak French with a good accent, or she will converse in Milwaukee German. She can prove her statement in conic sections or algebra, but when it comes to actual knowledge she is deficient. This is due to the ignorance of the teachers in the public schools and their lack of inborn culture. No better test of the futility of the American public-school education can be seen than the average girl product[Pg 79] of the public school of the lower class in a city like Chicago or New York. Americans affect to despise Chinese methods because the Chinese girl or boy is not crammed with a thousand thoughts of no relative value. China has existed thousands of years; her people are happy; happiness and content are the chief virtues, and if China is ever overthrown it will be not because, as the Americans put it, she is behind the times, but because the fever of unrest and the craze for riches has become a contagion which will react upon her. The development of China is normal, that of America hysterical. Our growth has been along the line of peace; that of other nations has been entirely opposed to their own religious teaching, showing it to be farcical and pure sophistry.

If I should tell you how many American women asked me why Chinese[Pg 80] women bandage their feet you would be amazed; yet every one of these submitted to and practised a deformity that has seriously affected the growth and development of the race. I am no iconoclast, but listen to the story of the American woman who, with one hand, deforms her waist in the most barbarous fashion, while waving the other in horror at her Chinese sister with the bound feet. American women change their fashions twice a year or more. Fashions are in the hands of the middle classes, and the highest lady in the land is completely at their mercy; to disobey the mandates of fashion is to become ridiculous. The fashion is set in Paris and various cities by men and women who have skilled artists to draw patterns and paint pictures showing the new mode. These are published in certain papers and issued by millions, republished in America, and no[Pg 81] woman here would have the temerity to ignore them. The laws of the Medes and Persians are not more inexorable.

It is not a suggestion but an order, a fiat, a command, so we see this free nation really truckling to or dominated by a class of tradesmen. The object of the change of style is to create a sale for new goods, give work for laborers, and enable the producer to reach the pocketbook of the rich man; but the "fashions" have become so fixed, so thoroughly a national feature, that they affect rich and poor, and we have the spectacle of every woman studying these guides and conforming to them with a servility beyond belief. I once said to a lady, "The Chinese lady dresses richer than the American, but her styles have been very much the same for thousands of years," but I believe she doubted it. It would be futile, indeed impossible, for me to [Pg 82]explain the extravagances of American fashion. Their own press and stage use it as a standard butt. At the present time tablets or plates of fashion insist upon an outline which shows the form completely, the antipodes of a Chinese woman; and this is intensified by some of the women who, when in the street, grasp the skirt and in an ingenious way wrap it about so that the outline of the American divinity is sufficiently well defined to startle one. Such a trick in China could but originate with the demimonde, yet it is taken up by certain of the Americans who are constantly seeking for variety. There can be no question but that the middle-class fashion designer revenges himself upon the beau monde. They will not receive him socially, so he forces them to wear his clothes.

Some years ago women were made to[Pg 83] wear "hoops," pictures of which I have seen in old publications. Imagine, if you can, a bird-cage three feet high and four feet across, formed of bone of the whale or some metal. This was worn beneath the dress, expanding it on either side so that it was difficult to approach a lady. A later order was given to wear a camel-like "hump" at the base of the vertebral column, which was called the "bustle"—a contrivance calculated to unnerve the wearer, not to speak of the looker-on; yet the American woman adopted it, distorted her body, and aped the gait of the kangaroo, the form being called the "Grecian bend." This lasted six months or more; first adopted by the aristocracy, then by the common people, and by the time the latter had it well in hand the bon ton had cast it aside and were trying something else.

A close study of this mad dressing[Pg 84] shows that there is always a "hump." At one time it went all around; later appeared only behind, like an excrescence on a bilbol-tree. At the present time the designer has drawn his picture showing it as a pendent bag from the "shirtwaist," like the pouch of the bird pelican. A few years ago the designer, in a delirium, placed the humps on the tops of the sleeves, then snatched them away and tipped them upside down. Finally he appeared to go utterly mad with the desire to humiliate the woman, and created a fashion that entailed dragging the skirt on the ground from one to two feet.

Did the American woman resent the insult; did she refuse to adopt a custom not only disgusting but really filthy, one that a Chinese lady would have died rather than have accepted? By no means; she seized upon it with the ardor[Pg 85] of a child with a new toy, and for a year the side-paths of the great cities of the country were swept by women's skirts, clouds of dust following them. The press took up the question, but without effect; the fashion dragged its nauseating and frightful course from rich and poor, and I was told by an official that it was impossible to stop it or to force a glimmer of reason into the minds of these women. Then they gave it up, and passed a law making it a statutory offense, with heavy fines, for any one to "expectorate" on the sidewalk or anywhere else where the saliva could be swept up by the trains of the women of nearly all classes who followed the fashion. The American woman, as I have said, looks askance at the footgear of the Chinese—high, warm, dry, sanitary, yet revels in creations which cramp the feet and distort the anatomy. The shoes are made[Pg 86] of leather, inflexible, pointed; and to enable them to deceive the men into the belief that they have high insteps (a sign of good blood here) the women wear stilt-like heels, which throw the foot forward and elevate the heel from two to three inches above the ground.

But all this is but a bagatelle to the fashions in deformity which we find among nearly all American women. There are throughout the country numbers of large manufactories which make "corsets"—a peculiar waist and lung compressor, used by nearly every woman in America. These men are as dogmatic as the designers of the fashion-plates. They also issue plates or guides showing new changes, and the women, like sheep, adopt them. The American woman believes that a narrow waist enhances her beauty, and the corset-maker works upon the national weakness and builds [Pg 87]creations that put to shame and ridicule the bound feet of the aristocratic Chinese woman. The corset is a lace and ribbon-decorated armor, made either of steel ribs or whale-bone, which fits the waist and clings to the hips. It is laced up, and the degree of tightness depends upon the will or nerve of the wearer. It compresses the heart and lungs, and wearing it is a most barbarous custom—a telling argument against the assumption of high intelligence on the part of the Americans, who, in this respect, rank with the flat-headed Indians of the northwest American coast, whose heads I have seen in their medical offices side by side with a diagram showing the abnormal conditions caused by the corset.

A year ago the fiat went forth that the American woman must have wide hips. Presto! there appeared especially devised machinery, advertised in all the[Pg 88] journals, accomplishing the condition for those whom nature had not well endowed. Now the dressmaker has decided that they must be narrow-hipped, and half a million dollars in false hips, rubber pads, and other properties are cast aside. No extravaganza is too absurd for these people who are abject slaves to the whimsicalities of the designer, who is a wag in his way, as has been well shown in a story told to me. The designers for a famous man dressmaker in Paris had a habit of taking sketches of the latest creations to their club meetings. One evening a clever caricaturist took a caricature of a fashion showing a woman with enormous and outlandish sleeves. It created a laugh. "As impossible as it is," said the artist, "I will wager a dinner that if I present it seriously to a certain fashion paper they will take it up." This is said to be the history of the [Pg 89]"big-sleeve" fashion that really amazed the Americans themselves.

The customs of women here are so at variance with those of China that they are not readily understood. Our ways are those culled from a civilization of thousands of years; theirs from one just beginning; yet they have the temerity to speak of China as effete and behind the times. In writing, the women affect the English round hand and write across from left to right, and then beginning at the left of the page again. They are fond of perfumes, especially the lower classes, and display a barbaric taste for jewels. It is not uncommon to see the wife of a wealthy man wear half a million pounds sterling in diamonds or rubies at the opera. I was told that one lady wore a $5,000 diamond in her garter. The utterly strange and contradictory customs of these women are best observed[Pg 90] at the beach and bath. In China if a woman is modest she is so at all times; but this is not true with some Americans, who appear to have the desire to attract attention, especially that of men, by an appeal to the beautiful in nature and art; at least this is the impression the unprejudiced looker-on gains by a sojourn in the great cities and fashionable resorts. If you happen to be riding horseback, or walking in the street with a lady, and any accident occurs to her costume whereby her neck, her leg, or her ankle is exposed, she will be mortified beyond expression; yet the night previous you might have sat in the box with her at the opera, when her décolleté gown had made her the mark for hundreds of lorgnettes. Again, this lady the next morning might bathe with me at the beach and lie on the sand basking in the sun like a siren in a costume that[Pg 91] would arrest the attention of a St. Anthony.

Let me describe such a costume: A pair of skin-tight black stockings, then a pair of tights of black silk and a flimsy black skirt that comes just to the knee; a black silk waist, armless, and as low in the neck as the moral law permits, beneath which, to preserve her contour, is a water-proof corset. Limbs, to expose which an inch on the street were a crime, are blazoned to the world at Newport, Cape May, Atlantic City, and other resorts, and often photographed and shown in the papers. To explain this manifest contradiction would be beyond the powers of an Oriental, had he the prescience of the immortal Confucius and the divination of a Mahomet and Hilliel combined.

[Pg 92]



Among the many topics I have discussed with Americans, our alleged superstitions, or our belief in so-called dragons, genii, ghosts, etc., seem to have made the deepest impression. A charming American woman, whom I met at the —— Embassy at dinner, told me with seriousness that our people may be intelligent, but the fact that in San Francisco and Los Angeles they at certain times drag through the streets a dragon five hundred feet long to exorcise the evil spirits, showed that the Chinese were grossly superstitious. If I had told my companion that she was the victim of a thousand superstitions, she would have taken it as an affront, because, according[Pg 93] to American usage, it is not proper to dispute with a lady. The Americans are the most superstitious people in the world. They will not sit down to a dinner-table when there are thirteen persons. No hostess would attempt such a thing, the belief being general that some one of the guests would die within a year. I was a guest at a dinner-party when a lady suddenly remarked, "We are thirteen." Several of the guests were evidently much annoyed, and the hostess, a most pleasing woman, apologized, and replied that she had invited fourteen, but one guest had failed her. It was apparent that something must be done, and this was cleverly solved by the hostess sending for her mother, who joined the party, and the dinner proceeded. I do not think all the guests believed in this absurd superstition, but they were all very uncomfortable. I do not believe I[Pg 94] met a society woman in Washington or New York who would walk through a cemetery or graveyard at midnight alone. I asked several ladies if they would do this, and all were horrified at the idea, though strongly denying any belief in ghosts or spirits.

In nearly every American city one or more houses may be found haunted by ghosts, which Americans believe have made the places so disagreeable that the houses have been in consequence deserted. So well-defined is the superstition, and so recurrent are the beliefs in ghosts and spirits, that the best-educated people have found it necessary to establish a society, called the Society for Psychical Research, in order to demonstrate that ghosts are not possible. I believe I am not overstepping the bounds when I say that this vainglorious people, who claim to have the finest [Pg 95]public-school system in the world, are, considering their advantages, the most superstitious of all the white races. Out of perhaps thirty men, whom I asked, not one was willing to say he could pass through a graveyard at night without fear at heart, an undefined nervous feeling, due to innate superstition. The middle-class woman who stumbles upstairs considers it to mean that she will not marry. To break a mirror, or receive as a present a knife, also means bad luck. Many people wear amulets, safe-guards, and good-luck stones. Several millions of the Catholic sect wear a charm, which they think will save them from sudden death. All Catholics believe that some of their churches own the bones of saints, which have the power to give them health and other good things. Many Americans wear the seed of the horse-chestnut, and many others wear lucky[Pg 96] coins. Belief in the luck of the four-leaf clover, instead of that with three leaves, is so strong that people will spend hours in hunting for one. They are designed into pins and certain insignia, and used in a hundred other ways.

But more remarkable than all is the old horseshoe superstition. I have seen beautifully gowned ladies stop their driver, descend from the carriage, and pick up such a shoe and carry it home, telling me that they never failed to pick up one, as it brought good luck; yet this lady laughed at our dragon! In the country, horseshoes are commonly seen over the doors of stables, and even of houses. These same people once hung women for witchcraft, and slaughtered women for persisting in certain religious beliefs. I had the pleasure of meeting a well-known man, who stated that he had the power of the "evil eye." [Pg 97]Innumerable people believe the paw of an animal called the rabbit to contain sovereign good luck. They carry it about, and can buy it in shops. Indeed, I could fill a volume, much less a letter, with the absurd superstitions of these people who send women to China to convert the "Heathen Chinee," who may be "peculiar," as Mr. Harte states in his poem; but the Chinaman certainly has not the marvelous variety of superstitions possessed by the American, who does not allow cats about rooms where there are infants, fearing that they will suck the child's breath; who believe that certain snakes milk cows, and that mermen are possible. I stood in a tent last summer at Atlantic City—a large seaside resort—and watched a line of middle-class people passing to see a "Chinese mermaid," of the kind the Japanese manufacture so cleverly. It was to be seen on the water.[Pg 98] All, so far as I could judge, accepted it as real. So much for the influence of the American public school, where physiology is taught.

[Pg 99]



One feature of American life is so peculiar that I fear I can not present it to you clearly, as there is nothing like it under the sun. I refer to the newspapers. If such an institution should appear in any Oriental country, or even in Russia, many heads would fall to the ground for treason or gross disrespect to the power of the throne. The American must not only have the news of his neighbor, but the news of the world every hour in the day, and the newspapers furnish it. In the villages they appear weekly, in the towns daily, in the great cities hourly, boys screaming their names, shouting and yelling like demons. Yesterday beneath the window[Pg 100] a boy screamed, "The Empress of China elopes with her coachman!" I bought the paper, in which a column was devoted to it. Fancy this in Pekin. Shades of ——! I can not better describe these papers than to say they have absolute license as to what to print, this freedom being a principle, but it is grossly abused by blackmailers. The papers have no respect for man, woman, or child, the President or the Deity. The most flagrant attacks are made upon private persons. Rarely is an editor shot or imprisoned. The President may be called vile names, his appearance may become the butt of ridicule in opposition papers, and cartoonists, employed at large salaries, draw insulting pictures of him and his Cabinet. One would think that the way to obtain patronage of a person would be to praise him, but this would be considered an orientalism. The real[Pg 101] way to secure readers in America is to abuse, insult, and outrage private feelings, the argument being that people will buy the journal to see what is said about them. All the American press is not founded upon this system of virtual blackmail. There are respectable papers, conservative and honorable; but I believe I am not overstating it when I say that every large city has at least one paper where the secrets of a family and its most sacred traditions are treated as lawful game.

The actual heads of papers have often been men of high standing, as Horace Greeley, Henry J. Raymond, E. L. Godkin, Henry Watterson, the late Charles A. Dana, James Gordon Bennett, and William Cullen Bryant. But in the modern newspaper the man in control is a managing editor, whose tenure of office depends upon his keeping ahead of all[Pg 102] others. The press, then, with its telegraphic connection with the world, with its thousands of readers, is a power, and in the hands of a man of small mind becomes a menace to civilization and easily drifts into blackmail. This is displayed in a thousand ways, especially in politics. The editor desires to obtain "influence," the power to secure places for his favorites, and, if he is slighted, he intimates to the men in power, "Appoint my candidate or I will attack you." This is a virtual threat. In this way the editor intimidates the office-holder. I was informed by a good authority of two journals of standing in America which he knew were started as "blackmailing sheets"; and certainly the license of the press is in every way diabolical, a result of the American dogma of free speech. When one arrives in America he is met with dozens of representatives of the[Pg 103] press, who ask a thousand and one personal and impertinent questions, which, if one does not answer, one is attacked in some insidious way. One man I know refused to listen to a very importunate newspaper man, and was congratulating himself on his escape, when on the following day an article appeared in the paper giving several libelous pictures of him, the object being to show that he had nothing to say because he was mentally deficient. He appealed to the editor, but was told that his only recourse was to sue. As one walks down the gangplank of a ship he may become the mark for ten or fifteen cameras, which photograph him without permission, and whose owners will "poke fun" at his resistance.

As a news-collecting medium the press of the United States is a magnificent organization. At breakfast you receive[Pg 104] the news of the whole world—social, diplomatic, criminal, and religious. Meetings of Congress and stories of private life are alike all served up, fully illustrated with pictures of the people and events. A corner is devoted to children, another to women, another to religious Americans, and a little sermon is preached. Then there are suggestive pictures for the man about town, recipes for the cook, weather reports for the traveler, a story for the romancer, perhaps a poem, and an editorial page, where ideas and theories are promulgated and opinions manufactured on all subjects, ready made for adoption by the reader, who in many instances has his thinking done for him. I made a test of this, and asked a number of men for their opinion on a certain subject, and then guessed the name of their favorite paper, and in most instances was[Pg 105] correct. They all claimed that they took the paper because it agreed with their political ideas; but I am confident that the reverse is true, the paper having insidiously trained them to adopt its view. Here we see where the power of one man or editor comes in, and worse yet, a nation which acquires this "newspaper habit," this having some one to think for it by machinery, as it were, will lose its mental power, its facility in analysis. I made bold to suggest this to a prominent man, but he merely laughed. As a whole, the American newspapers are valuable; they are the real educators of the people, and have a vast influence. For this reason there should be some restriction imposed on them.

[Pg 106]



At a dinner at Manchester in the summer I had as my vis-à-vis a delightful young American, who, among other things, said to me: "It is astonishing to me that so many of your people live long, considering the ignorance of your doctors." I assured her that this was merely her point of view, and that we were well satisfied with our doctors or physicians. I wished to retaliate by telling my fair companion a story I had heard the day previous. An American physician operated upon a man and removed what he called a "cyst," which he displayed with some pride to a doctor of another school. "Why, man," said the[Pg 107] latter, "that isn't a cyst; it's the man's kidney!"

The Americans have made rapid advances in medicine and surgery, and they have some extraordinary physicians. From two to four years of study completes the education of some of the doctors, and hundreds are turned out every year. Some are of the old and regular school of medicine, but others are called homeopathic, which means that they give small doses of the more powerful medicines. Then there are those who practise in both schools. Indeed, in no other field does ignorance, superstition, credulity, and lack of real education display itself as among the American doctors or healers. I believe I could fill a volume by the mere enumeration of the diabolical and absurd nostrums offered by knaves to heal men who profess to hold in ridicule the Chinese doctors. I[Pg 108] mention but a few, and when I tell you, as a truth beyond cavil, that the most extraordinary of these healers, the most impossible, have the largest following, you can see what I mean by the credulity of the people as a whole. Christian Science doctors have a following of tens of thousands. They combine so-called science with religion; leave their God to cure them at long or short range through the medium of so-called agents. The head of this faction is an ignorant but clever woman, who has turned the heads of perhaps thirty-three and a third per cent of the American women whom she has come in contact with.

Then come the faith curists, who rely upon faith alone. You simply are to think you will get well. Of course, many die from neglect. As an illustration of the credulity of the average American, a Christian Science healer was once [Pg 109]treating a sick woman from a distant town, and finally the patient died. When the bill was presented the husband said, "You have charged for treatment two weeks after my wife died." It was a fact that the healer had been treating the woman after she was buried, the husband having failed to give notice of the death. One would have expected the "healer" to be thrown into confusion, but far from it; she merely replied, "I thought I noticed a vacancy."

