The peoples and politics of the Far East | 1895 | Henry Norman

The peoples and politics of the Far East

Henry Norman






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This book is the result of nearly four years of travel

and study in the countries and colonies of which it

treats. I have described and discussed no place that

I did not visit, and in every one I remained long enough,

and was fortunate enough in learning the views and

experiences of the local authorities and best-informed

residents, to make sure at any rate that I was not

misled into mere hasty impressions. If I appear to

present some of my conclusions with excessive confidence,

this fault is to be explained, and I trust excused, first,

by my conviction of the importance to Great Britain of

the issues involved, and second, by my faith in the

accuracy and wisdom of my many informants.

The Far East presents itself to the attentive traveller

under two aspects. It is the last Wonderland of the

World ; and it is also the seed-bed of a multitude

of new political issues. I have endeavoured to reflect

in these pages this twofold quality of my subject. There

fore the record of mere travel is interwoven with that of

investigation : the incidents and the adventures of the


viii PREFACE .

hour are mingled with the factors and the statistics of

the permanent problems. By this means I have hoped

to reproduce upon the reader's mind something of the

effect of the Far East upon my own . It is a picture

which is destined , either in bright colours or in sombre,

to become increasingly familiar to him in the future.

I find myself wholly unable to acknowledge here even

a small part of the help and hospitality I received , and

I can only express this general but deep obligation. To

Sir Robert Hart , Bart., however, first of all ; to Sir


Cecil Clementi Smith, ex -Governor of the Straits Settle

ment ; to Sir G. William Des Voeux, formerly Governor

of Hongkong ; and to Mr. F. A. Swettenham , C.M.G.,

British Resident of Perak, I have to offer my special

thanks. To my friend Mr. R. L. Morant, whose know

ledge of Siam is more intimate than that of any foreigner

living, and who at the time of my stay in Bangkok was

governor of the late Crown Prince and tutor to the

Royal children, I have to acknowledge great indebted

ness . I need hardly add that these gentlemen must not

be forcibly connected with any of my opinions. Mr. J.

Scott Keltie, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Geo

graphical Society, the Librarian of the Colonial Office,

and the Librarian of the Royal Statistical Society , >

have been good enough to give me valuable technical


In a few instances I have reproduced here, with

considerable alterations, parts of contributions to the


daily and periodical Press, chiefly descriptions of places

written on the spot. The greater part of the illustrations

are from my own photographs; one or two are by that

ercellent photographer A. Fong, of Hongkong, one or

. two by Mr. Chit, and one by Mr. Loftus, both of

Bangkok. The maps, which present certain geographical

facts not — so far as I know — to be found in conjunction

elsewhere, have been drawn under my own supervision.

H. N.

LONDON , December 31 , 1894 .































































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ANselfEnglishman writing an account of the Far East finds him

in a dilemma at the outset. If he follows his natural

inclination to describe at length the British Colonies there, their

astonishing history, their race- problems, their commercial

achievements, and their exhibition of the colonising genius of

his race ; and especially if he yields to the temptation to dwell

upon their extraordinary picturesqueness , he lays himself open

to the just criticism that these are matters already familiar to

every one of his readers. On the other hand, if he takes this

familiarity for granted, and omits them from his survey, the

brightest colour is lacking from the picture and the most potent

factor from the problem. This would obviously be the greater

evil , and therefore in my own case, risking the reproach , I pro

pose to touch upon the external aspects of the British Colonies

in the Far East just enough to convey some notion of the

physical conditions and surroundings under which our country

men there live and labour, and to write at somewhat greater

length of a few vital matters which do not present themselves

on the surface. One thing, at any rate, can never be told too

often or impressed too strongly, namely, that our Far Eastern

Colonies are not mere outlying units , each with a sentimental

and commercial connection with Great Britain, but bone of the

bone of the Empire, and flesh of its flesh .

Among the many surprises of a journey in the Far East,

one of the greatest is certainly the first sight of Shanghai.



I was writing below as we steamed up the Hwang-pu river,

and did not come on the deck of the Hae-an till five minutes

before she anchored. Then I could hardly believe my eyes.

There lay a magnificent European city surrounding a broad

and crowded river. True, the magnificence is only skin- deep,

so to speak, all the architectural beauty and solidity of

Shanghai being spread out along the river ; but I am speak

ing of the first sight of Shanghai, and in this respect it

is superior to New York , far ahead of San Francisco, and

almost as imposing for the moment as Liverpool itself. A

broad and beautifully kept boulevard, called of course “ The

Bund," runs round the river, with a row of well-grown trees

and a broad grass-plat at the water's edge, and this Bund

is lined on the other side from one end to the other with mer

cantile buildings second to none of their kind in the world—the

" hongs " of the great firms, and the banks ; the fine edifices of

the Masonic Hall and the Shanghai Club ; and the magni

ficent new quarters of the Imperial Customs Service. At

the upper end of the Bund a large patch of green shows the

Public Garden , where the band plays on summer evenings.

At night all Shanghai is bright with the electric light, and

its telegraph poles remind you of Chicago-I believe I counted

nearly a hundred wires on one pole opposite the Club. And

the needed touch of colour is added to the scene as you look

at it from on deck, by the gay flags of the mail steamers and

the Consular bunting floating orer the town.

The first sight of Shanghai, moreover, is only its first surprise.

As I was rolling away to the hotel the 'ricksha coolie turned

on to the right-hand side of the road. Instantly a familiar

figure stepped off the sidewalk and shook a warning finger, and

the coolie swung back again to the left side. It was a police

man - no semi-Europeanised Mongolian, languidly performing a

half - understood duty, but the genuine home article, helmet,

blue suit, silver buttons, regulation boots, truncheon and all

just “ bobby.” And his uplifted finger turned the traffic to the


left in Shanghai precisely as it does in front of the Mansion

House . A hundred yards further on there was a flash of

scarlet in the sun, and there stood a second astonishing

figure — a six -foot copper-coloured Sikh , topped by a huge red

turban, and clad also in blue and armed with the same trun

cheon , striding solemnly by on his beat. Then came the

Chinese policeman , with his little saucer hat of red bamboo

and his white gaiters, swinging a diminutive staff — a reduced

and rather comical replica of his big English and Indian

comrades. Then as we crossed the bridge into the French

Concession there appeared the sergent de ville, absolutely

the same as you see him in the Place de l'Opéra - peaked

cap, waxed moustache, baggy red trousers, sabre , and revolver.

And beyond him again was the Frenchified Chinese police

man . In fact, Shanghai is guarded municipally by no fewer

than six distinct species of policemen-English, Sikh, Anglo

Chinese, French, Franco - Chinese, and the long-legged

mounted Sikhs on sturdy white ponies, who clank their

sabres around the outskirts of the town, and carry terror

into the turbulent Chinese quarters.

Shanghai, like so much of the Empire, was originally spolia

opima. It was captured from the Chinese on June 19, 18-12, and

opened to foreign trade in November, 1843. It is in the middle

of the coast-line of China, in the south-east corner of the province

of Kiang-su, at the junction of the rivers Hwang-pu and Woosung

(or Soochow Creek), twelve miles above the point where these

flow together into the estuary of the Yangtsze . Shanghai is

thus practically at the mouth of the great waterway of China ,

and it is the chief outlet and distributing centre for the huge

northern and central provinces. It has been called the " com

mercial metropolis of China,” since so large a percentage of

the total foreign trade of China passes through it. The native

city, which has about 125,000 inhabitants, and lies behind the

foreign city, was an important emporium of trade for centuries .

Its walls, which are three miles and a half in circumference, were


built in the sixteenth century to keep off an earlier Japanese 1

invasion. The French obtained a grant of their present Settle

ment in return for services rendered in driving out the rebels in

1853. Shanghai has been the scene of a good deal of warfare.

In 1853 the native city was captured by the rebels, who held it

for seventeen months. In 1861 , the Taiping rebels, after cap


turing Soochow in the previous year, advanced upon Shanghai,

but were driven back by British and Indian regiments, aided by

French marines. It was at this time that “ Chinese Gordon "

appeared upon the scene. The Imperial authorities, at their

wits' end, allowed an American adventurer to enlist a number

of more or less disreputable foreigners, and with their aid to

raise and drill a horde of natives. These passed under the com

mand of another American name Burgevine, who finally deserted

to the rebels. The Imperialists were thus left with a mutinous

and almost uncontrollable band of their own people to deal with,

little more dangerous than the rebels themselves. It was these

that Major Gordon, R.E. , was allowed to discipline and lead

against the Taipings, as the self- christened “ Ever-Victorious

Army," and it was no doubt owing to his extraordinary prowess

that the Imperial authority was re- established . Opinions differ

among students of Chinese history as to whether it would not

have been better for China had the Taipings succeeded. I came

upon many curious reminiscences of General Gordon up and

down the coast of China. He was a man of remarkable virtues

and of no less remarkable weaknesses, and the stories of him

which survive in the Far East would make very interesting

reading. I do not give them , however, because public opinion

seems to have determined that this many-sided man shall be

known under one aspect only of his life — that of hero. I will

only say that there is correspondence of his still in existence in

China, some of which I have read, which should in the interests

of history be published. His opinions of the Viceroy Li Hung.

chang, whom he greatly respected and whom he had once spent

some time in trying to shoot with his own hand, were of a par


ticularly striking character . The original regulations under

which Shanghai is governed were drawn up by the British

Consul in 1845. These were amended in 1854 by an agreement

between the Consul and the inhabitants ; and in 1863 the

American Settlement was amalgamated with the British . A

number of vain efforts have been made to induce the French

to join this, but although much smaller both in area, population,

and trade it has declined to do so, and remains under the

" Réglement d'Organisation Municipale de la Concession Fran

caise " of 1862. The other two nationalities have not yet suc

ceeded in agreeing with the diplomatic authorities for the revision

of the “ Council for the Foreign Community of Shanghai North

of the Yang -king - pang ” of 1870.

Modern Shanghai is thus divided , like ancient Gaul, into

three parts : the English settlement, the American settlement ,

called Hongkew, and the much smaller French “ Concession ."

Three creeks divide these communities from each other

Yang-king-pang, Soochow Creek, and Defence Creek between

the English settlement and China. One wide thoroughfare ,

called “ the Maloo," runs through Shanghai out past the

race -course and the Horse-Bazaar into the country, and along

this in the afternoon there is a stream of ponies and smart

carriages and pedestrians and bicyclists . It is the Rotten

Row of Shanghai, leading to the Bubbling Well, and the one

country drive the community possesses. But in truth there

is not much “ country ” about it, the environs of Shanghai

being flat and ugly—the nearest hill being nineteen miles

away, and covered with grave-mounds as thickly as the

battlefields round Gravelotte.

Shanghai dubbed itself long ago the “ Model Settlement.”

Then a noble English globe - trotter came along, and afterwards

described it in the House of Lords as " a sink of corruption ."

Thereupon a witty Consul suggested that in future it should be

known as the “ Model Sink.” For my own part I should not

grudge it the first title, for it is one of the best governed


places municipally — at any rate, so far as the Anglo -American

quarters are concerned – that I have ever known. The

French, as I have said, live apart under their own Municipal

Council, presided over, and even dismissed at pleasure, by

their own Consul . The English and American elected

Municipal Council consists of nine members, with an elected

chairman at its head . And a short stay in Shanghai is

sufficient to show how satisfactorily this works. The roads

are perfect, the traffic is kept under admirable direction

and control, the streets are quiet and orderly, and even the

coolies are forbidden to push their great wheelbarrows through

the foreign settlement with ungreased wheels. The third

surprise of Shanghai does not dawn upon you immediately.

It is a Republic—a community of nations, self-governed and

practically independent, for it snaps its fingers politely at the

Chinese authorities or discusses any matter with them upon

equal terms , and it does not hesitate to differ pointedly in

opinion from its own Consuls when it regards their action as

unwise or their interference as unwarranted . Over the Chinese

within its borders the Municipal Council has, however, no

jurisdiction. In the “ Maloo " there is a magistrate's Yamên,

and there the famous “ Mixed Court " sits every morning, con

sisting of the Chinese magistrate and one of the foreign Consuls

All natives charged with offences against foreigners or

foreign law are dealt with there, petty criminals being punished

in the municipal prison or the chain-gang, serious offenders, or

refugees from Chinese law, being sent into the native city.

The Chinese magistrate in the Mixed Court is, of course , a

figure -head, chiefly useful, so far as I could see, in lecturing

the prisoners while the foreigner made up his mind what

punishment to award. In criminal cases the Mixed Court

works fairly well , but in civil suits it gives rise to numerous and

bitter complaints . The population of Shanghai on December

31 , 1891 , was estimated at 4,956 foreigners (British, 1,759 ;

Japanese, 751 ; Portuguese, 542; French , 332 ; American, 450 ;

Spanish, 245 ; German, 330) , and Chinese, 175,000.


The Republic of Shanghai has its own army , of course, com

posed of volunteer infantry, 159 strong ; artillery , with 4 guns

and 45 men ; and a smart but diminutive troop of 38 light

horse. It has also volunteer fire -brigades, and no fewer than

seven distinct postal systems of different nationalities. An

amusing fact in connection with the artillery - amusing chiefly

to any one who appreciates the red -tape which binds the military

authorities at home, is that the latter presented the Shanghai

volunteers with four excellent field-guns, and send out an

annual allowance of ammunition. No doubt they believe that

Shanghai is a British colony, whereas the fun lies in the fact

that it is simply some land leased in perpetuity from the

Emperor of China, and that it is always possible—it may

be the case to-day for all I know—that a majority of those

serving the guns are non-British subjects. But this is only for

the joke's sake. The volunteers get great praise from the official

inspector each year, and they may be called upon to protect

British lives and property at any moment. So the War Office

did a wise thing after all, in spite of the fact that the volunteers

are a “ politically anomalous ” body

The social life of Shanghai is the natural outgrowth of its

Republican institutions. It is democratic, and characterised by

a tolerant good -fellowship. Upon this point a well - known lady

was kind enough to set me right. “ In Shanghai,” she explained,

“everybody is equal. In Hongkong everybody is not equal.

There are those of us who call at Government House, and those

who do not. " After so lucid an analysis it was impossible

to err . All male Shanghai meets in the Club - one of the

most comfortable and complete in the world — before tiffin and

before dinner , to exchange news, make up dinner- parties, and

do business-all three with equal zest. And the hospitality

of Shanghai is another surprise. You might as well attempt

to give your shadow the slip as to escape from the gratuitous

good cheer of the Model Settlement. As for sport, on the

whole Shanghai is ahead of the rest of the East . It has


its charming country club, its races twice a year, its regatta,

when the Chinese authorities stop all the native traffic on the

river, its polo, its two cricket clubs, its base-ball, and its shoot

ing parties in house-boats up the Yangtsze and to the hills twenty

miles away. And on Saturday afternoons if you walk out to

the Bubbling Well about four o'clock you can see the finish of

the paper hunt and a dozen well-mounted and scrupulously

dressed jockeys come riding in to the finish and taking a rather

bad fence and ditch which has been carefully prepared with the

object of receiving half of them in the sight of their fair

friends. Finally, there are the hounds and their master. And

what matter if a slanderous tradition does fret their fair fame,

to the effect that once upon a time , discarding the deceptive

aniseed -bag, a fox was imported from Japan , and that the end

of that hunting-day was that one- half the pack ran into an

unlucky chow -dog and broke him up, and the other half chased

a Chinese boy for his life, while the master stood upon a grave.

mound winding his horn to a deserted landscape ?

The trade of Shanghaimay be roughly divided under five heads :

imports — cotton piece-goods, metals, and kerosene oil ; exports

tea and silk. The tea trade, as elsewhere in China, has fallen

off grievously of late, owing to the gradual fall in quality, and

the competition of Ceylon and Indian teas. Foreign tea -men

have made efforts of every kind to induce Chinese growers to

improve their processes of preparation, but without much result.

It is chiefly in the English market, however, that the trade has

suffered. Improvement in quality ( says the Commissioner of

Customs) is an absolute necessity, but “ China can never hope

to produce a tea which will compare with Indian according to

the only standard which now seems to be applicable in England

-the standard of strength , the capacity to colour, to a certain

point of darkness, so many gallons of water to each pound of

tea .” It seems as unlikely that the Chinese will learn to improve

their qualities as that we shall learn how to know good tea from

bad, and how to “ make ” it when we have secured it. To every


Eastern tea -drinker the tea served at the best houses in England

would be a horror. Nobody who has not travelled in the East,

and arrived, after a day's tramp through a malarious and steam

ing jungle, at some poor Chinaman's shanty, and thankfully

drunk a dozen cups of the beverage freely offered, can know how

delicious and invigorating even the most modest tea can be.

The same cause has already produced a standstill and will soon

produce a reduction in the Chinese silk trade. Chinese silk

would be as good as any in the world if it were properly pre

pared, but it is now used only to add to other kinds ; whereas

Japanese silk, because prepared with Western methods and con

scientious intelligence, has increased its output tenfold since

Japan began to sell it to foreigners. This is the old, old story

of China, and it will probably never be altered until foreigners

contrive-- or their governments for them - to exert authority in

the Celestial Kingdom, as well as to tender advice and drive

bargains. The figures of Shanghai trade are , of course, a

striking testimony to the preponderance of British interests

and enterprise. In 1893 the number of ships entered and

cleared, both under steam and sail, was 6,317 , with a total

tonnage of 6,529,870. Of these, 3,092 were British , and their

tonnage 3,664,175 . Or, to exhibit the comparative insignifi

cance of the shipping of all other foreign nations, out of the

above grand totals British and Chinese ships together numbered

no fewer than 4,721 , with a tonnage of no less than 5,280,310 .

The total foreign trade of Shanghai for 1893 was 139,268,000

Haikwan taels, * of which Great Britain, Hongkong, and India

stand for 80,826,000, or over 58 per cent., besides trade with

* It is practically impossible to give the accurate gold equivalent of these sums.

First, because silver falls so rapidly that a calculation of exchange is obsolete before

it gets back from the printer; and second, because the purchasing power of silver

in the East has not fallen to anything like the same extent as its exchange against

gold. he average exchange of the Haikwan or Customs tael for 1893 was 3s. 11 / d . ,

and the British Consul calculates at this figure, making the total foreign trade

£27,418,388. In dealing with the figures of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs

later on I have reckoned the tael at 3s. 4d. , as a nearer approximation,


other parts of the British Empire which it is impossible to cal

culate separately. The direct trade with Great Britain, both

imports and exports, has fallen off greatly during the past twenty

years, largely because the Suez Canal has brought the southern

ports of Europe into closer communication with China. But the

trade between China and India is growing rapidly, although the

export of opium to China from Indian ports is falling steadily

and will ultimately all but disappear.

It is curious that by the “ Land Regulations,” which form

the Constitution of Shanghai, the Chinese are forbidden to

reside or hold property within the Foreign Settlements, and

yet there are 175,000 of them afloat and ashore ; and I fancy

even Shanghai itself would be astounded if it could be told

exactly what proportion of the whole property is in their hands .

There has been a good deal of talk about this, and in reply to

a “ Cassandra " who wrote to the papers that nothing could save

Shanghai but amalgamation with the Chinese, a local writer

produced some witty verses, telling how in a vision in the

twentieth century

“ I passed a lawyer's office, on the shingle


Was · Wang and Johnson , Barristers-at-law ';

Where'er the nations had begun to mingle,

Chinese came first, I saw .

“ A steamer passed ; a native gave the orders;

An English quartermaster held the wheel ;

The chain - gang all were white, the stalwart wardcrs

Yellow from head to heel.”

Physically, at any rate, the Chinese are undoubtedly crowd

ing out the Europeans. The wealthy Celestial keenly appre

ciates the fact that his person and his property are infinitely

securer under the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes than

under the rapacious and unrestrained rule of the representative

of the Son of Heaven . He is therefore prepared to pay what

ever may be necessary to secure a good piece of property within

which to live and trade in the foreign settlement. Whenever

such a piece comes into the market it is almost sure to be


knocked down to a Chinese purchaser. “ Very many retired and

expectant officials now make their homes in Shanghai, also

many merchants who have made money. As a result, the best

paying property is Chinese occupied, and of that the best is the

property on which stand the pretentious establishments which

furnish amusement to the Chinese jeunesse dorée — a class which

in pre -Taiping days counted Soochow and Hangchow earthly

paradises, and which now finds that the pleasures of those

capitals are as abundantly supplied in the Foochow Road . This

influx of Chinese has had the effect of compelling foreigners, and

especially those of small means, to seek every year dwellings

farther away from the busy centres, which the Chinese now

monopolise. The rents of foreign houses in the Settlements are

gradually rising, for as each old foreign building is pulled down

Chinese houses take its place." 泰*

Another very great and indeed vital change has come over

Shanghai of late years. Formerly business was done by real

merchants - that is, traders who bought to sell again. Those

were the days of quickly - realised and enormous fortunes — of the

merchant-princes of the Far East , whose hospitality, formerly

famous the world over, is now but a golden tradition, since

“ luxurious living is practised by old -timers rather in obedience

to ancient custom than justified by present affluence.” Now the

merchant, if not already extinct, is rapidly becoming so, and his

place taken by the commission agent. Competition and the

incalculable and ruinous fluctuations of exchange are the two

factors which have brought about this result . Both as regards

the character of business done, and the personnel of those who

do it, the change is for the worse. Little or no capital is neces

sary, as every detail of the transactions is fixed beforehand by

telegraph — the price of the goods, the freight, and the rate of

exchange. It is therefore possible to do business on a very

small margin , with the result that men under-bid one another

• Mr. R. E. Bredon's very able Report on Shanghai, Chinese Imperial Maritime

Customs, Decennial Reports , 1882–1891.


down to the last fraction , and the further result that an

unscrupulous member of the trading community is tempted to

get business of this kind by any and every means . It is obvious

that more intimate relations between the Chinese themselves

and the European markets would soon result in the elimination

of the foreign agent altogether .

Two other causes are also appearing to transform the

Shanghai of old time , and indeed all the business relations

between foreigners and Chinese. The first is the growth of

Chinese manufactures. The Chinese Cotton Cloth Mill Com

pany, the Chinese Spinning Company, the Shanghai Paper Mill

Company, the Min-li Ginning Mill Company, and the Yuen -chee

Ginning Mill Company , are all Chinese concerns, with Chinese

capital and under Chinese management, with foreign technical

assistance. The first -named of these is supposed to be financed

by the Viceroy Li Hung-chang himself. It was recently com

pletely destroyed by fire, but is being rebuilt on a much larger

scale than before . These enterprises have not yet paid much

in the way of dividend, owing probably to inexperienced direc

tion , but there is no reason to suppose that they will not be

successful in the end. And their success would probably mean

a nearly proportionate amount of European failure. The reader

will naturally ask at once why foreigners have not started such

concerns themselves. The answer is based to a great extent

upon the supineness of a recent British Minister to China. The

Chinese claim — without any justice, so far as I can make out

that the treaties give no right to foreigners to manufacture

within the treaty limits, and their claim has never met with

serious official resistance. They even go so far as to prohibit,

without a special permit, the importation of machinery on

foreign account, which is ridiculously in contradiction of plain

treaty rights. It is to be hoped that one among the innumer

able results of the present war will be the settlement of this

question in favour of Europeans. The benefits to Chinese con

sumers would be incalculable, and the whole world might well


gain an enormous and unexpected advantage from the opening

of China which would almost necessarily ensue, since, as has

been truly said, * if China were only fairly open to foreign enter

prise, there is room in her vast territories and among her

millions of inhabitants for all the surplus silver of the world for

many years to come.

In connection with this probable cause of a change in the

future of Shanghai must also be mentioned the great and

increasing amount of purely Chinese capital invested, not only

in native enterprises within treaty limits, such as those I have

mentioned, but also in foreign companies, with foreign manage

ment, and known by foreign names . The China Merchants '

Steam Navigation Company, with its fine fleet, represents a

large native investment, in which the Viceroy Li is again

prominent, and it is freely said that many ships trading under

foreign flags are in reality Chinese property. Moreorer,

although this is a well-kept secret, a surprising proportion of

the deposits in foreign banks is believed to stand in Chinese

names . In view of all this extensive and constantly growing

Chinese investment in property , mortgages, shipping, manufac

turing enterprises, and banking deposits, it is inevitable that

those who thus pay the piper should claim more and more the

right to call the tune. The second cause of the change to be

anticipated is Japanese competition with European firms for the

foreign trade of China. This is a factor of the greatest future

importance, but discussion of it will come more appropriately

in a later chapter. Though Shanghai may change, however,

and indeed must change, there is no reason to despair of its

future as an outpost of British Trade. The openings for

foreigners and foreign capital may both decrease, but the bulk

of trade will increase . Mr. Commissioner Bredon says, “ I

think the future of Shanghai depends on China and the Chinese

and their interests, and that foreigners would be wise to run

with them , ” and his opinion should carry great weight. Two

* By Mr. Consul Jamieson, F. O. Reports, Annual Series, No. 1442, p. 23.


events, on the other hand, may open up for Shanghai a future

brighter than its brightest past. The Chinese railway may make

it into the link between the whole of China and the rest of the

world ; or the present war may end by throwing China open at

last, in which case the unequalled situation of Shanghai would

give it the lion's share of the enormous trade that would arise.

The first sight of Hongkong, the farthest outpost of the

British Empire and the fourth port in the world, is disappoint

ing. As you approach it from the north you enter a narrow

and unimposing pass : then you discover a couple of sugar

refineries covering the hills with smoke ; and when the city of

Victoria lies before you it is only St. John's or Vladivostok on a

larger scale. It is piled up on the steep sides of the island

without apparent purpose or cohesion ; few fine buildings

detach themselves from the mass ; there is no boulevard along

the water-front ; and the greater part of the houses and offices

in the immediate foreground, though many of them are in

reality large and costly structures, look a medley from a little

distance. In one's disappointment one remembers Mr. Howell's

caustic characterisation of the water - front of New York

that after London and Liverpool it looks as though the Ameri

cans were encamped there. The face of Hongkong is not its

fortune, and anybody merely steaming by would never guess the

marvel it grows on closer acquaintance. For a few weeks' in

vestigation transfigures this precipitous island into one of the

most astonishing spots on the earth's surface. By an inevitable

alchemy, the philosopher's stone of a few correlated facts trans

forms one's disappointment into stupefaction. Shanghai is a

surprise , but Hongkong is a revelation .

When you land at the city of Victoria (it is strange, by the

way, that almost everybody at home and half the visitors there


are ignorant that “ Victoria " is the name of the city and

“ Hongkong " of the island), the inevitable ' ricksha carries you

through a couple of streets, far from being beautiful or well


managed, but you forget this in the rush of life about you.

Messengers jostle you, 'rickshas run over your toes, chair-poles

dig you in the ribs . The hotel clerk smiles politely as he in

forms you that there has not been a vacant room for a month .

Later on your fellow -passengers envy you the little rabbit -hole

of a bedroom you have secured at the top of the Club. When

you come down again into the hall you find it crowded with

brokers of many nationalities, making notes, laughing, whisper

ing, drinking, but all just as busy as they can be. The Stock

Exchange of Hongkong was the gutter, the local Rialto ex

tending from the Club for about a hundred yards down the

Queen's Road, and it was filled with Britishers, Germans, Anglo

Indians, Chinese from Canton , Armenians from Calcutta, Parsees

from Bombay, and Jews from Baghdad, and with that peculiar

contingent known as the “ black brigade ," recognisable by the

physiognomy of Palestine and the accent of Spitalfields. And

on the Club walls and tables are a dozen printed “ Expresses,"

timed with the minute at which they were issued, and the mail

and shipping noon and afternoon “ extras " of the daily papers,

announcing the arrivals and departures of steamers, the dis

tribution of cargoes, the sales by auction , and all the multi

tudinous movements of a great commercial machine running at

high pressure. For, to apply to the Far East the expressive

nomenclature of the Far West, this colony “' just hums ” all

the time.. At least , it hummed in this way on the many occa

sions when I was there, as it will hum again , though just at

present, what with the utter reaction from over-speculation , the

general depression of trade, the fluctuations of silver, and

the paralysing effect of the plague, Victoria is a depressed

and rather unhappy place. Then the chair a friend has

sent to take you to dinner arrives, with its four coolies

uniformed in blue and white calico , and by another twist

of the kaleidoscope you find yourself , three minutes after

leaving the Club, mounting an asphalte roadway at an angle

not far short of forty - five degrees , hemmed in above and on



either hand by great green palms and enormous drooping ferns

with fronds yards long, among which big butterflies are playing

round long scarlet flowers. For as soon as you begin to ascend,

the streets of Hongkong might be alleys in the tropical con

servatories at Kew.