Next come the musical curists, who listen to thrills of sound, a big organ being the doctor. Then there is the psychometric doctor, who cures by spirits. The spirit doctor cures in the same way. The palmist professes to point out how to avoid the ills of life. Magnetic healers have hundreds of victims in every city. Their advertisements in the journals of all sorts are of countless kinds.[Pg 110] Some cure at short hand, some miles distant from the patient. They are equaled in numbers by the hypnotists, or hypnotic doctors, who profess to throw their patients into a trance and cure them by suggestion. I heard of one cure in which the guileless American is made to lie in an open grave; this is called "the return to nature." Again, patients are cured by being buried in hot mud or in hot sand. I have seen a salt-water cure, where patients were made to remain in the ocean ten hours a day. The plain water cure has thousands of followers, with hospitals and infirmaries, where the patient is bathed, soaked, filled, washed, and plunged in water and charged a high amount.

Then there is the vegetarian cure, no meat being eaten; and there are the meat eaters, who use no vegetables. There are over fifty thousand masseurs and [Pg 111]osteopaths in the country, who cure by baths and rubbing. You may have a bath of milk, water, electricity, or alcohol, or a bath of any description under the sun, which is guaranteed to cure any and all ailments. Perhaps the most extraordinary curists are the color doctors. They have rooms filled with blue and other colors, in whose rays the patient victim or the victim patient sits, "like Patience on a monument." I could not begin to give you an enumeration of the various kinds of electric cures; they are legion. But the most amazing class comprises the patent-medicine men, who are usually not doctors at all, but buy from some one a "cure" and then advertise it, spending in one instance which I investigated one million dollars a year. Every advantageous wall, stone, or cliff in America will be posted. You see the name at every turn, and the [Pg 112]gullible Americans bite, chew, and swallow.

It is not overstating facts when I say that three-fifths of the people buy some of these patent nostrums, which the real medical men denounce, showing that the masses of the people are densely ignorant, the victims of any faker who may shout his wares loud enough. In China such a thing would be impossible; the block would stop the practise; but, my dear ----, the Americans assure me China is a thousand years behind the times, for which let us be devoutly thankful! I have not enumerated a tenth of the kinds of doctors who prey upon these unfortunate people. There are companies of them, who guarantee to cure anything, and skilfully mulct the sick of their last penny. There are retreats for the unfortunate, farms for deserted infants, and homes for unfortunate women[Pg 113] carried on by villains of both sexes. There are traveling doctors who go from town to town, who cure "while you wait," and give a circus while talking and selling their cure; and in nine cases out of ten the nostrum is an alcoholic drink disguised.

In no land under the sun are there so many ignorant blatant fakers preying on a people, and in no land do you find so credulous a throng as in America, yet claiming to represent the cream of the intelligence of the world; they are so easily led that the most impossible person, if he be a good talker, can go abroad and by the use of money and audacity secure a following to drink his salt water, paying a dollar a bottle for it and sing his praises. Such a doctor can secure the names and pictures of judges, governors of States, senators, congressmen, prominent men and women, officers of the [Pg 114]volunteer army, artists, actors, singers—in fact, prominent people of all kinds will provide their pictures and give testimonials, which are blazonly published. These same people go to Chinese drug shops and laugh at the "heathen" drugs, and wonder why the Chinaman is alive. America has a body of physicians and surgeons who are a credit to the world, modest, conscientious, and with a high sense of honor, but they are as a dragon's tooth in a multitude to the so-called "quacks," who take the money of the masses and prey upon them, protected in many cases by the law. No one profession so demonstrates the abject credulity of the great mass of Americans as that of medicine.

One other incident may further illustrate the jokes these so-called doctors play upon the common people. In a country town was a "quack" doctor, who[Pg 115] professed to be a "head examiner," giving people charts according to their "bumps," a fad which has many followers. "This, ladies and gentlemen," said the lecturer, holding out a small skull, "is the skull of Alexander the Great at the age of six. Note the prominent brow. This [holding up a larger skull] is the same at the age of ten. This [holding out another] at the age of twenty-one; [then stepping out to the front of the stage] this is the complete skull of Alexander at the time of his death." All of which appeared to be accepted in good faith.

Of the best physicians in America one can not say enough in praise. I was most impressed by their high sense of honor. They have an agreement which they call their "ethics," by which they will not advertise or call attention to their learning. Consequently, the lower[Pg 116] and ignorant classes are caught by the blatant chaff of the patent-medicine venders and the quack doctors. What the word "quack" means in this sense I do not quite know; literally, it is the cry of the goose. The "regular doctor" will not take advantage of any medicine he may discover, or any instrument; all belongs to humanity, and one doctor becomes famous over another by his success in keeping people from dying. The grateful patient saved, tells his friends, and so the doctor becomes known. In all America I never heard of a doctor that acted on the principle which holds among our doctors, that the best way to cure is to watch the patient and keep him well, or prevent him from being taken sick. The Americans, in their conceit, consider Chinese doctors ignorant fakers; yet, so far as I can learn, the death-rate among the Chinese, city for city, [Pg 117]country for country, is less than among Americans. The Chinese women are longer lived and less subject to disease. In what is known as New England, the oldest well-populated section of the country, people would die out were it not for the constant accession of immigrants. On the other hand, the Chinese constantly increase, despite a policy of non-intercourse with foreigners. The Americans have, in a civilization dating back to 1492, already begun to show signs of decadence, and are only saved by constant immigration. China has a civilization of thousands of years, and is increasing in population every day, yet her doctors and their methods are ridiculed by the Americans. The people have many sayings here, one of which is, "The proof of the pudding lies in the eating." It seems applicable to this case.

[Pg 118]



One finds it difficult to learn the language fluently because of a peculiar second language called "slang," which is in use even among the fashionable classes. I despair of conveying any clear idea of it, as we have no exact equivalent. As near as I can judge, it is first composed by professional actors on the stage. Some funny remark being constantly repeated, as a part of a taking song, becomes slang, conveying a certain meaning, and is at once adopted by the people, especially by a class who pose as leaders in all towns, but who are not exactly the best, but charming imitations of the best, we may say. To illustrate this "jargon," I[Pg 119] took a drive with a young lady at Manchester—a seaside resort. Her father was a man of good family, an official, and she was an attendant at a fashionable school. The following occurred in the conversation. Her slang is italicized:

Heathen Chinee: "It is very dull this week, Miss ——."

Young lady, sententiously: "Bum."

Heathen Chinee: "I hope it will be less bum soon."

Young lady: "It's all off with me all right, if it don't change soon, and don't you forget it!"

Heathen Chinee: "I wish I could do something."

Young lady: "Well, you'll have to get a move on you, as I go back to school to-morrow; then there'll be something doing."

Heathen Chinee: "Have you seen —— lately?"

[Pg 120]

Young lady: "Yes, and isn't he a peach? Ah, he's a peacharina, and don't you forget it!"

Young lady (passing a friend): "Ah, there! why so toppy? Nay, nay, Pauline," this in reply to remarks from a friend; then turning to me, "Isn't she a jim dandy? Say, have you any girls in China that can top her?"

These are only a few of the slang expressions which occur to me. They are countless and endless. Such a girl in meeting a friend, instead of saying good-morning, says, "Ah, there," which is the slang for this salutation. If she wished to express a difference of opinion with you she would say, "Oh, come off." This girl would probably outgrow this if she moved in the very best circle, but the shop-girl of a common type lives in a whirl of slang; it becomes second nature, while the young men of all classes seem[Pg 121] to use nothing else, and we often see the jargon of the lowest class used by some of the best people. There has been compiled a dictionary of slang; books are written on it, and an adept, say a "rough" or "hoodlum," it is said can carry on a conversation with nothing else. Thus, "Hi, cully, what's on?" to which comes in answer, "Hunki dori." All this means that a man has said, "How do you do, how are you, and what are you doing?" and thus learned in reply that everything is all right. A number of gentlemen were posing for a lady before a camera. "Have you finished?" asked one. "Yes, it's all off," was the reply, "and a peach, I think." It is unnecessary to say that among really refined people this slang is never heard, and would be considered a gross solecism, which gives me an opportunity to repeat that the really cultivated Americans, and they are many, are[Pg 122] among the most delightful and charming of people.

They have strange habits, these Americans. The men chew tobacco, especially in the South, and in Virginia I have seen men spitting five or six feet, evidently taking pride in their skill in striking a "cuspidore." In every hotel, office, or public place are cuspidores—which become targets for these chewers. This is a national habit, extraordinary in so enlightened a people. So ridiculous has it made the Americans, so much has been written about it by such visitors as Charles Dickens, that the State governments have determined to take up the "spitting" question, and now there is a fine of from $10 to $100 for any one spitting in a car or on a hotel floor. Nearly all the "up-to-date" towns have passed anti-spitting laws. Up to this time, or even during my college days in [Pg 123]America, this habit made walking on the sidewalk a most disagreeable function, and the interior of cars was a horror. Is not this remarkable in a people who claim so much? In the South certain white men and women chew snuff—a gross habit.

In the North they also have a strange custom, called chewing gum. This gum is the exudation from certain trees, and is manufactured into plates and sold in an attractive form, merely to chew like tobacco, and young and old may be seen chewing with great velocity. The children forget themselves and chew with great force, their jaws working like those of a cow chewing her cud, only more rapidly; and to see a party of three or four chewing frantically is one of the "sights" in America, which astonishes the Heathen Chinee and convinces him that, in the slang of the country, [Pg 124]"there are others" who are peculiar. There are many manufactories of this stuff, which is harmless, though such constant chewing can but affect the size of the muscles of the jaw if the theory of evolution is to be believed; at least there will be no atrophy of these parts.

In New England, the northeastern portion of the country, this habit appeared to be more prevalent, and I asked several scientific persons if they had made any attempt to trace the history of the habit or to find anything to attribute it to. One learned man told me that he had made a special study of the habit, and believed that it was merely the modern expression in human beings of the cud chewing of ruminating mammals, as cows, goats, etc. In a word, the gum-chewing Americans are trying to chew their cud as did their ancestors. Any habit like this is seized upon by [Pg 125]manufacturers for their personal profit, and every expedient is employed to induce people to chew. The gum is mixed with perfumes, and sold as a breath purifier; others mix it with pepsin, to aid the digestion; some with something else, which is sold on ships and excursion-boats as a cure or preventive for seasickness, all of which finds a large sale among the credulous Americans, who by a clever leader can be made to take up any fad or habit.

The Americans have a peculiar habit of "treating"; that is, one of a party will "treat" or buy a certain article and distribute it gratuitously to one or ten people. A young lady may treat her friends to gum, ice-cream, soda-water, or to a theater party. A matron may treat her friends to "high-balls" or cocktails at the club. The man confines his "treats" to drinks and cigars. Thus five or six[Pg 126] Americans may meet in a club or barroom for the sale of liquors. One says, "Come up and have something;" or "What will you have, gentlemen; this is on me;" or in some places the treater says, "Let's liquor," and all step up, the drinks are dispensed, and the treater pays. You might suppose that he was deserving of some encomium, but not at all; he expects that the others will take their turn in treating, or at least this is the assumption; and if the party is engaged in social conversation each in turn will "treat," the others taking what they wish to drink or smoke. There is a code of etiquette regarding the treat. Thus, unless you are invited, it would be bad form among gentlemen to order wine when invited to drink unless the "treater" asks you to have wine; he means a drink of whisky, brandy, or a mixed drink, or you may take soda or a cigar, or you may[Pg 127] refuse. It is a gross solecism to accept a cigar and put it in your pocket; you should not take it unless you smoke it on the spot.

Drinking to excess is frowned upon by all classes, and a drunkard is avoided and despised; but the amount an American will drink in a day is astonishing. A really delightful man told me that he did not drink much, and this was his daily experience: before breakfast a champagne cocktail; two or three drinks during the forenoon; a pint of white or red wine at lunch; two or three cocktails in the afternoon; a cocktail at dinner, with two glasses of wine; and in the evening at the club several drinks before bedtime! This man was never drunk, and never appeared to be under the influence of liquor, yet he was in reality never actually sober; and he is a type of a large number in the great cities who[Pg 128] constitute what is termed the "man about town."

The Americans are not a wine-drinking people. Whisky, and of a very excellent quality, is the national drink, while vast quantities of beer are consumed, though they make the finest red and white wines. All the grog-shops are licensed by the Government and State—that is, made to pay a tax; but in the country there is a political party, the Prohibitionists, who would drive out all wine and liquor. These, working with the conservative people, often succeed in preventing saloons from opening in certain towns; but in large cities there are from one to two saloons to the block in the districts where they are allowed.

Taking everything into consideration, I think the Americans a temperate people. They organize in a thousand directions to fight drinking and other vices,[Pg 129] and millions of dollars are expended yearly in this direction. A peculiar quality about the American humor is that they joke about the most serious things. In fact, drink and drinking afford thousands of stories, the point of which is often very obscure to an alien. Here is one, told to illustrate the cleverness of a drinker. He walked into a bar and ordered a "tin-roof cocktail." The barkeeper was nonplussed, and asked what a tin-roof cocktail was. "Why, it's on the house." I leave you to figure it out, but the barkeeper paid the bill. The ingenuity of the Americans is shown in their mixed drinks. They have cocktails, high-balls, ponies, straights, fizzes, and many other drinks. Books are written on the subject. I have seen a book devoted entirely to cocktails. Certain papers offer prizes for the invention of new drinks. I have told you that, all in[Pg 130] all, America is a temperate country, especially when its composite character is considered; yet if the nation has a curse, a great moral drawback, it is the habit of drinking at the public bar.

[Pg 131]



One of the best-known American authors has immortalized the Chinaman in some of his verses. It was some time before I understood the smile which went around when some one in my presence suggested a game of poker. I need not repeat the poem, but the essence of it is that the "Heathen Chinee is peculiar." Doubtless Mr. Harte is right, but the Chinaman and his ways are not more peculiar to the American than American customs and contradictions are to the Chinaman. If there is any race on the earth that is peculiar, it is the "Heathen Yankee," the good-hearted, ingenuous product of all the nations of the earth—black, red, white, brown, all but [Pg 132]"yellow." Imagine yourself going out to what they call a "stag" dinner, and having an officer of the ranking of lieutenant shout, "Hi, John, pass the wine!"

Washington can not be said to be a typical American city. It is the center of official life, and abounds in statesmen of all grades. I have attended one of the President's receptions, to which the diplomats went in a body; then followed the army and navy, General Miles, a good-looking, soldier-like man, leading the former, and Admiral Dewey the latter, a fine body of men, all in full uniform, unpretentious, and quiet compared to similar men in other nations. I passed in line, and found the President, standing with several persons, the center of a group. The announcement and presentation were made by an officer in full uniform, and beyond this there was no formality, indeed, an abundance of[Pg 133] republican simplicity; only the uniforms saved it from the commonplace.

The President is a man of medium size, thick-set, and inclined to be fleshy, with an interesting, smooth face, eye clear and glance alert. He grasped me quickly by the hand, but shook it gingerly, giving the impression that he was endeavoring to anticipate me, called me by name, and made a pleasant allusion to —— of ——. He has a high forehead and what you would term an intelligent face, but not one you would pick out as that of a great man; and from a study of his work I should say that he is of a class of advanced politicians, clever in political intrigue, quick to grasp the best situation for himself or party; a man of high moral character, but not a great statesman, only a man with high ideals and sentiments and the faculty of impressing the masses that he is great. The[Pg 134] really intelligent class regard him as a useful man, and safe. It is a curious fact that the chief appreciation of President McKinley, I was informed, came from the masses, who say, "He is so kind to his wife" (a great invalid); or "He is a model husband." Why there should be anything remarkable in a man's being kind, attentive, and loyal to an invalid spouse I could not see. Her influence with him is said to be remarkable. One day she asked the President to promote a certain officer, the son of one of the greatest of American generals, to a very high rank. He did so, despite the fact that, as an officer said, the army roared with laughter and rage.

The influence of women is an important factor in Washington life. I was presented to an officer who obtained his commission in the following manner: Two very attractive ladies in [Pg 135]Washington were discussing their relative influence with the powers that be, when one remarked, "To show you what I can do, name a man and I will obtain a commission in the army for him." The other lady named a private soldier, whose stupidity was a matter of record, and a few days later he became an officer; but the story leaked out.

President McKinley is a popular President with the masses, but the aristocrats regard him with indifference. It is a singular fact, but the Vice-President, Mr. Roosevelt, attracts more attention than the President. He is a type that is appreciated in America, what they term in the West a "hustler"; active, wide-awake, intense, "strenuous," all these terms are applied to him. Said an officer in the field service to me, "Roosevelt is playing on a ninety-nine-year run of luck; he always lands on his feet at[Pg 136] the right time and place." "What they call a man of destiny," I suggested. "Yes," he replied; "he is the Yankee Oliver Cromwell. He can't help 'getting there,' and he has a sturdy, evident honesty of purpose that carries him through. A team of six horses won't keep him out of the White House." This is the general opinion regarding the Vice-President, that while he is not a remarkable statesman, he already overshadows the President in the eyes of the public. I think the secret is that he is young and a hero, and what the Americans call an all-around man; not brilliant in any particular line, but a man of energy, like our ——.

He looks it. A smooth face, square, determined jaw, with a look about the eye suggestive that he would ride you down if you stood in the way. I judge him to be a man of honor, high purpose,[Pg 137] as my friend said, of the Cromwell type, inclined to preach, and who also has what the Americans call the "get-there" quality. In conversation Vice-President Roosevelt is hearty and open, a poor diplomat, but a talker who comes to the point. He says what he thinks, and asks no favor. He acts as though he wished to clap you on the shoulder and be familiar. It will be difficult for you to understand that such a man is second in rank in this great nation. There are no imposing surroundings, no glamor of attendance, only Roosevelt, strong as a water-ox in a rice-field, smiling, all on the surface, ready to fight for his friend or his country. Author, cowboy, stockman, soldier, essayist, historian, sportsman, clever with the boxing-gloves or saber, hurdle-jumper, crack revolver and rifle shot, naturalist and aristocrat, such is the all-around Vice-President of the[Pg 138] United States—a man who will make a strong impression upon the history of the century if he is not shot by Socialists.

I have it from those who know, that President McKinley would be killed in less than a week if the guards about the White House were removed. He never makes a move without guards or detectives, and the secret-service men surround him as carefully as possible. It would be an easy matter to kill him. Like all officials, he is accessible to almost any one with an apparently legitimate object. Two Presidents have been murdered; all are threatened continually by half-insane people called "cranks," and by the professional Socialists, mainly foreigners. Both the President and Vice-President are well-dressed men. President McKinley, when I was granted an audience, wore a long-tailed black "frock coat" and vest, light trousers, and[Pg 139] patent leather or varnished shoes, and standing collar. The Vice-President was similarly dressed, but with a "turn-down" collar. The two men are said to make a "strong team," and it is a foregone conclusion that the Vice-President will succeed President McKinley. This is already talked of by the society people at Newport. "It is a long time," said a lady at Newport, "since we have had a President who represented an old and distinguished family. The McKinleys were from the ordinary ranks of life, but eminently respectable, while Roosevelt is an old and honored name in New York, identified with the history of the State; in a word, typical of the American aristocracy, bearing arms by right of heritage."

I have frequently met Admiral Dewey, already so well known in China. He is a small man, with bright eyes, who [Pg 140]already shows the effects of years. Nothing could illustrate the volatile, uncertain character of the American than the downfall of the admiral as a popular idol. Here a "peculiarity" of the American is seen. Carried away by political and public adulation, the old sailor's new wife, the sister of a prominent politician, became seized with a desire to make him President. Then the hero lovers raised a large sum and purchased a house for the admiral; but the politicians ignored him as a candidate, which was a humiliation, and the donors of the house demanded their money returned when the admiral placed the gift in the name of his wife; and so for a while the entire people turned against the gallant sailor, who was criticized, jeered at, and ridiculed. All he had accomplished in one of the most remarkable victories in the history of modern warfare was [Pg 141]forgotten in a moment, to the lasting disgrace of his critics.

One of the interesting places in Washington is the Capitol, perhaps the most splendid building in any land. Here we see the men whom the Americans select to make laws for them. The looker-on is impressed with the singular fact that most of the senators are very wealthy men; and it is said that they seek the position for the honor and power it confers. I was told that so many are millionaires that it gave rise to the suspicion that they bought their way in, and this has been boldly claimed as to many of them. This may be the treasonable suggestion of some enemy; but that money plays a part in some elections there is little doubt. I believe this is so in England, where elections have often been carried by money.

The American Senate is a dignified[Pg 142] body, and I doubt if it have a peer in the world. The men are elected by the State legislatures, not by the people at large, a method which makes it easy for an unprincipled millionaire or his political manager to buy votes sufficient to seat his patron. The fact that senators are mainly rich does not imply unfitness, but quite the contrary. Only a genius can become a multi-millionaire in America, and hence the senators are in the main bright men. When observing these men and enabled to look into their records, I was impressed by the fact that, despite the advantages of education, this wonderful country has produced few really great men, and there is not at this time a great man on the horizon.

America has no Gladstone, no Salisbury, no Bright. Lincoln, Blaine and Sumner are names which impress me as approximating greatness; they made an[Pg 143] impression on American history that will be enduring. Then there are Frye, Reed, Garfield, McKinley, Cleveland, who were little great men, and following them a distinguished company, as Hanna, Conkling, Hay, Hayes, and others, who were superior men of affairs. A distinctly great national figure has not appeared in America since Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and Rufus Choate—all men too great to become President. It appears to be the fate of the republic not to place its greatest men in the White House, and by this I mean great statesmen. General Grant was a great man, a heroic figure, but not a statesman. Lincoln is considered a great man. He is called the "Liberator"; but I can conceive that none but a very crude mind, inspired by a false sentiment, could have made a horde of slaves, the most ignorant people on the globe, the political[Pg 144] equals of the American people. A great man in such a crisis would have resisted popular clamor and have refused them suffrage until they had been prepared to receive it by at least some education. Americans are prone to call their great politicians statesmen. Blaine, Reed, Conkling, Harrison were types of statesmen; Hanna, Quay, and others are politicians.

The Lower House was a disappointment to me. There are too many ordinary men there. They do not look great, and at the present time there is not a really great man in the Lower House. There are too many cheap lawyers and third-rate politicians there. Good business men are required, but such men can not afford to take the position. I heard a great captain of industry, who had been before Congress with a committee, say that he never saw "so many asses [Pg 145]together in all his life"; but this was an extreme view. The House may not compare intellectually with the House of Commons, but it contains many bright men. A fool could hardly get in, though the labor unions have placed some vicious representatives there. The lack of manners distressed a lady acquaintance of mine, who, in a burst of indignation at seeing a congressman sitting with his feet on his desk, said that there was not a man in Congress who had any social position in Washington or at home, which, let us trust, is not true.

As I came from the White House some days ago I met a delegation of native Indians going in, a sad sight. In Indian affairs occurs a page of national history which the Americans are not proud of. In less than four hundred years they have almost literally been wiped from the face of the earth; the whites have[Pg 146] waged a war of extermination, and the pitiful remnant now left is fast disappearing. In no land has the survival of the fittest found a more remarkable illustration. But the Indians are having their revenge. The Americans long ago brought over Africans as slaves; then, as the result of a war of words and war of fact, suddenly released them all, and, at one fell move, in obedience to the hysterical cries of their people, gave these ignorant semisavages and slaves the same political rights as themselves.

Imagine the condition of things! The most ignorant and debased of races suddenly receives rights and privileges and is made the equal of American citizens. So strange a move was never seen or heard of elsewhere, and the result has been relations more than strained and always increasing between the whites and the blacks in the South. As voters[Pg 147] the negroes secure many positions in the South above their old masters. I have seen a negro[2] sitting in the Vice-President's chair in the United States Senate; while white Southern senators were pacing the outer corridors in rage and disgust. There are generally one or more black men in Congress, and they are given a few offices as a sop. With one hand the Americans place millions of them on a plane with themselves as free and independent citizens, and with the other refuse them the privileges of such citizenship. They may enter the army as privates, but any attempt to make them officers is a failure—white officers will not associate with them. It is impossible for a negro to graduate from the Naval Academy, though he has the right to do so. I was told that white sailors would shoot him if placed over them. Several[Pg 148] negroes have been appointed as students, but none as yet have been able to pass the examination. Here we see the strange and contradictory nature of the Americans. The white master of the South had the black woman nurse his children. Thousands of mulattoes in the country show that the whites took advantage of the women in other ways, marriage between blacks and whites being prohibited. When it comes to according the blacks recognition as social equals, the people North and South resent even the thought. The negro woman may provide the sustenance of life for the white baby, but I venture to say that any Southern man, or Northern one for that matter, would rather see his daughter die than be married to a negro. So strong is this feeling that I believe in the extreme South if a negro persisted in his addresses to a white woman he would be shot, and[Pg 149] no jury or judge could be found to convict the white man.

In the North the negro has certain rights. He can ride in the street-cars, go to the theater, enter restaurants, but I doubt if large hotels would entertain him. In the South every train has its separate cars for negroes; every station its waiting-room for them; even on the street-cars they are divided off by a wire rail or screen, and sit beneath a sign, which advertises this free, independent, but black American voter as being not fit to sit by the side of his political brother. This causes a bitter feeling, and the time is coming when the blacks will revolt. Already criminal attacks upon white women are not uncommon, and a virtual reign of terror exists in some portions of the South, where it is said that white women are never left unprotected; and the negro, if he attacks a white woman,[Pg 150] is almost invariably burned alive, with the horrible ghastly features that attend an Indian scalping. The crowd carry off bits of skin, hair, finger-nails, and rope as trophies. In fact, these "burnings" are the most extraordinary features in this "enlightened" country. The papers denounce them and compare the people to ghouls; yet these same people accuse the Chinese of being cruel, barbarous, insensible to cruelty, and "pagans." It is true we have pirates and criminals, but the horrible features of the lynchings in America during the last ten years I believe have no counterpart in the history of China in the last five hundred.

In Washington the servants are blacks; irresponsible, childlike, aping the vanities of the white people. They are "niggers"; the mulattoes, the illegitimate offspring of whites, form another and[Pg 151] totally distinct class of colored society, and are the aristocracy. Rarely will a mulatto girl marry a black man, and vice versa. They have their clubs and their functions, their professional men, including lawyers and doctors, as have the white people. They present a strange and singular feature. Despised by their fathers, half-sisters, and brothers, denied any social recognition, hating their black ancestry, they are socially "between the devil and the deep sea." The negro question constitutes the gravest one now before the American people. He is increasing rapidly, but in the years since the civil war no pure-blooded negro has given evidence of brilliant attainments. Frederick Douglas, Senator Bruce, and Booker T. Washington rank with many white Americans in authorship, diplomacy, and scholarship; but Douglas and Bruce were mulattoes, and[Pg 152] Booker Washington's father was an unknown white man. These men are held in high esteem, but the social line has been drawn against them, though Douglas married a white woman.

Balls are a feature of life in Washington. The women appear in full dress, which means that the arms and neck are exposed, and the men wear evening dress. The dances are mostly "round." The man takes a lady to the ball, and when he dances seizes her in an embrace which would be considered highly improper under ordinary circumstances, but the etiquette of the dance makes it permissible. He places his right arm around her waist, takes her left hand in his, holds her close to him, and both begin to move around to the special music designed for this peculiar motion, which may be a "waltz," or a "two-step," or a "gallop," or a "schottische," all being different and[Pg 153] having different music or time, or there may be various kinds of music for each. At times the music is varied, being a gliding, scooping, swooping slide, indescribable. When the dancers feel the approach of giddiness they reverse the whirl or move backward.

Many Washington men have become famous as dancers, and quite outshadow war heroes. All the officers of the army and navy are taught these dances at the Military and Naval Academies, it being a national policy to be agreeable to ladies; at least this must be so, as the men never dance together. To see several hundred people whirling about, as I have seen them at the inaugural of the President, is one of the most remarkable scenes to be observed in America. The man in Washington who can not dance is a "wallflower"—that is, he never leaves the wall. There is a professional [Pg 154]champion who has danced eight out of twenty-four hours without stopping. A yearly convention of dancing-school professors is held. These men, with much dignity, meet in various cities and discuss various dances, how to grasp the partner, and other important questions. Some time ago the question was whether the "gent" should hold a handkerchief in the hand he pressed upon the back of the lady, a professor having testified before the convention that he had seen the imprint of a man's hand on the white dress of a lady. The acumen displayed at these conventions is profound and impressive. Here you observe a singular fact. The good dancer may be an officer of high social standing, but the dancing-teacher, even though he be famous as such, is persona non grata, so far as society is concerned. A professional dancer, fighter, wrestler, cook, musician, and a hundred more are[Pg 155] not acceptable in society except in the strict line of their profession; but a professional civil or naval engineer, an organist, an artist, a decorator (household), and an architect are received by the elect in Washington.

I have alluded to the craze for joking among young ladies in society. At a dinner a reigning beauty, and daughter of ——, who sat next to me, talked with me on dancing. She told me all about it, and, pointing to a tall, distinguished-looking man near by, said that he had received his degree of D. D. (Doctor of Dancing) from Harvard University, and was extremely proud of it; and, furthermore, it would please him to have me mention it. I did not enlighten the young lady, and allowed her to continue, that I might enjoy her animation and superb "nerve" (this is the American slang word for her attitude). The gentleman[Pg 156] was her uncle, a doctor of divinity, who was constitutionally opposed to dancing; and I learned later that he had a cork leg. Such are some of the pitfalls in Washington set for the pagan Oriental by charming Americans.

Dancing parties, in fact, all functions, are seized upon by young men and women who anticipate marriage as especially favorable occasions for "courtship." The parents apparently have absolutely nothing to do with the affair, this being a free country. The girl "falls in love" with some one, and the courtship begins. In the lower classes the girl is said to be "keeping company" with so and so, or he is "her steady company." In higher circles the admirer is "devoted to the lady." This lasts for a year, perhaps longer, the man monopolizing the young lady's time, calling so many times a week, as the case may be, the familiarity [Pg 157]between the two increasing until they finally exchange kisses—a popular greeting in America. About now they become affianced or "engaged," and the man is supposed to ask the consent of the parents. In France the latter is supposed to give a dot; in America it is not thought of. In time the wedding occurs, amid much ceremony, the bride's parents bearing all the expense; the groom is relieving them of a future expense, and is naturally not burdened. The married young people then go upon a "honeymoon," the month succeeding the wedding, and this is long or brief, according to the wealth of the parties. When they return they usually live by themselves, the bride resenting any advice or espionage from her husband's mother, who is the mother-in-law, a relation as much joked about in America as revered in China.

Sometimes the "engaged" couple do[Pg 158] not marry. The man perhaps in his long courtship discovers traits that weary him, and he breaks off the match. If he is wealthy the average American girl may sue him for damages, for laceration of the affections. One woman in the State of New York sued for the value of over two thousand kisses her "steady company" had taken during a number of years' courtship, and was awarded three thousand dollars. The journal from which I took this made an estimate that the kisses had cost the man one dollar and a half each! Sometimes the girl breaks the engagement, and if presents have been given she returns them, the man rarely suing; but I have seen record of a case where the girl refused to return the presents, and the man sued for them; but no jury could be found to decide in his favor. A distinguished physician has written a book on falling in love.[Pg 159] It is recognized as a contagious disease; men and women often die of it, and commit the most extraordinary acts when under its influence. I have observed it, and, all things considered, it has no advantages over the Chinese method of attaining the marriage state. The wisdom of some older person is certainly better than what the American would call the "snap judgment" of two young people carried away by passion. One might find the chief cause of divorce in America to lie in this strange custom.

I was invited by a famous wag last week to meet a man who could claim that he was the father of fifty-three children and several hundred grandchildren. I fully expected to see the Gaikwar of Baroda, or some such celebrity, but found a tall, ministerial, typical American, with long beard, whom —— introduced to me as a Mormon bishop, who,[Pg 160] he said, had a virtual congé d'élire in the Church, at the same time referring to me as a Chinese Mormon with "fifty wives." I endeavored to protest, but —— explained to the bishop that I was merely modest. The Mormons are a sect who believe in polygamy. Each man has as many wives as he can support, and the population increases rapidly where they settle. The ludicrous feature of Mormonism is that the Government has failed to stop it, though it has legislated against it; but it is well known that the Mormon allows nothing to interfere with his "revelations," which are on "tap" in Utah.

I was much amused at the bishop's remarks. He said that if the American politicians who were endeavoring to kill them off would marry their actual concubines, and all Americans would do the same, the United States would have a[Pg 161] Mormon majority the next day. The bishop had the frailties and moral lapses of prominent people in all lands at his fingers' ends, and his claim was that the whole civilized world was practising polygamy, but doing it illegally, and the Mormons were the only ones who had the honor to legitimatize it. The joke was on ——, who was literally bottled up by the flow of facts from the bishop, who referred to me to substantiate him, which I pretended to do, in order totally to crush ——, who had tried to make me a party to his joke. The bishop, who invited me to call upon him in Utah, said that he hoped some time to be a United States senator, though he supposed the women of the East could create public sentiment sufficient to defeat him.

I once stopped over in Utah and visited the great Mormon Temple, and I must say that the Mormon women are[Pg 162] far below the average in intelligence, that is, if personal appearances count. I understand they are recruited from the lowest and most ignorant classes in Europe, where there are thousands of women who would rather have a fifth of a husband than work in the field. In the language of American slang, I imagine the Americans are "up against it," as the country avowedly offers an asylum for all seeking religious liberty, and the Mormons claim polygamy as a divine revelation and a part of their doctrine.

The bishop, I believe, was not a bishop, but a proselyting elder, or something of the kind. The man who introduced me to him was a type peculiar to America, a so-called "good fellow." People called him by his first name, and he returned the favor. The second time I met him he called me Count, and upon my replying that I was not a count[Pg 163] he said, "Well, you look it, anyway," and he has always called me Count. He knows every one, and every one knows him—a good-hearted man, a spendthrift, yet a power in politics; a remarkable poker player, a friend worth knowing, the kind of man you like to meet, and there are many such in this country.


[2] Probably Senator Bruce.

[Pg 164]



I have been a guest at the annual dinner of the ——, one of the leading literary associations in America, and later at a "reception" at the house of ——, where I met some of the most charming men and delightful women, possessed of manners that marked the person of culture and the savoir faire that I have seen so little of among other "sets" of well-known public people. But what think you of an author of note who knew absolutely nothing of the literature of our country? There were Italians, French, and Swedes at the dinner, who were called upon to respond to toasts on the literature of their country; but was I[Pg 165] called upon? No, indeed. I doubt if in all that entourage there was more than one or two who were familiar with the splendid literature of China and its antiquity.

But to come to the "shock." My immediate companion was a lady with just a soupçon of the masculine, who, I was told, was a distinguished novelist, which means that her book had sold to the limit of 30,000 copies. After a toast and speech in which the literature of Norway and Sweden had been extolled, this charming lady turned to me and said, "It is too bad, ——, that you have no literature in China; you miss so much that is enjoyed by other nations." This was too much, and I broke one of the American rules of chivalry—I became disputatious with a lady and slightly cynical; and when I wish to be cynical I always quote Mr. Harte, which usually "brings down[Pg 166] the house." To hear a Chinese heathen quote the "Heathen Chinee" is supposed to be very funny.

I said, "My dear madam, I am surprised that you do not know that China has the finest and oldest literature known in the history of the world. I assure you, my ancestors were writing books when the Anglo-Saxon was living in caves."[3] She was astonished and somewhat dismayed, but was not cast down—the clever American woman never is. I told her of our classics, of our wonderful Book of Changes, written by my ancestor Wan Wang in 1150 B. C. I told her of his philosophy. I compared his idea of the creation to that in the Bible. I explained the loss of many rare Chinese books by the piratical order of destruction by Emperor Che Hwang-ti, calling attention[Pg 167] to the fact that the burning of the famous library of Alexandria was a parallel. I asked her if it were possible that she had never heard of the Odes of Confucius, or his Book of History, which was supposed to have been destroyed, but which was found in the walls of his home one hundred and forty years before Christ, and so saved to become a part of the literature of China.

Finally she said, "I have studied literature, but that of China was not included." "Your history," I continued, "begins in 1492; our written history begins in the twenty-third century before Christ, and the years down to 720 B. C. are particularly well covered, while our legends run back for thousands of years." But my companion had never heard of the Shoo-King. It was so with the Chun Tsew[4] of Confucius and the [Pg 168]Four BooksTa-hĕ-ŏ,[5] Chung-yung,[6] Lun-yu,[7] Măng-tsze.[8] She had never heard of them. I told her of the invention of paper by the Marquis Tsae several centuries before Christ, and she laughingly replied that she supposed that I would claim next that the Chinese had libraries like those Mr. Carnegie is founding. I was delighted to assure her that her assumption was correct, and drew a little picture of a well-known Chinese library, founded two thousand years ago, the Han Library, with its 3,123 classics, its 2,706 works on philosophy, its 2,528 books on mathematics, its 790 works on war, its 868 books on medicine, 1,318 on poetry, not to speak of thousands of essays.

I could not but wonder as I talked, where were the Americans and their [Pg 169]literature when our fathers were reading these books two thousand years ago! Even the English people were wild savages, living in caves and huts, when our people were printing books and encyclopedias of knowledge. I dwelt upon our poetry, the National Airs, Greater Eulogies, dating back several thousand years. I told her of the splendors of our great versifier, Le-Tai-Pih; and I might have said that many American poets, like Walt Whitman, had doubtless read the translations to their advantage. I had the pleasure at least of commanding this lady's attention, and I believe she was the first American who deigned to take a Chinaman seriously. The facts of our literature are available, but only scholars make a study of it, and so far as I could learn not a word of Chinese literature is ever taught in American schools, though in the great universities there are [Pg 170]facilities, and the best educated people are familiar with our history.

The American authors, especially novelists, who constitute the majority of authors, are by no means all well educated. Many appear to have a faculty of "story-telling," which enables them to produce something that will sell; but that all American authors, and this will surprise you, are included among the great scholars, is far from true. Some, yes many, are deplorably ignorant in the sense of broad learning, and I believe this is a universal, national fault. If one thing Chinese more than another is ridiculed in America it is our drama. I met a famous "play-writer" at the —— dinner, who thought it a huge joke. I heard that his income was $30,000 per annum from plays alone; yet he had never heard of our "Hundred Plays of the Yuen Dynasty," which rests in one of his own[Pg 171] city libraries not a mile distant, and he laughed good-naturedly when I remarked that the modern stage obtained its initiative in China.