Hongkong is built in three layers. The ground floor, so to

speak, or sea-level, is the commercial part of the Colony. The

“ Praya " along the water's edge is given up to shipping, and is

altogether unworthy of the place. It is about to be changed,

however, by a magnificent undertaking, now in progress,

the so Praya Reclamation Scheme, " originated and pressed to

a successful issue by the Hon . C. P. Chater , by which the

land frontage will be pushed out 250 feet, and a depth

of twenty feet secured at all states of the tide. The next

street, parallel to it, Queen's Road, is the Broadway of Hong

kong, and all the business centres upon it. In the middle

are the Club , post-office, courts, and hotels ; then come all the

banks and offices and shops ; past these to the east are the

different barracks, and as one gradually gets further from the

centre, come the parade-ground, cricket- ground, polo-ground, and

race-course, and the wonderfully picturesque and pretty ceme

tery, the “ Happy Valley.” In the other direction you formerly

passed all the Chinese shops for foreigners and then got into

Chinatown, a quarter of very narrow streets , extremely dirty,

inconceivably crowded, and probably about as insanitary as any

place on the globe under civilised rule. I never ceased to

prophesy two things about Hongkong, one of which , the epi

demic, has come true indeed. The other waits, and as it is

rather alarmist it is perhaps better left out of print. The worst

parts of Chinatown have now been destroyed, literally at the

cannon's mouth, and in spite of every possible Chinese threat,

so that this blot on the Colony is erased . This is all on the

island of Hongkong, while across the harbour, in the British

territory of Kowloon, a new city is springing up-a splendid

frontage of wharves and warehouses ; a collection of docks, one


of which will take almost any ship afloat ; balf a dozen summer

houses, a little palace among them — whose splendid hospitality

is for the moment eclipsed ; and the pleasure-gardens and

kitchen -gardens of the community.

The second storey of Hongkong lies ten minutes' climb up

the steep side of the island . Here nearly everybody lives, and

lives, too, in a luxury and ease that are not suspected at home .

Here is Government House, a fine official residence in beautiful

grounds ; Headquarter House ; and the wonderful streets I have

already mentioned , although one might as properly call Windsor

a house as describe these palm-shaded walks and groves as


Finally, there is the third layer, the top storey of Hongkong,

known collectively as “ The Peak." The Peak itself is one of the

highest of the hundred bills of the island , rising precipitously

behind the city to the signal station , 1,842 feet above the sea,

where a gun and a flagstaff announce the arrival of mails and

ocean steamers . But - The Peak ” as a residential district

means all the hill -tops where cool breezes from the sea blow in

summer , where one can sleep under a blanket at night, and

where, in a word, one can spend a summer in Hongkong with a

reasonable probability of being alive at the end of it. Here

everybody who can afford it has a second house, and so many

are these fortunate people that the “ top side " of the island is

dotted all over with costly houses and bungalows; there are

two hotels, and a steam tramway runs up and down every

fifteen minutes . The fare up is thirty cents--a shilling --and

down half as much. This is startling enough , but a better

notion of the expense of life here is conveyed by the fact that

to have a second house at “ The Peak ” for the summer

you must rent it for the whole year, as it is uninhabitable in

winter, at a rental of 150 to 200 dollars a month - about a

sovereign a day all the year round for four or five months'

residence. Besides this , there is the tramway fare, the cost

of coolies to carry your chair up and down , and the expense


of bringing every item of domestic supplies, from coals to

cabbage, a forty -five minutes' climb uphill. But what is the

summer climate on the second storey of Hongkong which forces

people to flee from it at so much trouble and cost ? To be

frank, almost every man I asked before I had experience of it ,

described it to me by the monosyllabic appellation of the ultimate

destination of the incorrigible unrighteous.. One of the chief

summer problems of Hongkong is to determine whether the

mushrooms which grow on your boots during the night are

edible or not . The damp is indescribable. Moisture pours

down the walls ; anything left alone for a couple of days ,

clothes, boots , hats, portmanteaus - is covered with mould .

Twenty steps in the open air and you are soaked with perspira

tion . Then there are the cockroaches, to say nothing of the

agile centipede whose bite may lay you up for a month . When

the booksellers receive a case of books, the first thing they do

is to varnish them all over with a damp- resisting composition

containing corrosive sublimate . Otherwise the cockroaches

would eat them before they had time to go mouldy . If you

come home at night after dinner very tired , beware of carelessly

throwing your evening clothes over a chair, as you would at

home. If you do, the cockroaches will have destroyed them

before you wake. They must be hung up in a wardrobe with

hermetically fitting doors . It does happen , too, that men die

in summer in Hongkong between sunrise and sunset without

rhyme or reason . And the community is a pale -faced one , though

it is only right to add that it numbers probably as many athletes

and vigorous workers as any other . The place used to be known


" the grave of regiments ” —a stroll through “ Happy Valley "

tells you why. Now the men are not allowed outside barracks

in summer until five p.m. , and there is a regular inspection to


see that every man has his cholera -belt on . The " down side "

of Hongkong is damp and hot; the “ top side” is damp and cool.

That is the difference for which people are prepared to pay so

heavily. The first time I stayed at “ The Peak ” I noticed round


the house a number of large stoppered bottles, such as you see

in druggists' windows, prettily encased in wicker -work. On

inquiring of my host he showed me that one contained biscuits,

another cigars, another writing-paper, and so on , each hollow

stopper being filled with unslaked lime in filtering paper, to

absorb any damp that might penetrate inside. These bottles

tell the whole tale. People run over to Macao, that Lusitanian

Thule, four hours' steaming away , for Sunday, and when the

summer is proving too much for them and their thoughts begin

to run on “ Happy Valley ” and a grave there - like that of

Martha's husband in Padua, “ well-placed for cool and comfort

able rest " —they just go on board a steamer and disembark at

Nagasaki or Yokohama . Japan is the sanitarium of the Far


A striking feature of Hongkong is the elegance and solidity of

its public works. Its waterworks at Tytam, on the other side

of the island, are almost picturesque , and the aqueduct which

supplies the city is the basis of a footway three miles long,

called the Bowen Road , of asphalte and cement as smooth and

solid as a billiard -table, which laughs at the tremendous down

pours of the rainy season . “ Happy Valley ” is the pride of

Hongkong, and the palm -shaded road I described above was a

dangerous and ugly ravine called " Cut-throats’ Alley ” a few

years ago. Speaking of cut-throats reminds me that Hongkong

even now is not a particularly safe place. People avoid walk

ing alone at night in one or two directions ; every Sikh

constable carries a rifle at night and several rounds of ball

cartridge, and if you hail a sampan at night to go to dinner on

board some ship in the harbour, the constable at the pier makes

a note of its number, in case you should be missing the next

day. For these sampan people used to have a pleasant habit of

suddenly dropping the mat awning on the head of a passenger,

cutting his throat in the ensuing struggle and dropping his

pillaged body overboard. The Siklis make admirable police

men , obedient, trustworthy, and brave, and are correspondingly


detested by the Chinese. If they sin at all, it is from too much

zeal, and I believe they take a keen personal pleasure in whack .

ing a Chinaman . There is a story to the effect that during an

epidemic of burglaries general orders were issued to them to

arrest all suspicious-looking people who did not halt when

challenged at night, especially if they had ladders. Next night

a Sikh on duty saw a Chinaman on the top of a ladder. Nothing

could have been clearer, so he challenged the man , who paid no

attention, and then fired and brought him down . It was the

lamplighter. Even now no Chinaman is supposed to be out

after nine p.m. without a pass.

Unlike Shanghai, which is an international republic, Hong

kong is, of course, a genuine British colony, and in no part

of the world is the colonising genius of the British race, or the

results of its free -trade policy, better shown . It was ceded to

the British in January, 1841 , as one result of the war which

broke out between Great Britain and China in 1839 , and its

cession was finally recognised by the Treaty of Nankin in 1842.

At that time its population consisted of a few thousands of

Chinese fishermen, since it was to all intents and purposes a

barren island. So far were even competent judges from fore

seeing its marvellous future, that in a valuable book on China

written by R. M. Martin in 1847, there is a chapter called

“ IIongkong, its position , prospects, character, and utter worth

lessness in every point of view to England." From the begin

ning, however, it has been the Aladdin's palace of commerce .

The island itself has an area of only twenty - nine square miles ,

and the whole colony, including a couple of little islands and

the strip of territory known as British Kowloon on the main

land exactly opposite, just over thirty- two. Kowloon constitutes

our frontier with China in the Far East . It is two and

one-third miles in length , and is guarded in a peculiar way.

The duty on opium going into China is so high that the profits

on smuggling it have always tempted the Chinese, the most

expert smugglers in the world, to evade the Customs in any


way and at any risk. From the free port of Hongkong the

greatest danger in this respect was to be apprehended. The

Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs have a station at Kowloon,

with the business office situated, for purposes of convenience ,

within the British colony. They have a small fleet of revenue

cruisers to stop all junks and Chinese steamers, and they have

built an impassable fence of bamboo, eight feet high, between

British and Chinese territory. In this there are six gateways,

each guarded by a post of revenue officers, while on the Chinese

side there is a broad solid road ceaselessly patrolled night and

day by a Customs force, consisting of over one hundred “ braves "

armed with loaded Winchester repeating -rifles, and under the

command of six foreigners. To avoid possible frictions or

collusions, these are all of non-British nationality. It is a

curious fact, by the way, as will be seen from my photograph

of the advanced French frontier- post at Monkay, that both

England and France are separated from China by a rampart

of bamboo, that strange and accommodating plant which serves

more purposes than anything else that grows.

The situation of Hongkong has , of course, had most to do

with its unexampled progress. It is the furthest eastern

dependency of the Crown, and forms the end of the arm of

the Empire which stretches round the south of Asia. The

next step in advance northward will be forced upon us within

a very short time by both commercial and strategical con

siderations, but nothing can seriously interfere with the import

ance of Hongkong as the next station north of Singapore, from

which it is 1,400 miles. A coaling station and naval base at

least a thousand miles further north has become a necessity

if we are to hold our predominant position in the Far East,

and for this purpose Port Hamilton will certainly not do.

Hongkong is 79 miles from Canton, the greatest trading city

of China, und an excellent service of daily steamers keeps the

two in touch. Macao, of little and decreasing importance, is

40 miles away ; the Philippines are 650 ; Saigon is 900 ;


Shanghai, 824 ; Bangkok , 1,454 ; Yokohama, 1,575 ; and Vladi .

vostok , 1,670 . The former barren and almost uninhabited

island is thus the focus of the Far East to-day.

From a military and naval point of view Hongkong is one

of the most important stations in the Empire. Its docks and

machine -shops are worthy of its position, several large ships,

and countless small ones , having been built and launched from

them . The Admiralty dock is 500 feet long, 86 in breadth at

the top and 70 at the bottom , and 29 feet deep. The land

defences of the Colony consist of six divisions : Stonecutter's

Island , Belcher's Bay, Kowloon West, North Point, Kowloon

Dock , and Lyeemoon Fort. The armament of the chief of

these consists of the justly-abused 10 -inch and the admirable

9.2- inch guns. The place is probably quite impregnable from

the sea on the harbour side, but to make sure there is need to

fortify Green Island , since otherwise ships coming round the

island would not be visible from Stonecutter's or Belcher's till

they were almost in sight of the town . Any nation except our

own would have fortified this point years ago. Hongkong is

one of the few defences armed with the famous Watkins

“ position -finder ,” for which the British Government paid so

much . By this all the guns of all the chief batteries can be

aimed and fired by one man in a commanding and secure

position . With the principal entrances mined-all preparations

for which exist in the most complete and detailed manner—any

hostile fleet attacking Hongkong harbour would in all human

probability come utterly to grief. The weak point is well known

to be on the other side. In the military manoeuvres the

attacking force has got in again and again. The redoubts are

all planned , and there are plenty of machine-guns and a few

howitzers, but with the large forces of infantry possessed by

Russia in Siberia , and by France in Tongking, to say nothing

of the powerful Japanese army, it is impossible to feel quite

happy about Hongkong until its southern side is protected as

well as its harbour. Especially is this the case if the common


remark of naval men , that in tbe event of war the fleet would

at once put to sea and leave Hongkong to take care of itself, is

to be taken literally .

To my thinking, however, Hongkong is in more danger from

the Chinese than from any other quarter. Kowloon City is

a mass of roughs ; Canton is the most turbulent and most

foreigner -hating city in China ; 20,000 Chinese could come down

to Hongkong in a few hours ; and a strike of Chinese servants

would starve out the Colony. Before Kowloon was added to

the Colony, a Hongkong head was worth thirty dollars, and

“ braves ” used to come down to try and get them . The


defences have lately been increased by a regiment of Indian

troops, with a strength of 10 British officers and 1,014 natives

of all ranks, who were raised in a marvellously short time, and

have been brought to a high point of discipline and efficiency,

and besides these there is always a regiment of British troops

and a force of engineers and garrison artillery stationed there.

As an example, however , of the power of the Chinese, it may be

remembered that when it was found necessary to isolate and

fumigate the horrible Chinese quarters during the recent out

break of plague in the Colony, this could only be done under

the guns of the fleet, and the actual work was performed by

British volunteers . Asia — always excepting Japan-never has

been civilised and never will be , till a greater change comes

than this age is likely to see , otherwise than at the mouth

of the cannon and the point of the bayonet. At home this

statement will doubtless be regarded by many excellent people

with feelings akin to horror, but all who know the East will

know it to be trur .

This question of the relations of foreigners and Chinese

presents much the same general aspect in Hongkong as it

does in Shanghai. Here , too, the Chinese merchant is

* It is to be hoped that the permanent committee of the Sanitary Board, and

the soldiers, will receive some official recognition of their efforts, for it was chiefly

by them that the plague was eradicated.


crowding out the British middleman ; here , too, it cannot be

very long before the bulk of the real estate of the Colony is

owned by Chinese. Every day they are advancing further into

the European quarter, and Chinese merchants are among the

richest men in the community., “ In every dispute between


the Chinese and the Government," said a well-informed resident

to me, “ the former have come off victorious .” By and by ,

therefore, we shall have virtually a Chinese society under the

British flag, ruled by a British governor. Such is “ Empire,"

and I see no particular reason to regret the fact, even if it

were not impossible to do anything to alter it. The Empire

depends upon trade first of all, and such a community must

always form the strongest trading link between Great Britain

and China. By means of trade alone the Empire stands for

the welfare and civilisation of the greatest number, and these

are undoubtedly to be found in the direction here prophesied.

At any rate, whether we like it or not, and whether we welcome

it or oppose it, this change is inevitable . *

Besides this “ danger," however, if it be one, there is the

real danger arising from the unruly and criminal Chinese .

In spite of all denials , piracy is still rife in the waters round

Hongkong. Chinese junks are the constant victims, and the

eyes of the Colony were opened in 1890 by the piracy of the

British steamer Namoa , which was seized by her Chinese

passengers , two of her officers and a number of her crew shot,

the remaining officers and European passengers imprisoned in

the cabin , like another “ Black Hole ," for eight hours, the

captain dying there, the loot transferred into six junks which

came alongside at a signal, and then abandoned , after the

windlass had been broken , the fires drawn , the lifeboats stove

* To escape being misunderstood , let me make it quite clear that I think this

Chinese progress absolutely dependent upon British guidance and control, both

political and commercial, and ask that what precedes and follows about the Chinese

in our Colonies may be read in connection with my chapters about the Chinese

in China.


in, and the side- lights thrown overboard .

A long time after

wards a number of men were beheaded in Kowloon for the

piracy, among them being at least one man who had been

concerned in the piracy of the Greyhound years before . Only a

few months ago disturbances broke out in Hongkong between

the members of two rival clans, the Sze Yap and the Tun Kun,

and work among many coolies was suspended for a time in

consequence, and many steamers delayed. The police were

kept very active and the military under arms, while a guerilla

warfare was carried on among the rival clans “ the combatants

watching for victims of the opposite party, and attacking them

individually in quiet places, or shooting them from the tops

of houses." Another piece of terrorism occurred when five

hundred men employed on the new reservoir were frightened


from their work. “ A military procession ,” said a local paper,

“ with a few small dragons in the shape of field and Maxim

guns, would probably exercise a wholesome influence upon the

Cantonese swashbucklers who now fancy they can work their

own sweet will in this British Colony." I'ongkong is . in fact,

an Arcadia for the criminals of the neighbouring province, who

first plan their outrages there and then take refuge in it when

their coup has been effected . If the hue and cry after them

becomes too hot, they commit some small offence against the

laws of the Colony, with the view to getting committed to prison

for a few months, under which circumstances they are absolutely

safe against the pursuit of detectives from their own country.

Even if they are discovered , arrested , and formally charged , the

difficulties in the way of their rendition are so great that they

have a good chance of getting off after all . For as the British

authorities know very well that torture and punishment await

all whom they give up, they are naturally chary of handing

prisoners over , notwithstanding any assurances of fair trial

that may be given, and they therefore insist that a man shall

be proved guilty prima facie before he is surrendered , with the

result that the Chinese authorities regard British law as a


means whereby their own criminals escape punishment, as

many of them undoubtedly do.

The population of Hongkong in 1893 was 238,724, of whom

the whites were 8,515 , the Indians 1,901 , and the Chinese

210,995 . This included the strength of the garrison. In addi

tion there was a boat-population of no fewer than 32,035

Chinese. The expenditure of the Colony was 1,920,523 dols .,

and its revenue 2,078,135 dols.,* the latter showing a net

decrease of 158,000 dols. and the former of 422,000 dols . The

assets of the Colony are put down at 2,417,054 dols. , and its

liabilities at 928,031 dols. Its military contribution is £ 40,000,

paid in quarterly instalments. The ascending scale of Colonial

contribution in the present state of silver may be judged from

the statement that the four quarters of 1893 were paid in the fol

lowing amounts of dollars—72,000, 72,000, 75,000 , and 77,000 ,

and that for 1894 the total will amount to 400,000 dols. , or one

fifth of the entire revenue. Hongkong being a free port there

* It is useless to attempt to translate these figures into sterling , as explained in

footnotes elsewhere. During 1893 the Mexican dollar fell from 2s. 83d . to - 2s. 3 d .,

and now stands at 2s . 1 d ., with entire uncertainty as to the future . The

Chambers of Commerce of Hongkong and Singapore have petitioned in favour of a

British dollar, and it seems clear that such aa coin should be introduced . There is

not the slightest reason for the persistence of the Mexican dollar, and many against

it, and a British dollar is the only alternative to the legalisation of the Japanese

yen , the objections to which are too obvious to mention. It is preposterous that

the Power doing beyond all comparison a prepouderance of trade with the Far East

should be dependent upon foreign coins like the Mexican dollar and Japanese yen.

A British dollar, now a rare coin , was introduced in 1866, but time was not allowed for

its general acceptance , and the Hongkong mint was closed two years later and its

machinery sold to Japan . (See Chalmers's “ History of Currency in the British

Colonies,” pp . 375 899.-

:-a work of great industry and ability .) The British dollar

should, of course, be the metallic counterpart of the familiar “ Mexican," and it

is to be hoped that among the opportunities for reform offered by the results of the

present Japanese war with China, this question may not fail of solution . As an

example of the inconvenience now prevailing I may add that when I was preparing

for the exploration of the unknown north of the Malay Peninsula , of which an

account is given in a later chapter of this book , I was indebted to the courtesy of the

Penang branch of the Chartered Bank of India , Australia and China for a supply

of the old “ pillar ” dollars which alone are accepted there, and that I had to pay

a premium of nine per cent. for them . [Since the above was in type, the coinage

of a British dollar has been sanctioned .]


are no custom-house statistics available, but the record of

shipping gives some idea of the trade of this astounding place.

The total shipping entered and cleared in 1893 was 14,023,866

tons, of which the British flag covered 7,732,195 tons. This is

already an extraordinary proportion , but a little investigation

shows it to be far more striking than thus appears . The non

British shipping of the Port of Hongkong remains from the

above figures at 6,291,671 tons, but of this Chinese ships carried

4,389,551 tons. Excluding Chinese ships, therefore, the British

sbipping trade of Hongkong was 7,732,195 tons, against

1,902,120 tons carried by all other foreign nations put together.

In spite of all its commercial progress, however, and its vital

position in the Empire, Hongkong is in many respects curiously

behind the civilisation of its time. One may say roughly, for

instance, that the law of the Colony to- day is the law both Com

mon and Statute — that was in force in England on April 5, 1813 .

I saw several Europeans in Hongkong gaol for debt. There is no

Married Women's Property Act in force, although this actually

exists in Chinese law. There is no copyright for British authors

under their own flag, and I saw the counters of the foreign book

sellers crowded with pirated reprints of contemporary authors.

An Englishman living in the foreign settlement at Canton

Shameen - is under one law ; an Englishman living in Hong

kong under another. Hongkong is still—or to be quite exact ,

was when I was last there—under the Bankruptcy Acts of 1819

and 1861. A petition bad been presented , signed by all the

Chinese merchants of the Colony, suggesting amendments

suitable to local circumstances , but the authorities would have

none of them, so it was referred home, and the Secretary of

State ordered the suggestions to be introduced . This was

already six years ago , and nothing had been done. The

amalgamation of Law and Equity has never been introduced in

fact , wbatever may have happened in theory.. “ Our law,” said

a leading local lawyer to me, " is antediluvian . You cannot

even get a copy of the Hongkong Ordinances — that is, of the


complete law of the Colony. If Hongkong had not been blessed

with reasonable judges, we could never have got on at all."

Hongkong has long desired a Municipality, to deal with all

local matters except such—the defences, for example—as are of

a purely Imperial nature, but this justifiable ambition bas been

snubbed again and again. A growing dissatisfaction, however,

has been shown with the system of official and unofficial

membership of the Legislative Council. The former all vote as

they are required by the Governor, and the latter are in a

minority The official members once showed some signs of

voting according to their own views , but the Governor promptly

put his foot down upon such insubordination. “ Gentlemen ,"

he said to the official members at the next Council meeting,

“ you are quite at liberty to speak and vote as you like ; but if,

holding official positions, you oppose the government, it will be

the duty of the government to inquire whether it is for its

advantage that you should continue to hold those positions.”

Official salaries , therefore, are consequent on official votes.

Among my notes about Hongkong I find this remark was

made to me : “ An official member has never made a full and

free speech on any subject since Hongkong was a Colony."

The spirit of free criticism , however, has now sprung up,

thanks chiefly to the independence and tenacity of one un

official member, the Hon . T. H. Whitehead. From the time

of bis election , five years ago , as the representative of the

Chamber of Commerce, he has refused , in spite of every species

of pressure and influence, to fall into line with the old tradition

which prescribes that the unofficial member should make a

speech, including a mild protest in extreme cases, accept with

a deferential bow the Governor's assurance that “ the honour

able member's remarks shall not fail to receive every consider


ation , " and then let the matter drop. Mr. Whitehead, on the

contrary, has been unkind enough to make the lives of govern

ment officials burdens to them by his insistence upon expla

nations, justifications, facts, statistics, records and appeals to


the higher authorities in England. It is not supposed, to adapt

Mr. Kipling's amusing verse, to be good for the health of an

unofficial member to hustle a Colonial Governor, but Mr.

Whitehead has thriven greatly in the exercise. He holds a

position which gives him an intimate knowledge of the affairs

and finances of the Colony, and it is doing him bare justice to

say that he is on the way to revolutionise the management of

official matters . He is strongly supported by the commercial

community, whose interests he thoroughly understands, and

the Chinese gave him such farewell honours when he left the

Colony the other day for a holiday in Europe as have never

been seen there before.

Mr. Whitehead has devoted himself to exposing the weakness

and defects of the existing system of government and the

constitution of the Legislative Council, and has just brought

home a petition , signed by nearly ninety per cent. of the British

ratepayers, praying for a measure of local self-government equal

to that possessed by the smallest community at home and by

colonies abroad with not a fraction of the wealth, importance,

or experience of Hongkong. This petition explains the position

of the unofficial inhabitants of the Colony so clearly, and sets

forth their grievances so temperately, that I cannot do better

than reproduce it almost in extenso, especially as its prayer will

lave to be granted sooner or later. It runs as follows :

It is a little over fifty years since the Colony was founded on a barren rock , the

abode of a few fishermen and pirates. To-day it is a city and settlement with

upwards of a quarter of a million inhabitants ; a trade estimated at about forty

millions of pounds sterling per annum , and a revenue of some two millions of

dollars, wholly derived from internal taxation. Hongkong is a free port, throngh

which passes upwards of fourteen millions of tons of shipping per annum , and it

ranks amongst the very first in the list of the great seaports in Her Majesty's

dominions. It is the centre of enormous British interests, and is an extensive

emporium of British trade in the China seas, and, while it remains a free port, it

is destined to expand and develop, and to continue to be the centre of vast traffic

and of constant communication between Europe, the Australian Colonies, the United

States, and Canada on the one hand, and China, Japan, the Philippine Islands,

British North Borneo, Java, Indo -China, Siam, the Straits, and India on the other .

Hongkong has attained to its almost unequalled commercial position , turough

the enterprise, skill, and energy of British merchants, traders, and shipowners ;


through the labours of Her Majesty's subjects who have spent their lives and em .

ployed their capital on its shores; through the expenditure of many millions of

dollars in roads, streets, and bridges ; in buildings, public and private ; in extensive

reclamations ; in docks, piers, and wharves ; and last , but not least, in manufactures

of great and increasing value. The prosperity of the Colony can best be maintained

by the unremitting exertions and self - sacrifice of your Petitioners and the valuable

co-operation and support of the Chinese , and only by the continuance of Hongkong

as a free port.

Notwithstanding that the whole interests of your Petitioners are thus inextricably

and permanently bound up in the good administration of the Colony, in the efficiency

of its Executive, and the soundness of its finance, your Petitioners are allowed to

take only a limited part or small share in the government of the Colony, and are

not permitted to have any really effective voice in the management of its afľairs,

external or internal. Being purely a Crown Colony, it is governed by a Governor

appointed by Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, and by an Executive and a

Legislative Council. The former is composed wholly of Officers of the Crown,

nominated and appointed by the Crown ; the latter consists of seven Official

Members, selected and appointed by the Queen , and five Unofficial Members, two

of whom are nominated by certain public bodies in the Colony, while the other three

are selected by the Governor, and all are appointed by Her Majesty.

The Executive Council sits and deliberates in secret. The Legislative Council

sits with open doors, and its procedure appears to admit of full and unfettered dis

cussion, but there is virtually no true freedom of debate. Questions are considered,

and settled, and the policy to be adopted by the Government in connection there.

with is decided in the Executive Council. They are then brought before the

Legislative Council, where the Government — the Official Members being in a

majority - can secure the passing of any measure, in face of any opposition on the

part of the Unofficial Members, who are thus limited to objectiug and protesting ,

and have no power to carry any proposal which they may consider beneficial, nor

have they power to reject or even modify any measure which may in their opinion

be prejudicial to the interests of the Colony.

In the adjustment and disposal of the Colonial revenue it might be supposed

that the Unofficial representatives of the taxpayers would be allowed a potential

voice , and in form this has been conceded by the Government. But only in form ,

for in the Finance Committee , as well as in the Legislative Council, the Unofficial

Members are in a minority, and can therefore be out-voted if any real difference of

opinion arises.

Legislative Enactments are nearly always drafted by the Attorney General , are

frequently forwarded before publication in the Colony or to the Council for the

approval of the Secretary of State , and when sanctioned are introduced into the

Legislative Council, read a first, second , and third time, and passed by the votes of

the Official Members, acting in obedience to instructions, irrespective of their

personal views or private opinions.

The Legi- lation so prepared and passed emanates in some cases from persons

whose short experience of and want of actual touch with the Colony's needs, does

not qualify them to fully appreciate the measures best suited to the requirements of

the Community.

Those who have the knowledge and experience are naturally the Unofficial

Members, who have been elected and appointed as possessing these very qualifica

tions, who have passed large portions of their lives in the Colony, and who either


have permanent personal interests in it, or bold prominent positions of trust which

connect them most closely with its affairs, and are therefore the more likely to have

been required to carefully study its real needs, and to have thoroughly acquainted

themselves with the methods by which these are best to be met. On the other hand

the offices occupied by the Official Members are only stepping stones in an official

career ; the occupants may be resident for a longer or a shorter period in the

Colony, and for them to form an opinion on any question which arises, different

from that decided upon by the Government in Executive Council , is to risk a con

flict with the Governor, and they are therefore compelled to vote on occasions

contrary to their convictions.

Your Petitioners humbly represent that to Malta, Cyprus, Mauritius, British

Honduras, and other Crown Colonies, more liberal forms of Government than those

enjoyed by your Petitioners have been given : unofficial seats in the Executive

Council ; unofficial majorities in the Legislative Council ; power of election of

Members of Council ; and more power and influence in the management of purely

local affairs : in none of these Colonies are the commercial and industrial interests

of the same magnitude or importance as those of Hongkong. Your Petitioners,

therefore , pray your Honourable House to grant them the same or similar privileges.

Your Petitioners fully recognise that in a Colony so peculiarly situated on the

borders of a great Oriental Empire, and with a population largely composed of

aliens whose traditional and family interests and racial sympathies largely remain

in that neighbouring Empire, special legislation and guardianship are required.

Nor are they less alive to the Imperial position of a Colony which is at once a

frontier fortress and a naval depôt, the headquarters of Her Majesty's fleet, and

the base for naval and military operations in these Far Eastern waters ; and they

are not so unpractical as to expect that unrestricted power should be given to any

local Legislature, or that the Queen's Government could ever give up the paramount

control of this important dependency. All your Petitioners claim is the common

right of Englishmen to manage their local offairs, and control the expenditure

of the Colony, where Imperial considerations are not involved.

At present your Petitioners are subject to legislation issuing from the Imperial

Parliament, and all local legislation must be subsidiary to it. Her Majesty the

Queen in Council has full and complete power and authority to make laws for the

island, and local laws must be approved and assented to by the Governor in the

name of the Queen , and are subject to disallowance by Her Majesty on the recom.

mendation of Her Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Your Petitioners recognise the necessity and propriety of the existence of these

checks and safeguards against the abuse of any power and authority exercised by

any local Legislature, and cheerfully acquiesce in their continuance and effective

exercise, but respectfully submit that, subject to these checks and safeguards, they

ought to be allowed the free election of representatives of British nationality in the

Legislative Council of the Colony ; a majority in the Council of such elected

representatives ; perfect freedom of debate for the Official Menibers, with power to

vote according to their conscientious convictions without being called to account or

endangered in their positions by their votes ; complete control in the Council over

local expenditure ; the management of local affairs ; and a consultative voice in

questions of an Imperial character.

This power to control purely local affairs is but the common

right of every Englishman, and to deny it to Hongkong—the



absolute authority of the Crown over all purely Imperial

matters being safeguarded—is without a shadow of justifica

tion. Besides being signed , as I have said, by ninety per cent.

of the British ratepayers, this petition bas the strongest

support of the entire Chinese community, who pay nine- tenths

of the whole taxation. The inhabitants of Hongkong claim

that nothing could have shown more clearly the necessity for

municipal government than the muddle made by the Govern

ment in dealing with the plague. This cost Hongkong a

million dollars, thousands of lives, many thousands of its

Chinese inhabitants, and inflicted a loss hardly calculable upon

its vast shipping interests. Much of all this, it is declared,

could have been saved by proper management. As an example

of a state of things against which the Hongkong press and the

unofficial members of Council have constantly protested , it may

be pointed out that at this most critical period of the Colony's

history it was administered by a Government most of whose

officials were “ acting " men, and many of them , therefore,

necessarily less competent than the holders of their offices

should be. “ Why is it,” asked the Daily Press, “ that so large

a number of officials can claim leave all at once ? It should

not be possible for any administration to become so depleted of

its responsible members as this Colony is at the present moment.”

Without the actual list of the “ acting officers the state of

aaffairs would not be believed. It is as follows : Acting Colonial

Secretary, Acting Chief Justice, Acting Puisne Judge, Acting

Attorney General, Acting Director of Public Works (an untried

junior) , Acting Assistant Registrar General (who was really

Acting Registrar General), Acting Clerk of Councils, Acting

Postmaster General, Acting Police Magistrate, Acting Clerk to

Magistrates, Acting Sanitary Superintendent, Acting Superin

tendent of Civil Hospitals, Acting Assessor of Rates , Acting

Registrar, and Acting Deputy Registrar. This list by itself

is enough to show that something is seriously wrong. By

appealing single-handed to the Home Government, over the


heads of the Governor and his officials, Mr. Whitehead has also

obtained the appointment of a Retrenchment Commission, of

which it has been truly remarked that if its recommendations

bear any resemblance to the Report just issued by a similar

Commission in the neighbouring Colony of the Straits Settle

ments, which has recommended economies to the extent of

nearly a quarter of a million dollars per annum , Hongkong will

have reason to be thankful.

Above all other considerations and criticisms, however, it is

the greatness of this outpost on the edge of the Empire that

must always finally recur to any Englishman who has studied

it. I doubt if there can be a more remarkable view in

the world than that of the city of Victoria and the ten

square miles of Hongkong harbour from “ The Peak.” At

night it is as if you had mounted above the stars and

were looking down upon them, for the riding-lights of the

ships seem suspended in an infinite gulf of darkness, while

every now and then the white beam of an electric search -light

flashes like the track of a meteor across a midnight sky. By

day, the city is spread out nearly 2,000 feet directly below you,

and only the ships' decks and their foreshortened masts are

visible, while the whole surface of the harbour is traversed

continually in all directions by fast steam-launches, making

a network of tracks like lacework upon it , as water -spiders

skim over a pool in summer-time. For Hongkong harbour,

as I have said, is the focus of the traffic of the East, though

what this means one cannot realise until one has looked down

many times into its secure blue depths and noted all that

is there—the great mail liners, the P. & 0., the Messageries

Maritimes, the North German Lloyd, the Austrian Lloyd, the

Occidental and Oriental, the Pacific Mail, and the Canadian

Pacific ; the smaller mail packets, to Tongking, to Formosa,

to Borneo, to Manila, and to Siam ; the ocean “ tramps ”

ready to get up steam at a moment's notice and carry any

thing anywhere ; the white-winged sailing-vessels resting after


their long flights; the innumerable high - sterned junks plying

to every port on the Chinese coast ; and all the mailed host of

men -of-war flying every flag under heaven, from the white ensign

of the flagship and the black eagle of its Russian rival, to the

yellow crown of the tiny Portuguese gunboat or the dragon

pennant of China. On one day, the Governor told me, no

fewer than two hundred and forty guns were fired in salutes in

the harbour. All these vessels cross and recross ceaselessly in

Hongkong harbour, living shuttles in the loom of time, bearing

the golden strand of human sympathy and co-operation between

world and world, or like the Zeitgeist in Faust, “ weaving the

garment divinity wears. I am not prepared to say that divinity

would always find itself comfortable in the garment that is woven

in Hongkong, but one thing I can affirm , and that is that a visit

to our furthest Colony makes one proud to belong to the nation

that has created it from nothing, fills the word “ Empire ”

with a new-born meaning, and crystallises around it a set of

fresh convictions and resolves .



RE, a scene oldchronicler,“presen

the voyager saysan

SINGAPO tstotheeyeof

that has repeatedly excited the most

rapturous admiration .” The rapture probably began with the

descendant of Alexander the Great, who — the story goes - came

over from Sumatra and founded it, the first Malay settlement

on the Peninsula, exactly a century after the battle of Hastings,

naming it Singhapura, " The City of the Lion," from a lion -like

beast he saw on landing. Camoens felt the rapture, too, when

he sang

“ But on her Land's end framed see Cingapur,

Where the wide sea-road shrinks to narrow way ;

Thence curves the coast to face the Cynosure,

And lastly trends Auroraward its lay."

And diluted to the thinner consistency of a less impressionable

age, the same rapture is experienced by every traveller who

enters the harbour. But his eye soon falls from the setting of

exquisite green hills to the marvellous multi-coloured wharf of

Babel awaiting the touch of the steamer. There Malay jostles

Chinaman, Kling rubs shoulders with Javanese, Arab elbows

Seedy- boy, and Dyak stares at Bugis, all their dirty bodies

swathed either in nothing to speak of, or else in scarlet and

yellow and blue and gold . Among them a dainty English lady,

come to meet her husband or brother or lover, her eyes full of

laughter or tears, and her face flushed with anticipation, looks



so white and fair and frail that one marvels in pride at the

thought that she and such as she are the mothers of men who

impose the restraints and the incitements of Empire upon the

millions of these dark races of the earth.

If it is unnecessary to describe Shanghai and Hongkong,

because of the hosts of people who visit them and the super

abundance of books which discuss them, still less is it needful

to give a detailed account of Singapore. The Colony, however,

has several points of interest peculiar to itself, besides those

which it shares with other parts of the Far East, and though

a glance at the latter will suffice, the former call for considera

tion at greater length. Singapore is interesting for its remark

ably beautiful situation ; for its history, so full of vicissitudes

and bloodshed until it finally came under the administration of

Bengal in July, 1830—as an example of vicissitudes, Malacca

was captured by us from the Dutch in 1786, restored in 1801 , >

retaken in 1807 , restored in 1818, resumed for good in 1825 ;

for its geographical situation as the extreme southern limit of

continental Asia, and the “ corner " between the Far East and

the rest of the world ; for the fact that it was the first free-trade

port of modern times ; and very interesting, of course, as one

of the keystones of Imperial defence. To a casual observer,

however, Singapore does not present such striking features as

many other places. The business town is two or three miles

away from most of the private residences ; these are not in

groups but in units, each solitary in its own charming grounds ;

you cannot make a call under half an hour's drive, and until

you have learned a little Malay it is a most difficult community

in which to find your way about ; and the Club is practically

closed at seven o'clock, and if you make arrangements to dine

there, your single lighted table only emphasises the surrounding


This evergreen island, almost on the equator, where neither

Christmas nor Midsummer Day brings much change to the

thermometer, and in whose tropical jungles the cobra and


hamadryad live and a stray tiger is occasionally found, is the seat

of a large number of very ticklish problems of government, and

the visitor would be surprised indeed if he could see for a

moment, through the eyes of the Governor of the Straits Settle

ments, the variety and responsibility of the questions requiring

decision and action every day. It is a singularly complicated

problem, to begin with, to govern the city itself, with its six

thousand Europeans and Americans (including the garrison), its

four thousand Eurasians, its four thousand Javanese, its sixteen

thousand Indians, chiefly Klings (natives of India, from the

Coromandel coast) , its thirty thousand Malays, its hundred and

twenty thousand Chinese and all its mixed mass of Bengalis and

Bugis, Jawi Pekans and Boyanese and Burmese, Persians and

Arabs and Dyaks and Manilamen . These native peoples are quiet

enough when left alone, but a single unpopular ordinance is

sufficient to bring them rioting into the streets. A few years

ago Singapore was in the hands of a mob for two days — in fact,

until the government gave way — because it was decided to make

the causeways clear for passengers. The city used to be the

headquarters of several of the principal Chinese Secret Societies,

the most inscrutable and ruthless and law-upsetting organisa

tions in the world . These were suppressed by formal enactment

on the initiative of Sir Cecil Smith , four years ago, and a

“ Chinese Advisory Board ” created to deal with their legitimate

work, but it may well be doubted whether a system to which the

Chinese have an irrepressible tendency has not been made more

secret rather than extirpated. Mr. Wray, the “Protector of

Chinese, ” in his latest report, says that “ sporadic attempts are

still made, and will always be made where Chinese congregate

in large numbers, to start illegal organisations,” but he believes,

or perhaps one should say, hopes , that " secrecy is impossible

amid a heterogeneous society like ours, and incessant vigilance

and prompt action on the part of the Chinese Protectorate are

all that is necessary in such cases.” The chief societies were

the Ghee Hin, the Gbee Hok, and the Hok Hin. The former


was the original and the most powerful one , and when it was

suppressed, after great difficulty and many disputes among its

members concerning the distribution of its property, its

membership in Singapore was thirty thousand and in Penang

forty thousand. The other two have been “ registered " and

permitted, as they are ostensibly only Chinese mutual benefit

societies. There is still not the slightest doubt, however, that

they stand between their members and the foreign law. Profes

sional bailers attend the courts to bail out any member of their

society, and they help their members in all sorts of ways to flee

from justice. A chapter, and a most romantic one too, might

be written about these societies. They have, for example, the

most elaborate system of signs for mutual recognition. One of

them bases its signs upon the numeral three. At table, a

member wishing to make himself known to any fellow -member

present places three glasses together in a certain way, or passes

a cup of tea held peculiarly with three fingers. A man fleeing

from justice and praying for refuge , puts his shoes outside

another's house, side by side, with the heels turned towards the

door . If the owner turns one shoe over on the other, the

fugitive knows he can take refuge there. In spite of the sup

pression, I fancy that Hoan Cheng Hol Beng— “ Upset Cheng,"

the present Manchu dynasty of China, “ restore Beng,” the

former dynasty - still has a magic and compelling significance in

Singapore, for these are the pass-words of the famous Triad

Society , which honeycombs China and has more than once put

the throne in terror . The Triad consists of the characters

Thien Tay Hoey— “ Heaven , Earth , Man."

To appreciate Singapore as a city of Orientals , one must

spend a day or two in the native quarters, and this is just what

the ordinary visitor fails to do . From this point of view it

is certainly one of the most astonishing.communities in the

world . To begin with , it is enormous . For days you may

wander about without ever turning on your track , through miles

upon miles of semi-native houses and shops, through crowded


streets , in variegated bazaars, with all the merchandise of all

the East spread out endlessly before you . Each race has its

own quarter—there is “ Kampong Malacca,” “ Kampong Kling,"

“ Kampong Siam ," " Kampong China.” In one spot you are

dazzled with the silks of India ; in another the sarongs of Java

are spread out like aà kaleidoscope ; in another you are suffoca

ted with an indescribable mixture of Eastern scents ; in another

an appalling stench meets you, strange rainbow-like birds utter

raucous cries, and the long thin hairy arm of a gorilla is

stretched out between bamboo bars in deceptive friendliness ;

in another there is such a packed mass of boats that

you hardly know when your foot has left dry land. And all

this mixed humanity exists in order and security and sanita

tion, living and thriving and trading, simply because of the

presence of English law and under the protection of the British

flag. Remove that piece of bunting from Government House,

and all that it signifies, and the whole community would go to

pieces like a child's sand-castle when the tide rises. Its three

supports are free trade, fair taxation , and even- handed justice

among white, black, brown and yellow, and these exist in the

Far East under the British flag alone. At least, I have been

almost everywhere else without finding them . Of course, in all

this the Chinese enormously preponderate. The foolish opinion

is sometimes heard at home that this Chinese community

represents China — that it is a specimen of what China may

become , a standing bond of union between ourselves and China.

The very opposite is the case. This community has grown up

and exists precisely because it is not China—because the con

ditions of its existence are precisely the antithesis of Chinese

conditions . The Straits Chinaman would not exchange his

British nationality for anything else in the world ; he plays

cricket, football, and lawn tennis ; he has his annual athletic

sports ; the recreation ground, and indeed every open space, is

covered in the afternoons with Chinese engaged in these games ;

he goes to the Free Library and he reads the pewspaper ; be


attends a Debating Society and he carries off prizes at the

Raffles School ; he eats foreign food and imitates foreign vices.

When he has prospered he drives through the streets in a

carriage and pair with a European coachman on the box. He

knows that he is the equal of the Englishman before the law,

and considers that he is slightly superior to him in other

respects . He looks upon the Civil Service as his servants, upon

the Governor as his ruler, upon the forts as his protection, upon

the whole place as his home. A Chinaman is one of the most

influential members of the Legislative Council ,

Mr. George C. Wray, the Protector of Chinese, whom I have

already quoted above, writes as follows in his last report : “ We

have developed an ever-growing, permanent, law-abiding, Straits

born population , who are proud of being British subjects, give

their children a liberal English education, and are rapidly con

solidating themselves into a distinctive, loyal subject -race, of

whose abilities and behaviour our Government may well be

proud .” The number of these Straits-born Chinese, according

to the census of 1891, was 12,805 in Singapore, and 31,757 for

the whole Colony, and they are rapidly increasing. The

business of the European firms- and this is true of almost the

whole Far East - could not be carried on for a week without

their Chinese “ shroffs," " compradors," and clerks. Between

the census of 1881 and that of 1891 the Chinese inhabitants of

Singapore had increased from 86,766 to 121,908. During the

year 1893 there were no fewer than 144,558 Chinese immigrants

into Singapore alone, to say nothing of the 68,751 who went to

Penang, to which the same remarks apply. It is therefore not

surprising that even the lethargic Chinese Imperial Govern

ment has at last been struck with this new and strange China

growing up under a foreign flag, and that it has despatched

commissioners to inquire into the reasons why Chinese who

make money in the Straits never come back to their own land,

and bas published an invitation to its self-exiled citizens to return ,

and an order to its own officials to refrain from interfering with


them when they do so. The hilarious scorn , however, with

which this invitation has been received, and the almost brutal

frankness of the reasons given in reply to the inquiries , show at

the same time the value the well-governed Chinaman sets upon

bis privileges, and his opinion of the prospects of reform - even

when backed by Imperial command—in his native land . Even

to the Chinese woman who is a prostitute in China, Singapore

is by comparison a paradise. Mr. Wray says : “ There being

no supervision or means of redress in China, women of the

lower classes better themselves by coming to a land where debt

slavery is not tolerated and where the mere act of reporting to

the nearest official means immediate freedom .” *

* It would not be fitting to discuss here the whole question of the relations of the

prostitute class to the Colonial authorities, but I must put my opinion on record

somewhere in this book. I am profoundly convinced , after much study of statistics

and careful investigation into the question in the Far East, that the action of

Parliament and the Colonial Office in over-riding the repeated requests and protests

of the highest and most responsible local authorities is so seriously wrong that the

word “ blunder " is wholly inadequate to describe it. From the point of view of

morality it is as wrong as from the point of view of administration it is improper.

The conditions of life and character are so utterly different in Europe and Asia that

any comparison between them for the purpose of justifying recent legislation is not

only impossible but absolutely ridiculous. Whut may be wise and imperative laws

for the women of Europe , may quite well be wrong in every respect for the women

of Asia. Hongkong and Singapore were in this respect two of the healthiest com.

munities in the world ; they are rapidly becoming , if indeed they are not already,

centres for the propagation and distribution of pestilence. From this the native

society and the British garrisons suffer in identical proportions. As for the fate

of the unfortunate women themselves, the pen of Dante would be required to

describe what it will soon become again . To the familiar horrors of the slave

trade, add an equal amount of other and indescribable horror, and you will have

some notion of what life will be for the thousands of Chinese women under the British

flag but without its protection. Anybody who desires to inform himself upon the

normal condition of Eastern prostitutes should pursue inquiries into the lot of the

young women who are sold into this slavery, even by the female members of the

Siamese royal family, and who pass a great part of their lives in the district of Bangkok

known as Sampeng, behind barred windows and padlocked doors , from which they

never emerge until, dead or alive, they leave the place for good. The action of

Parliament and the Colonial Office has simply condemned thousands of Chinese

women to a fate of almost unimaginable woe , from a great part of which they were

previously shielded. As the Protector of Chinese in Singapore says , to suppress

the evil altogether is utterly impossible, though it may be greatly mitigated. All

that this legislation does to afford a certain relief to the consciences of partially

informed people at home, at the cost of enormous and unnecessary suffering to


The Straits Settlements, which were incorporated as a Crown

Colony in 1867, having previously been under the jurisdiction of

the East India Company, consist of the large island of Singapore;

the smaller island of Penang ; Malacca and Province Wellesley

on the mainland ; another strip of territory and the island of

Pangkor - together known as the Dindings ; the Cocos Islands,

and Christmas Island . The three latter call for no special

mention ; Province Wellesley is a sugar-growing district, which

may become of importance if a railway runs into the inland

side of it ; and Malacca is reposing, after its varied history

and its former prosperity as the outlet of the products of the

Peninsula, in a condition of peaceful stagnation. Its colourless

condition is well typified by its sole product-tapioca, produced

in large quantities by Chinese labour and capital . Commercially,

as the Governor bas recently said , it is “ a mere suburb of

Singapore,” and it will remain so until the Chinese develop its

strip of very fertile land, which its own Malay inhabitants are

far too lazy to do. Camoens wrote of—

“ Malacca's market grand and opulent,

Whither each Province of the long seaboard

Shall send of merchantry rich varied hoard . "

Three centuries ago Malacca was “ the great emporium of

the Eastern Archipelago ." But its walls were “ blown up

at great expense in 1807," and its history virtually ceased

long ago. There are compensations, however, for the quaint

and quiet little place , for its Resident Councillor has just

described it as " aa favourable example of a prosperous agri

cultural district, where crime is almost unknown and the

people are happy and contented .” Penang, on the contrary,

has been a discontented community lately. Singapore has

many thousands of natives in the Colonies. And it is of no use for the people who

hold a contrary opinion to denounce those who express this one, having formed it

after conscientious inquiries favoured by unusual opportunities.

Lucas : “ Historical Geography of the British Colonies," I. 107–a work of

which it wou'd be in possible to speak too highly.


inevitably taken away much of the advantageous trade Penang

formerly enjoyed with the neighbouring Protected States ;

it claims that it has contributed more than its fair share

toward Colonial expenditure, and received less for its own

purposes ; and it has been refused the large amount it desired

for the erection of wharves. Much bitterness between the two

chief partners in the Colony has thus been aroused, and a

wordy war in paper and pamphlet, and even in Parliament, has

followed. The Government also declined to grant the Royal

Commission of inquiry which Penang desired. According to the

Acting Governor's annual report, however, this discussion is now

at an end. Mr. Maxwell writes : " A number of real or supposed

grievances were also ventilated , but when the chief ground of

complaint had been proved by a reference to statistics to be

without foundation , the agitation, to which some of the Penang

Chinese had somewhat blindly given their support, rapidly died

away .” It is probable that the growing influence of the Chinese,

which is even truer of Penang than of Shanghai or Hongkong,

and the great depression of trade, were as much as anything

else the causes of the discontent of Penang. Last year the

expenditure of the municipality exceeded the revenue by 17,000

dols . , and the cash balance was reduced from 24,107 to 6,860

dols. , while its municipal indebtedness is 350,000 dols. This,

however, is a very small matter compared with the fact that

the revenue of Penang, as a whole, has increased yearly since

the “ low - water mark " of 1891 by 3,000,000 dols. , and this

although no new sources of revenue have been established. And

the figures of Penang's trade, 87,603,854 dols., are the highest

for the past five years . The outlook, therefore, does not warrant

any particular depression of spirits. In regard to the question

of municipal expenditure (for all parts of the Straits Settlements

have their municipalities, unlike Hongkong, which is still in

official leading -strings), I may add that in every case, and not


in that of Penang alone, the expenditure last year exceeded the

revenue. With regard to Singapore, a few statistics are of much


interest. The total trade for 1893, excluding the movements of

treasure, was 260,982,169 dols . , an increase over 1892 of more

than 26,000,000 dols. In spite of this, however,, owing to the

depreciation of silver, these same figures for the two years,

translated into sterling at the average rates for each year, give

£37,135,141 for 1892, and £36,769,590 for 1893—a silver

increase of 26,000,000 dols. thus appearing as a gold decrease

of £365,551 ! It would be difficult to find a more striking

object-lesson of the position of a silver-using colony in regard

to a gold-using mother country. That the trade of Singapore

is healthy enough, apart from the question of silver, is evident

from the shipping returns, wbich were 6,944,346 tons entered

and cleared in 1893 , an increase of nearly half a million tons

over 1892.

In the finances of Singapore, however, one question far out

weighs in importance, both Imperial and Colonial , all others

that of the military contribution . Upon this matter Singapore

has been on the verge of revolt - bardly too strong an expression

to describe the bitterness aroused in the Colony by the action of

the home authorities . This is the more to be regretted since to

an outsider studying the dispute it seems eminently one which

could have been amicably settled by a compromise. When the

Straits Settlements desired to be removed from the jurisdiction

of India in 1867 , and formed into a Crown Colony, the British

Government assented on the understanding that the Colony should

bear the cost of its own defence. At this time, however, there

was a distinction made between the troops and their accommoda

tion at Singapore, Malacca , and Penang, for the defence of those

places ; and other troops and their cost and accommodation at

Singapore, for Imperial purposes — the latter being maintained

by the home Government. Up to 1890, the Colony had paid

a yearly contribution of £50,145 towards its defence, but in

that year the Secretary of State for the Colonies suddenly de

manded that the contribution be raised at once to £ 100,000 per

annum , with an addition, first, of £28,976, being one-half of the


alleged loss of the Imperial Treasury by exchange on previous

payments ; and second, of an indefinite sum for further barracks.

Now here, beyond any possible doubt, the Colonial Office made

an initial blunder. Admitting that an increased contribution

was necessary, and admitting that the sum asked for was entirely

just, to send a peremptory demand that it be voted immediately

by the Legislative Council, without having extended the courtesy

of an inquiry beforehand as to the views of the Colony upon

a matter so seriously affecting its income, was an act to arouse

resentment in the most loyal community in the world . Its

instant result might have been foreseen by the least imagi

native person . The Governor of the Straits, Sir Cecil Smith ,

passed the vote as ordered. “ For my own part,” he wrote to

Lord Knutsford, “ I found myself wholly unable to conscien

tiously support the justice of all the claims which Her Majesty's

Government had made, and the same views which I held were

shared in by every member of my Council . My instructions,

however, were perfectly clear, and I had to require each member

of the Executive Council to vote against his conviction and in

suj port of the claims of Her Majesty's Government." And

in reporting the vote, he wrote : “ It is very important that I

should not omit to point out that the course which has been

followed on this occasion has placed the Executive in very

strained relations with the Legislative authority, and has tenled

to imperil good government. The constituted authorities in this

Colony have been required by Her Majesty's Government to meet

a money claim without having had an opportunity of having

their views on the justice and correctness of the claim considered .

Such a case is, so far as I am aware, wholly without precedent.”

In studying the history of British colonial administration, the

student occasionally comes across acts on the part of the mother

country which might have been inspired by some demon of mis

chief, so deliberately unfortunate do they seem. The method of

this demand is one of them .

Protests, appeals, minutes, and resolutions of public meetings,


were of no avail, and Lord Knutsford simply replied that “ Her

Majesty's Government would have been glad if they could bave

allowed themselves to be influenced by arguments put forward


so temperately and so fully; " and somewhat sarcastically added

he had learnt " with satisfaction " that the Colony had included

a similar vote in the estimates for the ensuing year. For the

four years ending December 31 , 1893 , therefore, the Straits

paid a regular contribution of £100,000 a year, during which

time the Colonial revenue was further decreased by depression of

trade and dislocated by the fall of silver. Public works in the

Colony had to be abandoned, and almost imperative improve

ments postponed , and at last a loan had actually to be raised.

“ The financial arrangements," said Sir Cecil Smith to his

Legislative Council on October 15, 1891 , “ have been completely


upset ; and although every endeavour has been made, and is

being made, to reduce our expenditure, it has been found

necessary , in order to meet our liabilities, to dispose of all our

realisable assets-namely, the investments in gold amounting

to 1,013,762 dols., and in Indian stock amounting to 350,000

dols.” Even this state of things did not move the stony heart

of the home authorities, and the people of Singapore made one

more desperate set of appeals at the beginning of 1894 , wben

the first series of payments came to an end . In response the

Colonial Office removed £10,000 by way of solatium, and added

£20,000 for additional barrack accommodation—thus meeting

the appeals of the Colony by raising the total contribution for

the present year from £100,000 to £ 110,000 !