A listener did me the honor to question my statement that Voltaire's "L'Orphelin de la Chine" was taken from the Orphan of Chaou of this collection, which I thought every one knew. All the authors whom I met seemed surprised to learn that I was familiar with their literature and could not compare it synthetically with that of other nations, and even more so when I said that all well-educated Chinamen endeavored to familiarize themselves with the literature of other countries.

I continually gain the impression that the Americans "size us up," as they say, and "lump" us with the "coolie." We are "heathen Chinee," and it is incomprehensible that we should know [Pg 172]anything. I am talking now of the half-educated people as I have met them. Here and there I meet men and women of the highest culture and knowledge, and this class has no peer in the world. If I were to live in America I should wish to consort with her real scholars, culled from the best society of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, and other cities. In a word, the aristocracy of America is her educated class, the education that comes from association year after year with other cultivated people. I understand there is more of it in Boston and Philadelphia than anywhere; but you find it in all towns and cities. This I grant is the real American, who, in time—several thousand years perhaps—as in our own case, will demonstrate the wonderful possibilities of the human race in the West.

I would like to tell you something[Pg 173] about the books of the literary men and women I have met, but you will be more interested in the things I have seen and the mannerisms of the people. I was told by a distinguished writer that America had failed to produce any really great authors—I mean to compare with other nations—and I agreed with him, although appreciating what she has done. There is no one to compare with the great minds of England—Scott, Dickens, Thackeray. There is no American poet to compare with Tennyson, Milton, and a dozen others in England, France, Italy, and Germany; indeed, America is far behind in this respect, yet in the making of books there is nothing to compare with it. Every American, apparently, aspires to become an author, and I really think it would be difficult to find a citizen of the republic who had not been a contributor to some publication at some time,[Pg 174] or had not written a book. The output of books is extraordinary, and covers every field; but the class is not in all cases such as one might expect. The people are omnivorous readers, and "stories," "novels," are ground out by the ton; but I doubt if a book has been produced since the time of Hawthorne that will really live as a great classic.

The American authors are mainly collected in New York, where the great publishing houses are located, and are a fine representative class of men and women, of whom I have met a number, such as Howells, the author and editor, and Mark Twain, the latter the most brilliant litterateur in the United States. This will be discovered when he dies and is safe beyond receiving all possible benefits from such recognition. Many men in America make reputations as humorists, and find it impossible to divest their[Pg 175] more serious writings from this "taint," if so it may be called. They are not taken seriously when they seriously desire it; a fact I fully appreciate, as I am taken as a joke, my "pigtail," my "shoes," my "clothes," my way of speaking, all being objects of joking.

The literary men have several clubs in New York, where they can be found, and many have marked peculiarities, which are interesting to a foreigner. Several artists affect a peculiar style of dress to advertise their wares. One, it is said, lived in a tree at Washington. It is not so much with the authors as with the methods of making books that I think you will be interested. I met a rising young author at a dinner in Washington who confided to me that the "book business" was really ruined in America by reason of the mad craze of nearly all Americans to become writers. He said[Pg 176] that he as an editor had been offered money to publish a novel by a society woman who desired to pose as an authoress. This author said that there were in America a dozen or more of the finest and most honorable publishing houses in the world, but there were many more in the various cities which virtually preyed upon this "literary disease" of the people. No country in the world, said my acquaintance, produces so many books every year as America; so many, in fact, that the shops groan with them and the forests of America threaten to give out, and the supply virtually clogs and ruins the market. So crazy are the people to be authors and see themselves in print that they will go to any length to accomplish authorship.

He cited a case of a carpenter, a man of no education, who was seized with the desire to write a book, which he did. It[Pg 177] was sent to all the leading publishers, and promptly returned; then he began the rounds of the second-class houses, of which there are legion. One of the latter wrote him that they published on the "cooperative" plan, and would pay half the expenses of publishing if he would pay the other half. Of course his share paid for the entire edition and gave the clever "cooperative" publisher a profit, whether the edition sold or not. And my informant said that at least twenty firms were publishing books for such authors, and encouraging people to produce manuscripts that were so much "dead wood" in the real literary field. He later sent me the prospectus of several such houses which would take any manuscript, if the author would pay for the publishing, revise it and send it forth. I was assured that thousands of books are produced yearly by these houses, who are[Pg 178] really "printers," who advertise in various ways and encourage would-be authors, the idea being to get their money, a species of literary "graft," according to my literary informant, who assured me I must not confuse such parasites with the large publishers of America, who will not produce a book unless their skilled readers consider it a credit to them and to the country, a high standard which I believe is maintained.

Perhaps the most interesting phase of literature in America is found in the weekly and monthly magazines, of which there is no end. Every sport has its "organ," every great trade, every society, every religion; even the missionaries sent to China have their organs, in which is reported their success in saving us and divorcing us from our ancient beliefs. The great literary magazines number perhaps a dozen, with a few in the front[Pg 179] rank, such as the Century, Harper's, Scribner's, The Atlantic, Cosmopolitan, McClure's, Dial, North American Review, Popular Science Monthly, Bookman, Critic, and Nation. Such magazines I conceive to be the universities of the people, the great educators in art, literature, science, etc. Nothing escapes them. They are timely, beautiful, exact, thorough, scientific, the reflex of the best and most artistic minds in America; and many are so cheap as to be within the reach of the poor. It is interesting to know that most of these magazines are sources of wealth, the money coming from the advertisements, published as a feature in the front and back. These notices are in bulk often more than the literary portion, and the rate charged, I was told, from $100 to $1,000 per page for a single printing.

The skill with which appeals are made[Pg 180] to the weaknesses of readers is well shown in some of the minor publications not exactly within the same class as the literary magazines. One that is devoted to women is a most clever appeal to the idiosyncrasies of the sex: There are articles on cooking, dinners, luncheons, how to set tables, table manners, etiquette (one would think they had read Confucius), how to dress for these functions; and, in fact, every occupation in life possible to a woman is dealt with by an extraordinary editor who is a man. Whenever I was joked with about our men acting on the stage as women, I retorted by quoting Mr. ——, the male editor of the female ——, who is either a consummate actor or a remarkably composite creature, to so thoroughly anticipate his audience. The mother, the widow, the orphan, the young maiden, the "old maid," are all taken into the [Pg 181]confidence of this editor, who in his editorials has what are termed "heart to heart" talks.

I send you a copy of this paper, which is very clever and very successful, and a good illustration of the American magazine that, while claiming to be literature, is a mechanical production, "machine made" in every sense. One can imagine the introspective editor entering all the foibles and weaknesses of women in a book and in cold blood forming a department to appeal to each. I was informed that the editors of such publications were "not in business for their health," but for money; and their energies are all expended on projects to hold present readers and obtain others. The more readers the more they can charge the "advertiser" in the back or side pages, who here illustrate their deadly corsets, their new dye for the hair, their beauty doctors,[Pg 182] freckle eradicators, powders for the toilet, bustles, and the thousand and one things which shrewd dealers are anxious to have women take up.

The children also have their journals or "magazines." One in New York deals with fairies and genii, on the ground that it is good for the imagination. Another, published in Boston, denounces the fairy-story idea, and gives the children stories by great generals, princes of the blood, captains of industry, admirals, etc.; briefly, the name of the writer, not the literary quality of the tale, is the important feature. There are papers for babes, boys, girls, the sick and the well.

The most conspicuous literary names before the people are Howells, Twain, and Harte, though one hears of scores of novelists, who, I believe, will be forgotten in a decade or so. As I have said[Pg 183] previously, I am always joked with about the "Heathen Chinee." I have really learned to play "poker," but I seldom if ever sit down to a game that some one does not joke with me about "Ah Sin." Such is the American idea of the proprieties and their sense of humor; yet I finally have come to be so good an American that I can laugh also, for I am confident the jokers mean it all in the best of feeling.

There are in America a class of litterateurs who are rarely heard of by the masses, but to my mind they are among the greatest and most advanced Americans. They are the astronomers, geologists, zoologists, ornithologists, and others, authors of papers and articles in the Government Reports of priceless value. These writers appear to me, an outsider, to be the real safety-valves, the real backbone of the literary productions[Pg 184] of the day. With them science is but a synonym of truth; they fling all superstition and ignorance to the winds, and should be better known. Such names as Edison, Cope, Marsh, Hall, Young, Field, Baird, Agassiz, and fifty more might be mentioned, all authors whose books will give them undying fame, men who have devoted a lifetime to research and the accumulation of knowledge; yet the author of the last novel, "My Mule from New Jersey," will, for the day, have more vogue among the people than any of these. But such is fame, at least in America, where erudition is not appreciated as it is in "pagan" China.


[3] As a frontispiece to this volume, the cover design used on one of these old Chinese books is shown.

[4] Spring and Autumn Annals.

[5] Great Learning.

[6] Confucian Analects.

[7] Doctrine of the Mean.

[8] Works of Mencius.

[Pg 185]



At an assembly-room in New York I met a famous American political "boss." Many governors in China do not have the same power and influence. I had letters to him from Senators —— and ——. I expected to meet a man of the highest culture, but what was my surprise to see a huge, overgrown, uneducated Irishman, gross in every particular, who used the local "slang" so fiercely that I had difficulty in understanding him. He had been a police officer, and I understand was a "grafter," but that may have been a report of his enemies, as he commanded attention at the time of the election.

This man had a fund of humor, which was displayed in his clapping me on the[Pg 186] back and calling me "John," introducing me to a dozen or so of as hard-looking men in the garb of gentlemen as I have ever seen. I heard them described later as "ward beetles," and they looked it, whatever it meant. The "Boss" appeared much interested in me; said he had heard I was no "slouch," and knew I must have a "pull" or I would not be where I am. He wished to know how we run elections on "the Ho-Hang-Ho." When I told him that a candidate for a governmental office never obtained it until he passed one of three very difficult literary examinations in our nine classics, and that there were thousands competing for the office, he was "paralyzed"—that is, he said he was, and volunteered the information that "he would not be 'in it' in China." I thought so myself, but did not say so.

I told him that the politicians in China[Pg 187] were the greatest scholars; that the policy of the Government was to make all offices competitive, as we thus secured the brightest, smartest, and most gifted men for officials. "Smart h——!" retorted the "Boss." "Why, we've got smart men. Look at our school-teachers. Them guys[9] is crammed with guff,[10] and passing examinations all the time; but there ain't one in a thousand that's got sense enough to run a tamale[11] convention. The State governor would get left here if all the boys that wanted office had to pass an examination. We've got something like it here," he said, "that blank Civil Service, that keeps many a natural-born genius out of office; but it don't 'cut ice with me.' I'm the whole thing in the ward."

Despite his rough exterior, —— was[Pg 188] a good-hearted fellow, as they say, no rougher than his constituents, and I was with him several days during a local election with a view to studying American politics. Much of the time was spent in the saloons of the district where the "Boss" held out, and where I was introduced as a "white Chinee," or as a "white Chink," and "my friend." I wish I had kept a list of the drinks the "Boss" took and the cigars he smoked per diem. Perhaps it is as well I did not; you would not believe me. I was always "John" to this crowd, that was made up of laboring people in the main, of whom Irish and Germans predominated. The "Boss" was what they called a "bulldozer." If a man differed with him he tried to talk or drink him down; if it was an enemy and he became too disputatious, he would knock him out with his fist. In this way he had acquired a reputation as a [Pg 189]"slugger," that counted for much in such an assemblage, and he confided to me one evening that it was the easiest way to "stop talk," and that if he "laid down," the opposition would walk off with all his "people." He was "Boss" because he was the boss slugger, the best executive, the best drinker and smoker, the best "persuader," and the best public speaker in his ward. So you see he had a variety of talents. In China I can imagine such a man being beheaded as a pirate in a few weeks; this would be as good an excuse as any; yet men like this have grown and developed into respectable persons in New York and other cities.

"For ways that are dark and tricks that are vain, the Heathen Chinee is peculiar," but I doubt if he is more so than the political system of the United States, where every man is supposed to be free, but where a few men in each town own[Pg 190] everything and everybody politically. The American thinks he is free, but he has in reality no more freedom than the Englishman; in fact, I am inclined to think that the latter is the freest of them all, and I doubt if too much freedom is good for man. Politics in America is a profession, a trade, a science, a perfect system by which one or two men run or control millions. Politics means the attainment of political power and influence, which mean office. Some men are in politics for the love of power, some for spoils ("graft" they call it in slang), and some for the high offices. In America there are two large parties, the Republican and the Democratic. Then there are the Labor, Prohibition (non-drinking), and various other parties, which, in the language of politics, "cut no ice." The real issues of a party are often lost sight of. The Republicans may be said[Pg 191] to favor a high tariff; the Democrats a low tariff or free trade; and when there is not sufficient to amuse the people in these, then other reasons for being a Democrat or a Republican are raised, and a platform is issued. Lately the Democrats have espoused "free silver," and the Republicans have "buried" them. The Democrats are now trying to invent some new "platform"; but the Republicans appear to have included about all the desirable things in their platform, and hence they win.

In a small town one or two men are known as "bosses." They control the situation at the primaries; they manage to get elected and keep before the people. Generally they are natural leaders, and fill some office. When the senator comes to town they "escort" him about and advise him as to the votes he may expect. Sometimes the ward man is the [Pg 192]postmaster, sometimes a national congressman, again a State senator; but he is always in evidence, and before the people, a good speaker and talker and the "boss." Every town has its Republican and Democratic "boss," always striving to increase the vote, always striving for something. The larger the city, the larger the "boss," until we come to a city like New York, where we find, or did find, Boss Tweed, who absolutely controlled the political situation for years.

This means that he was in politics, and manipulated all the offices in order to steal for himself and his friends; this is of public record. He was overthrown or exposed by the citizens, but was followed by others, who manipulated the affairs of the city for money. Offices were sold; any one who had a position either bought it or paid a percentage for it. Gambling-dens and other "resorts" paid large sums[Pg 193] to "sub-bosses," who become rich, and if the full history of some of the "bosses" of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, or any great American city could be exposed, it would show a state of affairs that would display the American politician in a dark light. Repeatedly the machinations of the politicians have been exposed, yet they doubtless go on in some form. And this is true to some extent of the Government. The honor of no President has been impugned; they are men of integrity, but the enormous appointing power which they have is a mere form; they do not and could not appoint many men. The little "boss" in some town desires a position. He has been a spy for the congressman or senator for years, and now aspires to office. He obtains the influence of the senator and the congressman, and is supported by a petition of his friends, and the President names[Pg 194] him for the office, taking the senator for his sponsor. If the man becomes a grafter or thief, the President is attacked by the opposition.

In a large city like New York each ward will have its "boss," who will report to a supreme "boss," and by this system, often pernicious, the latter acquires absolute control of the situation. He names the candidates for office, or most of them, and is all powerful. I have met a number of "bosses," and all, it happened, were Irish; indeed, the Irish dominate American politics. One, a leader of Tammany in New York, was a most preposterous person, well dressed, but not a gentleman from any standpoint; ignorant so far as education goes, yet supremely sharp in politics. Such a man could not have led a fire brigade in China, yet he was the leader of thousands, and controlled Democratic New[Pg 195] York for years. He never held office, I was told, yet grew very rich.

The Republican "boss" was a tall, thin, United States senator. I was also introduced to him—a Mephistophelian sort of an individual—to me utterly without any attraction; but I was informed that he carried the vote of the Republican party in his pocket. How? that is the mystery. If you desired office you went to him; without his influence one was impotent. Thousands of office-holders felt his power, hated him, perhaps, but did not dare to say it.

The "boss" controls the situation, gives and "takes," and the other citizens get the satisfaction of thinking they are a free people. In reality, they are political slaves, and the "boss," "sub-boss," and the long line of smaller "bosses" are their masters. Very much the same situation is seen in national politics. The party is[Pg 196] controlled by a "boss," and at the present this personage is a millionaire, named Hanna, said to be an honest, upright man, with a genius for political diplomacy, a puller of wires, a maker of Presidents, having virtually placed President McKinley where he is. This man I met. Many of the politicians called him "Uncle Mark." He has a familiar way with reporters. He is a man of good size, with a face of a rather common type, with very large and protruding ears, but two bright, gleaming eyes, that tell of genius, force, intelligence, power, and executive talents of an exalted order. I recall but one other such pair of eyes, and those were in the head of Senator James G. Blaine, whom I saw during my first visit to America. Hanna is famous for his bonhomie, and is a fine story-teller. Indeed, unless a man can tell stories he had better remain out of [Pg 197]politics, or rather he will never get into politics.

As an outsider I should say that the power of the "boss" was due to the fact that the best classes will have none of him, as a rule (I refer to the ordinary "boss"), and as a consequence he and his henchmen control the situation. I think I am not overstating the truth when I say that every city in the United States has been looted by the politicians of various parties. It is of public record that Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, and New York citizens have repeatedly risen and shown that the city was being robbed in the most bare-handed manner. Bribery and corruption have been found to exist to-day in the entire system, and if the credit of the republic stands on its political morale this vast union of States is a colossal failure, as it is being pillaged by politicians. Every "boss" has[Pg 198] what are termed "heelers," one function of whom is to buy votes and do other work in the interest of "reform." A friend told me that he spent election day in the office of a candidate for Congress in a certain Western town, and the candidate had his safe heaped full of silver dollars. All day long men were coming and going, each taking the dollars to buy votes. By night the supply was exhausted, and the man defeated. I expressed satisfaction at this, but my friend laughed; the other fellow who won paid more for votes, he said. I was told that all the great senatorial battles were merely a question of dollars; the man with the largest "sack" won.

On the other hand, there are senators who not only never paid for a vote but never expressed a wish to be elected. The foreign vote—Italians and others—are swayed by cash considerations; the[Pg 199] negroes are bought and sold politically. The "bosses" handle the money, and the senators consider it as "expenses," and doubtless do not know that some of it has been used to influence legislators. The Americans have a remarkable network of laws to prevent fraudulent voting. Each candidate in some States is required to swear to an expense account, yet the wary politician, with his "ways that are dark," evades the law. The entire system, the control of the political fortunes of 80,000,000 Americans, is in the hands of a small army of political "bosses," some of whom, had they figured as grafters in "effete" China, would have been beheaded without mercy.


[9] Slang for citizens.

[10] Slang for information, facts.

[11] Mexican hash in corn-husk.

[Pg 200]



A fundamental idea with the American is to educate children. This is carried to the extent of making it an offense not to send those above a certain age to school, while State or town officers, called "truant police," are on the alert to arrest all such children who are not in school. The following was told me by a Government official in Washington, who had obtained it from a well-known literary man who witnessed the incident. The literary man was invited to visit a Boston school of the lower grade, where he found the teacher, an attractive woman, engaged in teaching a class of "youngsters," the progeny of the working class. After the visitor had listened to the[Pg 201] recitations for some time, he remarked to the teacher, "How do you account for the neatness and cleanliness of these children?" "Oh, I insist upon it," was the reply. "The Board of Education does not anticipate all the desiderata, but I make them come clean and make it a part of the course;" then rising and tapping on the table, she said, "Prepare for the sixth exercise." All the children stood up. "One," said the teacher, whereupon each pupil took out a clean cloth handkerchief. "Two," counted the teacher, and with one concerted blast every pupil blew his or her nose in clarion notes. "Three," came again after a few seconds, and the handkerchiefs were replaced. At "four" the student body sank back to their seats without even smiling, or without having "cracked a smile." You could search the world over and not find a prototype. It goes without saying that the teacher was[Pg 202] a wit and wag, but the lesson of handkerchiefs and their use was inculcated.