A little calculation shows the situation of the Straits Settle

ments to be as follows :—The revenue of the Colony for last

year was 3,706,308 dols . , an increase on 1892. Its expenditure

was 3,915,482 dols. , a decrease from 1892. Thus there was a

deficit of 209,174 dols . The military contribution is therefore

increased at a time when there is positively a financial deficit.

To see, however, how bad the case really is , we must look at

the effect of the depreciation of silver. The average Singapore


exchange at sight of the Mexican dollar for 1892 was 28. 10%d . At

the moment of writing it is 28.1fd. To remit £ 100,000 to London

in sterling during 1892 would therefore have cost the Colony ( say)

700,000 dols.; to remit the same sum home to -day would cost

932,000 dols. That is, the military contribution of the Colony

has risen between 1892 and 1894 by 232,000 dols. , apart from

any act of either the British Government or the Colonial

authorities. Finally, the amount to be paid during the present

year, at the present rate of exchange, is 1,025,200 dols . - rather

more than twenty -seven and a half per cent. of the total revenue

of the Colony ! It is hardly surprising that such a state of things

" tends to imperil good government."

Yet, as I have said, the question at issue seems one which

should be settled without much difficulty on the time-honoured

principle of give and take. Everybody admits, to begin with,

that each part of the Empire ought to bear its proper share of

the defence of the whole. Unfortunately , many parts escape doing

80. Singapore, on the contrary, has always been eager to subscribe

its proportion . Lord Knutsford will remember, I am sure, how

in the famous confidential Colonial Conference of 1887 he held

up Singapore as a shining example to the lagging Australian

colonies. The Secretary of State bases his claim upon the

“ colossal trade ” of Singapore. The Colony retorts that at

least three-quarters of this trade merely passes through the

harbour on its way to other parts of the Far East, and that

therefore it is Imperial trade and not local. This is an indis

putable fact. Lord Knutsford wrote : “ The large stores of

coal which your trade requires , of themselves invite attack .”

Singapore replies, first, that this coal belongs to ship-owners in

London, and that therefore it is they who should be asked to

pay for its defence ; second, that it is used chiefly for the transit

trade aforesaid ; and third, that by common consent and the

definite statement of a Royal Commission, Singapore is an Im

perial coaling station second in importance only to the Cape

itself. And I may here remind the Colonial Office that when



the Russian “ scare " broke out in 1885 , the home authorities

instantly telegraphed to the Governor of Singapore asking how

much coal was there . He replied, 200,000 tons ; whereupon

they fell into a panic lest the Russians should get it and our

ships be deprived of it, and telegraphed in all directions for

ships to go and guard it. And this was the origin of Imperial

interest in the speedy and efficient arming of Singapore. The

Colonial Office has made one very misleading statement in

this controversy, namely, that the batteries of Singapore were

armed with heavier guns at the special request of one of its

own officials. But this official was, at the time of his recommen

dation, lent by the Colony to the Imperial Government, and was

therefore an Imperial officer, acting in the interests of the Empire

as a whole. Singapore is, of course, a link of the greatest value in

the armed chain of Empire. Without it, or some similar place not

far away, Great Britain could not pretend to hold her position in

the Far East. On the other hand, the Colony has been hitherto

a very flourishing one. In it, therefore, Imperial and local

interests are pretty well divided . This is exactly what the

Colony says. It has built forts (which were kept waiting a

long time for their guns) at a cost of £81,000 ; it has

paid £28,976 to recoup the Imperial Treasury for loss on ex

change ; for four years it has contributed £100,000 a year,

though its, allowance of troops has generally been below the

strength promised ; and now, though its revenue shows a deficit

and its public works and imperative improvements are at a

standstill, it offers to pay gladly one-half the cost of its defence,

say £ 70,000 a year, notwithstanding the augmentation of this sum

by the ceaseless fall of silver. If this is not a fair and indeed

a thoroughly loyal offer, then facts and figures have no value,

and the people of Singapore are right when they declare that

the home Government exacts this contribution simply because

the Colony is able to pay it , and for no other reason whatever .

Before the British Government finally refuses the appeal of the

Colony, let the authorities ask themselves what would be their


feelings if the inhabitants of the Straits Settlements absolutely

refused to pay it, and requested that the forts which they them

selves bave built should be dismantled and the garrison with

drawn. This has already been suggested . When the despair

in Singapore was at its height, I asked a highly -placed official at

home if there were anything more the Colony could possibly do

or say to avert their fate. “" No," he replied, " the matter is

settled --unless, perhaps, they were to do one thing.” “ What


is that ? " I asked eagerly. “ Shoot the Governor," he said .

The joke was heightened by the fact that there never was a

more deservedly popular governor than Sir Cecil Smith. There

are less desperate steps than this , however, in the power of

any Colony, which would still be very disturbing to the Colonial

Office ; and while we are straining the loyalty of Hongkong in

one direction by refusing it the measure of self- government

which its neighbours possess, it is to be hoped that we shall

not strain that of Singapore too much in another direction.

Our pride in these propugnacula imperii should be too great

to permit us to treat them unfairly .




N point of size the Straits Settlements are dots on the map of

INthe Malay Peninsula. One dot is Singapore ; a little way up

the coast Malacca is another ; still following the coast the Dind

ings form a third ; Penang and Province Wellesley are two more.

Around and beyond these is a vast expanse of country of which

Europe may be said to know virtually nothing. Yet the lower

part of it is the scene of a successful experiment in government

second in interest to none in the world, while of the upper part,

Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace's statement made in 1869 that “ to the

ordinary Englishman this is perhaps the least known part of the

globe "” is still literally true.* Omitting the Straits Settlements

the Malay Peninsula may be said to be divided into two parts by >

what has been aptly called “ the Siamese bunga mas line," that

is, to the north of the line lie the great Malay States whose in

dependence is only impaired by their annual offering to the

Siamese Government of the bunga mas -- " Golden Flower " -in

acknowledgment of nominal suzerainty. It is the latter which are

still as unfamiliar as the remotest parts of Africa to the foreign

explorer, and the journey I made through several of them, some

parts of which covered ground visited by no white man before,

* An admirable little handbook , edited by Capt. Foster, R.E. , and issued in 1891


by the Intelligence Division of the War Office, under the title “ Précis of Informa.

tion concerning the Straits Settlements and the Native States of the Malay Penin

sula , ” should be better known than it is. Its information about the native States

is very meagre, but Capt. Foster conscientiously collected all that was then

accessible. Very few Europeans have travelled there.



will be found described in later chapters. It is the so-called

Protected Malay States lying between these semi-independent,

unknown regions and the flourishing British Colony discussed in

the preceding chapter, that I propose to consider here.

If the traveller from Singapore should embark on a steamer

and land at one of several ports along the coast without any

previous knowledge of the existence of the Protected States , he

would be greatly puzzled to explain his environment. He would

arrive at a perfectly appointed foreign wharf ; his landing would

be supervised by a detachment of smart Sikh and Malay police ;

he would buy a ticket exactly as at a small country station at

home, and be conveyed to the capital town by aa line of admirably

managed railway. There he would find himself in a place of

tropical picturesqueness and European administration. Man

grove and bamboo-clump, coconut palm and sago - tree, would

meet his eye on every side ; Malay in sarong and baju, Kling in loin

cloth and turban, Chinaman in the unvarying dress of his race ,

and Englishman in helmet and white duck, would rub shoulders

with him in the street ; the long-horned , slow -stepping buffalo

harnessed to a creaking waggon , and the neat pony -cart of his

native land, would pass him in alternation ; he would drive away

along streets metalled and swept in foreign fashion and lined

with buildings of Eastern material and Western shape. This,

he would say, is not a British Colony, it is not a native king

dom : what is it ? The answer would be, It is one of those

political anomalies, a Protected State of the Malay Peninsula.

Of these there are five - Perak, Selangor, Sungei Ujong and

Jelebu, Pahang, and the Negri Sembilan. Each was formerly

a Malay State or congeries of States, and is now a British

possession in all except the name. To each a British Resident

is appointed, who is nominally the adviser to a Malay ruler, but

practically administrator of the whole State , subordinate only to

the Governor of the Straits Settlements and the Secretary of

State for the Colonies. Each Protected State is theoretically

ruled by a Council of State consisting of the Sultan , his


“ adviser, " the British Resident, several of the principal chiefs

of the former, and the higher administrative officers of the

latter. This meets perhaps half a dozen times a year to give

final sanction to new laws and changes of local policy. Its

meetings, however, are merely formal, since, although the

Sultan might be consulted as a matter of courtesy upon a

new law affecting natives, it is out of his power to place any

effective opposition in the way of an ordinance drawn up by the

Resident and approved by the two superior authorities I have

mentioned. The Sultans receive a liberal allowance from the

finances of the States for their personal expenses, and their

principal officers either receive a proportionate allowance or a

salary if they perform under the British Resident any of the

duties of government. These five States have become pro

tectorates in the familiar and inevitable method of Imperial

expansion - in several cases at their own request. Perak re

ceived a Resident in 1874 in consequence of a prolonged series

of hostilities between rival groups of Chinese tin- miners, in the

course of which British interests and investments were jeopar

dised . The first Resident was Mr. JW. W. Birch, who was

treacherously murdered in the following year. The Perak War,

which followed, will be remembered by many people. Three

native officials who bad planned the murder were hanged , and

others, including Sultan Abdullah , were banished to the Sey

chelles. The protection of Selángor and Sungei Ujong dates

also from 1874, and was equally due to internecine warfare.

The large State of Pahang was for many years a thorn in the

side of these two, owing to the disorderly condition of its

inhabitants and the hostility of the Raja towards British sub

jects. This culminated in the unprovoked murder of a China

man, a British subject , in the streets of Pekan , the capital , in

1888. Whereupon the Colonial Government, at the limit of its

patience, placed the State under British protection. The fifth,

in order of time, the Negri Sembilan-two Malay words mean

ing simply " nine countries " - quarrelled among themselves to


the destruction of their prosperity and begged to be taken under

British protection in 1889, which was done.

The change in the condition of each State as it was removed

from native maladministration and placed under British con

trol has been one of the most astounding spectacles in the his

tory of the British Empire. Pahang, as I shall explain later,

lags behind the rest , but the others have surpassed the

condition of even the Protected States of India, and present

most of the features of a British Colony in a population

composed entirely of Malays and Chinese. They possess

hospitals , both paying and for paupers , leper hospitals , lunatic

asylums , and dispensaries ; there is a State store , a State

factory, and even State brick - fields ; there are sanitary boards

and savings banks , fire brigades and printing offices ; water

works , roads , and railways ; post offices, telephones , and tele

graphs ; schools and police ; and vaccination , which is compulsory ,

though there is no necessity for compulsion , is performed with

“ buffalo lymph ," obtained from the Pasteur Institute in Saigon .

Order is preserved by forces of Sikhs linked with an equal

strength of Malays , and all the duties of administration are

carried out under the Resident by a mere handful of Europeans,

forming an uncovenanted civil service, directing a native staff.

The revenues have risen by almost incredible leaps ; two of the

States have large credit balances . One hundred and forty miles

of railway have been built by them, and their extraordinary

prosperity shows no sign of diminution . As Sir Andrew Clarke

has said, “ The result of our policy of adventure is one of which

England may well be proud . A country of which in 1873 there

was no map whatever , has been thrown open to the enterprise of

the world . Ages of perpetual fighting and bloodshed have ended

in complete tranquillity and contentment." All this has been

accomplished by the administrative genius of literally a score of

Englishmen .

To exhibit the condition of the Protected States at a glance

and thus save much unnecessary description, I have compiled


the following table, which shows the area, population , revenue

(with its increase) , expenditure, volume of trade (with its increase),

and the present credit or debit balance in the assets and liabili

ties of each State . With two exceptions marked below the

figures are all taken from the Residents ' reports for the

year 1893 .







Dollars . OVER OVER

miles . (1891 ) 1892 .

Dollars. Dollars. 1892 .


Dollars .

PERAK 10,000 214,254 3,034,094 344,528 2,395,539 24,687,923 2,968,124 + 444,534

SELANGOR 3,500 81,592 2,765,351 629,903 | 2,605,588 19,546,459 4,092,375 +1.090,239


AND JELEBU 1,660 23,602 388,976 84,972 376,562 4,304,107 622,617 195,689

( 1892)

PAHANG 10,000 57,462 83,688 83,644 278,892 672,869



NEGRI SEMBILAN 2,000 41,617 130,938 12,989 182,067 No returns. 257,354

From this table it will be seen that Perak ** is at the head of

the Protected States . Its area is much greater than any except

Pahang, its population is nearly three times that of any other,

and its revenue and volume of trade are much larger. Its

credit balance has been reduced chiefly by heavy and at present

unproductive expenditure in extending its railway system , of

which sixty- eight miles are now open for traffic. Perak has

been called the “ child of Penang,” but much more truly should

it be called the child of the two enlightened men who have in

turn directed its administration, first, Sir Hugh Low , and

from 1884 to 1886 , and from 1889 to the present time, Mr.

F. A. Swettenham . The former of these set Perak on the

right road, and to the foresight and administrative ability of

the latter the present happy condition of the State is largely

due. Mr. Swettenham has been connected with Perak since it

* The word perak (of which the last letter is not pronounced) in Malay means

" silver.” There is , however, no silver found in the State , and the word is supposed

to refer to the silver - like masses of tin which are its principal product.


came under British influence . He was three times sent on

special missions there in 1874. He took an active combatant

part in the Perak War, and with Lieutenant Abbott and a

handful of men defended the Residency, after the assassination

of Mr. Birch in 1875 , until it was relieved by British troops sent

hastily from Singapore, for which service he was three times

mentioned in despatches. At the conclusion of the war he was

placed in charge of the Residency for a time in succession to

Mr. Birch . He is one of the two or three best Malay scholars

living, and his annual Reports are models of administrative

ability. As an example of the progress of Perak the following

passage from the report to the Resident by the magistrate of

the district of Kinta is instructive : - " The advancement of this

district is almost incredible. Ten years ago it was little more

than a vast stretch of jungle, unapproachable except by a

shallow and rapid river, and possessing not a single mile of

first - class cart-road nor a village of any importance.” During

the year, 4,492 acres of mining land were taken up, and

822 acres of agricultural land ; 15,847 acres of mining land

and 2,958 acres of agricultural land were about to be

assigned to applicants ; 29,143 acres of land had been applied

for, and fresh applications poured in every day. Mr. Swetten

ham has proposed a scheme for the irrigation of 50,000 acres of

rice- growing land, and experts lent by the Indian Government

reported favourably upon it. The First Battalion of the Perak

Sikhs, which has a strength of 685 of all arms, has attained

a high pitch of discipline and efficiency under Lieut.-Colonel

Walker, and conducted itself with great credit on several

occasions when it has had to take the field, especially in

suppressing the recent revolt in Pahang.

In Selángor, substitute for the name of Mr. Swettenham

that of Mr. W. E. Maxwell , at present Colonial Secretary

in Singapore, and the history of the State might be told

in the same words. It has a yearly trade of over twenty

millions of dollars, and possesses in its treasury or on loan to


other States balance of over a million . During the past

year no fewer than 47,773 Chinese immigrants arrived within

its borders . Its railway pays over 12 } per cent. interest , and

would have paid more , as Mr. W. H. Treacher, the present

Resident, explains, but for a deficiency of rolling stock, owing

to the traffic having increased beyond expectation, Selangor

has always been the rival of Perak in the race for the best show

of prosperity, and it is difficult to say to which the palm belongs.

The allied States of Sungei Ujong and Jelebu are administered

by an Officer -in - Charge, who reports to the Resident of Selangor.

The total number of tin - mines in these two States is 150,

covering 4,176 acres, and employing 4,000 Chinese miners , and

Sungei Ujong contains the most flourishing example of coffee

plantation in the Peninsula. This is the Linsum Estate , and

its crop in 1893, upon 210 acres, some not in full bearing, was

no less than 94,796 lbs. of clean coffee. The Negri Sembilan

occupy the district between the last-named and Malacca, and

have already attained a sufficient degree of prosperity to enable

them to pay the interest upon their loan. In these States,, as

the Resident writes, “ a population of 40,000 Malays is con

trolled by three Europeans and a few police,” the remainder of

the police being required for the Chinese coolies at work in the

mines and on the estates .

The story of Pabang, the great State which extends from the

borders of all the above to the eastern coast of the Peninsula,

is unfortunately a very different one. When it was taken under

British authority its population was reduced to almost the

lowest level by Oriental rule. Mr. Rodger, the first Resident,

described its condition prior to his arrival in 1888, in the

following words : - “ A system of taxation under which every

necessary as well as every luxury of life was heavily taxed ; law

courts in which the procedure was the merest mockery of justice,

the decisions depending solely on the relative wealth or influence

of the litigant, and where the punishments were utterly bar .

barous ; a system of debt -slavery under which not only the


debtor but his wife and their most remote descendants were

condemned to hopeless bondage ; an unlimited corvée, cr

forced labour for indefinite periods, and entirely without re

muneration ; the right of the Raja to compel all female

children to pass through his harem - àa right which has

desolated almost every household in the neighbourhood of

Pekan ,-such are some of the more striking examples, although

the list is by no means exhaustive , of administrative misrule

in a State within less than twenty -four hours of Singapore, and

immediately adjoining the two Protected States of Perak and

Selangor. The condition of the Pahang ryot may be briefly

expressed by stating that he had practically no rights, whether

of person or property, not merely in his relations with the Raja,


but even in those with his immediate District Chief, "

The distances in the State are enormous, and no means of

communication existed, while the most promising part was that

situated a considerable distance from the sea-board, around the

headwaters of a river rendered almost unnavigable by rapids.

The Sultan , moreover, a man of violent and depraved character,

conspired secretly against the authority of the Resident while

openly professing to support him. Two revolts subsequently

broke out, each of which had to be suppressed at great expense

and by prolonged fighting, with the result of plunging the State

heavily in debt to its neighbours and the Colonial Government.

To add to its embarrassment, during the year before the

arrival of the Resident, the Sultan had given away vast tracts

of his territory in concessions to Europeans, who used them

for speculative purposes, as thousands of investors in England

have good reason to know. Enormous districts were thus shut

out from native or Chinese development, while the European

concessionnaires were endeavouring to dispose of them for pre

posterous sums. One of the first acts of the Resident was to

give notice that all concessions thus granted , which had not

been actively taken up by a certain date , would be cancelled ,

and accordingly twenty of these were annulled a short time ago .


Owing to the monsoon and the lack of harbour accommodation,

the entrance to the rivers of Pahang is closed from the sea for

nearly half a year, from about November, and the State is only

accessible by a long and difficult overland route, when some

small steamer cannot be found to take the considerable risk of

attempting to cross the bar. During 1899 the pitiful sum of

21,205 dollars was spent on public works, and the whole trade

of Pahang only amounted to 672,869 dollars. Of this the output

of gold was 9,616 ounces, and of tin 265 tons. The only road in

Pahaug is an 8 ft. bridle- path 52 miles in length , which affords

an instructive comparison with the 200 miles of good metalled

roads and the 68 miles of railway of Perak. This State is,

in fact, the “ sick man ” of the British possessions in the

Malay Peninsula . It is heavily in debt, with no prospect of

being able to discharge its liabilities, and all the money that it

can raise is expended on administration , leaving little or nothing

for the Public Works which alone would ensure its development.

Its native inhabitants have suffered so much from their past,

that even in so simple a matter as the procuring of a better

species of rice seed and planting it, Mr. Hugh Clifford, the

present Resident, says, “ they are at once so ignorant and

unenterprising that it would be futile to look to them to take the

initiative in such a matter ." Although the State has thousands

of square miles of extremely fertile land, it imports all the rice

used by the non -agricultural class. During the speculative

period of 1889 , houses were erected at Pekan , beyond any

possible need. At the present moment many of them are

deserted and are actually falling into ruin . The Sultan resides

at Pekan , therefore this is the capital, although the true centre

of the State ought to be moved , as Mr. Clifford shows, in the

very able Report from which I have already quoted , to Kuala

Lipis. In the interior are tribes of semi-wild natives, called

Sakeis and Semangs, who are treated with the greatest bar

barity by the Malays, and for whom British administration has

done nothing. There is undoubtedly great mineral wealth in


Pabang, and the notorious Raub gold mines are at last actually

paying interest upon their capital. Little can be done with

this so long as the present system of administration continues.

The native of Pahang is, of course, in a vastly happier state

than he was seven or eight years ago, and the changes effected

by British rule must be looked for almost entirely, as Mr.

Clifford says, “ not in a vastly improved system of communica

tion , nor yet in a very marked advance in the material prosperity

of the State, but rather in the great improvement noticeable in

the condition of the bulk of the native population." The

fertile and stanniferous lands of Pahang are no better than

those open in Perak and Selangor, and it is therefore unreason

able to expect settlers for the former until all the latter are taken

up. Year after year like the past two or three may go by without

any improvement in Pahang, and therefore, to quote Mr. Clifford

once more, “ no one having the interests of Pahang at heart can

pretend to regard the continued adoption of the present policy

with any degree of satisfaction ." The salvation of this great

tract of the Peninsula must come, if at all, from a much wider

scheme of reform .

The present Sultan of Perak, His Highness Raja Idris ibni

almerhum Raja Iskander Shah , C.M.G. , succeeded on April 5 ,

1889 . He is the twenty-eighth of his dynasty in succession

from Merhum Tanah Abang, who was buried by the Perak

River four hundred years ago. “Before that time,” says Mr.

Swettenham, “ Perak was known as Kastan Zorian , and the

Malays of Perak had not then embraced the religion of Islam .”

His Highness is a man of attractive character and agreeable

presence ; and a conversation I had with him at Kuala Kangsa ,

where he resides, showed him to be a keen and appreciative

observer of foreign ways. He visited England in 1882 , and

told me that what most struck him was the fact that in London

there were “ ten thousand times ten thousand carriages.” The

two things that had interested him most were the making of

great guns at Woolwich, and the instrument-room at the General


Post Office. He was also much impressed by the urbanity of

British royal personages in general, and of the Prince of Wales

in particular. “ In five minutes," he said of the latter , “ I felt

as if I had always known him . A Malay prince not worth five

cents would make a thousand times more fuss . " The Sultan

bas written a very lengthy account of his life, beginning with

the genealogy of his own family, with the object of instructing

other Malay Rajas, though , he adds, it will make them very

angry, because it says, for example, that the lavatories of

Western peoples are better than the palaces of the Malays.

“ The Malays, ” he continued , “ are like the frog under the

coconut-shell — they think there is nothing but what they can see .

But Malaya is waking up-look at Perak and Selángor.” His

Highness remembered the guidance of Sir Robert Meade, of the

Colonial Office, and desired that his respects might be presented

to him . As an example of the friendliness existing between the

protected and their protectors, I may quote Mr. Swettenham

again , who wrote in his Report for 1890 : “ As regards my

relations with His Highness, I do not think they could be more

cordial than they are," and “ His Highness's interest in the

administration is as great and intelligent as ever, and his

unvarying sympathy and good feeling are of the greatest assist

ance to me in my work .” The extent to which bygones are

bygones in the British protection of these States is sufficiently

shown by the fact that two sons of the ex -Sultan Abdullah , who

was banished for complicity in the murder of Mr. Birch , occupy

posts in the Government service on the same terms as Europeans,

and fill them faithfully and well . The Sultan himself has

recently put on record his opinion that the Residential system

has “ vastly improved the material condition and prosperity of

the Perak Malays of all classes .” One fact may be adduced in

support of this loyal admission. The Government of Perak now

pays more than 180,000 dols. a year in allowances and pensions

to Malays, whereas when the State was taken under British

protection its total revenue did not reach 80,000 dols. yearly.


These figures should be interesting to the Aborigines' Protection

Society. The truth is that the British Government is the best

aborigines' protection society that has ever existed.

The State of Johor is neither aa Colony nor a Protected State

in the same sense as the preceding, but it must be mentioned

here to complete the survey of this part of the Peninsula . Johor

forms the point of the Peninsula, and contains about 9,000

square miles and 200,000 inbabitants, of whom the Chinese

outnumber the Malays by four or five The capital,

Johor Bahru , is fifteen miles from the town of Singapore , and

less than a mile from the island . Its ruler is His Highness

Abu Bakar, * G.C.M.G. , whose father was Temenggong, or Chief

of Police, to the Sultan Ali, and was placed on the throne by

the Iudian Government , when the latter was deposed in 1855 .

He succeeded in 1885, and receives a considerable annual subsidy

from the British Government , which controls the foreign relations

of the State. He will probably be the last of his line, as Johor

is understood , by the terms of his will, to pass to the British

Crown on his decease . The Sultan is a familiar figure in certain

circles in London , and he is well known to the inhabitants of

Singapore as an exceedingly genial and hospitable potentate ,

who is always ready to entertain a distinguished visitor, or lend

the use of his territory for a horse - raffle or other mild form of

dissipation not sanctioned by the laws of the Colony. But his

State offers a painful comparison with the other Malay States

under British influence . It is undeveloped , without roads,

without any modern system of administration ; it contains only

two towns , the greater part of it is virgin jungle, and it differs

from the ordinary Malay State only by the absence of actual

misrule . The Sultan , however , has rendered great services to

the Straits Government as go- between in many negotiations

with other Malay rulers , although the latter do not regard him

as an equal, on account of his far from royal birth .

Such, in its briefest form , is the remarkable history of those

• Hence “ Mr. Baker," in Brighton.


political anomalies , the Protected Malay States , down to the

present time. For the future, however, their history will have

to proceed along other lines. The experiment has been an

extremely successful one , but not much more success-possibly

only retrogression - can be looked for in the same direction . The

States have now outgrown the Residential system . While they

had yet everything Western to learn, and their affairs were on a

comparatively small scale, the personal rule of the Residents

was the best education and control they could have, though even

this would not have shown such good results if the Residents

themselves had not happened to be men of unusual ability and

courage. But now that the original Malay population is exceeded

in numbers by the Chinese settlers, that the finances deal with

millions of dollars, that to the protected areas have been added

huge tracts of country which cannot possibly pay their way for aa

long time to come, and that inter-State co-operation is therefore

absolutely necessary, I am convinced that the administration can

no longer profitably be left in the hands of half a dozen men, neces

sarily often antagonistic to one another, none of whom possesses

any higher nominal standing than that of servant to a native

ruler. While the problems were small, the Residents were left

almost unhampered in their decisions, and their rule therefore

showed all the advantages of the “ free hand.” Now, however,

they have at once both too much and too little authority. In

details their control is virtually absolute, and it is they who

must invent and propose every important policy. This will be,

of course , of a piece with their action in small matters. At

this point, however, they sink back into the position of merely

subordinate officials. First , the Governor of the Straits Settle

ments investigates the matter with much less experience and

knowledge than the Resident who has proposed it ; and if he

disapprove, there is an end at once. If he approve, the question

goes before the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with still less

ability to pronounce upon its merits--sometimes with not even

enough local knowledge to enable him to pronounce correctly



the name of the place whose destinies are in his hands. The

usual conclusion is that the Resident is either overruled, or his

policy sanctioned with such conditions as deprive it of nearly all

value. As against the Governor and the Secretary of State, the

President is helpless, and all he can do is to wait two or three

years for the opportunity of pointing out in his Report how much

better it would have been if his original suggestions had been

sanctioned . The Protected States, therefore, must be governed

by a man whose position enables him to deal direct with the

Secretary of State at home, and with much more authority than

at present.