Education is a part of the scheme to make all Americans equal. A more splendid system it is impossible to conceive. Every possible facility is afforded the poorest family to educate their children. Public schools loom up everywhere, and are increased as rapidly as the children, so there is no excuse for ignorance. The schools are graded, and there is no expense or fee. The parents pay a tax, a small sum, those who have no children being taxed as well as those who have many. There are schools to train boys to any trade; normal free schools to make teachers; night schools for working boys; commercial schools to educate clerks; ship schools to train sailors and engineers. Then come the great universities, in part free, with all the splendid paraphernalia, some being State [Pg 203]institutions and others memorials of dead millionaires. Then there are the great technical schools, as well as universities (where one can study Chinese, if desired). There are schools of art, law, medicine, nature, forestry, sculpture; schools to teach one how to write, how to dress, how to eat, and how to keep well; schools to teach one how to write advertisements, to cultivate the memory, to grow strong; schools for shooting, boxing, fencing; schools for nurses and cooks; summer schools; winter schools.

And yet the American is not profoundly educated. He has too much within his reach. I have been distinctly surprised at crude specimens I have met who were graduates of great universities. The well-educated Englishman, German, and American are different things. The American is far behind in the best sense, which I am inclined to[Pg 204] think is due to the teachers. Any one can get through a normal school and become a teacher who can pass the examination, and I have seen some singular instances. If all the teachers were obliged to pass examinations in culture, refinement, and the art of conveying knowledge, there would be a falling of pedagogic heads. The free and over education of the poor places them at once above their parents. They are free, and the daughter of a ditch laborer, whose wife is a floor scrubber, upon being educated is ashamed of her parents, learns to play the piano, apes the rich, and is at least unhappy.

The result is, there remains no peasant class. The effect of education on the country boy is to make him despise the farm and go to the city, to become a clerk and ape the fashions of the wealthy at six or eight dollars a week. He has been educated up to the standard of his "boss"[Pg 205] and to be his equal. The overeducation of the poor is a heartless thing. The women vie with the men, and as a result women graduates, taking positions at half the price that men demand, crowd them out of the fields of skilled labor, whereas the man, not crowded out, should, normally, marry the girl. In power, strength, and progress the American nation stands first in the world, and all this may be due to splendid educational facilities. But this is not everything. There result strife, unhappiness, envy, and a craze for riches. I do not think the Americans as a race are as happy as the Chinese. Religious denominations try to have their own schools, so that children shall not be captured by other denominations. Thus the Roman Catholics have parochial schools, under priests and sisters, and colleges of various grades. They oppose the use of the[Pg 206] Bible in the public school, and in some States their influence has helped to suppress its use. The Quakers, with a following of only eighty thousand, have colleges and schools. The Methodists have universities, as have the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and others. All denominations have institutions of learning. These schools are in the hands of clergymen, and are often endowed or supported by wealthy members of the denomination.

A remarkable feature of American life is the college of correspondence. A man or firm advertises to teach by correspondence at so much a month. Many branches are taught, and if the student is in earnest a certain amount of information can thus be accumulated. Among the people I have met I have observed a lack of what I term full, broad education, producing a well-rounded mind,[Pg 207] which is rare except among the class that stands first in America—the refined, cultured, educated man of an old family, who is the product of many generations. The curriculum of the high school in America would in China seem sufficient to equip a student for any position in diplomatic life; but I have found that a majority of graduates become clerks in a grocery or in other shops, car conductors, or commercial travelers, where Latin, Greek, and other higher studies are absolutely useless. The brightest educational sign I see in America is the attention given to manual training. In schools boys are taught some trade or are allowed to experiment in the trades in order to find out their natural bent, so that the boy can be educated with his future in view. As a result of education, women appear in nearly every field except that of manual labor on farms, which is[Pg 208] performed in America only by alien women.

The richest men in America to-day, the multi-millionaires, are not the product of the universities, but mainly of the public schools. Carnegie, Rockefeller, Schwab, men of the great steel combine, the oil magnates, the great railway magnates, the great mine owners, were all men of limited education at the beginning. Among great merchants, however, the university man is found, and among the Harvard and Yale graduates, for example, may be found some of America's most distinguished men. But Lincoln, the martyred President, had the most limited education, and among public men the majority have been the product of the public school, which suggests that great men are natural geniuses, who will attain prominence despite the lack of education. The best-educated[Pg 209] men in America to my mind are the graduates of West Point and Annapolis, the military and naval academies. These two institutions are extremely rigorous, and are open to the most humble citizens. They so transform men in four years that people would hardly recognize them. The result is a highly educated, refined, cultivated, practical man, with a high sense of honor and patriotism. If America would have a school of this kind in every State there would be no limit to her power in two decades.

Despite education, the great mass of the people are superficial; they have a smattering of this and that. An employer of several thousand men told the Superintendent of Education of the District of Columbia that he had selected the brightest boy graduate of a high school for a position which required only a knowledge of simple arithmetic. The[Pg 210] graduate proved to be totally unfit for the position and was discharged. Later he became the driver of a team of horses. America abounds in thousands of educational institutions, yet there is not one so well endowed that it can say to the world we wish no more money. It is singular that some multi-millionaire does not grasp this opportunity to donate one hundred millions to a great national school or university, to be placed at Washington, where the buildings would all be lessons in architecture of marble after the plans of a world's fair. Instead they leave a few thousands here and a few there. Carnegie, the leading millionaire, gives libraries to cities all over the States, each of which bears the name of the giver. The object is too obvious, and is cheap in conception. In San Francisco some years ago a citizen tried the same experiment. He proposed to[Pg 211] give the city a large number of fountains. When they were finished each one was seen to be surmounted by his own statue. A few were put up, how many I do not recall, but one night some citizens waited on a statue, fastened a rope to its neck, and hauled it down. So peculiar are the Americans that I believe if Mr. Carnegie should place his name on ten thousand libraries, with the object of attaining undying fame, the people, by a concerted effort, would forget all about him in a few decades. Such an attempt does not appeal to any side of the American character. I have known the best Americans, but Mr. Carnegie has not known the best of his own countrymen or he would not attempt to perpetuate his memory in this way.

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Among the most delightful people I have met in America are the army and navy officers, graduates of West Point and Annapolis, well-bred, cultivated men, patriotic, open-hearted, and chivalrous. They are like our own class of men who answer to the American term of gentlemen. I am not going to tell you of their splendid ships, their training or uniform, but of a few of their idiosyncrasies. There is no dueling in the army. If two men have trouble at the academies they fight it out with bare fists, and in the army settle it in some other way, dueling being forbidden. Owing to the fact that all men are equal in America, the attitude of the officer to[Pg 213] the civilian is entirely different. If a civilian strikes an officer in Germany the latter will cut him down with his saber and be protected in it, but here the man would be arrested and treated as any other criminal; in a word, the officer is a servant of the people, and stands with them. He has been trained to treat his men well, and they respect him. But while the officer is the people's servant and his salary in some part is paid by the humblest grocer's clerk, laborer, or artisan, the officer has a social position which, in the eyes of himself and the Government, makes him the social equal of kings and emperors; and here we see a strange fact in American life.

When a garrison is ordered to a town or city, people call to pay their respects. The grocer, who in being taxed aids in paying the officer's salary, is persona non grata. The grocer, milk dealer, shoe[Pg 214] dealer, and retail dealers in general might call, but would not be received on cordial terms. The wife of the colonel might return the call of the grocer's wife if she made a good appearance, but the latter would under no circumstances be invited to a function at the camp or post. The undertaker, the dentist, the ice-man, the retail shoe man are under the ban. Certain kinds of business appear to have certain social rights. Thus a dentist would not be received, but the man who manufactures dentists' tools may be a leader among the "Four Hundred."

Strange complications arise. A young officer fell in love with a sergeant's daughter, and married her, as I learned from a well-known officer at the Army and Navy Club. This was serious enough, as there could be no intimacy between a commissioned and non-commissioned officer. The young man and[Pg 215] his bride were ordered to a distant post, where the story of course followed them. All went well for a time. The bride sank her social inferiority in the rank of her husband, and the ladies of the post called on her, not as the sergeant's daughter but as the officer's wife. The mother of the bride finally decided to visit her, and thus became the guest of the officer, who was a lieutenant. Under ordinary circumstances it was the duty of all the ladies to call on the mother of the lieutenant's wife; but it so happened that she was the wife of a sergeant, and hence to call was impossible. No one did so.

The young wife felt herself insulted, and the ubiquitous reporter seized upon the situation, until it was taken up by every paper in the country. The pictures of mother, daughter, and sergeant were shown, and columns were written on the subject. Almost to a man the editors [Pg 216]denounced what they termed the snobbishness of the army, and denounced West Point for producing snobs, claiming that the ladies of the post, had they been real ladies, would have called on a respectable laundress even if she had been the sergeant's wife. I refer to this to show the intricacies of American etiquette. The point is that nearly all the editors who knew anything, believed that the ladies were right, but did not dare to say so on account of the fact that the majority of their readers felt themselves the equals of the army officer; hence the cry of snobbery that went whistling over the land. The lieutenant committed a gross mistake in marrying the girl; he married out of his class. But in America I am told there are no classes, and I am constantly forgetting this.

In the army there are several black regiments (negroes). They have black[Pg 217] chaplains, and attempts have been made to find black officers, but the social difficulties make this impossible, though the blacks are free and independent citizens and help pay the salaries of the white men. It would be impossible to force white soldiers to admit to their regiment black soldiers. No white man would permit a black officer to be placed over him, even by inference.

In the navy we see an entirely different situation. On every ship are negroes in the crew, sleeping on the same gun-decks with the white men, and no fault is found; but a negro officer would be an impossibility. Though several have been sent to the Naval Academy, none have "gone through." Even in these almost perfect institutions favoritism exists. To illustrate: the son of a prominent man was about to fail in his examinations, when the powers that be passed the[Pg 218] word that he must pass, nolens volens. The professor in whose class he was and who had found him deficient resented this, and when he learned that it was the intention to pass the boy over his head he resigned and was ordered to his regiment. The young man was graduated, entered the army and, aided by influence, jumped many of his class men and finally acquired rank at the request of the wife of one of the Presidents. This was a very exceptional case, the result of strong national sentiment that favored the father.

The management of the army does not seem rational to a foreigner. To preserve the idea of republican simplicity and equality, army men are not rewarded with orders, as in other countries, which is a great injustice. Few officers, though veterans of many wars, wear medals, and when they do they were not given as rewards for bravery, but are merely corps[Pg 219] badges, showing that the officer belongs to this or that army corps. But if an officer does a brave deed he may be promoted several points over his fellows, as brave as he, but who did not have the same opportunity to show bravery. Ill feeling may be the result. Every man is expected to be brave, and extraordinary examples of bravery are recognized in other nations by the presentation of medals, the possession of which creates no ill feeling. The actual head of the army is the Secretary of War, a political appointment, an adviser selected by the President, who, usually, has no military knowledge. This officer gives all the orders to the general of the army, and, as in a recent instance, a vast amount of friction has been the result. Intense feeling was occasioned by the elevation of certain officers, who were supposed to possess remarkable executive ability.

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Civil war veterans at the Army and Navy Club complained to an acquaintance of mine that when they arrived at the seat of war in Cuba they found their superior officers to be, first, General Wheeler, an ex-Confederate, against whom they had fought in the civil war; second, Colonel Wood, who had been a contract army surgeon under nearly all of them; and finally, Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt, who was a babe in arms when they were fighting the battles of the civil war. This story serves to illustrate the point that political "pulls" and favoritism are rampant in the service, and are the cause of much disgust among officers. General Funston affords an illustration that has incensed many officers. Funston was an unknown man, who captured Aguinaldo by a clever ruse, a valuable and courageous piece of work, which should have been rewarded with a [Pg 221]decoration and some promotion; but he was jumped over the heads of hundreds, landing at the top of the army in one "fell swoop." I judge the policy of the Government to be to promote officers so soon as they show evidence of extraordinary capability.

It would be an easy matter for any one to obtain photographs of plans and sketches of American fortifications. One of my friends hired a photographer to get up what he called a scrap-book of pictures to take home to his family in Tokio in order to "entertain his people." The photographer sent him a wonderful series, showing the forts overlooking New York harbor, interiors and exteriors; and those in Boston, Portland, Baltimore, Fort Monroe, Key West, and San Francisco were also obtained. Photographs of guns and charts, which can be purchased everywhere, were included, as well as[Pg 222] Government reports. If Japan ever goes to war with the Yankees my friend's scrap-book will be in demand. I do not believe the American War Department makes any secret of the forts. They are open to the public. Even if a kodak were not permitted, pictures could be secured. My friend said his photographer had a kodak which he wore inside his vest, the opening protruding from a button-hole. All he had to do was to stand in front of an object and pull a cord. Such a kodak is known as a "detective camera." There are several designs, all very clever. I once saw my face reproduced in a paper, and until I heard about this camera it was a mystery how the original was obtained, as I had not "posed" for any one.

The possibility of America going to war with another nation is remote. From what I see of the people and their [Pg 223]tremendous activity they could not be defeated by any nation or combination of nations. They are like Senator ——'s Malay game-cock, of which the senator has said that there is only one trouble with him—the bird never knows when he is licked, and if he does he does not stay licked. America could raise an army of ten or twelve millions of the finest fighters in the world for defense against any combination, and she would win. The senator told me a story, which illustrates the situation. One of the American men-of-war in a Malay port had an old American eagle aboard as a mascot and pet. When the men got liberty they went ashore with the eagle, and showed it as an "American game-cock." The natives wanted to arrange a match, and finally one was planned, the eagle cock against a black Malay. When the fight began, the black cock put its spur[Pg 224] into the eagle several times, the latter doing nothing but eye the cock, first with one eye, and then with the other. Once more the black cock stabbed the eagle, bringing blood, whereupon the eagle leaned forward, and as the cock thrust out its head, seized it with one claw, pressed it to the ground, and with the other tore off its head and began to eat it. This is what would happen if almost any nation really and seriously went to war with the United States. But the country was ill prepared for the war with Spain. If Cervera had reached the New England coast he could have shelled Boston and then New York.

Service in America is not compulsory. It is merely made popular, and as a result, every part of the country has State militia of splendidly drilled men, ready to be called on at a moment's notice. They receive no pay, considering it an[Pg 225] honor to be in the militia service. In the regular army old names are perpetuated. The great generals and admirals have sent sons into the service. Our Government would do well to send young men to West Point and Annapolis. The Japanese did this for years, and received the best of their ideas from those sources. There is but one thing in the way. Chinamen are tabooed in America, and doubtless would reach no farther than the port of entry. The only way to get in now would be for a new minister or diplomat to bring over ten or a dozen young men as members of the suite and then distribute them among the schools and universities—a humiliation that China will probably resent.

Our trade with America is extremely valuable to her. The cotton, flour, and other commodities we import represent a vast sum, and I believe if we refused[Pg 226] at once to buy anything from America we could make our own terms in less than two years. This could be accomplished very gradually. The Americans would find it out first through their consuls, who are all instructed to report on every possible point of vantage that can be taken in China by their merchants. They would report a decreased demand. American merchants would then demand an explanation from the Department of State, and finally we could announce that we preferred to buy from our friends, American treatment of the Chinese being inimical to good feeling. Knowing the American business men as I do, you could count on a wail coming up from them. An appeal would be made to Congress through representatives and senators, the American business men demanding that the "Chinese matter" be arranged upon a "more liberal basis."[Pg 227] When you touch the pocketbook of "Uncle Sam" you reach his earthquake center; yet for defense, for the preservation of the national honor, this people will spend untold sums. The American Government bond is the best security in the world. It is founded on the rock of honor and patriotism. And there is no repudiation like that of ——, and none like the pretended one of ——.[12] We have our faults, and it is well to recognize them; but I never saw them until I mingled with the English and Americans.

There is of course a large foreign element in the American army—thousands of Irish and Germans; but this does not signify, as I learn that in the State of Massachusetts, the stronghold of Americans, the Irish hold a third of the official positions, the native-born Yankees[Pg 228] about one-fourth. This is particularly exasperating to old families in New England, as it is notorious that the Irish come directly from the very dregs of the poverty-stricken peasantry—the "bog-trotters." I was much impressed by the high standard of honor in the army and navy, and am told that it is the rarest of occurrences for a regular army officer to commit a crime or to default. This is due to the training received at the military and naval schools, where young men are placed on their honor.


[12] China has twice repudiated its Government bonds within four centuries.

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It is seldom that I have been complimented in America, but a lady has told me that she envied our "art sense." She said the Chinese are essentially artistic, that the cheapest thing, the most ordinary article, is artistic or beautiful. I wished that I could return the compliment, but a strict observance of the truth compels me to say that the reverse is true in America. If one go into a Chinese shop and ask for any ordinary article, it will be found artistic. If one go into an American shop, say a hardware "store," there will not be found an article that would be considered decorative, while everything in a Chinese shop of like character would fall under this head.[Pg 230] The conclusion is that the Chinese are artistic, while the Americans are not.

The reason lies in the fact that the Chinese are homogeneous, while the Americans are a mixed race, that is injured by the continual introduction of baser elements. If immigration could be stopped for fifty years, and the people have a chance to acquire "oneness," they might become artistic. The middle class, however, is, from an artistic standpoint, a horror; they have absolutely no art sense, and the nouveaux riches are often as bad. The latter sometimes place their money in the hands of an agent, who buys for them; but all at once a man may break out and insist upon buying something himself, so that in a splendid collection of European names will appear some artistic horror to stamp the owner as a parvenu.

The Americans have not produced a[Pg 231] great painter. By this I mean a really great artist, nor have they a great sculptor, one who is or has been an inspiration. But they have thousands of artists, and many poor ones thrive in selling their wares. You may see a man with an income of thirty thousand dollars having paintings on his walls that give one the vertigo. The poor artist has taken him in, or "pulled his leg," to use the latest American slang. There are some fine paintings in America. I have visited the great collections in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, and those in many private galleries, but the best of the pictures are always from England, France, Germany, and other European countries. Old masters are particularly revered. Americans pay enormous sums for them, but sometimes are deceived.

They have art schools by the hundred,[Pg 232] where they study from the nude and from models of all kinds. There are splendid museums of art, especially in Boston and New York. The art interests are particularly active, but not the people; there are a few art lovers only, the people in the mass being hopeless. Cheap prints, chromos, and other deadly things are ground out by the million and sold, to clog still deeper the art sense of an inartistic people. They laugh at our conventional Chinese art, but the extreme of conventionality is certainly better than some of the daubs I have seen in American homes. Americans have peculiar fancies in art. One is called Impressionist Art. As near as I can understand it, painters claim that while you are looking at an object you do not really see it all, you merely gain an impression; so they paint only the impression. In a museum of art I was shown several[Pg 233] rooms full of daubs, having absolutely nothing to commend them, weird colors being thrown together in the strangest manner, without rhyme or reason, but over which people went mad. The great masters of Europe appeal to me strongly. In America, marine painters attract me the most, for example, Edward Moran, who is a splendid delineator of the sea. Bierstadt is a noble painter, and so is Thomas Moran. There are half a hundred men who are fine painters, but half a thousand men and women who think they are artistic but who are not.

Americans have developed no individual architecture. You see semipagoda-like effects in the East, and old English houses in the South. They steal the latter and call them Colonial. They steal the architecture of the Moors and call it Mexican. They borrow Roman and Grecian effects for great public [Pg 234]buildings. At one time they went mad over the French roof, or mansard. Nowhere have I seen purely American architecture. The race is not possessed of sufficient unity. So all their art is from abroad, and notably is French and English. They make broad effects, and give them an American name; but they are copied from the Dutch or Germans. All the furniture designers in America are Europeans. You will find a splendid house with a Chinese room, having teak inlaid with ivory, etc.; a Japanese room, a Moorish room, and an Italian room, all splendidly decorated; but the family lives in an "American room," that is commonplace and subversive of all art digestion and assimilation. The average middle-class American knows absolutely nothing about art; the lower classes so little that their homes are hopeless. Knowing this,[Pg 235] they are preyed upon by thousands of foreign swindlers. There are hundreds of articles manufactured in Europe to sell to the American tourist. I have seen Napoleonic furniture enough to load a fleet. I can only compare it to the pieces of the true cross and the holy relics of the Catholics, of which there are enough to fill the original ark which the Bible tells the Americans landed on Mount Ararat in a great flood.

The houses of the best people I have told you about are as far removed from the commonplace as the equator from the poles. They are rich in conception, sumptuous in detail, artistic in every way, and filled with the art gems of the world. But these people have descended from refined people for several generations. They are the true Americans, but make up a small number compared to the inartistic whole. I believe America [Pg 236]recognizes this, and with her stupendous energy is doing everything to educate the masses in art. They are building splendid museums; rich men give away millions. There are hundreds of art schools, free to all, and art is taught in all the schools. Fine monuments are placed in public squares and parks, and beautiful fountains and memorials in these and other public places. Their buildings, though foreign in design, are beautiful. In Boston one may see marvelous work in frescoes, etc., and in the Government buildings at Washington. The Capitol, while not American in design, is a pile worthy of the great people who erected it.

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The questions I know you will wish answered are, Whether this stupendous aggregation of States is a success? Does it possess advantages beyond those of the Chinese Empire? Does it fulfil the expectations of its own people? Frankly, I do not consider myself competent to answer. I have studied America and the Americans for many years during my visits to this country and Europe, and while I have seen many accounts of the country, written after several months of observation, I believe that no just estimate of the republican form of government can be formed after such experience. My private impression, however, is that the republic falls far short of what[Pg 238] the men in Washington's time expected, and it is also my private opinion that it has not so many advantages as a government like that of England.

It is too splendid an organization to be lightly denounced. The idea of the equality of men is noble, and I would not wish to be arraigned among its critics. There is too much good to offset the bad. I have been attempting to amuse you by analyzing the Americans, pointing out their frailties as well as their good qualities. I tell you what I see as I run, always, I hope, remembering what is good in this spontaneous and open-hearted people. The characteristic claim of the people is that the Government offers freedom to its citizens; yet every man is quite as free in China if he behaves himself, and he can rise if he possesses brains.

Any native-born citizen in the United States may become the head of the [Pg 239]nation has he the courage of his convictions, the many accomplishments which equip the great leader, and should the hour and the man meet opportunity. This is the one prize which distinguishes America from England. The latter in other respects offers exactly as much freedom with half the wear and tear; in fact, to me the freedom of America is one of her disadvantages. Every one knows, and the American best of all, that all men are not equal, never were and never can be. Yet this false doctrine is their standard, and they swear by it, though some will explain that what is meant is political freedom. Freedom accounts for the gross impertinence of the ignorant and lower classes, the laughable assumptions of servants, and the illogical pretenses of the nouveau riche, which make America impossible to some people. Cultivated Americans are as [Pg 240]thoroughly aristocratic as the nobility of England. There are the same classes here as there. A grocer becomes rich and retires or dies; his children refuse to associate with the families of other grocers; in a word, the Americans have the aristocratic feeling, but they have no peasant class; the latter would be, in their own estimation, as good as any one. One class, the lower and poorer, is arraigned against the upper and richer, and the gap is growing daily.

But this would not prove that the republic is a failure. What then? It is, in the opinion of many of its clergymen, a great moral failure. No nation in history has lasted many centuries after having developed the "symptoms" now shown in the United States. I quote their own press, "the States are morally rotten," and you have but to turn to these organs and the magazines of the past [Pg 241]decade, which make a feature of holding up the shortcomings of cities and millionaires, to read the details of the tragedy. Thieves—grafters—have seized upon the vitals of the country. St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, great representative cities—what is their history? The story of dishonesty among officials, of bribery, stealing, and every possible crime that a man can devise to wring money from the people. This is no secret. It has all been exposed by the friends of morality. City governments are overthrown, the rascals are turned out, but in a few months the new officers are caught devising some new "grafting" operation.

I have it from a prominent official that there is not an honest State or city administration in America. What can a nation say when for years it has known that a large and influential lobby has been[Pg 242] maintained to influence statesmen, a lobby comprising a corps of "persuaders" in the pay of business men? How do they influence them? The great fights waged to defeat certain measures are well known, and it is known that money was used. Certain congressmen have been notoriously receptive. I have seen the following story in print in many forms. I took the trouble to ask a well-known man if it was possible that it could be founded on fact; his reply was, "Certainly it is a fact." A briber entered the private room of a congressman. "Mr. ——, to come right to the point, I want the —— bill to pass, and I will give you five hundred dollars for the vote and your interest." The congressman rose to his feet, purple with rage. "You dare to offer me this insulting bribe? You infernal scoundrel, I will throw you out." "Well, suppose we make it one[Pg 243] thousand," said the imperturbable visitor. "Well," replied the congressman, cooling down, "that is a little better put. We will talk it over."

The American Government had been attempting, since 1859, to build a canal across the Isthmus. I believe surveys were made earlier than that, but bribery and corruption and "graft" enabled the friends of transcontinental railroads to stop the canals. It would be a disadvantage to the railroads to have a canal across the Isthmus. So in some mysterious way the canal, which the people wished, has not been built, and will not be until the people rise and demand it. Corruption has stood on the Isthmus with a flaming sword and struck down every attempt to build the canal. The morality of the people is low. Divorce is rampant, the daily journals are filled with accounts of divorces, and daily lists[Pg 244] of crimes are printed that would seem impossible to a nation that can raise millions to send to China to convert the "heathen." If they would only divert these Chinese missionaries from China to their own heathen and grafters, but they will not. The peculiar freedom of the country, which is nothing less than the most atrocious license, tends to drag it down.

The papers have absolutely no check on their freedom. Men and women are attacked by them, ruined, held up to scorn and ridicule, and the victim has no recourse but to shoot the editor and thus embroil himself. That it is a crime to ridicule a man and make him the butt of a nation or the world seems never to occur to these men. Certain statesmen have been so lampooned by the "hired" libelers that they have been ruined. The press hires a class of men, called [Pg 245]cartoonists, usually ill-bred fellows of no standing, yet clever, in their business, whose duty it is to hold up public men to ridicule in every possible way and make them infamous before the people. This is called the freedom of the press, and its attitude, or the sensational part of it, in presenting crime in an alluring manner, is having its effect upon the youth of the country. Young girls and boys become familiar with every feature of bestial crime through the "yellow journals," so called, and that the republic will reap sorely from this sowing I venture to prophesy.

I asked one of the great insurance men why it was that great financial institutions took so strong an interest in politics. He laughed, and said, "If I am not mistaken, not long since your country repudiated its Government bonds, and they are not negotiable to any great [Pg 246]extent among your people." Hearing this I assumed the American attitude and "sawed wood." "We take an interest in politics," he continued, "to offset the professional blackmailer and thief. Now in the case of your repudiation I understand all about it. The Chinese Government was in straits, and suddenly some seemingly patriotic citizen started a petition, stating to the Government that the subscribers offered their Government securities to the Government as a gift. By no means all the bondholders signed, but enough, I understand, to have justified your Government in repudiating the bonds—'at the request of the people'—thus destroying the national credit at home and abroad. Now in America that would be called 'graft.' The act would be done by a few grafters in the hope of reward, or by some unscrupulous statesmen to save the Government from[Pg 247] bankruptcy during their term of office. I conceive this to be what was done in China. If we do not keep eternal watch we shall be bled every day. It is done in this way: a grafter becomes an assemblyman, and with others lays a plan of graft. It is to get up a bill, so offensive to our corporation that it would mean ruin if passed. The grafter has no idea that it will pass, but it is made much of, and of course reaches our ears, and the question is how to stop it. We are finally told that we had better see Mr. ——, in our own city. He is accordingly looked up and found to be a cheap and ignorant politician, who, if there are no witnesses, tells our agent plainly that it can be stopped for ten thousand dollars. Perhaps we beat him down to eight thousand, but we pay it. Hundreds of firms have been blackmailed in this way. Now we keep an agent in the State [Pg 248]Capitol to attend to our interests, and we take an interest in politics to head off the election of professional grafters."

One of the most serious things in this phase of national immorality is showing itself in what are termed "lynchings"; that is, a negro commits a crime against a white woman, and instead of permitting the law to run its course, the people rise, seized with a savage craze for revenge, batter in the jails, take the criminal, and burn him at the stake. This burning is sometimes attended by thousands, who display the most remarkable abandon and savagery. Some African chiefs have sacrificed more people at one time, but no savage has ever displayed greater bestiality, gloated over his victim with more real satisfaction, than these free Americans in numerous instances when shouting and yelling about the burning body of some unfortunate whose[Pg 249] crime has aroused their ferocity to the point of madness.

Not one but many clergymen have denounced this. They compare it to the most brutal acts of savagery, and we have the picture of a country posing as civilized, with the temerity to point out the sins of others, giving themselves over to orgies that would disgrace the lowest of races. I have it from the lips of a clergyman that during the past twelve years over twenty-five hundred men have been lynched in the United States. In a single year two hundred and forty men were killed by mobs in this way, many being burned at the stake. If any excuse is offered, it is said that most of these were negroes, and the crime was rape, and the victims white women; but of the number mentioned only forty-six were charged with this crime and but two-thirds were black. Many confessed as the torch was[Pg 250] applied, many died protesting their innocence, and in no case was the offense legally proved. This lynching seems to be a mania with the people. It began with the attack of negroes on white women. The repetition of similar cases so enraged the whites that they have become mad upon the subject. The feeling is well illustrated by the remark of a Southerner to me. "If a woman of my family was attacked by a negro I must be his executioner. I could not wait for the law." This man told me that no lynching would ever have taken place had it not been for the uncertainty of the law. Men who were known to be guilty of the grossest of crimes had been virtually protected by the law, and their cases dragged along at great expense to the State, this occurring so many times that the patience of the people became exhausted. This man forgot that the[Pg 251] law was instigated for the purpose of justice.

The negro is an issue in America and a cause of much crime, a vengeance on the people who held them as slaves. The negro has increased so rapidly that in forty years he has doubled in number, there now being over nine millions in the country. At the present rate there will be twenty-five millions in 1930—a black menace to the white American.

The negro is a factor in the national unrest. They outnumber the whites in some localities, and hence vote themselves many offices, while the few whites pay eighty or eighty-five per cent of the taxes and the negroes supply from eighty to ninety per cent of the criminals. While this is going on in the South and the whites are rising and preparing to disfranchise the blacks in many States, the people of Boston and Cambridge are[Pg 252] discussing the propriety of the whites and blacks marrying to settle the question of social equality. Such proposals I have read. Reprinted in the South, they added fuel to the flame.

Another element of distress in America is the attitude of labor, the policy of the Government of letting in the lowest of the low from every nation except the Chinese, against whom the only charge has been that they are too industrious and thus a menace to the whites. The swarms of people from the low and criminal classes of Europe have enabled the anarchists to obtain such a foothold that in this free country the President of the United States is almost as closely guarded as the Emperor of Russia. The White House is surrounded and guarded by detectives of various kinds. The secret-service department is equal in its equipment to that of many European nations,[Pg 253] and millions are spent in watching criminals and putting down their strikes and riots. The doctrine of freedom to all appeals so well to the ignorant laborer that he has decided to control the entire situation, and to this end labor is divided into "unions," and in many sections business has been ruined.

The demands of these ignorant men are so preposterous that they can scarcely be credited. The merchant no longer owns his business or directs it. The laborer tells him what to pay, how to pay it, when and how long the hours shall be—in fact, undertakes to usurp entire control. If the owner protests, the laborers all stop work, strike, appoint guards, who attack, kill, or intimidate any one who attempts to take their place. In this way it is said that one billion dollars have been lost in the last few years. Contracts have been broken, men ruined,[Pg 254] localities and cities placed in the greatest jeopardy, and hundreds of lives lost. Every branch of trade has its "union," and in so many cases have the laborers been successful that a national panic comes almost in sight. Never was there a more farcical illustration of freedom. Irrational, ignorant Irishmen, who had not the mental capacity to earn more than a dollar a day, dictated to merchant princes and millionaire contractors. In New York it was proved that the leaders of the strikers sold out to employers, and accepted bribes to call off strikes.

The question before the American people is, Has an American citizen the right to conduct his own business to suit himself and employ whom he wishes? Has the laborer the right to work for whom and what rate he pleases? The imported socialists, anarchists, and their converts among Americans say no, and it will [Pg 255]require but little to precipitate a bloody war, when labor, led by red-handed murderers, will enact in New York and all over the United States the horrors of the French Commune.

The republic for a great and enlightened country has too many criminals. I am told by a prohibition clergyman that the curse of drink and license has its fangs in the heart of the land. He tells me that the Americans pay yearly $1,172,000,000 for their alcoholic drink; for bread, $600,000,000; for tobacco, $625,000,000; for education, $197,000,000; for ministers' salaries, $14,000,000. It has been found that the downfall of eighty-one per cent of criminals is traceable to drink. He said: "Our republic is a failure morally, as we have 2,550,000 drunkards and people addicted to drink. We have 600,000 prostitutes, and many more doubtless that are not known, and[Pg 256] in nine cases out of ten their downfall can be traced to drink."

I listen to this side of the story, and then I see wonderful philanthropy, institutions for the prevention of crime, good men at work according to their light, millions employed to educate the young, thousands of churches and societies to aid man in making man better. When I listen to these men, and see tens of thousands of Christian men and women living pure lives, building up vast cities, great monuments for the future, I feel that I can not judge the Americans. They perhaps expect too much from their freedom and their republican ideas. I shall never be a republican. I believe that we all have all the freedom we deserve. It is well to remember that man is an animal. After all his polish and refinement, he has animal tastes and desires, and if he makes laws that are in[Pg 257] direct opposition to the indulgence which his animal nature suggests, he certainly must have some method of enforcing the laws. Like all animals, some men are easily influenced and others not, and the human animal has not made progress so far but that he needs watching in order to make him conform to what he has decided or elected to call right.

You will expect me to compare the American to the Chinaman, but it is impossible. Some things which we look upon as right, the American considers grievous sins. The point of view is entirely at variance, but I have boundless faith in the brilliant and good men and women I have met in America. I say this despite my other impressions, which also hold.

The great political scheme of the people is poorly devised and crude. It is so arranged that in some States governors[Pg 258] are elected every year or two and other officers every year, representatives of the people in Congress every two years, senators every six, Presidents every four years. Thus the country is constantly in a whirl, and as soon as the rancor of one national election is over begins the scheming for another. The people have really little to do with the selection of a President. A small band of rich and influential schemers generally have the entire plan or "slate" laid out. A plan, natural in appearance, is arranged for the public, and at the right time the slated program is sprung. Senators should be elected by the people, congressmen should be elected for a longer period, and Presidents should have twice the terms they do. But it is easy to suggest, and I confess that my suggestions are those of many American people themselves which I hear reformers cry abroad.

[Pg 259]

The vital trouble with America to-day is that she can not assimilate the 600,000 debased, ignorant, poverty-stricken foreigners who are coming in every year. They keep out the one peaceful nation. They exclude the Chinese and take to the national heart the Jew, the Socialist, the Italian, the Roumanian and others who constitute a nation of unrest. What America needs is the "rest cure" that you hear so much about here. She should close her seaports to these aliens for ten years, allow the people here to assimilate; but they can not do it. The foreign transportation lines under foreign flags are in the business to load up America with the dregs of Europe. I know of one family of Jews, four brothers, who wished to come to America, but found that they would have to show that they were not paupers. They mustered about one thousand dollars. One came over,[Pg 260] and sent back the money by draft. The second brought it back as his fortune, then immediately sent it back for another brother to bring over, and so on until they all arrived, each proving that he was not a pauper. Yet these same brothers, each with several children, became an expense to the Government before they were earners. The children were sent to industrial homes, and later entered the sweat-shops. In America there is not a Chinaman to-day in a workhouse, or a pauper[13] at the expense of the Government; yet the Chinese are not wanted here.


[13] This is doubtful.—Editor.

[Pg 261]



I had not been in Washington a month before I received invitations to a "country club golf" tournament, to a "rowing club," to a "pink tea," to a "polo game," to a private "boxing" bout between two light-weight professionals, given in Senator ——'s stable, to a private "cock-fight" by the brother of ——'s wife, to a gun club "shoot," not to speak of invitations to several "poker games." From this you may infer that Americans are fond of sport. The official sport—that is, the game I heard of most among Government officials, senators, and others—was "poker," and the sums played for at times I am assured are beyond belief. There are rules and etiquette for poker,[Pg 262] and one of the most distinguished of American diplomatists of a past generation, General Schenck, emulated the Marquis of Queensberry in boxing by writing a book on the national game, that has all the charm claimed for it. It is seductive, and doubtless has had its influence on the people who employ the "bluff" in diplomacy, war, business, or poker, with equal tact and cleverness.

Middle-class Americans are fond of sport in every way, but the aristocrats lack sporting spontaneity; they like it, or pretend to like it, because it is the fashion, and they take up one sport after another as it becomes the fad. That this is true can be shown by comparing the Englishman and the American of the fashionable class. The Englishman is fond of sport because it is in his blood; he does not like golf to-day and swimming to-morrow, but he likes them all,[Pg 263] and always has done so. He would never give up cricket, golf, or any of his games because they go out of fashion; he does not allow them to go out of fashion; but with the American it is different.

Hence I assume that the average American of the better class is not imbued with the sporting spirit. He wears it like an ill-fitting coat. I find a singular feature among the Americans in connection with their sports. Thus if something is known and recognized as sport, people take to it with avidity, but if the same thing is called labor or exercise, it is considered hard work, shirked and avoided. This is very cleverly illustrated by Mark Twain in one of his books, where a boy makes his companions believe that white-washing a fence is sport, and so relieves himself from an arduous duty by pretending to share the great privilege with them.

[Pg 264]

No one would think of walking steadily for six days, yet once this became sport; dozens of men undertook it, and long walks became a fad. If a man committed a crime and should be sentenced to play the modern American game of football every day for thirty days as a punishment, there are some who might prefer a death sentence and so avoid a lingering end; but under the title of "sport" all young men play it, and a number are maimed and killed yearly.