Another reason for a change is that the less flourishing

States can only be set upon their feet with borrowed capital,

and as the Colony has none to lend them, while two of

their neighbours have substantial cash balances, it is easy

see where this must come from . But Perak and Selangor

will be extremely unwilling to lend money to Pahang, unless

they are able to bring their knowledge and experience to bear

upon the spending of it, and under the present system they

would have no more control than if they lent the money to

Argentina. They might see their own savings being employed

just across their borders in a manner which they knew to be

futile, yet they could not stir a finger. In his Report for

1893 , the Resident of Perak says : “ As Perak has no direct

interest in Pahang, and could profitably spend in Perak all the

revenue likely to be raised here, financial help can only be given

by making some sacrifice. There is no security for the advances

made , beyond what can be hoped for from the future develop

ment of Pahang ; and it is therefore only reasonable that, if the

idea of advising the native rulers in the administration of the

Malay States is to be maintained, those States which now find

the means of financing Pahang should have a preponderating

voice in the expenditure of their own money, and the schemes

to which it is applied .” But if the Residents of Perak and

Selangor direct the spending of practically all the money spent



in Pahang, then it is they, and not the Resident of Pahang, who

control the latter State ; and why keep up the fiction of separate

control ? For this reason also, therefore, the time appears to


me to have come for the substitution of one head for five.

But there is a further consideration in support of this view ,

which far outweighs in importance both those I have mentioned.

It is this : the prosperity of the Protected States rests upon such

an insecure basis that having risen as brilliantly and conspicu

ously as the rocket, it may come down as rapidly and irrevocably

as the stick. It is based solely upon the products of the tin

mines. The Perak Report shows this clearly, though indirectly.

The total value of exports for 1893 was 14,499,475 dols. , and

of this no less than 11,895,465 dols. was tin and tin -ore -- 82 per

cent . The total revenue collected was 3,034,094 dols. , of which

Customs -- " that is, duty on tin " -amounted to 1,342,741 dols.;

and of course many of the other receipts are dependent upon

the tin industry. The Selángor Report puts the truth more

bluntly : “ The revenue of the State hangs directly on the

output of tin .” Now all prosperity dependent upon mining is

precarious, but that dependent upon alluvial tin -mines - and

lode -mining hardly exists-must be the most precarious of all.

It may be replied, however, that mining is a very good basis

upon which to start ; that California, for instance, owes its

present agricultural wealth to the original attractions of its gold

fields. Undoubtedly, but the Malay States are not attracting a

class of people who will develop into agriculturists. At present,,

when a tin- mine is exhausted , its neighbourhood becomes a

desert. A paragraph in the Report for Sungei Ujong illustrates

this : “ The valuable tin- mines at Titi were in part worked

out, and the mining town which sprang up there so rapidly

has begun to dwindle ." If the prosperity of these States is

to continue , it is therefore clear that something else must

be found and cultivated to take the place of mining when

this becomes less profitable or ceases altogether . This some

thing must, of course, be agriculture, and fortunately there


are no more fertile lands in the world than are here open

to every comer on the best possible terms. I have given one

example of coffee -growing, and it would be easy to multiply

testimony. The manager of the Waterloo Estate in Perak

writes : “ The cultivation of coffee promises well, and where

land is judiciously selected and opened, it cannot, in my

opinion, fail to be a success.” The Officer-in - Charge of Sungei

Ujong reports : “ Liberian coffee will grow on almost any kind

of soil here. I have seen it growing on the ' spoil bank ' of an

old tin -mine, and at the present prices no form of agriculture

could be more remunerative . ” And what is true of coffee is

equally true of tea, pepper, gambier, tobacco, and rice. The

States governments have done everything in their power to

dispel the general ignorance of British settlers and planters

about Malaya, and they offer the very warmest welcome to any

who will come . Certainly no part of the Empire presents a

better field for the agricultural investment of capital and personal

efforts, yet what was said by the Resident of Perak in 1889 is

still only too true : “ Ten years ago, when almost nothing was

known of the capabilities of the Malayan soil and climate, it

seemed likely that the field just opened would attract many

experienced European planters and a considerable amount of

European capital. Now that the possibilities of agriculture

have been to a large extent proved , communications greatly

extended, and many facilities offered which did not then exist,

the State seems to have lost its attractions for the planter."

To assure the future of the Frotected States, therefore , it

seems to me imperative that they should be formed into some

kind of separate confederation — the Crown Colony of the Malay

Peninsula, for example. This would remove them from the

jurisdiction of Singapore, which now hampers and robs them ;

place them on a strong footing before the Secretary of State for

the Colonies ; enable their problems to be solved in a uniform

manner, instead of by the conflict of interests ; group their

resources so that the stronger can afford the needed help to the


weaker in the wisest and fairest shape ; develop and advertise

their agricultural possibilities ; protect their forests ; codify their

laws, and place the administration of them under a British

judge; and finally, present a firm and permanent foundation

upon which to build when the inevitable moment comes for the

absorption of the rest of the Malay Peninsula.





T is one of the curious and significant facts of the Far East

ITthat to get to a French possession there you must go in

either an English or a German boat, with the single exception

of the heavily subsidised Messageries Maritimes. I went to

Tongking the first time in the little Marie, hailing from

Apenrade, wherever that may be . As soon as we had crossed

the restless Gulf of Tongking and were in sight of a low-lying

green and evidently fertile country, wholly different from the

rocky and forbidding coast of China, Captain Hundewadt

hoisted the German flag, and the pilot came off. There are

two bars, one hard, which must not be touched, and the other

soft mud, upon which a ship can rush at full speed and

either get over or stick, as the case may be. We stuck .

Within gunshot of us as we lay in the mud was a large white

European house, built on the point of an elevated promontory.

It is the summer house Paul Bert built for himself, just before

death put an end to all his plans and ambitions for Tongking.

It has never been occupied, and the Government was thinking

of turning it into a sanitarium for the forces near the coast.

Once over the bars we steamed a mile or two up the river, past

half aa dozen odd-looking river gunboats, and dropped anchor off

Haiphong. The port of Tongking is now a pretty little town,

with excellent broad streets, planted with trees on each side,

with spacious warehouses and solid wharves, with one Boulevard

of extensive shops, many pleasant bungalows, and an astonishing



hotel. At six o'clock its café holds a hundred people, taking

their pre-prandial drink. To see them it is difficult to realise

that you are at the other end of the earth from Paris, and there

could not be a better illustration of the saying that a Frenchman

takes France with him wherever he goes. The business part of

the town consists of several crowded streets of Chinese houses,

and the native town, which is miserable and very dirty , lies on

the other side of a narrow creek . There are three excellent news

papers, one daily, one bi-weekly, and one weekly, and almost

every characteristic of a French town, including the duel ,

which flourishes greatly in Tongking. Not a little money and

much intelligent labour have been expended to transform the

original malarious swamps into this bright and pleasing little

place, reminding one of Algiers, with its broad green and white

streets and constant sunshine. But I fear that both the labour

and the money must be looked upon as little better than wasted.

There is nothing to detain one in Haiphong. An afternoon is

enough to see it all. So next morning at eight I went on board a

big, powerful, twin-screw steamer, Le Tigre, for the trip to Hanoi,

the capital and largest town, upwards of a hundred miles up

the Red River . The navigation is extremely difficult in places,

owing to the mudbanks and sharp turns, but the twin-screw and

the Chinese pilot between them managed every twist but one.

There was no European captain, only a purser, and the China

man was apparently in sole command. A stack of Snider rifles

stood in the saloon, and a plate of half -inch iron was suspended

on each side of the pilot and the two men at the wheel, com

pletely shielding them from bullets fired from the shore. We

had a capital breakfast, and a charming French priest, in

Chinese dress and pigtail, who was returning to his inland

station in China viâ Tongking, told us string after string of

adventures and incidents of his work among the Celestials. For

hours the trip is monotonous. The banks are flat, the country

is always green and fertile, the water -buffaloes wallow in the

mud, and enormous flocks of teal rise in front every few minutes.













A diversion came at one o'clock in the shape of a little post of

soldiers halfway between the seaboard and the capital. The

steamer came slowly alongside the high bank , a plank was

thrown out, and the garrison invited us on shore . They were

an officer, two non-commissioned officers, half - a -dozen privates,

and about fifty native troops. The post was a strongly stockaded

little place a hundred yards from the river, well able to keep off

any ordinary attack. But the garrison was a sorry -looking

band.. The officers were in pyjamas, and the men's old thick

blue and red French uniforms were only recognisable by their

shape, nearly all the colour having long ago departed . Their

coats were patched, their trousers torn and ragged , their

boots split. As for their faces, anæmia of the most pro

nounced character was written plainly across them . II have

never seen such a ragged and worn lot of soldiers. The arrival

of the daily steamer is the only distraction of the little force,

and they were profusely grateful for a bundle of illustrated

papers. We also gave them a little more entertainment by

running aground just opposite their post when we left.

The steamer reached Hanoi at midnight. The only hotel was

closed ; vigorous hammering at the door produced no effect

whatever, and I was beginning to contemplate the prospect of

spending the night in the street, when a jolly captain of artillery

came past, evidently fresh from a good dinner, showed me a back

way into the hotel, and even accompanied me, because, as he

explained, I probably did not yet know how to treat the natives .

Certainly if he did, I did not, although his method was simplicity

itself. We discovered six “ boys ” sleeping sounder than I ever

saw human beings sleep in my life, on a table in the dining

room. With one shove he pitched the whole lot in a heap on

the floor, and as they even then showed unmistakable symptoms

of an intention to finish their nap as they lay piled up on one

another, he fell to work on the heap with his cane so vigorously

that he soon had them scampering all over the room like a nest

of disturbed rats. “ Tas de cochons," he said, and resumed his

homeward way.


Like almost every city of the Far East, so far as my experience

goes, Hanoi is less interesting than you expect. The foreign

town, of five or six hundred inhabitants, is little more than one

street, named, of course, after Paul Bert, and even that is dis

figured by a narrow , irregular tramway, running down the middle

and carrying military stores all day long. There is a small

lake in the centre of the city, with a curious islet and pagoda ,

that gives one pretty point of view , and the ride round the walls

of the Citadel, a square mile or so of enclosed land, is interesting


for once. And the “ Pont de Papier, " where the ill- fated Rivière

met his fate so wretchedly on the afternoon of May 19, 1883,

with the tiny pagoda just beyond it, where the brave Balny dis

appeared, are historically impressive if one has the whole story

of these days in mind. But Hanoi makes a poor showing as

the capital of Tongking. The Hotel Alexandre is the very

worst I ever set foot in. The monuments are second to those

of an ordinary Chinese town. The advent of the foreigner has

killed native art and handicraft, without contributing anything

to replace it. You may walk the length of the “ Rue des

Brodeurs " without finding a piece of embroidery worth carrying

bome. There is a ““ Rue des Incrusteurs," named after the

workmen who inlay mother-of-pearl into ebony, but I spent half

a day there before picking up a decent piece, and that was made

before the French were thought of. The native metal-work,

that sure test of the art-tendencies of an uncivilised people, has

vanished with their independence. Even the Governor-General

apologised for his surroundings. “ I shall be able to receive

you better, ” he said courteously, “ when you come to Saigon .”

But there is this compensation for Hanoi as compared with

Haiphong. The faster Tongking prospers, the faster will

Haiphong decay ; while Hanoi always has been the capital, and

nature has so placed it that it always will be, and the two will

prosper, if at all, together.

Of the native inhabitants, of whom Hanoi has 70,000, there

is much that might be said. After China, with its hundreds of


thousands of great brown coolies, and its slim ones who will walk

all day up-hill under burdens that would break down aa European

athlete on the level, the Annamites strike the visitor as a nation of

pigmies . Their average height must be under five feet ; they are

narrow - chested and thin-legged, their mouths are always stained

a slobbering filthy red with the areca- nut and lime they chew

unceasingly, and they are stupid beyond the power of words to

tell. Whether it is in any degree due to the fault of their con

querors or not, I cannot say, but they appear to be a people

destitute of the sense of self-respect. At anyrate, the French

treat them as if they had none. The first time I went into


déjeuner at the hotel at Haiphong one of the “ boys " had left a

dirty plate on the little table to which the host showed me.

“ Qu'est ce que tu fais, toi ? " demanded the latter, pointing to

the plate, and smack , a box on the ears followed that you could

have heard fifty yards off. And this in the middle of a crowded

dining-room . You would no more think of striking aa Chinese

servant like that than of pulling a policeman's nose in Piccadilly.

Before aa Frenchman , an Annamite too often appears to have no


Both men and women in Tongking wear their hair long and

twisted up into a kind of chignon on the top of the head. It is

of course always lanky and jet-black . Their dress is of the most

simple. The men wear a loose jacket and short trousers, and

the women a long, straight shift reaching from neck to heels.

The Annamite man is a very poor creature, and it is only among

the upper classes that one sees occasionally a well- formed or

handsome face, with some elevation or dignity of expression.

The women are much better looking, and would often be pretty

except for the stained mouth and teeth, which renders them

horrible to a European eye. But in figure they are the most

favoured of any I have seen in the Far East, as my illustration

may go to show, and in the course of a walk in Hanoi you may

meet a dozen who are straight enough and strong enough and

shapely enough to serve as a sculptor's models. Their native


dance is a burlesque of the Japanese, to the accompaniment of

a fiddle six feet long. The few women you see with clean

mouths and white teeth are almost sure to be the mistresses

of Europeans.

The most curious of the surface impressions of Tongking is

the language you must learn to talk with the natives. Your ear

becomes familiar with “ pidgin English ” before you have spent

a day in the East, and, pace Mr. Leland, a horrid jargon it is,

convenient, no doubt, but growing positively repulsive after a

while. But “ pidgin French ," or " petit nègre," as it is called,

comes as a complete surprise. And it is all the funnier because

of the excellent native pronunciation of French. “ Petit nègre "

is characterised, as compared with French proper, by four

features — omission of the auxiliary verbs, ignoring of gender,

employment of the infinitive for all moods and tenses, and

absence of words taken bodily from the native, like “ maskee,"

man-man,” and “ chop- chop,” in Pidgin. The one expression

which recurs again and again with an infinity of meanings is

" y -a -moyen , ” or “ y- a -pas moyen . ” And after this comes

“ fili,” for “ fini,” nearly as often. The “ You savvy ” of Pidgin

is “ Toi connaitre ? " The " My wantchee," is " Moi vouloir . "

The native servant is everywhere called by the English word

“ boy," pronounced " boi- ee,” in two syllables. And the

language is further enriched by a number of words recalling

the nursery, like " pousse- pousse,” for jinrikisha, " coupe-coupe, "

for a big knife, and so on. “ Beaucoup ” does duty for “ très ”

and " bien ," so one is constantly hearing sentences like these :

“ Moi beaucoup vouloir avoir sampan,” “ Soupe beaucoup mau

vais-moi donner vous beaucoup bambou,” and “ Toi beaucoup

imbécile.” “ Petit nègre ” is of course much younger than

Pidgin ; for one person who speaks it a hundred thousand speak

the latter ; and it is not capable of the flights of oratory to

which the accomplished speaker of Pidgin can soar. Nor will it

ever become what Pidgin has long been --- the lingua franca of

communication between vast numbers of people otherwise



TFE , /







acquainted with only a score different dialects and tongues. I

may add here that “ Tongking " is the same word as " Tokyo,”

meaning “Eastern Capital,” and that the former is the only

correct spelling to express the Chinese sounds. Tonquin "

and “ Tonkin ” are indefensible, either in French or English.

The northern part of the peninsula of Indo -China is Tong

king, the French territory adjoining China ; the central part is

Annam , which was formerly a long narrow strip of coast, but

by the recent Convention with Siam stretches back to the

Mekong ; and the southern end of the peninsula is Cochin

China, with Cambodia lying behind it. Of all the possessions

of France in the Far East, Cochin- China is the most imposing,

as it is also the oldest. Saigon , the capital , was first captured

by a combined French and Spanish expedition in 1859, and

held by a small garrison until 1861 , when Cochin -China was

finally taken by France. For inhabitants it had in 1891, 1,753

French , 207 other Europeans, 6,600 Annamese, and 7,600

Chinese . It is connected by a steam tramway with the

Chinese town of Cholon, three miles away, which has 40,000

inhabitants .The severe fighting which took place in and

around Saigon practically destroyed the original native town,

and the French were therefore able to rebuild it on their own

lines. The result is that the Saigon of to - day is virtually a

French town. It is laid out on the chess- board pattern familiar

to all who have visited the western towns of the United States,

and French taste has made it very attractive in appearance.

The streets are lined with rows of trees, the roads are just like

those of any European city, the public buildings are numerous

and stately, the shops have all the external appearance of the

magasins of Paris, the cafés are at every corner and are

patronised with true French conviviality, and there is a very

good reproduction of the Jardin d'Acclimation . The Palais

du Gouvernement cost twelve million francs, and except

perhaps the European-built “ Audience Halls ” of Bangkok,

is the finest edifice in the Far East. The Cathedral is


almost equal to it, and every house is a little earthly

paradise in its trim garden . But Saigon has many draw

backs to set against these advantages. The climate is

simply appalling. Hundreds of people avoid the journey

home from Shanghai or Hongkong by the comfortable Ves

sageries Maritimes line, simply because they have once had

experience of a night passed in the river off Saigon. I have

seen a passenger fall on the deck, struck with heat-apoplesy

under a thick double awning, and I have twice paced the deck

for a whole night, fan in hand, sleep being out of the question

because of the heat and the mosquitoes. And except for the

Chinese, there is little commerce worth the name. It is a city

of fonctionnaires, and nine out of ten Frenchmen are occupied

in purveying either French luxuries or French personal services

to the official and military classes. Take away the shop-keepers,

the barbers, the tailors, the wine merchants, the tobacconists ,

and the restaurant keepers, and there would be virtually no

Frenchmen left who was not a soldier, a sailor, or a Civil

servant. Even many of the former have recently left the place.

While I was at Bangkok the foreign community learned with

pleasure that a French barber had arrived, and everybody went

to him at once, thankful to escape from the doubtful comb and

fingers of the native. He had left Saigon in despair, thinking

that even in the Siamese capital he might do better. Like other

French colonies, Saigon is the victim of protection and of the

inability of the colon to shake off the depressing conviction of


I paid a flying visit to another French colonial town, and it

left an ineffaceable impression on my mind . I was on board a

private ship sailing down the coast of Annam , when we ran

short of medicine for one of our party who was down with fever.

So we anchored off Tourane, and two of us went ashore in the

ship's boat. It was in the middle of the afternoon on a week

day, but the main street of the town was almost deserted. Not

a score natives were about, hardly a European was to be


seen, except a group of officers sitting in front of a café. It was

half an hour before we could transact business at the post-office.

The whole town was a spectacle of stagnation, though it is one

of the Annamese ports described as ouverts au commerce

international.” Tourane, in fact, was a vivid commentary upon

the words of Pierre Loti about precisely this part of the Far

East- “ C'est le voile qui se tisse lentement sur les choses trop

éloignées, c'est l'anéantissement par le soleil , par la monotonie,

par l'ennui.”

Ope very pleasant reminiscence of Cochin -China I have. The

city of Saigon is situated 60 miles from the mouth of the river,

where there is the well-known light of Cape St. James.

There is a charming little hotel there, where the Saigonnais

come to seek refreshment from the dreadful heat of the town.

One of the most important stations of the Eastern Telegraph

Company is at the Cape, for there the cable between Hong

kong and Singapore touches land, * and connects with the

French cable to Tongking and the land lines to Cambodia and

Siam. It is a curious little colony at Cape St. James, a dozen

Englishmen for the service of the English cable, three or four

Frenchmen for the French cable, half - a -dozen pilots, and the

few invalid Saigonnais who come to the hotel. The electricians

get their supplies in aa launch from Saigon every Sunday morn

ing, and for the rest of the week their only communication with

the great world is by the zig-zag line which trickles interminably

out of the tiny siphon of Sir William Thompson's recorder. And

this tells them little, for even news messages come in code. The

great French mail steamers pass them twice a week , and the few

At last a direct cable connecting Hongkong, Labuan , and Singapore has

been arranged for and is now being laid. In the interests of the Empire this

means of communication, independent of foreign soil, was absolutely essential.

The next step, which ought not to be delayed a single day, should be to

separate entirely from the British office in Hongkong the foreign employés

of the Danish Great Northern Company. Their presence might conceivably

constitute an Imperial danger of great magnitude. It should not be forgotten

that the King of Denmark once took an attitude in this connection hostile to

British interests.


other steamers which ply to Saigon for rice pick up a pilot.

The Company keep them well supplied with newspapers, and

they have an excellent billiard-table, but their life is not a

happy one. On Sundays, when the fresh supplies are in, they

feast. On Monday they feast again, for all meat must be

cooked at once. On Tuesday, cold meat. On Wednesday ,

hash . On Thursday, back to tinned meats, and by Friday

there is probably neither bread nor ice at the Cape. Then,

too, fever makes its regular round among them. Their pale

faces, scarred with prickly heat and other physical nuisances of

a damp tropical climate, are a painful reminder that our

convenient telegrams, like everything else we enjoy, mean

sacrifices on somebody's part. The staff of the Eastern Com

pany are everywhere among the most intelligent and hospitable

compatriots that the British traveller in the Far East can meet,

and the station at Cape St. James became like a home for me

for a few days. A good deal of romance is connected with this

remote pulse of the great world. Not many years ago, for

instance , the clerks used to work with loaded rifles beside them ,

and on one occasion the sleeping staff were aroused in the night

by the report of aa rifle, and on rushing out found that the night

operator had been visited by a tiger while working at his

instrument. The neighbourhood is still supposed, with more

or less scepticism by those who live there, to be infested with

tigers, and the government offers a standing reward of one

hundred francs for the destruction of one. During the few

days I spent at Cape St. James I made the acquaintance of an

Annamite hunter, named Mitt . He was a grave and sedate

man , extremely poor, and stone deaf, but his knowledge of

the jungle and its inhabitants might have rivalled that of

Mowgli himself. In the course of a long talk about shikar I

consulted him on the possibility of getting a tiger, though I had

already found that even in tiger lands tigers are not so common

as one's imagination at home pictures them. And moreover,

whenever there is a tiger there are a hundred men of his


locality bent on trapping him, or poisoning him , or snaring him

with bird-lime, or, if needs must, on shooting him . My first hopes

had been set on Vladivostok. There are the woolliest tigers in

the world, and before reaching that remote spot I had been filled

with stories of how they were in the habit of coming into the

back yard for the scraps, and how men never walked abroad at

night in parties of less than a dozen, all armed to the teeth.

But once in Russian Tartary, I found the tiger was a tradition ,

and the leading merchant told me he had standing orders from

three different high officials to buy any tiger- skin that came

into the market, at almost any price. So I transferred my

hopes to Korea. Was not the tiger a sort of national emblem

of the Hermit Kingdom ? And is there not a special caste of

tiger-hunters, the very men who once gave such a thrashing to

a foreign landing-party ? In a ride across the country , there

fore, I might well hope for a chance. From sea to sea, however ,

I never caught sight of even the hunter ; only with much difficulty

did I succeed in finding and buying one poor skin , and the most

satisfactory response I could get to my earnest inquiries was

the information , “ There are two seasons in Korea : one in

which the man hunts the tiger, the other in which the tiger

hunts the man . It is now the latter ; therefore you must come

at another time." So in Northern China, so, too, in Tongking,

though there I once actually saw a tiger's footprint at the

entrance to a coal - mine. Mitt was disposed to be encouraging,

and at last he declared, “ Moi aller voir . ” So he disappeared

for a couple of days, and returned one morning with instructions

for me to be ready in the afternoon , and we started at five

o'clock, Mitt walking and running ahead and I following him on

a pony .

For a time we followed a road through the woods and then

struck off into the bush. An hour later Mitt motioned me to

dismount. A coolie waiting for us jumped into the saddle and

galloped off. We were on a small rising ground , dotted with

bushes, in the middle of a rough tangle of forest and brush



wood. I looked everywhere for the mirador, and not finding it ,

I yelled an inquiry into Mitt's ear. He pointed to a tree fifty

yards away and I saw how marvellously he had concealed it.

He had chosen two slim trees growing four feet apart, behind

these he had planted two bamboos at the other corners of the

square, and then he had led two or three thickly-leaved creepers

from the ground and wound them in and around and over a

little platform and roof, till he had made a perfect nest of live

foliage . The floor was about twenty feet from the ground, and

it looked perilously fragile to hold two men . But it was a

masterpiece of hunting craft . In response to a peculiar cry

from Mitt, two natives appeared with a little black pig slung on

a pole , yelling lustily. The mirador overlooked a slight de

pression in which an oblong pond had been constructed for the

buffaloes to wallow in, as these creatures cannot work unless

they are allowed to soak themselves in water two or three times

a day. By the side of this the pig was securely fastened. The

two natives took themselves off with their pole, Mitt gave me a

“ leg up into the mirador, which shook and swayed as we

climbed gingerly in, and we arranged ourselves for our long

watch . We loaded our rifles at half-past six, and till half-past

ten we sat side by side like two stone Buddhas. Then five wild

pigs came trotting down to the water to drink, which was an

intensely welcome break in the monotony. At half-past eleven

Mitt made signs to me to go to sleep for a while and he would

watch . At half-past twelve he woke me and immediately fell

back in his turn , fast asleep. It had been moonlight, but the

moon was now hidden behind clouds . On the horizon broad

flashes of summer lightning were playing. There was a chorus

of frogs in the distance, night- birds were calling to one another,

the great lizards were making extraordinary and grotesque

noises , and it was so dark that I could no longer discern the

black patch of the pig's body on the ground twenty yards away.

This is not a book of sporting adventures, though there are

many such memories upon which I should like to dwell, so











I will only say that at two o'clock, suddenly, in perfect silence

and without the slightest warning, a big black object flashed by

the far side of the little pool. It was like the swoop past of an

owl in the starlight, like the shadow of a passing bird, utterly

noiseless and instantaneous. I fired , and a minute afterwards

a loud cough showed that the bullet had found its place. At

daylight we descended and sought everywhere on the hard

ground for footprints. The search brought us for a minute to

the edge of a stretch of tall grass. That moment came very

near being the last for one of us. While we were peering about,

the tiger suddenly sat up in the grass not ten feet away , and,

with a tremendous roar, sprang clean out into the open. He

was so near that it was out of the question to shoot. If I had

flung my rifle forward it would have fallen on him . I could see

his white teeth distinctly and the red gap of his throat. Ι

remember even at that moment wondering how he could possibly

open his mouth so wide. Mitt and I were perhaps eight yards

apart and the tiger leaped out midway between us. Instinctively

the Annamite made a wild rush away on his side and I on mine .

The tiger had evidently walked just far enough into the grass to

be hidden and had then lain down . His presence there took us

80 completely by surprise that we were helpless. If he had been

slightly less wounded than he was, it is perfectly certain that

in another instant he would have sprung upon one or the other of

us, as we had not the remotest chance of escaping by running

away. But the first spring was evidently all it could manage,

for it turned immediately and sneaked back into cover. It was

evident that the beast was no longer in fighting trim , so after

a few minutes we followed it into the grass and I despatched

it with a couple of shots. Every sportsman knows that at such

a moment one is ridiculously happy. It turned out to be a

tigress, a little under eight feet long, and very beautifully

marked . Six coolies carried her on crossed poles ; the natives

came out and “ chin -chinned ” her to Cape St. James, for the

tiger is " joss "” to them ; her skin went to Rowland Ward's; her


claws were mounted as a necklace by a Chinese goldsmith ; her

body was eaten by the Annamites, and I had a reward of a

hundred francs from the French Government for killing an

animal nuisible. With that reward and a little addition Mitt

was able to settle down for life as a landed proprietor. Since

then I have found out a place where a dozen tigers may

certainly be shot in a week or two, but this is for another


The French war with China - or the “ reprisals," as it was

called by France—has left many a memory in the Far East.