Sport is in the blood of the common people. Children begin with tops, marbles, and kites, yet never appreciate our skill with either. I amazed a boy on the outskirts of Washington one day by asking him why he did not irritate his kite and make it go through various evolutions. He had never heard of doing that, and when I took the string and began to jerk it, and finally made the kite plunge[Pg 265] downward or swing in circles, and always restored it by suddenly slacking off the cord, he was astonished and delighted. The national game is baseball, a very clever game. It is nothing to see thousands at a game, each person having paid twenty-five or fifty cents for the privilege. In summer this game, played by experts, becomes a most profitable business. Rarely is any one hurt but the judge or umpire, who is at times hissed by the audience and mobbed, and at others beaten by either side for unfair decisions; but this is rare.

Football is dangerous, but is even more popular than the other. You might imagine by the name that the ball is kicked. On the contrary the real action of the game consists in running down, tripping up, smashing into, and falling on whomever has the ball. As a consequence, men wear a soft armor. There are fashions in[Pg 266] sports which demonstrate the ephemeral quality of the American love for sport. A while ago "wheeling" was popular, and everybody wheeled. Books were printed on the etiquette of the sport; roads were built for it and improved; but suddenly the working class took it up and fashion dropped it. Then came golf, imported from Scotland. With this fad millions of dollars were expended in country clubs and greens all over the United States, as acres of land were necessary. People seized upon this with a fierceness that warmed the hearts of dealers in balls and clubs. The men who edited wheel magazines now changed them to "golf monthlies." This sport began to wane as the novelty wore off, until golf is now played by comparatively few experts and lovers.

Society introduced the automobile, and we have the same thing—more [Pg 267]magazines, the spending of millions, the building of the garage, and the appearance of the chaufeur or driver. Then came the etiquette of the auto—a German navy cap, rubber coat, and Chinese goggles. This peculiar uniform is of course only to be worn when racing, but you see the American going out for a slow ride solemnly attired in rubber coat and goggles. The moment the auto comes within reach of the poor man it will be given up; but it is now the fad and a most expensive one, the best machines costing ten thousand dollars or more, and I have seen races where the speed exceeded a mile a minute.

All sports have their ethics and rules and their correct costuming. Baseball men are in uniform, generally white, with various-colored stockings. The golfer wears a red coat and has a servant or valet, who carries his bag of clubs,[Pg 268] designed for every possible expediency. To hear a group of golfers discuss the merits of these tools is one of the extraordinary experiences one has in America. I have been made fairly "giddy," as the Englishmen say, by this anemic conversation at country clubs. The "high-ball" was the saving clause—a remarkable invention this. Have I explained it? You take a very tall glass, made for the purpose, and into it pour the contents of a small cut-glass bottle or decanter of whisky, which must be Scotch, tasting of smoke. On this you pour seltzer or soda-water, filling up the glass, and if you take enough you are "high" and feel like a rolling ball. It is the thing to take a "high-ball" after every nine holes in golf. Then after the game you bathe, and sit and drink as many as your skin will hold. I got this from a professional golf-teacher in[Pg 269] charge of the —— links, and hence it is official.

The avidity with which the Americans seize upon a sport and the suddenness with which they drop it, illustrating what I have said about the lack of a national sporting taste, is well shown by the coming of a game called "ping pong," a parlor tennis, with our battledores for rackets. What great mind invented this game, or where it came from, no one seems to know, but as a wag remarked, "When in doubt lay it to China." Some suppose it is Chinese, the name suggesting it. So extraordinary was the early demand for it that it appeared as though everybody in America was determined to own and play ping pong. The dealers could not produce it fast enough. Factories were established all over the country, and the tools were ground out by the ten thousands. Books[Pg 270] were written on the ethics of the game; experts came to the front; ping pong weeklies and monthlies were founded, to dumfound the masses, and the very air vibrated with the "ping" and the "pong."

The old and young, rich and poor, feeble and herculean, all played it. Doctors advised it, children cried for it, and a fashionable journal devised the correct ping-pong costume for players. Great matches were played between the experts of various sections, and this sport, a game really for small children, after the fashion of battledore and shuttlecock, ran its course among young and old. Pictures of adult ping-pong champions were blazoned in the public print; even churchmen took it up. Public gardens had special ping-pong tables to relieve the stress. At last the people seized upon ping pong, and it became common. Then it was dropped like a dead fish. If some[Pg 271] cyclonic disturbance had swept all the ping-pong balls into space, the disappearance could not have been more complete. Ping pong was put out of fashion. All this to the alien suggests something, a want of balance, a "youngness" perhaps.

At the present time the old game of croquet is being revived under another name, and tennis is the vogue among many. Among the fashionable and wealthy men polo is the vogue, but among a few everything goes by fads for a few years. Every one will rush to see or play some game; but this interest soon dies out, and something new starts up. Such games as baseball and football, tennis and polo are, in a sense, in a class by themselves, but among the pastimes of the people a wide vogue belongs to fishing, and shooting wild fowl and large game. The former is universal, and the Americans are the most skilled anglers[Pg 272] with artificial lures in the world, due to the abundance of game-fish, trout, and others, and the perfect Government care exercised to perfect the supply.

As an illustration, each State considers hunting and fishing a valuable asset to attract those who will come and spend money. I was told by a Government official that the State of Maine reckoned its game at five million dollars per annum, which means that the sport is so good that sportsmen spend that amount there every year; but I fancy the amount is overestimated. The Government has perfect fish hatcheries, constantly supplying young fish to streams, while the business in anglers' supplies is immense. There are thousands of duck-shooting clubs in the United States. Men, or a body of men, rent or buy marshes, and keep the poor man out. Rich men acquire hundreds of acres, and make [Pg 273]preserves. Possibly the sport of hunting wild fowl is the most characteristic of American sports. This also has its etiquette, its costumes, its club-houses, and its poker and high-balls. I know of one such club in which almost all the members are millionaires. A humorous paper stated that they used "gold shot."

As a nation the Americans are fond of athletics, which are taught in the schools. There are splendid gymnasiums, and boys and girls are trained in athletic exercises. Athletics are all in vogue. It is fashionable to be a good "fencer." All the young dance. I believe the Americans stand high as a nation in all-around athletics; at least they are far ahead of China in this respect.

I have reserved for mention last the most popular fashion of the people in sport, which is prize-fighting. Here again you see a strange contradiction.[Pg 274] The people are preeminently religious, and prize-fighting and football are the sports of brutes; yet the two are most popular. No public event attracts more attention in America than a gladiatorial fight to the finish between the champion and some aspirant. For months the papers are filled with it, and on the day of the event the streets are thronged with people crowding about the billboards to receive the news. No national event, save the killing of a President, attracted more universal attention than the beating of Sullivan by Corbett and the beating of Corbett by Fitzsimmons, and "Fitz" in turn by Jeffries. I might add that I joined with the Americans in this, as the modern prize-fighter is a fine animal. If all boys were taught to believe that their fists are their natural weapons, there would be fewer murders and sudden deaths in America. I have seen[Pg 275] several of these prize-fights and many private bouts, all with gloves. They are governed by rules. Such a combat is by no means as dangerous as football, where the obvious intention seems to be to break ribs and crush the opponent.

Rowing is much indulged in, and yachting is a great national maritime sport, in which the Americans lead and challenge the world. In no sport is the wealth of the nation so well shown. Every seaside town has its yacht or boat club, and in this the interest is perpetual. Even in winter the yacht is rigged into an "ice-boat." I have often wondered that fashionable people do not take up the romantic sport of falconry, as they have the birds and every facility. I suggested this to a lady, who replied, "Ah, that is too barbaric for us." "More barbaric than cock-fighting?" I asked, knowing that her brother owned the finest[Pg 276] game-cocks in the District of Columbia. Among the Americans there is a distinct love for fair play, and such sports as "bull-baiting," "bull-fights," "dog-fights," and "cock-fights" have never attained any degree of popularity. There are spasmodic instances of such indulgences, but in no sense can they be included, as in England and Spain, among the national sports, which leads me to the conclusion that, aside from the many peculiarities, as taking up and dropping sports, America, all in all, is the greatest sporting nation of the world. It leads in fist-fighting, rifle-shooting, in skilful angling, in yachting, in rowing, in running, in six-day walking, in auto-racing, in trotting and running horses, and in trap-shooting, and if its champions in all fields could be lined up it would make a surprising showing. I am free to confess and quite agree with a vivacious[Pg 277] young woman who at the country club told me that it was very nice of me to uphold my country, but that we were "not in it" with American sports.

The Presidents are often sportsmen. President Cleveland and President Harrison both have been famous, the former as a fisherman, the latter as well as the former as a duck-shooter. President McKinley has no taste for sport, but the Vice-President is a promoter of sport of each and every kind. He is at home in polo or hurdle racing, with the rifle or revolver. This calls to mind the national weapon—the revolver. Nine-tenths of all the shooting is done with this weapon, that is carried in a special pocket on the hips, and I venture to say that a pair of "trousers" was never made without the pistol pocket. Even the clergymen have one. I asked an Episcopal clergyman why he had a pistol pocket. He replied[Pg 278] that he carried his prayer-book there. The Southern people use a long curved knife, called a bowie, after its inventor. Many people have been cut by this weapon. The negro, for some strange reason, carries a razor, and in a fight "whips out" this awful weapon and slashes his enemy. I have asked many negroes to explain this habit or selection. One replied that it was "none of my d—— business." Nearly all the others said they did not know why they carried it.

[Pg 279]



The average Irishman whom one meets in America, and he is legion, is a very different person from the polished gentleman I have met in Belfast, Dublin, and other cities in Ireland; but I never heard that the American Irishman, the product of an ignorant peasantry crowded out of Ireland, had been accepted as a type of the race. Peculiar discrimination is made in America against the Chinese. Our lower classes, "coolies" from the Cantonese districts, have flocked to America. Americans "lump" all Chinese under this head, and can not conceive that in China there are cultivated men, just as there are [Pg 280]cultivated men in Ireland, the antipodes of the grotesque Irish types seen in America.

I believe there are seventy-five or eighty thousand Chinamen in America. They do not assimilate with the Americans. Many are common laborers, laundrymen, and small merchants. In New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and other cities there are large settlements of them. In San Francisco many have acquired wealth. The Chinese quarter is to all intents and purposes a Chinese city. None of these people, or very few, are Americanized in the sense of taking an active part in the government; Americans do not permit it. I was told that the Chinese were among the best citizens, the percentage of criminals being very small. They are honest, frugal, and industrious—too industrious, in fact, and for this very reason the ban has been placed upon them. Red-handed members of the [Pg 281]Italian Mafia—a society of murderers—the most ignorant class in Ireland, Wales, and England, the scum of Russia, and the human dregs of Europe generally are welcome, but the clean, hard-working Chinaman is excluded.

Millions are spent yearly in keeping him out after he had been invited to come. He built many American railroads; he opened the door between the Atlantic and the Pacific; he worked in the mines; he did work that no one else would or could do, and when it was completed the American laborer, the product of this scum of all nations, demanded that the Chinaman be "thrown out" and kept out. America listened to the blatant demagogues, the "sand-lot orators," and excluded the Chinese. To-day it is almost impossible for a Chinese gentleman to send his son to America to travel or study. He will not be distinguished[Pg 282] from laundryman "John," and is thrown back in the teeth of his countrymen; meanwhile China continues to be raided by American missionaries. The insult is rarely resented. In the treaty ratified by the United States Senate in 1868 we read:

"The United States of America and the Empire of China cordially recognize the inherent right of man to change his home and allegiance, and also the mutual advantage of the free immigration and emigration of their citizens and subjects respectively from the one country to the other for purposes of curiosity, of trade or as permanent residents."

Again we read, in the treaty ratified under the Hayes administration, that the Government of the United States, "if its labor interests are threatened by the incoming Chinese, may regulate or limit such coming, but may not absolutely prohibit it." The United States [Pg 283]Government has disregarded its solemn treaty obligations. Not only this, our people, previous to the Exclusion Act, were killed, stoned, and attacked time and again by "hoodlums." The life of a Chinaman was not safe. The labor class in America, the lowest and almost always a foreign class, wished to get rid of the Chinaman so that they could raise the price of labor and secure all the work. China had reason to go to war with America for her treatment of her people and for failure to observe a treaty. The Scott Exclusion Act was a gratuitous insult. I hope our people will continue to retaliate by refusing to buy anything from the Americans or sell anything to them. Let us deal with our friends.

Then came the Geary Bill, which was an outrage, our people being thrown into jail for a year and then sent back. I might quote some of the charges made[Pg 284] against our people. Mr. Geary, I understand, is an Irish ex-congressman from the State of California, who, while in Congress, was the mouthpiece of the worst anti-Chinese faction ever organized in America. He was ultimately defeated, much to the delight of New England and many other people in the East. Mr. Geary's chief complaint against the Chinese was that they work too cheaply, are too industrious, and do not eat as much as an American. He obtained his information from Consul Bedloe, of Amoy. He says the average earnings of the Chinese adult employed as mechanic or laborer (in China) is five dollars per month, and states that this is ten per cent above the average wages prevailing throughout China.

The wages paid, according to his report, per month, to blacksmiths are $7.25; carpenters, $8.50; cabinet-makers, $9;[Pg 285] glass-blowers, $9; plasterers, $6.25; plumbers, $6.25; machinists, $6; while other classes of skilled labor are paid from $7.25 to $9 per month, and common laborers receive $4 per month. In European houses the average wages paid to servants are from $5 to $6 a month, without board. Clothing costs per year from 75 cents to $1.50. Out of these incomes large families are maintained. He says: "The daily fare of an Amoy working man and its cost are about as follows: 1½ pounds of rice, 3 cents; 1 ounce of meat, 1 ounce of fish, 2 ounces of shell-fish, 1 cent; 1 pound of cabbage or other vegetable, 1 cent; fuel, salt, and oil, 1 cent; total, 6 cents.

"Here," said Mr. Geary, "is a condition deserving of attention by all friends of this country, and by all who believe in the protection of the working classes. Is it fair to subject our laborer to a [Pg 286]competitor who can measure his wants by an expenditure of six cents a day, and who can live on an income not exceeding five dollars a month? What will become of the boasted civilization of our country if our toilers are compelled to compete with this class of labor, with more competitors available than twice the entire population of France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain?

"The Chinese laborer brings neither wife nor children, and his wants are limited to the immediate necessities of the individual, while the American is compelled to earn income sufficient to maintain the wife and babies. There can be but one end to this. If this immigration is permitted to continue, American labor must surely be reduced to the level of the Chinese competitor—the American's wants measured by his wants, the [Pg 287]American's comforts be made no greater than the comforts of the Chinaman, and the American laborer, not having been educated to maintain himself according to this standard, must either meet his Chinese competitor on his own level, or else take up his pack and leave his native land. The entire trade of China, if we had it all, is not worth such a sacrifice."

Mr. Geary forgets that when Chinamen go to America they adapt themselves to prevailing conditions. Chinese cooks in the States to-day receive from $30 to $50 per month and board; Chinese laborers from $20 to $30, and some of them $2 per day. In China, where there is an enormous population, prices are lower, people are not wasteful, and the necessities of life do not cost so much. The Chinaman goes to America to obtain the benefit of high wages, not to reduce wages. I have never seen[Pg 288] such poverty and wretchedness in China as I have seen in London, or such vice and poverty as can be seen in any large American city. Mr. Geary scorns the treaties between his country and China, and laughs at our commercial relations. He says, "There is nothing in the Chinese trade, or rather the loss of it, to alarm any American. We would be better off without any part or portion of it."

In answer to this I would suggest that China take him at his word, and I assure you that if every Chinaman could be recalled, if in six months or less we could take the eighty or one hundred thousand Chinamen out of the country, the region where they now live would be demoralized. The Chinese control the vegetable-garden business on the Pacific Coast; they virtually control the laundry business; and that the Americans want them, and want cheaper labor than they are [Pg 289]getting from the Irish and Italians, is shown by the fact that they continue to patronize our people, and that in various lines Chinamen have the monopoly. Even when the "hoodlums" of San Francisco were fighting the Chinese, the American women did not withdraw their patronage, and while the men were off speaking on the sand-lots against employing our people their wives were buying vegetables from them.

Why? Because their hypocritical husbands and brothers refused to pay higher prices. America is suffering not for want of the cheapest labor, but for a laborer like the Chinese, and until they have him industries will languish. With American labor and American "union" prices it is impossible for the American farmer or rancher to make money. The vineyardist, the orange, lemon, olive, and other fruit raisers can not compete with[Pg 290] Europe. Labor is kept up to such a high rate that the country is obliged to put on a high tariff to keep out foreign competition, and in so doing they "cut off the nose to spite the face." The common people are taxed by the rich. The salvation of industrial America is a cheap, but not degraded, labor. America desires house-servants at from $10 to $12 per month; this is all a mere servant is worth. She wants good cooks at $12 or $15 per month. She wants fruit-pickers at $10 to $12 per month and board. She wants vineyard men, hop-pickers, cherry, peach, apricot and berry pickers, and people to work in canneries at these prices. She wants gardeners, drivers, railroad laborers at lower rates, and, to quote an American, "wants them 'bad.'"

When in San Francisco I made a thorough investigation of the "house-servant" question, and learned that our people as[Pg 291] cooks in private houses were receiving from $30 to $50 per month and board. A friend tells me there is continued protest against this. Housekeepers on the Pacific coast are complaining of the lack of "Chinese boys," and want more to come over so that prices shall go down. The American wants the Chinaman, but the American foreign laborer, the Irishman, the Italian, the Mexican, and others who dominate American politics, do not want him and will not have him. As a result of this bending to the alien vote the Americans find themselves in a most serious and laughable position in their relations to domestic labor.

I am not overstating the fact when I say that the "servant-girl" question is going to be a political issue in the future. The man may howl against the Chinese, but his wife will demand that "John" be admitted to relieve a situation that is [Pg 292]becoming unbearable. As the Americans are all equal, there are no servants among them. The poor are as good as the "boss," and won't be called servants. You read in the papers, "A lady desires a position as cook in a small family, no children; wages, $35." "A young lady wishes a position to take care of children; salary, $30." "A saleslady wants position." "A lady (good scrubber) will go out by the day; $2." When you meet these "ladies," in nine cases out of ten they are Irish from the peasant class—untidy, insolent, often dissipated in the sense of drink. When they apply for a position they put the employer through a course of questions. Some want references from the last girl, I am told. Some want one thing, some another, and all must have time for pleasure. Few have the air of servants or inferiors, but are often offensive in appearance and [Pg 293]manners. I have never been called "John" by the girls who came to the door where I called to pay a visit, but I could see that they all wished so to address me. In England, where classes are acknowledged and a servant is hired as a servant, and is one, an entirely different state of affairs holds. They are respectful, having been educated to be servants, know that they are servants, and as a result are cared for and treated as old retainers and pensioners of the family.