Some of these are instructive for the future, some of them should


be put on record for the historian, while some are too dreadful

to tell at all . Among the first -named are the advantages

attaching to the state of “ reprisals.”. During the war the

bullocks for victualling the French forces used to stand in the

streets of Hongkong. The Hongkong coolies at first refused to

work for the French , and the French mail steamers were loaded

by “ destitutes " from the Sailors' Home. Hongkong was on

the eve of a general strike of the Chinese. The coolies refused

under threats from China, but when they saw that the French

could get on without them , and that the coolies who replaced

them were getting a dollar a day, they returned to work . The

French fleet established coaling- stations in the Pescadores, and

at the anchorage of Matsu , a few miles north of the mouth of

the river Min , and at these points they were regularly supplied

with coal from a non -British firm in Hongkong. The same

firm were dealing at the same time with the Chinese govern.

ment. One curious incident of the war was narrated to me by

the chief actor in it. There was an American -built craft of five

hundred tons, named the Ping-on , sailing under the British flag.

She was sold by her owners to the Chinese government to be

delivered in Foochow , and sailed for that port with nine hundred

Chinese soldiers on board . They mutinied and refused to be

taken to Foochow , and forced the captain to take them to

Taiwan, in Formosa , which he did , receiving there the first


payment of seventeen thousand dollars. There the Chinese put

another captain on board,, and in some unexplained way,

succeeded in getting her to sea still under the British flag. For

some time she ran between Amoy and Formosa, until one day,

with a full load of Chinese soldiers, she ran into the midst of

the French fleet in Rover's Channel, in the Pescadores. This

was a very curious " accident” for an experienced navigator to

make. As soon as the Chinese saw their position a number

of them jumped overboard , and the Ping-on was captured

and taken to Saigon. That there was something very wrong

about her right to fly the red ensign is proved by the fact

that the British Government took no steps whatever on her

behalf, as they did, for instance, in the case of the Waverley,

which was captured by the French and given up again . The

blockade of Formosa gave rise to many strange and painful

incidents. Before Keelung was taken, one of my informants

had seen thirty -two heads of French soldiers in the market-place,

all having either deserted or been captured at the unsuccessful

attack on Tamsui, where French troops in heavy marching

order were landed with three miles of paddy- fields between

them and the enemy, whereas a mile above the fort they might

have found an excellent landing-place. Being over their knees

in mud they were of course simply mown down by the Chinese

riflemen . For every one of these heads a reward of a hundred

taels had been paid . The foreigners in Formosa protested so

strenuously against this barbarity of the Chinese that the reward

was altered to a hundred taels for a live Frenchman , and I have

talked to the man who had thirty under his charge at one time .

They were then treated very well , most of them being ultimately

given a free passage to Amoy, and a few entering the Chinese

service, where some remain to this day. These thirty had all

deserted from the French ships , and all but two or three were

men from Elsass-Lothringen and spoke little but German .

"You may guess , " added my informant, who was a foreigner

occupying a high official position , “ how miserable they must


have been on board , for them to desert to a place like Formosa ! "

As an example of the way the Chinese were swindled by certain

foreign purveyors, I may mention that they were supplied from

Europe with five hundred thousand rounds for Winchester rifles,

and that the whole of this ammunition was found to be worthless,

when a foreign officer examined it, and was destroyed . Another

dreadful incident of which I find all the details in my notebooks,

arose from the necessity the French found or believed themselves

to be in to shoot aa number of women in Keelung. An alarming

number of French soldiers were being reported as missing, and

it was alleged that these women had decoyed them into houses

and there made away with them in horrible ways. Twenty

women were identified and found guilty, and they were all shot.

In judging of any acts of punishment or retaliation by Europeans

against Chinese, it must never be forgotten that acts of appalling

and almost incredible barbarity are the common accompaniment

of all Chinese warfare. If it were not that the details are inde

scribable I could give a blood-curdling list of horrors that have

been described to me. And as I have more than once had a

narrow escape myself at the hands of Chinese ruffians, I speak

not altogether without personal experience.

There is one other event of the Franco-Chinese " reprisals ”

upon which public opinion, particularly in France, is ill -informed,

and which, in the interests of history, should be recognised in its

true light. I mean the engagement between the French and

Chinese fleets at the Pagoda Anchorage in the Min river, off

Foochow, on August 23, 1884. This is generally regarded as a

battle, and as Admiral Courbet's greatest achievement : in fact,

it was a massacre . M. Pierre Loti calls it " la grande gloire de

Fou -tchéou ," and all French writers follow in the same strain.

For weeks the Chinese fleet had lain at anchor, covered by the

shotted guns of the French fleet, and considering the utter and

instant cowardice shown by the Chinese when the critical

moment at last came, it can only be supposed that they were

under the impression that the French would not really attack


after all.The Chinese ships numbered eleven, all of wood,

mounting forty - five guns, only a few of which were of large

calibre, and carrying 1,190 men. The French ships were nine

armoured vessels and two torpedo boats, with seventy -seven

guns and 1,830 men . The signal for the engagement was given

immediately on the arrival of the Triomphante, by the hoisting

of the red flag on the Volta at fifty - six minutes past one o'clock .

At three minutes past two all was over. Two Chinese vessels

sank in a few seconds. Two others ran ashore in attempting to

escape. Two more were so moored that their big guns could

not be fired , and they were immediately adrift in a sinking

condition. Three more were disabled at the first discharge.

One, the Yangwu, fired her stern chaser once, killing several men

on the bridge of the Volta and almost killing Admiral Courbet

himself. Before she could reload, a torpedo -boat from the Volta

reached her and she was blown to pieces within twenty - seven

seconds of the beginning of the fight. One Chinese vessel alone

may be said to have been fought. This was the little Chenwei.

" Exposed to the broadsides of the Villars and the d'Estaing,

and riddled by a terrific discharge from the heavy guns of the

Triomphante as she passed , she fought to the last. In flames

fore and aft, drifting helplessly down the stream and sinking,

she plied her guns again and again, till one of the French

torpedo boats, dashing in through the smoke, completed the

work of destruction ."" **

“ The captain reserved one loaded gun

till the last moment, and then as the battered and shot - rent

ship gave the last mournful roll, he pulled the lock-string and

sent hissing on its errand of hate the last farewell of the unfortu

nate Ching Wai .” + Though in seven minutes from the firing

of the first shot every Chinese vessel was practically disabled,

the French continued to pour in shot, shell and Hotchkiss fire,

Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs, Report of Mr. Deputy Commissioner

Carrall, which may be regarded as an official account of the engagement.

† “ The French at Foochow ," by James F. Roche and L. L. Cowen , U.S. Navy,

which confirms the above in all essential details.


regardless of the wounded and helpless men in the crippled ships.

. The casualties on the French side were 5 killed and 15

wounded, and on the Chinese side 419 killed and 128 wounded,

and 51 missing, besides 102 killed and 22 wounded on board

war junks.” Such is the true story of the Foochow fight. Of

course war is war, and the French Marshal was right when he

said, “ Quand je fais la guerre je laisse ma philanthropie dans

les armoires de ma femme." And it is the business of a fleet to

disable the fleet of the enemy in the shortest possible time.

But with the exception of the Chenwei on one side and the

ten men on the torpedo-boat of the Volta on the other, the less

said about “ gloire " on this occasion the better. French

soldiers did cover themselves with glory when their commander

made his fatal blunder before Tamsui, and many a time in

Tongking, but Foochow belongs to another category.

I have in my notebooks the following striking story of the

death of Rivière , which I took down in these words from the

lips of the narrator, who sufficiently describes himself. It will

be remembered that Commandant Rivière, an extremely gallant

but very nervous man , ambitious of literary honours, who had

said, “ Je m'en vais par le Tonkin à l'Académie,” had been

compelled to spend nearly a year in possession of the citadel of

Hanoi, while the Chinese Black Flags came in thousands into

the town and gathered in impudent strength in the neighbour

hood. At last the reinforcements he had prayed for came, and

slight hostilities began at once . Then the Black Flag leader,

the famous Liu Jung- fu, issued his challenge to the French

commander. “ You send out teachers of religion," it said, “ to

undermine and ruin the people. You say you wish for inter

national commerce, but you merely wish to swallow up the

country . There are no bounds to your cruelty, and there is no

name for your wickedness. You trust in your strength and you

debauch our women and our youth . . . . He who issues this

proclamation has received bebest to avenge these wrongs. ...

But Hanoi is an ancient and honourable town. It is filled with


honest and loyal citizens. Therefore could he not endure that

the city should be reduced to ruins, and young and old put to

the sword. Therefore do I, Liu Jung-fu, issue proclamation .

Know, ye French robbers, that I come to meet you. Rely on

your strength and rapine, and lead forth your herd of sheep and

curs to meet my army of heroes, and see who will be master.

Wai-tak-fu , an open space, I have fixed on as the field where I

shall establish my fame .” * This was stuck up one night upon

the gates of the citadel and all over the stockades, and was

followed by an attack next day. So much by way of introduc

tion : now for the story which was told to me. My informant

said : “ Rivière was at Hanoi doing nothing, in spite of the fact

that the Chinese were known to be gathering round the place.

People talked a good deal about it, and one day the challenge


came from Liu Jung-fu. So Rivière said, “ That's nothing but

humbug —- I'll show you. ' And next morning he went out with

four hundred men, himself in a carriage and pair, for he had

been suffering from fever. It was to be just a morning's walk

nothing else. Berthe de Villers was with him, and when they

reached the Pont de Papier he came up and said, ' Vous feriez 6

bien, Commandant, de faire fouiller ces bois.' • Vous avez


peur ? ' asked Rivière. " Je n'ai jamais peur,' replied Villers,

and turned to walk off, when a volley was fired from the wood .

Villers was hit in the stomach , and a quarter-master, standing

close by, in the chest. Rivière sprang out, placed Villers and

the man in the carriage and ordered it back to Hanoi at

once. The horses were turned, bolted , and carried the two men

at full gallop back to Hanoi, where they arrived locked in each

other's arms in the death-grasp. In the meantime the volleys

had continued and men had fallen by dozens and lay in heaps

along the road. Rivière rushed ahead to get a gun on the bridge

turned round so that it could be brought back, when he was

struck mortally in the side and fell. A lieutenant named

• For the whole proclamation see J. G. Scott, “ France and Tongking," 1885,


p. 32 , and C. B. Norman , “ Tonkin ," 1884 , p . 210.


Jacquis ran up, and Rivière, seeing that he had made a horrible

and fatal mistake, and that he was mortally wounded, ordered

Jacquis to kill him . ' Jacquis, brûle- moi la gueule ! ' ' Je ne

veux pas, Commandant. Je vous le commande ! ' ' Je ne

peux pas, Commandant.' Then Rivière drew his revolver and

blew his brains out, and Jacquis, seeing it, did the same.

Rivière's head was carried away after the sauve qui peut, and was

only recovered a long time afterwards after much negociation.

It had been put in spirits of wine in a kerosine oil tin, and was

perfectly recognisable, whiskers and all. I slept on that tin for

several nights. Then I was a member of the committee who

drew up the procès verbal uniting the head to the body. He had

shot himself in the mouth and the bullet had come out behind

the left ear.” With regard to this story I can only say that I

repeat it exactly as it was told to me in Tongking by a thoroughly

respectable informant. Of course Rivière's sortie, the rout of

the French , the return of the defeated troops into Hanoi , the


distribution of wine, the consequent drunkenness of the over

strained men , the officers themselves doing sentry-go on that

“ black night” of May 19, 1883, the seizure of Rivière's head

and the subsequent surrender of it, are matters of history.

With this strange story I close my notebooks so far as souvenirs

of the war are concerned.

One of the most remarkable romances of modern Eastern his.

tory is connected with these French colonies. In the spring of

1889 there appeared at Hongkong a tall, well-built Frenchman ,

with a bushy brown beard and very long legs, who called himself

Marie David de Mayréna, and distributed visiting-cards with the

words “ S.M. le Roi des Sédangs " printed upon them . He had

had an adventurous career in the Far East, in the course of

which he had more than once displayed great personal courage

in guerilla warfare. At last his wanderings brought him to the

region of the Sedangs, a tribe inhabiting part of the Hinterland

of Annam, a region not so well known then as it has since

become. By these people he had been elected king, and of the


genuineness of his election there can be no doubt whatever.

He was at first recognised by the French missionaries and

by the French authorities , and I have myself seen corre

spondence and treaties which establish his claim beyond

question. Of these treaties there were a score signed between

Mayréna and the chiefs of the different tribes ; with the

Hallongs and Braos , signed by Khen on June 3 , 1888 ; with

the confederation Banhar-Reungao , signed by Krui, President ;

with the Jiarais, signed by Ham on August 19 , 1888 , pro

mising tribute of “ un éléphant domestique dressé ” ; with the

village of Dak-Drey and half - a -dozen others, signed by Blåk ,

chief, translated and witnessed by P. Trigoyen and J. B.

Guerlach, “ missionnaires apostoliques " ; and finally, a treaty

of alliance between “ les R. P. Missionnaires et les Sédangs,"

concluded " entre Marie , roi des Sédangs , et le R. P. Vialleton ,

supérieur de la Mission des Sauvages Banhar-Reungao .” This

treaty provided that “ à partir d'aujourd'hui, toutes les tribus ou

villages qui ont reconnu ou qui reconnaîtront a l'avenir l'auto

rité du Roi des Sédangs seront les amis et alliés des villages

des Pères Missionnaires . En cas d'attaque des Missions, ils

préteront aide et secours." I should add that I give these

details not only for their romantic interest, but also because

when Mayréna was thrown over by the French authorities

and the missionaries, he was poohpoohed as a common liar,

and now that he is dead and the whole strange adventure at

an end, I take a pleasure in showing that he was not wholly an

impostor, in spite of his vanity and his follies. It should be

added in explanation of certain phrases that his French was

by no means always above reproach. To continue,, the rela

tions which had subsisted between Mayréna and the priests

are clearly shown by the following passage in the treaty,

which, like most of this strange history, is now published for

the first time so far as my knowledge goes : “ Considérant que

si nous detenons la couronne du Royaume Sédang, nous la

devons aux RR. Pères Missionnaires de la Société des Missions


Etrangères de Paris ; que c'est grâce à leurs concours que nous

avons pu expliquer notre volonté et parcourir le Royaume

avant d'être élu ; que ce sont eux qui ont servi d'intermédiaires

entre nous et les chefs pour traduire nos pensées ” -complete

liberty to preach is granted, all religions are promised toleration ,

but that of the Roman Catholic Church is declared the official

one ; the right of refuge is given, too, in chapels, and finally

lands for a new town to be chef-lieu of the province of Kon

Trang, and to bear that name, are conceded to the R. Père

Trigoyen. This treaty is dated Kon Jéri, August 25, 1888.

The “ Constitution ” is dated July 1 , 1888, and its Article III.

reads, “ M. de Mayréna, déja élu Roi des Sédangs, portera le

titre Roi Chef Suprême," and Article V. , “ Le drapeau national

sera bleu uni avec une croix blanche à l'étoile rouge au centre.”

It was signed by thirty -seven chiefs, of whose names I copied

only the first and the last-Kon Tao Jop and Pelei Tebau .

When Mayréna first turned up in Hongkong, he was vouched

for by the French Consul and introduced by him to everybody,

including the Governor, in consequence of which his social posi

tion was sealed by an invitation to dinner at Government House.

At this time he was an astounding figure, when in his royal

attire. He wore a short scarlet jacket with enormous galons on

the cuffs, a broad blue ribbon, a magenta sash in which was

stuck a long curved sword worn across the front of the body,

white trousers with a broad gold stripe, and a white helmet with

a gold crown and three stars . He distributed broadcast the

“ Order of Marie I.," beginning with the captain of the little

Danish steamer Freyr, in return for the hoisting of his royal

standard in Haiphong harbour, and continuing with the

Governor of Hongkong, who was caused no slight embarrass

ment in getting rid of the impossible ribbon and cross. He

used notepaper with a huge gold crown and coat- of-arms upon

it, gave large orders for jewellery, and conducted himself

generally like a crowned head. I have seen a private letter he

wrote at this time, from which the following passage is perhaps


worth putting on record : “Il est un ait bien certain, c'est que

entre l'Annam et le Siam il existe uu vaste pays qui a nom

Laos. ... Or, les Sédangs et les Hamongs sont (illegible ), je

parle des chefs marqués au bras et dans le dos par le roi du

Laos. La France a-t-elle quelque droit sur le Laos ? Non !

... Le Laos n'a aucune rélation avec les nations Euro

péennes." Mayréna succeeded in getting a few Hongkong

merchants to enter into an arrangement with him , by which he

conceded to them the right of developing the country of the

Sedangs, in return for certain duties upon trade and exports.

But the collapse came, of course , when the French authorities

chavged their policy and took a line of direct opposition to him .

Even the missionaries who had enabled him to secure the

treaties of which they themselves were the official witnesses,

denounced him as an impostor. He then offered himself and

his country to the British, who would naturally have nothing to

do with him , so he next tried the Germans, and was actually

indiscreet enough as to send a telegram to Berlin in open German,

offering his allegiance, forgetting that this must pass through a

French office in Saigon. Of course it was read and reported

from there and orders were issued for his arrest. He believed

that he was condemned to be shot for high treason , so he went

to Europe by the German mail steamer, a few of his acquaint

ances in Hongkong passing the bat round to pay his passage.

After he had left, the police succeeded in recovering most of the

jewellery he bad presented and failed to pay for. A man of this

stamp, however, is never very long without money , and after

spending some time in prison in Ostend for debt he next

turned up in Paris and lived there in luxury for awhile, the

French press not being quite sure what to make of him .

Finally, he returned to the Far East, settled down with one

male companion and two or three female ones on an uninhabited

island off the coast of the Malay Peninsula, where a cobra

brought his strange career to a sudden end by biting him in the

foot. All that remains of “ Marie I. , King of the Sedangs , " is


the set of postage stamps he issued, which are among the most

prized curiosities of the philatelists. Such is the true story of

man who would be king," and it is perhaps worth telling as

an illustration of the fact that even in these late days there

may be as much romance in reality as in fiction , at least in the

wonderland of the Far East.



I WAS particularly fortunate in having the opportunity of

making a flying trip to the frontier between China and

the French possessions. This is far off the beaten track ; no

vessels go there except to carry military supplies, and no private

boat-owners could be induced to go for fear of the pirates. I

had been to see the coal mines of the Compagnie française

des Charbonnages du Tonkin ,” and the Managing Director, M.

Bavier-Chauffour, was good enough to place his steam yacht, the

Fanny, at my disposal. The trip was one of great interest , and

at the time of my visit no Englishman had been there , except

Mr. James Hart, who represented China on the Commission to

delimit the frontier .

From Hatou, where the coal mines are, we steamed due north

along the coast , entering almost at once the unique scenery of

Along Bay. For hours here we threaded our way among rocks

as thick as trees in an orchard - enormous towering hills a

thousand feet high, great boulders hanging orer sea-worn caves,

tall trembling steeples, tiny wooded rock-islets, shimmering

grottos, and an infinite number of grotesque water-carved forms

-the monk, the inkstand, the cap of liberty. All the afternoon

there was one of these within gun-shot on each side. This is

the pirates' baunt, and it is indeed a glorious thing to be a

pirate king when you can run from your pursuer into Along

Bay and disappear instantly at any point. On our way down

we came across a fleet of sampans , carrying a thousand wood




cutters to their work, convoyed by a gunboat. The commander

hailed us, and we went on board . “ I engage you to be

cautious, ” he said ; " there is a well-armed band of pirates

reported on the coast. I would come a little way with you, but

I have just received telegraphic orders to stand by these boats.

However, keep a good look -out."

By the evening of the second day we were close to our

destination -- the mouth of the river separating Tongking and

China. It was very foggy intermittently, and the pilot was

about at the end of his knowledge. He believed us, however,

to be just off the mouth of the river. So we held a council of

war on the bridge, and decided to anchor. The word was hardly

out of our host's mouth when - scrunch , scrunch, under the keel

told us it was too late. Full speed astern, anchors laid out,

ererybody on board run backwards and forwards across the

vessel - none of these things moved us. We were high and dry,

on a falling tide . Then the fog lifted for a moment, and we saw


where we were — far beyond the mouth of the river, within a

quarter of a mile of the mainland of China, and in probably the

very worst spot for the very worst pirates in the whole world.

And in these seas there is only one tide in the twenty - four hours.

For twenty hours we should be on the sandbank, in two or three

hours we should walk round the launch ; never in their lives

would the pirates have had a chance at such a prize as the

Fanny; and they could come in any number from the mainland.

We tried to laugh at our bad luck , but the situation was

decidedly unpleasant. One of our party knew the country very

well, and the natives, as he speaks Annamese, but we all knew

enough to know one thing — namely, that it would never do to

be taken alive . To blow one's brains out if necessary is one

thing; to be skinned alive is another. So we made prepara

tions for our defence. No craft travels in these waters without

being armed ; and we were particularly well off. We had each

his gun , rifle, and revolver ; three Sikh guards from the mines

had their rities , and there were six Winchesters in the rack in
















the saloon . The Chinese captain and crew could all be depended

upon ; so we posted a sentry forward , one aft, and one on the

bridge, to be relieved every two hours, with orders first to

hail and then to fire at anybody or any boat that might approach .

Then, after dinner, we laid our revolvers on the table and

commenced an all-night game—the second time in my life that

I have assisted at the unholy union of poker and pistols. Once

only were we disturbed. About two o'clock the Sikh in the

bows shouted “ Sampan ! ” In an instant we were on deck ,

and there, sure enough, was a big black boat approaching from

the sea. We waited till it was within a couple of hundred

yards—long enough to see that it was full of men, and was

being rowed in unusual silence ; then our Annamite- speaking

member shouted, “ If you don't show a light instantly we shall

shoot.” There was no answer, and still the boat came on.

He shouted again , and the rifles were at our shoulders, when

the boat showed a lantern . Then slowly it disappeared back

into the darkness.

So ended our desperate affair with the pirates. Their exis

tence is no joke, however. Numbers of native junks fall into

their hands, and a few months before I was there several

Europeans had been murdered by them, and two or three others

with sums of money in their possession, had completely dis

appeared. A fortnight previous two redoubtable pirate chiefs

were captured , two hundred men with 120 breechloaders, after

an expedition costing seven thousand dollars and a hundred

killed and wounded. At a place called Caobang they are still

formidable in the field, kept by their leaders under strict

discipline and training, and , when hard pressed, make their

escape across the frontier into China, where the mandarins help

them. And, of course, every junk that leaves the Canton river

is heavily armed with brass cannon, and every European

steamer that plies on it has an open stack of loaded rifles in

the saloon for the passengers ' use.

It is a long row up the river to the little frontier town of



Monkay. This is-or rather was - a very peculiar place. It

was built half on each side of the little stream that forms the

actual frontier. Two halves had different names, the Tong

king one only being called Monkay, and the Chinese town

Trong-King. (The reason for using the past tense will be

plain presently. ) The town had no poor quarter ; its streets

were mathematically laid out ; its houses were all of brick and

stone, with richly carved and ornamented lintels and eaves ;

its inhabitants were all rich. In some way or other, this was

the outcome of the alliance of piracy and smuggling. When

the French came they did not interfere with the town on their

side of the stream, but on the top of a sugar-loaf hill, three

quarters of a mile back, they began to build a little fort, and


under its guns they laid out a “ citadel,” inside which to locate

the barracks, officers ' quarters, magazines, &c. Among the

first to be sent there was a civilian officer named Haitce. One

day they were attacked by a band of Chinese soldiers. They

resisted as long as possible and then fled ; some were shot , some

escaped, Haitce only was captured. He was taken back to a

house in the principal street of the model little town of Monkay,

tied down upon a table, and skinned alive.

Now , at this time, the famous Colonel Dugenne was in com

mand of the Foreign Legion in Tongking. Everybody knows

what the Foreign Legion is — almost the only force in the world

where a sound man is enlisted instantly without a question

being asked. No matter what your nationality, what your

colour, what your past, you are welcome in the Foreign Legion .

A man may even desert from the regular French army and

re-enlist, unquestioned, in this beterogeneous force. In return

for this preliminary indulgence, however, you must put up with

many inconveniences — the worst climates, the hardest work, the

front line of the attack, the forlorn hope, and the most iron

discipline. Once out of civilised parts, and there is practically

only one punishment in the Foreign Legion—the punishment

that can only be awarded once. To keep such a body of men


in order, this is perhaps necessary , and the officers to enforce

it must be bard men-men with bodies of steel and hearts of

stone. And the hardest of them all was Colonel Dugenne.

Some day I must tell the stories I heard of his methods of

pacification in Tongking. When the authorities learned of the

outrage I have described, they understood that it was no use to

wipe it out with rose-water. So they sent Colonel Dugenne and

his " children . ” He came and looked at the place. “ Burn it,"

said he. But it wouldn't burn , being all brick and stone. “ Blow

it up , ” said Colonel Dugenne. And they did — they blew the

whole town literally to bits. Compared with Monkay, Pompeii

is in good preservation. You need an alpenstock to get through

the streets. And the house where Haitce was tortured is now

a hole in the ground twenty feet deep.

You are not long in discovering that Monkay is not like other

places. As we were rowing up, a big red pheasant was sitting

in a tree not twenty yards away. I picked up my rifle to try

and shoot its head off, as I have done with partridges in the

Maine woods. “ Don't fire here," I was told ; " the people at

the fort would think there was trouble, and probably turn out a


lot of men ." The Resident, M. Rustant,, walked down to meet

us and take us to the Residency. This proved to be an old

temple, or pagode, as the French call all native buildings, divided

into rooms by board partitions , and very meagrely provided with

modern furniture. Outside a six -foot moat was dug, and lined

with spikes of bamboo so thickly that a hen could hardly walk

about in it. On each side of the moat was a stockade built of

heavy bamboo, eight feet high, and sharpened to a spike at the

top. At each corner a look - out was built of sods and bamboo,

in which a sentry stood always with a loaded rifle. The front of

the Residency faced the river, where a little gun -boat lay at

anchor. The back of it looked towards the frontier, and there

fore the back entrance, with the kitchen and offices, was further

protected with thick walls of sods en échelon, to guard against

the bullets fired across at it from long range. The Resident's

727252 A

100 FRANCE .

guard consists of a hundred and twenty native militia, under two

European officers. But at night as we sat at dinner in the

cold , bare, cob-webbed , bat- tenanted central ball of the former


temple, the door was pushed noisily open, and a night-guard of

thirteen men and a sergeant of the Foreign Legion tramped

past our chairs to an ante-room, and grounded their arms with

a crash on the stone floor. At midnight we were awakened by

the same tramp and crash as the guard was changed. And

there is no “ show pidgin " about this : all these men and their

ball-cartridges may be needed at any minute.

Next morning we went to pay our respects to the commanding

officer, and look round . First we climbed up to the fortin on

the top of the sugar-loaf hill , where there were half- a -dozen

light guns and a small force of French artillerymen , and into

which no native is ever permitted to set foot. The frontier river

winds along like a silver thread three-quarters of aa mile off the

citadel is just below, and the half-dozen houses of the foreign

population ; and through a glass you can see the Chinese guns

and soldiers in their own fort, on a similar hill , a couple of

miles off, or less . All these guns , of course, are trained straight

at one another. And over the hills you can see the telegraph

wire connecting the furthest extremities of the Chinese Empire,

stretching down into the town , a solid and prosperous-looking

little place, like Monkay on this side before Colonel Dugenne

blew it up. The French have no telegraph , but a line of helio

graph to within a few miles of Haiphong, only allowed to be

used for official messages. Indeed, there is nobody else to use

it, although the Resident was kind enough to allow me to

receive a private message from home by its aid .

Then we walked, always with an escort, through the ruins

of the town down to the river. As we entered the street the

quick eye of the Commandant caught sight of new marks on a

blank brick wall . Climbing into the inside we discovered that

somebody from across the frontier had come, probably during

the preceding night, and actually loop -holed the wall for rifles,















80 that they could steal across the next moonlight night and

pick off the sentries at the fort ! From the arrangements made

then and there, I fancy those gentry would get a reception to

surprise them. The river which constitutes the actual frontier

is only about forty yards wide, and can be forded at low tide.

On the French side the bank is high , while the Chinese town is

built almost down to the water's edge. As soon as we were seen

on the opposite bank the Chinese soldiery came down to the river

in crowds , in their bright yellow and red jackets, to stare at

us, and when I set up my camera they evidently became rather

nervous, thinking it a new engine of war. Indeed, the Com

mandant said, “ Don't stay there any longer than is necessary ;

it's just possible they might take a pot-shot at us.” Across this

river, of course, not a soul ventures. If a Frenchman should

try, his head would be off his shoulders, or worse, in five

minutes. With a good deal of difficulty, I bribed a Chinaman

to take a telegram across, addressed to Sir Robert Hart, in

Peking, but they refused to despatch it, and sent it back. In

fact, the relations between the French and Chinese are

about as strained as they can possibly be. The Commandant

pointed out to me a small cleared and levelled spot on the top

of a hillock, and told me its gruesome story. Two months

before my visit a block-house had stood there, garrisoned by a

sergeant and six French soldiers and eight native regulars. One

night the people at the fort suddenly heard rapid firing, and

shortly afterwards the block -house burst into flames. The night

was pitch dark, and it was no good for them to move out to the

rescue, as they did not know that there were not a thousand

Chinese, and, as the block-house was burning, their comrades

had either escaped or been killed. At daylight they marched

down and found the eight natives and five Europeans dead , the

sergeant headless and horribly and indescribably mutilated, and

one European missing-evidently carried off into China, as he

was never heard of again. No wonder that a Chinaman from

across the river who falls into French hands here gets a very

102 FRANCE .

short shrift -generally about as long as it takes to pull &

trigger. In fact, I believe any Chinaman at Monkay at night

is shot on sight. The Chinese who come across on these

murdering expeditions are not pirates at all, or “ black flags,”

or dacoits, or anything of that kind ; they are Chinese regulars,

who leave their jackets behind and resume them on their

return. And, of course , if the practice were not encouraged or

at least winked at by the Chinese officials, it could not go on.

The native troops are not very smart soldiers, but they take

kindly to the loose French discipline, and on several occasions

they have fought very well indeed. Their dress consists of

dark blue cotton knickerbockers and jacket, a little pointed

bamboo hat, and a sash . They wear no shoes ; and the only

difference between the militia or civil guards and the regulars is

that the sash and hat of the former are blue and of the latter

red. At Monkay the total strength at the time of my visit was

about seven hundred and fifty men—three hundred and fifty

Europeans and four hundred natives—not nearly enough , the

Commandant complained bitterly. Once as I stood with him

in the fort he showed me a valley miles off, and said , “ There are

five hundred pirates over there. The day after to-morrow I am

going out to say ' Bonjour ' to them .” And two days after I

got back to Hongkong, I read in the newspaper that he had

made his expedition, the Chinese had attacked his camp during

the night, and that he had been the first man shot. “ Don't

forget to send me some of your photographs, ” he had said to me

at the same time, when I was taking those which now illus

trate this chapter ; " they will be very dramatic .” A Customs

officer named Carrière was captured and carried off by pirates

last year.. Three Frenchmen , MM . Roty, Bouyer, and Droz

Fritz were captured at different times in 1892 , and kept prisoners

for many months before their surrender was effected. And in

August of the present year the Chinese made a raid at Monkay,

killed a N. Chaillet in his own house, and carried off his wife

and child . So the Franco -Chinese frontier is still a place

that “ repays careful avoidance . ”



SOCIETY inFrenchIndo-China is sharply divided intothree

classes, and each of the three is at daggers drawn with the

other two. They are the official, the military, and the civilian

-the Governor -General, the Colonel, and the Colonist. To the

official eye the military class is constantly endeavouring to usurp

functions to which it has no right, and the civilians are an un

reasonable body of incapable people , impossible to satisfy. The

military class are furious against the Government, represented

by the officials, for their reduced numbers, and cling all the

more tenaciously to privileges which only belonged to them

as an army of occupation ; and they desire to be allowed a free

hand to “ pacify” the country by the only means known to them

-the sword. The civilian colonist, finally, detests the military,

in the conviction that if he could only once get rid of nearly

all of them the country would “ pacify " itself fast enough by

commerce and agriculture, which it will never do so long as

it is a happy hunting- ground for crosses and promotions. And

how can he feel either respect or sympathy for the Governors

who come and go like the leaves on the trees , and who must

needs hold the helm in Hanoi with their eyes fixed on the

Quai d'Orsay ? Society in the French colonies of the Far East

is aa perpetual triangular duel.

Let me give a few of the experiences upon which this analysis

is based. The first person with whom I had any conversation

after setting foot of Tongking was a well-informed , intelligent


104 FRANCE .

bourgeois who had passed six years there. I began by saying

I was sorry to hear of the heavy casualties of a column then

operating in the interior, a hundred men having been lost in

one action. “ He'll arrive, all the same,” replied my acquain

tance, speaking of the officer in command. “ He wants his

third star, and what does he care if it costs him five hundred

men ? He'll get it, too, allez ! " There is the civilian's view of

the military. Now for the functionary's view, and I should not

tell this story if M. Richaud's terrible death-let me throw a

word of recollection and respect over his “ vast and wandering

grave " —had not untied my tongue. When I was at Hanoi

I asked him, on the strength of my French official letter, for

an escort of a few men to accompany me to a place one day's

march into the interior. “ Certainly,” he replied, “ with

pleasure. They shall be ready the day after to -morrow ." The

same evening I was dining with him , and when I entered the

drawing-room he took me on one side and said , “ By the way,

about that escort, I am exceedingly annoyed, but it is impos

sible . ” And answering my look of surprise, for my official letter

had been given for the very purpose of making such facilities

certain, he continued : “ The General replies that he has not

five men of whom he can dispose at this moment. Frankly , you

know, you should properly have asked him in the first place,

and not me." The Governor -General's annoyance and em-.

barrassment at having to acknowledge to a stranger this

humiliating snub were so visible that of course I dropped

the subject, and his secretary's whispered request afterwards

not to reopen it was unnecessary. But I could not help asking

him next day as we were driving whether in French colonies, as

in English, the chief civil authority was not ex officio commander


in -chief. He saw the point instantly and replied , “ Yes, that is

my title too,” and after a pause— “ seulement, je délégue mes

pouvoirs ." After thus being refused an escort, I was refused

permission to go alone at my own risk , so my proposed journey

was doubly impossible. At the time the General had not five


men “ disponibles " there were, of course, twenty times that

number kicking their heels in barracks. The Governor had

promised the escort, therefore the General refused it. That

was the only and the universal explanation offered me. And

it was the true one.

To pass on again to the civilian colonist. Half way up the

river between Haiphong and Hanoi I noticed heaps of fresh mud

lying along the bank. “ Then you have been dredging, after

all ? " I asked. “ Hush ,” was the reply ; " we have been doing a

little of it at night, because the Administration would not allow

us to do it openly , and we stuck here every day .” Why not ?

Heaven only knows. It is siinply incredible, and therefore I will

not waste time in attempting to enumerate what “ l'Administra

tion " denies . It is, as Mephistopheles described himself to

Faust, der Geist der stets verneint. Whatever you want, though

it cost the Government not a penny, though it be a boon to

the community, though it be the opening-up of the country so

enthusiastically toasted, the authorities are absolutely certain

to refuse your request. Said a French civilian, “ Les consuls

français ne sont bons que pour vous donner tort quand vous

avez raison.” This is no joke-if you think so, stop the first

man, not a " functionary,” you meet in the street in Haiphong

and ask him. It is almost as easy to get into Parliament in

London as to get a concession of land for any purpose what

ever in Tongking, although the whole vast country is on public

offer, although the land almost throws its crops and its minerals


in your face, and although the inhabitants are "pirates ” by

thousands simply and solely for the employment and sustenance

which welcomed capital and encouraged enterprise alone can

farnish. This point has been urged frankly and strongly by a

French critic who is intimately acquainted with Tongking:-

" Soyez certain que si la pacification du Tonkin est si longue,

cela tient surtout à ce que nous n'avons pas su empêcher la

misère qui pousse les indigènes au brigandage. Si l'on avait

laissé le champ libre à l'esprit d'entreprise, si l'on avait appelé

106 FRANCE .

l'élément indigène, à tous les degrés de l'échelle sociale , à par

ticiper au développement de notre nouvelle colonie, la pacifica

tion serait bien avancée, sinon achevée . Au lieu de nos 15,000

hommes pourchassant des pirates, nous verrions, à l'heure qu'il

est, ces mêmes pirates employés paisiblement à des travaux

publics, car, il ne faut pas nous le dissimuler, nos ouvriers de

demain sont les pirates d'aujourd'hui, les cultivateurs d'hier,

chassés de chez eux par nos procédés belliqueux de ces dernières


It is the fact, though it seems almost incredible, that after all

these years of French administration, the scores of military

expeditions , the spending of countless millions of francs, the

loss of tens of thousands of lives, Tongking is only “ pacified "

so far as the delta is concerned.. The rest of the country is not

safe from one day to another, and almost every transport of

valuables has to have a military convoy. Within the last year

a number of Europeans have been carried off and only a few

weeks ago a train was actually stopped and pillaged while but a

short distance from the capital. Mr. Consul Tremlett, whose

Report from Saigon is dated February 25, 1894, writes of Tong

king as follows : - “ The delta may be considered as being fairly

under control, but, apart from that, the province is continually

raided by so-called pirates. There are now at least three

Frenchmen in captivity of whose fate the public knows nothing;

they are no doubt being held for ransom .” One of these, an

official, was captured at Sin -gam , not 40 miles from Hanoi,

upon a line which is running several trains a day, and not a

hundred yards from aa military post . And at the close of 1893

the Courrier d'Haiphong said : “ Since two years, not a month,

not a week has passed without reports of shots exchanged,

gangs of “ pirates ' broken up, engagements more or less bloody.

The number of “ pirates ' has certainly not diminished, and their

audacity has increased .” For my own part, I should not be

surprised to hear at any time of a new outburst of “ piracy "

on a large scale, supported by the Chinese across the frontier.


If the government of Tongking were administering a hostile

province which it desired to crush out of existence, it could

not do much better than follow the tactics pursued almost

without interruption since the colony was created. I have

told how it refuses privileges, and when it does give

them, what are they, too often ? Shortly before my arrival ,


a concession had been given for the “ Magasins Généraux "

at Haiphong, a monopoly of Custom-house examination in the

warehouses and on the wharves of one firm , to whom and

whose terms everybody was obliged to come. In vain the

whole community protested and protested. The monopoly was

granted, and Chambers of Commerce of both Haiphong and

Hanoi immediately and unanimously resigned, and the Chinese

merchants sent in a declaration that unless this additional

restriction were removed they would leave in a body. And a

single example will show the practical evil of this monopoly.

The storage of coal per ton per month cost at that time (for

comparison I employ French currency) at Hongkong (Kowloon

Godowns) 20 centimes ; at Shanghai (Jardine, Matheson & Co.)

28 centimes ; at Haiphong (Magasins Généraux) 4 francs ! One

resolution of the Chambers of Commerce was truly pathetic.

The Government consulted us, they said , and then took no notice

whatever of all our representations. It is therefore useless to

maintain an institution whose powers are purely illusory.

Please let us go.

Again, take the matter of railways. Everybody you meet in

the Far East will assure you that the jobbery in connection

with the extension of railways in Tongking passes description .

I cannot, of course, speak from personal or certain knowledge

upon this point, but the reader may be invited to consider for

a moment the scale of railway concessions now pending there.

M. de Lanessan bas sanctioned the following : To MM . Vézin

and Raveau, a line of 700 kilometres from Hanoi to Hué and

Tourane ; to MM . Soupé and Raveau, a line of 800 kilometres

from Saigon to Tourane and Hué ; to the same, a line of steam

108 FRANCE .

tramway from Hanoi to Phu-lang-thuong ; to M. Portal, who

represents the Kebao mines and a syndicate of Paris capitalists,

first, a line of 450 kilometres from Kebao, on the coast, to

Laokay, on the Chinese frontier ; second, a line from Kebao to

Langson ; third, a line from Haiphong to Sontay (one would

have supposed this to be almost a physical impossibility) ;

fourth, a line from Hanoi to Thai Nguyen ; fifth, a line from

Kebao to Monkay, on the frontier. A condition of this last set of

concessions is that all the materials for the railways shall be

supplied from France, and that the locomotives shall consume

only fuel mined in Tongking. Thus a premium is put upon

failure to begin with. The railway from Saigon to Khone,

ayain, is to cost about 16,500,000 francs for 410 kilometres, the

Colony having agreed to pay 500,000 francs per annum for it, if

the home Government will pay the remaining seven -eighths of

tlie cost. And another concession is promised for a line from

Tien-Yen, on the coast, viâ Seven Pagodas and Hanoi, to

Laokay (obviously including one of the concessions mentionel

above) , to cost 40,000,000 dollars. Now I say nothing, for I

know nothing, about jobbery in these concessions, but I am at

liberty to ask what prospect there is of any capital being

honestly put into such enterprises, and what prospect there is

of their paying their way, in view of a few facts known to every

body. Take the case of the “ Compagnie Française des Char

bonnages du Tonkin .” After the most tenacious and romantic

efforts , a concession was obtained in 1887 by M. Bavier

Chauffour to develop the coal mines of Hongay. The course of

the negociations reads like a chapter from an Oriental “ Arabian

Nights." To make an indisputable legal tender a ship was

chartered to carry 100,000 silver dollars to Tongking, where the

whole foreign population turned out armed to escort the bullock

carts carrying the twenty-five wooden cases through the streets.

Refused there, the dollars were taken on board again and carried

to the court of Annam , the ship parrowly escaping destruction

in a typhoon . Then they were brought back to Haiphong,


where the authorities finally accepted them . Now this conces

sion appears to be I speak, of course, without the least claim

to expert knowledge—of the greatest value. At a place called

Campha, I have seen a “ boulder-stream " of remarkably pure

antimony, 3,000 yards long with an average thickness of 20

feet, and I have stood on a solid block of pure oxide of anti

mony weighing 16 tons. In the same concession I saw a vein of

oxide of cobalt measuring 100 yards by 500 by one yard. And

from a little further north I have seen remarkable specimens of

copper ore. Infinitely more important , however, than all these,

are the coal- fields. For years the existence of these was well

known , and many times the commanders of French gunboats,

who had been struck by the multitude of outcrops, sent bome

reports calling attention to them and to the enormous advan

tages which would accrue to France if they could be successfully

worked. The Société has spent millions of francs upon these,

it has built lines of railway, it has created a town and a

harbour, it has employed thousands of miners, it has erected

machinery, sunk shafts and driven galleries under the direction

of the most experienced engineers it could secure . I have been

over the whole of the workings twice and into every one of the

galleries, and even taken photographs of the miners at work.

So I can speak with some confidence. As regards the quantity

of coal , it is practically inexhaustible. There are millions of

tons in sight and nobody can guess how much lies below. I

have been in a score galleries, each of them in a solid seam

from 10 to 20 feet thick. At Hatou there are seven seams side

by side , aggregating 54 feet of coal . And yet these were merely

the preliminary works of prospecting. The " Marguerite Mine

at Hongay is simply a great mountain of coal.

A few years ago the French Ministries of Marine and the

Colonies sent out a distinguished mining engineer, M. E. Sarran,

on a special mission to report upon the mines of Tongking.

After tests in the laboratory, at sea, and upon briquettes, he

wrote of the Hongay coals as follows : “ Our opinion is that

110 FRANCE .

Tongking possesses an immense wealth of excellent combustible

that the navy may employ with marked advantage over all other

coals of the China seas and Australia, rivalling Anzin and

Cardiff by its extreme purity, by the absence of iron pyrites,

and by a development of heat at the very least equal to that

furnished by these coals.” These coals are selling at a first-rate

price in Hongkong to -day, they have been supplied by contract

to aa number of British lines and to the French navy, they have

been reported favourably upon by British men-of- war, and there

is no longer any possible doubt as to their value. The Société

has recently set up machinery for making briquettes , or patent

fuel, out of the coal- dust, and a preliminary order was given for

10,000 tons by the French Government for the navy. The first

two lots offered were refused as not up to the required standard,

but were accepted at a lower price, and on April 19th of this

year new trials were made in the presence of M. Jaouin,

Engineer of the Navy and Director of the Workshops. The

following were the results obtained : Weight of water vaporised

by a kilo of briquettes, 7:57 (the contract demanded 6.50, and

the first trial had given 5.698) ; ash and clinkers, 8:11 per cent.

(the contract allowed 27 per cent ., and the first trial had given

56.30 per cent.).. The Superior Commission of Examination

unanimously recommended the acceptance of the consignment.

I am not in possession of the latest returns, but the output from

the Hongay mines from January 1 to April 22, 1894, was 35,716

tons. The actual shipments during this time were 36,721 tons,

and 9,000 tons were left in stock. Of the deliveries to customers,

40 per cent. was first- class screened coal, and the rest smaller

grades. Now my reason for going thus into the details of a

single enterprise is simple. Here is a commercial undertaking

of the very best character, the results of which are proved

beyond doubt, in the French colony of Tongking, where are also

the railways I am discussing. Yet from beginning to end the

local authorities have done nothing but obstruct the Société in

every way. The whole of the capital, with trifling exceptions,


has been found by two British subjects in Hongkong, Messrs.

Chater and Mody, to whom and whose money the development

of this Tongking wealth is wholly due. Again and again have

they tried to induce French capitalists to take a share of the

burden. I believe this is now about to be accomplished, but I

am speaking of the past. Moreover, the most childish restric

tions have been enforced, of which one may be given as a

specimen. No man not a French subject may be employed by

the Société in any capacity. That is , if the directors desired to

obtain a report upon the value of their property or upon the

best means of developing it, from a distinguished British or

American expert, they could not charge his fee to the accounts

of the Société , but would have to pay him out of their own

pockets as a purely private matter. Such are some of the con

ditions and history of investment in Tongking, while the country

is starving for want of capital, and “ pirates” hold possession of

the greater part of it for want of opportunity to work for wages.

I ask, therefore, what are the prospects of these tremendous

railway concessions I have enumerated, or what reason is there

to think that they are bona fide commercial investments ? The

reply is obvious.

These huge concessions have been granted right and left,

apparently by the fiat of M. de Lanessan, while the really

essential line from Hanoi to Langson, for which trade is

actually waiting, was begun in 1889, and although the route is

an easy one and the total distance from Phu -lang -thuong to

Langson is but 72 miles, it has only reached the station of

Song -hoa, a distance of 31} miles. In addition to this, there is

the stretch between Hanoi and Phu -lang-thuong, and that

between Langson and Bi-ni or Lang.nac on the frontier, to be

built before the trade of the district of Lungchow , estimated at

3,000,000 dollars annually, can be tapped. Yet M. Étienne

officially promised to the Chamber of Deputies that the line

should be completed by the end of 1891. If the French, both

official and private, were really in earnest about their railways,

112 FRANCE .

it is evident that they would have devoted every franc and

every effort in their power to complete their one promising

line before launching out upon a score of other questionable

lines. Finally, in support of my whole argument, I may

quote the following passage from Mr. Consul Tremlett's latest

Report : “ The Saigon -Mytho railway is always in evidence ; it

cost, although constructed along a great highway, over 200,000

francs per kilometre (crossing two rivers) , or about 15,000,000

francs altogether ; it has now been in existence some seven

years , but has rendered no real service to trade."

Lest it be thought that there is exaggeration or prejudice

in these suggestions of impropriety in the administration of

French Indo-China, I will reproduce a passage from the verbatim

official report of the discussion of the national Budget of 1891

in the Chamber of Deputies. M. Étienne, Under-secretary of

State for the Colonies, was making a long and important speech

in explanation and defence of the portion of the Budget relating

to the Colonies. He was interrupted at one moment by M.

Clémenceau, and the following conversation occurred :

M. CLÉMENCEAU. While you are still upon the question of Tongking will you

be good enough to say a word to us about the exemptions from the customs daties ?

That is one of the important points of the Report of M. le Myre de Vilers. You

have forgotten to speak of it.

M. ÉTIENNE. M. Clémenceau points out to me that the Governor -General has

taken it upon himself to exempt from import duties certain classes of goods

intended for young industries in Tongking and Annam. He declares that the

Governor-General had not the right to deprive the Budget of the Protectorate of

these receipts . I reply that the Governor -General acted by virtue of the powers

which he holds from the State ; he has done what is done-I am obliged to say it

-in the other colonies. The Councils- General, when a customs tariff has been

voted and has received the sanction of the Council of State, have the right to

reduce duties without incurring remarks from any one.

M. LEYDET. In favour of private persons ?


NNE. Precisely.

M. CLÉMENCEAU . Then there is no law any more.

M. ÉTIENNE. It is the Constitution.

A MEMBER OF THE LEFT. It is the absence of aa. Constitution !

M. ÉTIENNE. It is thus.

M. LE COMTE DE MONTFORT. Then everything is explained !

Journal Officiel, November 28, 1890 , p. 2295.


The reporter says that “ mouvements divers ” took place in the

Chamber at M. Étienne's admission . It would have been

surprising had this not been so, for it is of course obvious that

when the Council - General—that is to say, the Governor-General

-may exact customs duties from one person and exempt another

from them , the door is opened wide to every kind of political


I might fill pages with other examples of French adminis

tration and colonial methods. For example, a few months ago

the price of the dollar was fixed at 3 francs by order of the

Governor-General, at a time when the commercial price of it

was from 2.70 to 2.75 francs. Some speculators purchased

200,000 dollars at the latter price and sent them to Hanoi.

They were accepted by the Treasury there, and remitted at the

official price of 3 francs. Thus the speculators made some

55,000 francs, while the Government lost the same sum. Again ,

à Paris paper tells of a contract which was given to a local

firm to demolish a part of the old citadel of Hanoi. This is

described as a very simple operation, the cost of which would

have been met by the value of the materials accruing to the

contractor. But the contractor received 40,000 dollars for his

work, and a concession of nearly 100 hectares of land in the

town of Hanoi to boot , the value of land there being often as

much as 5 dollars the metre. Thus, adds the paper in question ,

the contractors received a present of about 400,000 dollars.

Again , the Chinese capitation tax is the subject of much natural

criticism. In one year this was farmed out for Cambodia to a

Chinaman for 72,000 dollars, though his predecessor had only

paid 32,000 dollars , and as the number of Chinese had not

increased to any great extent it is obvious that he would make

up the difference - indeed, that he was expected to make it up

by additional “ squeezes "” from his unfortunate compatriots.

There are in France a few publicists and politicians who have

made a special study of French colonisation , and the opinions

of these men are expressed with the greatest sense and modera


114 FRANCE .

tion. But to the ordinary French writer the colonies are &

sealed book. His equipment for discussing them consists of a

vague sentimental idea that colonies mean strength and com

merce and glory, and since he is generally actuated, as Lord

Rosebery has just said, by a profound jealousy of Great Britain,

and knows of her fame as a colonising nation, he insists that

France must be a colonising nation too. He does not stop to

reflect that everything depends upon where the colonies are and

how they are administered. In despair at the difficulty of

obtaining French official facts and figures in any instructive

shape I recently wrote to a friend at the head of one of the

most important departments of the French Foreign Office,

begging him to send me any volumes he could find on the

subject. After some searching he was good enough to forward

to me an official work bearing this description : “ Ministère des

Colonies. Protectorat de l'Annam et du Tonkin. Administration

des Douanes et Régies. Rapport Sommaire sur les Statistiques

des Douanes et le Mouvement Commercial de l'Annam et du

Tonkin en 1893.” Here at last, I thought, is what I want, and

indeed the volume contains many instructive figures to which

I shall refer later. But it is evidently intended for popular

circulation , and this is a specimen of its advice to the French

emigrant :

“ We may affirm that in the very near future this country [ Tongking) will offer &

vast field to the emigration of our compatriots who till now have sought land and

work in South America , but always under the conditions of economy mentioned

above and of determined work. In the hill country and at slight altitudes the

European can work in the fields all day long for five months of the year. For

four other months be can work three hours in the morning and as much in the

evening ; while during the three months of great heat he must take precautions at

all hours of the day, on account of the sun. Under these conditions the colonist

can take his persunal share ( contribuer personellement) in the labours of clearing

the land , planting, and teaching the natives he employs the use of French tools,

which are greatly superior to the rudimentary tools used in the country .”

It is difficult to comment upon this in fitting terms. To any..

body who knows the East no comment will be necessary , and to

those who do not hardly any words would bring home the truth,


80 wildly preposterous is the suggestion that a European agricul

tural labourer should go out to work in the tropics with his

spade and hoe. If the author of this book had suggested to the

native of Tongking that he should come to Paris and seek

employment as a clerk, he would not have gone much further

astray . Yet this is the kind of thing that is offered officially to

French readers on the subject of French colonies .

In the preceding chapter I spoke in general terms of the

proportion of “ fonctionnaires," civil servants, to the French

population of Indo-China. The details of this are so astonish

ing that they would hardly be credited from the mouth of a

foreigner. I will therefore give a French official statement of

them. M. Étienne, while Under-secretary of State for the Colo

nies and speaking in defence of the Administration, made the

following remarks about the state of things in Cochin -China ::

“ What is the population of that country ? It is 1,800,000

souls. There is a French population of 1,600 inhabitants, of

whom 1,200 are 'fonctionnaires..' How is it administered ? It

has a Colonial Council : elected by whom ? By the 1,200

' fonctionnaires,' who have also a deputy. And you expect that

confusion and disorder will not reign in that country ! How ,

indeed, can you expect an administration to work smoothly,

when thanks to this system of organisation, all this world of

' fonctionnaires ' throws itself into the electoral arena, and

divides itself into two, three , or four camps, one supporting the

actual President of the Colonial Council , another the Mayor of

Saigon, another the deputy, another the candidates for deputy ?


... In 1887 I tried to reduce the number of the fonction

naires.' I did reduce the cost of them to the extent of 3,500,000

francs out of 9,000,000. I took that step in October, and in the

following December the Ministry of which I was a member

disappeared. Six months later, the ‘ fonctionnaires ' whom I

had diemissed had all reappeared in Cochin -China." When

this is admitted by the defenders of a system there is nothing

• Chambre des Députés, Séance du 27 Novembre, 1890.

116 FRANCE ,

left for its critics to say. In the very same year that the salaries

of the " fonctionnaires” of Cochin-China amounted to £360,000,

the sum spent upon public works in the Colony - the one expen

diture upon which the entire productive future of such a place

must depend - was £ 16,000 ! But even this pitiful figure is far

from telling the whole astounding truth . When the “ mouve

ment prolongé ” which followed his words had died away, M.

Étienne continued : “ And while public works in the present

year are only represented by £ 16,000, what do you think is the

sum allotted to the personnel of the public works department ?

It is £ 16,000— £ 16,000 worth of personnel out of £ 16,000 worth

of public works ! " That is , not a centime of work was

done. Moreover, during the years when millions of francs

were spent on public works in Cochin-China, what was

there actually done to show for it ? “ Only a few roads

round Saigon " - " routes luxueuses,” according to M. de

Lanessan elsewhere, “ pour les fonctionnaires qui vont se

promener le soir autour de Saigon . " It is fortunate in the

interests of truth that we have these facts from the lips of

responsible Ministers and ex-Ministers ; as I said, nobody would

have believed them from the mouth of a foreign critic. We owe

the revelations to a curious and amusing circumstance. There

is a cynical proverb to the effect that when mothers-in -law fall

out, we get at the family facts. And all this information arose

from a falling-out between M. Étienne and M. le Myre de Vilers.

As " rapporteur," the latter had bitterly attacked the financial

régime of the former. M. Étienne retorted that however bad

things niight be at that moment, they were much worse when

M. le Myre de Vilers was Governor of Cochin-China. M. le

Myre de Vilers protested against the expenditure for eleven

carriages for the service of the Governor. M. Étienne replied

that his critic had himself had eleven carriages and had

spent more money upon them. M. le Myre de Vilers criticised

the sum of 12,000 francs which M. Piquet was spending as

Governor in secret services. M. Étienne retorted that M. le


Myre de Vilers himself had spent 15,000 francs. Finally, when

the duel had at the same time delighted and shocked the

Chamber for an hour the combatants exchanged a couple of

terrific blows, and sank exhausted. M. Étienne produced a set

of dreadful figures showing that expenditure had risen by leaps

and bounds in all directions during M. le Myre de Vilers'

tenure of office in Cochin-China. This blow his adversary made

no attempt to parry , but riposted with the proof that whereas

M. Étienne was posing as the reformer of administrative

methods, he was himself directly and personally responsible for

the extreme centralisation which had produced the very evils he

was deploring. In support of this he read two despatches from

M. Étienne to himself, ordering that every change in personnel

in the Colony should in future be submitted by him to M.