The whole story of exclusion is a blot upon the American national honor, and the most mystifying part of it is that intelligent people, the best people, are not a party to it. The railroads want the Chinese laborer. The great ranches of the West need him; people want cooks at $15 and $20 a month instead of $30 or $50. In a word, America is suffering for what she must have some time[Pg 294]—cheap labor; yet the low elements force the issue. Congressmen are dominated by labor organizations on the Pacific slope, and there are hundreds of Dennis Kearneys to-day where there was one a few years ago. To make the case more exasperating, the Americans, in their dire necessity, have imported swarms of low Mexicans to take the place of the Chinese on the railroads, against whom there seems to be no Irish hand raised. The Irish and Mexicans are of a piece. I know from inquiry everywhere that the country at large would welcome thousands of servants and field-workers in vineyards and orchards which can not be made to pay if worked by expensive labor.

The Americans try to keep us out, but they also try to convert those who get in. They have what they call Chinese missions, to which Chinamen go. To be[Pg 295] converted? No. To learn the language? Yes. I am told by an American friend that here and in China over fifty thousand Chinese have embraced Christianity. On the Atlantic coast I am assured that eight hundred Chinamen are Christians, and on the Pacific slope two thousand have embraced the faith of the Christians. There is a Christian Chinese evangelist working among our people in the West, Lum Foon, and I have met the pastor of a Pacific coast church who told me that nearly a third of his congregation were Chinamen, and he esteemed them highly. But the most conclusive evidence that the Americans are succeeding in their proselyting is that in one year a single denomination received as a donation from Chinamen $6,000. The Americans have a saying, "Money talks," which is much like one of our own.

On the other hand, a clergyman told[Pg 296] me that it was discouraging work to some, so few Chinamen were "converted" compared to the great mass of them. The Chinese of California have sent $1,000 to Canton to build a Christian church, and the Chinese members of the Presbyterian Church of California sent $3,000 in one year for the same purpose. I am told that the Chinese Methodists of one church in California give yearly from $1,000 to $1,800 for the various purposes of the church. The Christians have captured some brilliant men, such as Sia Sek Ong, who is a Methodist; Chan Hon Fan, who ought to be in our army from what I hear; Rev. Tong Keet Hing, the Baptist, a noted Biblical scholar; Rev. Wong, of the Presbyterians; Rev. Ng Poon Chiv, famous as a Greek and Hebrew reader; Gee Gam and Rev. Le Tong Hay, Methodists; and there are many more,[Pg 297] suggestive that our people are interested in Christianity, against the moral teachings of which no one could seriously object.

I dined some time ago with a merchants' club, and was much pleased at the eulogy I heard on the Chinese. A merchant said, "My firm deals largely with the Chinese and Japanese. When I make a trade with the Japanese I tie them up with a written contract, but I have always found that the word of a Chinese merchant was sufficient." This I found to be the universal feeling, and yet Americans exclude us at the bidding of "hoodlums," a term applied to the lowest class of young men on the Pacific coast. In the East he is a "tough" or "rough" or "rowdy." "Tough nut" and "hard nut" are also applied to such people, the Americans having numbers of terms like these, which may be called[Pg 298] "nicknames," or false names. Thus a man who is noted for his dress is a "swell," a "dude," or a "sport."

The United States Government does not allow the Chinese to vote, yet tens of thousands of poor Americans, "white trash" in the South, ignorant negroes, low Irish and Italians who can not speak the tongue, are welcome and courted by both parties. It is difficult for me to overlook this insult on the part of America. There is a large settlement of Chinese in New York, but they are as isolated as if they were in China. In San Francisco there is the largest settlement, and many fine merchants live there, and also in Los Angeles.

In the latter city —— told me that the best of feeling existed between the Chinese and Americans; and at the American Festival of the Rose the Chinese joined in the procession. The dragon[Pg 299] was brought out, and all the Chinese merchants appeared; but these gentlemen are never consulted by the Americans, never allowed to vote or take any interest in the growth of the city, and —— informed me that none of them had ever been asked to join a board of trade. It is the same everywhere; the only advances the Americans make is to try and "convert" us to their various religious denominations. While the Chinese are not allowed to vote or to have any part in the affairs of government, they are taxed. "Taxation without representation" was the cause of the war of the American Revolution, but that is another matter.

Yet our people have ways of influencing the whites with the "dollar," for which some officials will do anything, and, I regret to say, all Chinamen are not above bribing Americans. I have heard that the Chinese of San Francisco[Pg 300] for years were blackmailed by Americans, and obliged to raise money to fight bills in the Legislature. In 1892 the Six Companies raised $200,000 to defeat the "Geary Bill." The Chinese merchants have some influence. Out of the 110,000 Chinamen in America hardly ten per cent obeyed the iniquitous law and registered. The Chinese societies contracted to defend all who refused to register.

Our people have a strong and influential membership in the Sam Yup, Hop Wo, Yan Wo, Kong Chow, Ning Yeong, and Yeong Wo companies. These societies practically control everything in America relating to the Chinese, and they retain American lawyers to fight their battles. I have met many of the officers of these companies, and China has produced no more brilliant minds than some, and, sub rosa, they have been[Pg 301] pitted against the Americans on more than one occasion and have outwitted them. Among these men are Yee Ha Chung, Chang Wah Kwan, Chun Ti Chu, Chu Shee Sum, Lee Cheang Chun, and others. Many of these men have been presidents of the Six Companies in San Francisco, and rank in intelligence with the most brilliant American statesmen. I regret to see them in America.

Chun Ti Chu especially, at one time president of the Sam Yuz, should be in China. I met this brilliant man some years ago in San Francisco. After dinner he took me to a place and showed me a placard which was a reward of $300 for his head. He had obtained the enmity of criminal Chinamen on the Pacific coast, but when I last heard of him he was still alive. There are many criminals here who do not dare to return to China, who left their country for their[Pg 302] country's good. These are the cause of much trouble here, and bring discredit upon the better class of our people. Our people in America are loyal to the Government. It was interesting to see at one time a proclamation from the Emperor brought over by Chew Shu Sum and posted in the streets of an American city: "By order of his Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of China." The President, the mayor of San Francisco, was not thought of; China was revered, and is to-day holding her government over the Chinese in every American city where they have a stronghold. So much for the loyalty of our people.

[Pg 303]



Thomas J. Geary, the former congressman, is an avowed enemy of the Chinese and the author of the famous Geary bill, but I condone all he has said against us for one profound utterance made in a published address or article, in which he said: "As to the missionaries (in China), it wouldn't be a national loss if they were required to return home. If the American missionary would only look about him in the large cities of the Union he would find enough of misery, enough of suffering, enough people falling away from the Christian churches, enough of darkness, enough of vice in all its conditions and all its grades, to [Pg 304]furnish him work for years to come." This is a sentiment Americans may well think of; but there are "none so blind as those who will not see." There will always be women and men willing to spend their time in picturesque China at the expense of foreign missions. China has never attempted to convert the Americans to her religion, believing she has all she can do to keep her people within bounds at home.

In my search for information in America I have had some singular experiences. I have made an examination of the many religions of the Americans, and they have been remarkably prolific in this respect. While we are satisfied with Taoism, Buddhism, but mostly with Confucianism, I have observed the following sects in America: Baptists of two kinds, Congregationalists, Methodists, Quakers of three kinds, Catholics, Unitarians, [Pg 305]Universalists, Presbyterians, Swedenborgians, Spiritualists, Christian Scientists (healers), Episcopalians (high and low), Jews, Seventh-Day Adventists, and many more. Nearly all are Christians, as we are nearly all Confucians. Unitarians, Universalists, Jews, and several others believe in the moral teachings of Christ, but hold that he was not of divine origin. America was first settled to supply room for religious liberty, which perhaps explains the remarkable number of religions. They are constantly increasing. Nearly all of these denominations hold that their own belief is the right one. Much proselyting is going on among them, with which one would take no exception if there was no denouncing of one another. Our religion, founded in the faith of Confucius, seems satisfying to us. Some of us believe that at least we are not savages.

[Pg 306]

Some American friends once invited me to go to a negro church in Washington. Upon arriving we were given a seat well down in front. The pastor was a "visiting evangelist," and in a short time had these excitable and ignorant people in a frenzy, several being carried out of the church in a semicataleptic condition. Suddenly the minister began to pray for the strangers, and especially "for the heathen in our midst," for the unsaved from pagan lands, that they might be saved; and I could not but wonder at the conceit and ignorance that would ask a believer in the splendid philosophy of Confucius to throw it aside for this African religion. This idea that a Chinaman is a "pagan" and idolator is found everywhere in America, and every attempt is made to "save" him.

I very much fear that many of our countrymen go to the American missions[Pg 307] and Sunday-schools merely to learn the language and enjoy the social life of those who are interested in this special work. I was told by a well-to-do Chinaman that he knew Chinamen who were both Catholic and Protestant, and who attended all the Chinese missions without reference to sect. They were Methodist when at the Methodist mission, Catholic when at mass, and when they returned to their home slipped back into Confucianism. Let us hope this is not universal, though I venture the belief that the witty Americans would see the humor of it.

I was told by a prominent patron of the Woman's Christian Union that she felt very sorry I did not have the consolation of religion, coming as I did from a heathen land. Some "heathens" might have been insulted, but I had come to know the Americans and was aware that[Pg 308] she really felt a kindly interest in me. I replied that we could find some consolation in the sayings of our religious teachers, as the great guide of our life is, "What you do not like when done to yourself do not do to others."

"Why," said the lady, "that is Christian doctrine, our 'Golden Rule.'"

"Pardon me," I answered, "this is the golden rule of Confucius, written four hundred years or so before Christ was born."

"I think you must be mistaken," she continued; "this is a fundamental pillar of the Christian belief."

"True," I retorted; "but none the less Christians obtained it from Confucius."

She did not believe me, and we referred the question to Bishop ——, who sat near us. Much to her confusion he agreed with me, and then quoted the[Pg 309] well-known lines of one of our religious writers who lived twelve hundred years before Christ: "The great God has conferred on the people a moral sense, compliance with which would show their nature inevitably right," and remarked that it was a splendid sentiment.

"Then you believe in a God," said the lady, turning to me.

"I trust so," was my answer.

Now this lady, who believed me to be a "pagan" and unsaved, was a product of the American school system, yet she had never read a line of Confucius, having been "brought up" to consider him an infidel writer.

I have seen many of the great Western nations and observed their religions. My conclusion is that none make so general and united an attempt to be what they consider "good and moral" as the Americans; but the Americans scatter their[Pg 310] efforts like shot fired from a gun, and the result is a multiplicity of religious beliefs beyond belief. I do not forget that America was settled to afford an asylum for religious belief, where men could work out their salvation in peace. If Americans would grant us the same privilege and not send missionaries to fight over us, all would be well. No one can dispute the fact that the Americans are in earnest; the greater number believe they are right, and that they possess true zeal all China knows.

The impression the convert in China obtains is that the United States is a sort of paradise, where Christians live in peace and happiness, loving one another, doing good to those who ill-treat them, turning the cheek to those who strike them, etc.; but the Chinaman soon finds after landing in America that this is often "conspicuous by its absence."[Pg 311] These ideas are preached, and doubtless thousands follow them or attempt to do so, but that they are common practises of the people is not true. There is great need of Christian missions in America as well as in China. I told a clergyman that our people believed the Christian religion was very good for the Americans, and we had no fault to find with it, nor had we the temerity to insinuate that our own was superior.

A Roman Catholic young lady whom I met spoke to me about burning our prayers, our joss-houses, and our dragon, which she had seen carried about the streets of San Francisco. "Pure symbolism," I answered, and then told her of the Christian dragon in the Divine Key of the Revelation of Jesus Christ as Given to John, by a Christian writer, William Eugene Brown. This dragon had nine heads, while ours has only one.[Pg 312] I believe I had the best of the argument so far as heads went. This young woman, a graduate of a large college, wore an amulet, which she believes protects her from accident. She possessed a bottle of water from a miraculous spring in Canada, which she said would cure any disease, and she told me that one of the Catholic churches there, Ste. Anne de Beaupré, had a small piece of the wrist-bone of the mother of the Virgin, which would heal and had healed thousands. She had a picture of the church, showing piles of crutches thrown aside by cured and grateful patients. Can China produce such credulity? I think not.

All nations may be wrong in their religious beliefs, but certainly "pagan China" is outdone in religious extravaganza by America or any European state. Our joss-houses and our feasts are nothing to the splendors of American[Pg 313] churches. An American girl laughed at the bearded figures in a San Francisco joss-house, but looked solemn when I referred to the saints in a Catholic cathedral in the same city. If I were "fancy free" I should like to lecture in America on the inconsistencies of the Caucasian. They really challenge our own. Instead of having one splendid church and devoting themselves to the real ethics of Christianity, these Christians have divided irrevocably, and so lost strength and force. They are in a sense turned against themselves, and their religious colleges are graduating men to perpetuate the differences. No more splendid religion than that expounded by Christ could be imagined if they would join hands and, like the Confucians, devote their attention not to rites and theological differences but to the daily conduct of men.

[Pg 314]

The Americans have a saying, "Take care of the pennies and the dollars will care for themselves." We believe that in taking care of the morals of the individual the nation will take care of itself. I took the liberty of commending this Confucian doctrine to a Methodist brother, but he had never been allowed to read the books of Confucius. They are classed with those of Mohammed, Voltaire, and others. So what can one do with such people, who have the conceit of the ages and the ignorance of all time? Their great scholars see their idiosyncrasies, and I can not begin to describe them. One sect believes that no one can be saved unless immersed in water; others believe in sprinkling. Others, as the Quakers, denounce all this as mummery. One sect, the Shakers, will have no marriages. Another believes in having as many wives as they can support[Pg 315]—the Mormons. The Jews and Quakers oblige members to marry in the society; in the latter instance the society is dying out, and the former from constant intermarriage has resulted in conspicuous and marked facial peculiarities. These different sects, instead of loving, despise one another. Episcopalians look down upon the Methodists, and the latter denounce the former because the priests sometimes smoke and drink. The Unitarians are not regarded well by the others, yet nearly all the other bodies contain Unitarians, who for business and other reasons do not acknowledge the fact. A certain clergyman would not admit a Catholic priest to his platform. All combine against the poor Jew.

So strong is the feeling against this people among the best of American citizens that they are almost completely[Pg 316] ostracised, at least socially. In all the years spent in America I do not recall meeting a Jew at dinner in Washington, New York, or Newport. They are disliked, and as a rule associate entirely with themselves, having their own churches, clubs, etc. Yet they in large degree control the finances of America. They have almost complete control of the textile-fabric business, clothing, and many other trades. Why the American Christians dislike the American Jews is difficult to understand, but the invariable reply to this question is that their manners are so offensive that Christians will not associate with them. I doubt if in any of the first circles of any city you would meet a Jew. In the fashionable circles of New York I heard that it would be "easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle" than for a Jew to enter these circles. Many hotels[Pg 317] will not receive them. In fact, the ban is on the Jew as completely in America as in Russia. I was strongly tempted to ask if this was the brotherly love I heard so much about, but refrained. I heard the following story at a dinner: A Chinese laundryman received a call from a Jew, who brought with him his soiled clothing. The Chinaman, glancing at the Jew, refused to take the package. "But why?" asked the Jew; "here's the money in advance." "No washee," said the Christian Chinaman; "you killed Melican man's Joss," meaning that the Jews crucified the Christ.

The more you delve into the religions of the Americans the more anomalies you find. I asked a New York lady at Newport if she had ever met Miss ——, a prominent Chinese missionary. She had never heard of her, and considered most missionaries very ordinary persons.[Pg 318] This same lady, when some one spoke about laxity of morals, replied, "It is not morals but manners that we need"; and I can assure you that this high-church lady, a model of propriety, judged her men acquaintances by that standard. If their manners were correct, she apparently did not care what moral lapses they committed when out of her presence. Briefly, I looked in vain for the religion in everyday life preached by the missionary. Doubtless many possess it, but the meek and humble follower of the head of the Christian Church, the American who turned his cheek for another blow, the one who loved his enemies, or the one who was anxious to do unto others as he would have them do unto him, all these, whom I expected to see everywhere, were not found, at least in any numbers.

In visiting a certain village I dined[Pg 319] with several clergymen. One told me he was the Catholic priest, and invited me to visit his chapel. Not long after I met another clergyman. I do not recall his denomination, but his work he told me was undoing that of the Catholic priest. The latter converted the people to Catholicism, while the former tried to reclaim them from Catholicism. I heard much about our joss-houses, but they fade into insignificance when compared with the splendid religious palaces of the Americans, and particularly those of the Catholics and Episcopalians. Their religious customs are beyond belief. As an illustration, their religion teaches them that the dead, if they have led a good life, go at once to heaven, though the Catholics believe in a purgatory, a half-way house, out of which the dead can be bought by the payment of money.

Now the simple Chinaman would[Pg 320] naturally believe that the relatives would be pleased at the death of a friend who was immediately transported to paradise and freed from the worries of life, but not at all; at the death of a relative the friends are plunged into such grief that they have been known to hire professional mourners, and instead of putting on clothes indicative of joy and thanksgiving array themselves in somber black, the token of woe, and wear it for years. Everything is black, and the more fashionable the family the deeper the black. The deepest crape is worn by the women. Writing-paper is inscribed with a deep band, also visiting cards. Women use jet as jewelry, and white pearls are replaced by black ones. Even servants are garbed in mourning for the departed, who, they believe, have gone to the most beautiful paradise possible to conceive. Contemplating all these inconsistencies[Pg 321] one is amazed, and the amazement is ever increasing as one delves deeper into the ways of the inconsistent American.

The credulity of the American is nowhere more singularly shown than in his susceptibility to religion. At a dinner given by the —— of —— in Washington, conversation turned on religion, and Senator ——, a very clever man, told me in a burst of confidence, "Our people are easily led; it merely requires a leader, a bright, audacious man, with plenty of 'cheek,' to create a following." There are hundreds of examples of this statement. No matter how idiotic the religion or philosophy may be, a following can be established among Americans. A man of the name of Dowie, "ignorant, impertinent, but with a superabundance of cheek" (I quote an American journal), announced himself as the prophet Elijah, and obtained a following of[Pg 322] thousands, built a large city, and lives upon the credulity of the public.

Three different "healers" have appeared within a decade in America, each by inference claiming to be the Christ and imitating his wanderings and healing methods. All, even the last, grossest, and most impudent impostor, who advertised himself in the daily press, the picture showing him posing after one of the well-known pictures of Christ, had many followers. I hoped to hear that this fellow had been "tarred and feathered," a happy American remedy for gross things. This fellow, as the Americans say, "went beyond the limit." I asked the senator how he accounted for Americans, well educated as they are, taking up these strange impostors. "Well," he replied, puffing on a big cigar, "between you and me and the lamp-post it's on account of the kind of[Pg 323] schooling they get. I didn't get much myself—I'm an old-timer; but I accumulated a lot of 'horse sense,' that has served me so well that I never have my leg pulled, and I notice that all these 'suckers' are graduates from something; but don't take this as gospel, as I'm always getting up minority reports."

The religion of the Americans, as diffuse as it is, is one of the most remarkable factors you meet in the country. Despite its peculiar phases you can not fail to appreciate a people who make such stupendous attempts to crush out evil and raise the morals of the masses. We may differ from them. We may resent their assumption that we are pagans and heathens, but this colossal series of movements, under the banner of the Cross, is one of the marvels of the world. Surely it is disinterested. It comes from the heart. I wish the Americans knew[Pg 324] more of Confucius and his code of morals; they would then see that we are not so "pagan" as they suppose.



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