Étienne in Paris, before it was made. “ Thus,” he concluded ,

" M. the Under-secretary of State for the Colonies reserves to

himself every nomination, and M. the Governor-General has not

the right to appoint a school-master ! ” Such an effect did this

instructive duel produce upon the Chamber that the Budget was

adopted by the small majority of 85 in a total vote of 483, and

this only after the Ministry had made a series of impassioned

appeals to the memory of the thousands of Frenchmen who had

laid down their lives for their country in Indo- China.

One recent French writer and traveller, I may add, has

spoken out bluntly about Tongking. This is Prince Henri

d'Orleans, who has certainly had abundant opportunities of

seeing French colonial methods for himself. - Almost every

where,” he says , “ there exists a latent antagonism , if indeed it is

not overt, between the colonist and the Government ." And this

is his pronouncement about French colonial administration :

" It is too numerous ; it is partially composed of incapables and

of men with bad antecedents ; it is too ignorant and meddle

some ; it endeavours to raise difficulties and to check all means

of action ; for the most part born of favouritism , it endeavours

to indulge in the same practice and displeases those who

118 FRANCE .

obtain what they apply for as well as those who are passed

over . '" **

So much for the colonist and the Government impersonal.

What is his attitude towards the personal Governor-General ?

He sees him come, he watches him while he is learning the

A B C of Tongking affairs, he reads a few official decrees, he

hears a few official after-dinner speeches, eulogizing France,

Tongking and the colonist himself, and then some day a tele

gram comes and the colonist sees him go. The heads of the

colonial Government succeed each other in Saigon and Hanoi

like the figures of a shadow pantomime. M. Richaud boasted

to me with a laugh that he was tolerated longer than any of his

predecessors. His term of office had been thirteen months ! +

Before the Governor-General comes, he is unknown ; while in

the East even his public speeches are addressed to Paris ; he

returns and is forgotten . It is the merest farce of supervision,

and what wonder that the colonist sinks deeper year by year in

disgust and despair ? He has described himself in a bitter

epigram : “ le colon est un prétexte à banquets. " Instability is

the dominant characteristic of French administration in the

Far East. Does anybody seriously believe that the solid

foundations of future prosperity can ever be laid in this shifting

quicksand ? For an Englishman who cares for France it is

positively distressing to hear Frenchmen talk in Tongking.

Fifty times during my two visits was it said to me, " Ah, if only

you English had Tongking !” Matters have somewhat improved

for them lately, and a new hostility to England has sprung up,

but I seriously believe that if a secret ballot had been taken

then , a majority of the French in Tongking would have voted,

“ Around Tonkin ,” 1894 , pp. 88 and 423.

+ This is the list of Governors- General since the creation of the “ Union Indo.

chinoise " by the decree of October 17, 1887 : -M. Constans, Nov. , '87 -April, '88 ;

M. Richaud, April, '88-May, '89 ; M. Piquet, May, '89-April , '91 ; M. Bideau, April,

'91-June, '91 ; M. de Lanessan , April, '91, en congé ; M. Chavassieux, March , '94,

acting ; M. de Lanessan . Between December, 1884, and November, 1887, there

were ten Residents -General of Tongking -- an average service of about three months.


in spite of their undying love of country, to hand over Indo

China to England. Then at least they would have been able

to buy and sell, manufacture and import, create and develop,

with no man to hamper them and no “ Administration ” to

forbid . As it is, the French colonist's attitude to his govern

ment is summed up in the exclamation that I heard fall from

the lips of one of them when he saw an official approaching him

on duty—“ Nom de Dieu !-voilà encore l'Administration qui

arrive ! "

But the shadows on the picture are not yet complete. First,

as to the Chinese. Nobody can advocate more strongly than I

the absolute necessity of keeping them out of a civilised settled

Western country. But it is as plain as the nose on one's face

that no colony in the Far East can dispense with them . Their

labour, their easy and willing adaptability to any job by which

money can be earned, from nursing the baby to driving the steam

engine ; their commercial insight and comparative trustworthi

ness,—these make them an ideal substratum for a new commu

nity, as Shanghai and Hongkong and Singapore and the Protected

Malay States prove to demonstration. Yet Indo - China taxes

them till they are giving up their established businesses , and

puts a price on the head of each as he comes and again as he

goes. The impôt personnel upon every Asiatic is from 7 dols . to

80 dols. ; the impôt des patentes ranges from 2 dols. to 400 dols .;

and the price of the passport without which no Asiatic can

leave French territory is 2.50 dols.

Second, the port charges. Take the little steamer I returned

in, the Freyr, 676 tons , from Randers, in Jutland. At the port

of Newcastle she had paid £4 ; at Nagasaki 70 dols.; at Yoko

bama 50 dols. ; at Hongkong 4 dols.; while to get in and out of

the port of Haiphong costs her every trip 302.40 dols . And this,

too, is only for the ship's charges, pure and simple. The char

terer must pay a dollar and a half wharfage for every ton of

cargo landed - say 750 dols. for an average cargo . Thus at a

port where common sense teaches that trade should be tempted

120 FRANCE .

and nursed in every possible way, the authorities begin by

making trade all but impossible. There can hardly be a more

needy port in the world than Haiphong, yet it is doubtful if

there is a more expensive one. The consequences are inevit

able and obvious.

Third, the enormous Customs duties of the “ Tarif général.”

These need no specifying. Saigon prospered exceedingly under

a free -trade régime, and she has been forced to give protection a

good trial. What is the position of Saigon now ? A critical, if

not a hopeless one. Yet she long ago discovered that only

one thing could save her. A unanimous report of the Chamber

of Commerce concluded with these words in big type : “ We

demand the absolute abolition of the Customs régime in Cochin

China from January 1 , 1889. " Yet is there the faintest shadow

of a coming change ? On the contrary. In one of the last

public speeches he made, at a banquet in Hanoi, M. Richaud

exclaimed, “ Renounce the chimerical hope of the return of

absolute commercial liberty ! ” The subsidised newspaper

added that this was followed by a “ triple salve d'applaudisse

ments .” The only possible comment is , that the colonists of

Hanoi who applauded that sentiment should be refused Christian

burial , for they are suicides.

Again and again have the Colonies protested against these

duties by every means at their command, and their protests have

been supported by several of the most influential writers and

administrators in France, such as M. Leroy-Beaulieu and M. le

Myre de Vilers , but almost wholly in vain. Some slight amelior

ations have been granted under the pressure of absolute necessity.

A series of modifications in the “ Tarif Général” have been

applied to Indo - China, reducing the duties on a number of

articles and abolishing them on others. And after it had

become perfectly clear that transit trade to southern China

through Tongking would not arise so long as customs duties

were levied upon goods in transit, the authorities conceded a

détaxe of 80 per cent. upon such goods. And when this was


proved to be prohibitive they took off the tax altogether. Thus

what should have been dictated at the outset by an elementary

knowledge of practical economics was only conceded after a long

struggle and when it was enforced by necessity. I need hardly

say, I presume, that the tariff is constructed primarily to keep

out the manufactures of all nations except France , but in spite

of this, as I shall show later, the trade between France and

her colonies in Indo-China is a mere bagatelle , not to be com

pared for an instant with the subventions necessary to keep the

colonies going. The foreigner is regarded as an enemy, and the

most petty restrictions and partialities are adopted to handicap

him . Here is an example which I take from the London and

China Express : " On a firm whose total earnings in 1892 were

182 dollars, and in 1893 749 dollars, the resident of Annam

imposed the patente to the modest sum of 316 dollars yearly.”

At the port of Haiphong French ships pay fifty centimes per

ton , foreign ships one franc. At the “ ports ouverts au com

merce " French ships pay one cent. per ton, foreign ships ten

cents. Will it be believed by those who only know France in

Europe, and love her gallantry, her freedom from intellectual

prejudice, and her constant striving after an ideal of equality,

that France in the Far East positively bars her paying hospital

at her chief port against foreign sufferers by a differential tariff ?

Yet this is the case. In the General Hospital at Saigon foreign

seamen must pay 9} francs a day and foreign oflicers 13 francs

-charges just double what French patients of corresponding

ranks have to pay. “ I addressed the Governor upon the

subject," says the British Consul , from whose last Report I take

the fact, “ pointing out that in the hospitals of Hongkong and

Singapore no distinction was made as regards nationality, but

no reply has as yet been received.” Is it too much to say that

a nation which deliberately does this has still to learn one of the

first principles of civilisation ?

The result of any careful study of French colonial administra

tion in the Far East, as I have now perhaps shown alike from

122 FRANCE .

my own investigations and the testimony of the best French

critics both in France and on the spot, is therefore that Indo

China is grievously misgoverned . Instead of finding a helping

hand , the French colonist encounters a closed fist. The

“ functionary,” dressed in his little brief authority, has utterly

forgotten that he is the servant of the colonist, that he has

no other reason for existence except to aid and protect and

encourage his self -exiled countryman. As it is, while the

colonist is the blood of the new country , the “ functionary ” is

the leech . Day by day the cry of the French colonial civilian

goes up to heaven, “ Pas tant d'Administration ! ” Everywhere

else in the world , capital is welcomed, no matter whose pocket

it comes out of. In French colonies alone gold must be stamped

with “ liberty, equality ,and fraternity” before it is received, and

a man must be a Frenchman before he is allowed to labour with

the rest . The Revolution seems a joke when one learns in

Tongking that one of the conditions attached to a concession is

that nobody but Frenchmen shall be employed on it, and that a

sick Englishman or German must pay twice as much for his bed

in the hospital as a sick Frenchman. I do not believe there is

another country in the world which would make such a pitiful

stipulation. Does France not know what is done in her name ?

or is she not ashamed, remembering '89, to adopt such an

attitude to-day before the world ?

In conclusion I will say simply this. I believe, as every one

who has looked into the matter believes, that Tongking might

have a prosperous future under the control of a colonising

nation . But I know, as everybody who has looked into the

matter knows, that she will never reach it along the present

road. A certain permanency of appointment for the Governor

General; a relaxing of restrictions upon the colonists all round ;

a hundred times more respect paid by officials to colonial wishes

and requests ; far greater consideration for native rights and

sentiments ; the encouragement of the Chinese ; a glad welcome

to capital and enterprise from any source ; an immediate and


equable reduction of the tariff; the decentralisation of autho

rity ;-these are some of the primal conditions of progress. If

they do not come, then France may prepare for the humiliation

which the very name of “ Indo-China ” will ultimately carry

with it. In the words of the editor of the Courrier d'Haiphong,

" To continue as at present means the loss of Indo-China - it

means the ruin of French influence in the Far East."



IN preceding chapters I have endeavoured by aa brief descrip

tion of the external aspects of the French colonies in the

Far East to place before the reader a picture of the results in

life and administration which have been attained in about

thirty-six years. And by my own criticisms, supported by the

testimony of distinguished French writers and speakers, I have

tried to show how completely France has misunderstood the

problem she set herself to solve, and how persistently and

wilfully her administrators have taken the wrong road. These

criticisms, however, have been for the most part in general

terms, whereas to produce an adequate effect they should be

proved to demonstration by actual facts . What one man

affirms, another may deny. Without figures a criticism may

be dismissed as largely a matter of opinion. I decided, there

fore, to collect from French official sources the figures relating

to a typical French colony ; first, concerning its cost, and

second , concerning its returns : that is, to draw up a national

balance sheet for this one national enterprise, in the form of a

debit and credit account.

If I had foreseen what this decision involved, I should not

have attempted the task at this time. I had, however, no sus

picion of the extraordinary complexities of French official

finance and the difficulties, amounting almost to impossibility,

which beset any one, not a professed statistician, who attempts



to disentangle the plain fact from the mountains of figures.

The French as a nation are addicted to the exact sciences, and

this national proclivity comes to its finest flower in the French

Budget. It is issued every year in a number of volumes ; it is

subdivided in the most elaborate manner ; it contains the

minutest details upon every possible point ; it is arranged on a

theoretical system so arbitrary that a lifetime would hardly be

too long to enable one to grasp its principles. If you desire to

learn the details of the movements in the potato-market, or the

duty upon areca-nut collected in Cambodia, the French Budget

with its local additions will satisfy your curiosity at once. If,

however , you desire to calculate the cost of a French colony

through a series of years , you must unite the path -finding

instincts of a Red Indian with the patience of the patriarch and

a willingness to believe that no contradiction is involved when

1,000 francs in one book appears as 1,200 in another . More

over , the French are never satisfied with their own official

statistics : they are constantly varying the form and polishing

the principle . And after prolonged investigation one is forced

to the conclusion that the body of statisticians desires to

remain a close corporation , and to construct out of its own

figures an impenetrable barrier to exclude the impertinent

independent inquirer . No sooner , for example , have you

discovered in what way a certain fact of finance is presented

during a series of years than you are brought up short at a

foot-note explaining that by a “ mouvement d'ordre " this fact

has been transferred to another portion of the Budget and

incorporated in a wholly different series of tables. One of the

most accomplished French statisticians, M. de Foville, whose

handbook is or should be upon the desk of every writer about

France, frankly admits all this. “ Nothing is more dangerous,"

he says, “ than amateur statistics, where errors swarm, and

which prove everything that one desires to prove. The only way

effectually to combat this false statistic is to put true statistics

within the reach of all-to make the truth in relation to econo

126 FRANCE .

mical and social questions very accessible in the first place, and

very intelligible in the second . But this point has not yet been

reached , especially in France. A hundred times we have heard

men , who were certainly not the first comers, express their

regret that it is so difficult to obtain exact information upon

even the most common facts of the national life." * And eren

while I was gathering the figures which follow, M. Leroy

Beaulieu , certainly the most capable of living Frenchmen in

such matters, has lifted up his voice in a complaint which

echoed my own growing despair. He says : “ Quite at the end

of the last session , at the sitting of July 24, 1894, M. Poincaré

laid upon the table the ' rectified project ' of the Budget for 1895.

This ' rectified project,' very far from being final, is the subject

of new manipulations and rectifications. Our unhappy Budgets

are retouched and altered to such an extent that it is impossible

to recognise them or to find one's way about in them .” + As an

example of this lack of finality, I may add that a French Budget,

whether national or colonial , is not closed until years after the

date of its appearance . Thus the Tongking Budget of 1891,

for example, may appear in one shape in 1890, in another in

1891 , in still another in 1892, and possibly even in a fourth in


1893 ,

After the above it will easily be understood that I put in

no claim for the completeness of my own figures. They are

the result of many weary days of research both in London and

in the official libraries in Paris ; and I doubt if there is a

contemporary French book of reference which I have not

examined. More than once I have been on the point of

giving up the task, but I have reflected that this would be to

leave the lesson untaught, since it is very improbable that

any Frenchman will desire in the present state of colonising

enthusiasm to become the mouthpiece of facts so unpleasant

to the majority of his fellow-countrymen. I claim only, how

• Foville, “ La France Économique,” 1887, p. i

+ Jouria des Débats, November 3, 1894.


ever, that the following figures have been conscientiously

sought, and I present them as an attempt to answer a

question of the greatest interest, until some more skilful

investigator shall correct them. Complete and final accuracy,

I may add , will never be attained by anybody, since in not a

few instances the official figures are hopelessly self-contra

dictory . *

I have chosen Tongking as the typical French colony because

of the amount of discussion that has already raged around it,

and because the whole of its history is included within a

modern and comparatively brief period. It will be remembered

that Tongking was under the suzerainty of Annam when the

French became possessed of the latter country in 1862, the

Annamese having driven out the Chinese long before, although

China still claimed suzerainty, as she has done over every

country adjoining her vast empire. The explorations of Senez,

Harmand, Dupuis, and, above all, of Francis Garnier, the most

gallant and devoted explorer France has ever had, filled up the

interval until 1873, the year of what has been called the first

Tongking expedition . Garnier seized the delta of Tongking in

the winter of 1873, declared the Red River open to commerce,

and was killed in an ambush on December 21st. The fol

lowing years were remarkable chiefly for the explorations of

M. de Kergaradec — a naval lieutenant and French Consul at

Hanoi-and those of a rapidly increasing number of French

officers and travellers. Up to 1882 nothing further had been

accomplished, except theoretical work. In March, 1882 , Rivière

was despatched to Tongking with two ships and four hundred

men to bring the anomalous situation to an end. He fought

several actions against the Black Flags, but his force was too

small to enable him to do anything of importance, and he

* “ Comme nous l'avons fait remarquer dans notre précédente edition de cet

ouvrage, nos documents stati jues coloniaux officiels se contredisent sans cesse.”

-Leroy - Beaulieu , " De la Colonisation chez les peuples modernes,” Paris, 1891

p. 557 , note ,

128 FRANCE .

remained for nearly a year virtually a prisoner in the citadel

of Hanoi. At last the French Government, under the famous

ministry of Jules Ferry, voted credits and reinforcements, and

as soon as these arrived Rivière attacked and was killed in the

sortie of May 19, 1883, under circumstances which I have pre

viously described . When this news reached France, a wave of

colonial and military enthusiasm broke over the country, and

the Chamber and the Senate unanimously voted a credito

5,300,000 francs, and a powerful expedition was despatched

under General Bouët and Admiral Courbet.

At this moment, therefore, the history of Tongking may be

said to begin, and the calculation of its cost accordingly

commences here, although of course not a little money had

been previously spent in the country. For the next four years

French treasure and French lives were spent with so lavish a

hand that at last France became thoroughly alarmed at the

outlook ; and after General Negrier bad attacked and captured

Langson in defiance of orders, had been driven out by the Chinese

and mortally wounded , and Colonel Herbinger had lost control

of himself and retreated precipitately in the most discreditable

manner , public opinion turned against Tongking, and the Ferry

Ministry succumbed to an onslaught by M. Clémenceau on

March 30, 1885. This first chapter of the financial history of

Tongking presents the following figures :

Francs .

1883 14,858,900

1884 73,250,368

1885 115,694,4157

1886 65,998,696


In four years, therefore, France had spent, at the most

moderate computation that could be made, nearly two hundred

* These figures are taken from M. Jules Ferry, “ Le Tonkin et la Mère-Patrie,"

1890, p. 386 , a source in which they are not likely to be found exaggerated.

+ In 1885 and 1886 the credits voted were 164,385,512 and 75,203,901 franos

respectively, but I have taken the sums described as actually spent.


and seventy millions of francs. The preliminaries of peace

with China were signed at Paris on April 4, 1885 .

For the second chapter, from 1887 to the estimated Budget

of 1894, I have collected the figures from the national Budget

of each year. They present the following results :

From France . From Cochin -China . Totals.

Francs. Francs . Francs.

1887 30,000,000+ 11,000,000 41,000,000

1888 19,800,000 11,000,000 30,800,000

1889 15,615,000 11,000,000 26,615,000

1890 12,450,000 11,000,000 23,450,000

1891 10,450,000 11,000,000 21,450,000

1892 10,450,000 8.000.000 18,450,000

1893 24,450,000 5,000,000 29,450,000

1894 24,450,000 4,700,000 29,150,000

147,665,000 72,700,000 220,365,000

Thus, during the eight years which have followed the estab

lishment of peace and the final passing of Tongking under

French dominion , France has spent over two hundred and

twenty millions of francs. We therefore arrive at the following

first estimate of the cost of Tongking :

Francs .

1883-1886 269,802,379

1887-1894 220,365,000

Total 490,167,379

I am prepared to show, however, that even this enormous

figure is a long way short of the fact. The French official

* Inclusive of the subvention for the Tongking submarine cable.

† In round numbers- from Jules Ferry .

In the Budget, Service Colonial," for 1888, this figure appears as only

1,727,000 francs, but as M. Étienne said in the Chamber of Deputies when pre

senting the Budget of 1891, “ Nous avons demandé , en effet, 11 millions à la

Cochin -Chine en 1887, et nous avons dû, en 1888, en 1889, et en 1890, lui réclamer

la même somme, ” I have made 1888 no exception to this regular credit. The

difference probably appears in some other part of the Budget, where it has escaped

my search .


130 FRANCE .

figures for the Budget of the Protectorate of Annam and Tong.

king, from 1887 to 1891 , are the following :




Francs. Francs ,

Ordinaires . Estraordinaires. Ordinaires . Extraordinaires

1887 11,377,1011 58,266,566 11,392,485 58,251,185

69,643,670 69,613,670

1888 13,572,132 37,297,210 10,292,093 40,577,249

50,809,312 50,809,312

1889 15,445,626 37,007,534 12,905,562 39,517.598

52,453,160 52,453,160

1890 15,297,415 32,269,398 17,775,176 29.791,637

47,566,813 47,566,813

1891 18,814,721 24,765,079 16,594,789 26,985,012

43,579,801 43,579,801

These budgets, it will be noticed, balance in a manner to

provoke the most sceptical examination. A little investigation

shows that the system of subdivision into “ Recettes ordinaires,"


“ Recettes extraordinaires, ” “ Dépenses ordinaires, " and " De

penses extraordinaires, ” is misleading in the extreme. The

“ ordinary receipts ” mean simply and properly enough the

revenue raised locally. The " ordinary expenditure " similarly

* Every figure in this table and in that which immediately follows it was vers

courteously furnished to me by the Ministère des Colonies, for which I beg here to

return my best thanks. I have aliered the arrangement of the figures, to display

them more instructively, but all the sums and the theoretical form of the budgets

are absolutely official. I have ventured to omit the centimes.

+ These budgets appear originally in dollars. Up to and including 1892 the

dollar is reckoned at 4 francs, in 1893 at 3.33 francs, and in 1894 at 3 francs. All

these gold -prices of the dollar, it is perhaps needless to say, were in excess of the

facts of exchange.


means the cost of the civil administration of the country. The

" extraordinary receipts " mean neither more nor less than the

exact sum necessary to make up the deficit in the “ ordinary

receipts,” plus the cost to the mother country of the military


and naval operations.* I do not say that this system was

adopted for the purpose of throwing dust in the eyes of the

casual inquirer, but it could not fail to have this effect. At any

rate in 1891 the French statisticians no longer felt equal to

presenting the annual results in this preposterous form . At

this point, therefore, a change was introduced into the form

of the budget of the Protectorate of Annam and Tongking.

Beginning with the year 1892, the budget was reduced to the

resources derived from local revenues alone, the French govern

ment having decided to include the military expenditure in the

general budget of the “ metropolis.” Those are the words of

the official explanation. For the next two years, therefore, the

budgets of Annam and Tongking assume this pleasing shape :



Francs. Francs. Francs.

1892 20,820,680 | 19,385,035 1,435,645

1893 19,531,450 | 18,040,098 491,352

The results thus became more attractive than ever : the

revenues of the colony showing an actual excess over its

expenditure . I need hardly point out that in these two years

no account whatever is taken in the local budget of the vastly

preponderating part of the expenses . To get at the facts, there

fore, we must place these budgets from 1887 to 1893 in a

different form . The expenditure is obviously both “ ordinary ”

* " Les ressources extraordinaires proviennent de subventions de la métropole et

de la Cochin -Chine, et de remboursements effectués par le Ministre de la Guerre

pour les dépenses normales de ses troupes.” — “ Organisation des Colonies françaises

et des Pays de Protectorat,” par E. Petit, Paris , 1894, p . 607.

132 FRANCE .

and “ extraordinary ” added together, while the real and only

actual revenue is the " ordinary ” one. We thus get the

following results :


1887 69,643,670 11,377,104 58,206,566

1888 50,869,342 13,572,132 37,297,210

1889 52,453,160 15,445,626 37,007,534

1890 47,566,813 15,297,415 32,269,398

1891 43,579,801 18,814,721 24,765,080

1892 37,835,035 * 20,820,680+ 17,014,355

1893 47,490,098* 18,531,4507 28,958,648

Total deficit 235,578,791frcs .

Instead of the cost of Tongking from 1887 to 1894 being

220,365,000 francs, we find, therefore, that from 1887 to 1893

it reached 235,578,791 francs. The conclusion arrived at above

therefore takes the following corrected shape : :


1883–1886 269,802,379

1887-1893 1 235,578,791

Total 505,381,170

* These totals are arrived at, in the absence of the complete budget for these

years, which has been suppressed, by adding together the "dépenses ordinaires,"

the 66" subventions " from France and from Cochin-China, and the subsidy for the

cable. Theoretically they should be quite accurate, but I am convinced they are

under the mark , though I cannot trace any other figures .

† These official figures are obviously based upon the revenues as they were

reckoned in 1893 to have been . But in the official Annuaire de l'Indo- Chine for

1894 the revenues are revised to be for 1892, 4,792,502 dols., and for 1893, 5,509,543

dols . These sums, multiplied respectively by 4 and by 3.33, the official (though

incorrect) rates of exchange into francs, give 19,170,008 and 18,346,778 francs.

These are therefore the latest figures. I have, however, adhered to those

furnished me officially. As in the case of Singapore (see p. 46), the revenue of

Tongking for these years, when given in dollars, shows an increase , and when

given in francs a decrease. But it is important to bear in mind that the same

injustice does not arise in the French as in the British colony, for all the customs

duties of Tongking are collected in francs, and have therefore to be translated

into dollars for the purposes of the budget, whereas in Singapore they are alike

collected and expressed in dollars. In Tongking, accordingly, every fall in the

price of the dollar tends pro tanto to inflate the revenue as expressed in terms of

silver dollars ; in Singapore it makes no difference.


To this must be added the subsidies to Tongking from France

and Cochin-China for 1894, namely, 29,150,000 francs — as

shown above . The conclusion, therefore, at which I have

finally arrived is that from 1883, when the history of Tongking

began, down to the latest accessible official statistics, the cost of

Tongking to France has reached the colossal figure of 534,531,170

francs, or £21,381,247, a yearly average of 44,544,264 francs,

or £1,781,770.* Or, to put the fact in a popular form , the

satisfaction of including " le Tonkin " among the possessions

of his country has cost the French taxpayer 122,039 francs

£ 4,881 - a day, Sundays included , for every day that he has had

it. It may safely be foretold that when at length he comes to

realise this fact he will be surprised, and his surprise will

manifest itself in a striking manner .

So much for the debit side of the account. Let us now

compare it as briefly as possible with what Tongking has to

show on the other side of the ledger. This is, after all , the

point of real importance. It does not matter what France has

spent upon Tongking, if she has thereby secured an adequate

return in trade. At the present moment, too, the balance-sheet

of Tongking is of more interest than ever as an example of

French colonisation, since France has just voted 65,000,000

francs to repeat the experiment in Madagascar, under similar

conditions of native opposition and problematical results. The

following table exhibits the foreign trade of Tongking from

1883 to 1892, inclusive, the figures for 1893 not having yet

been published .

* I am aware, for reasons unnecessary to give at length, that a number of items

have escaped me. Though I cannot trace them with sufficient uniformity to

include them, the following extracts will show I am not wrong in asserting that

the above falls short of the actual total :

" Le budget du service colonial est donc une portion du budget métropolitain , ou

budget général de l'État, appliquée aux colonies, mais il ne correspond pas à la

totalité des dépenses des services compris dans le budget de l'Etat et executés aux

colonies ; les dépenses du 4service marine ' relèvent, en effet, du budget des dépenses

de la marine . " “ Le budget de la guerre ( 1893] participe pour 1 million aux

dépenses militaires du Tonkin .' ' Organisation des Colonies françaises et des

Pays de Protectorat,” par E. Petit, Paris, 1894, pp. 490 and 531.

134 FRANCE .



From France and From Foreign To France and To Foreign

French Colonies. Countries . French Colonies. Countries.

Francs. Francs . Francs . Francs.

1883 405.606 2,922,601 619,987 3,440,359

1884 2,015,763 7,126,304 79,483 541,147

1885 3,421,610 14,667,087 49,713 593,287

1856 4,654,829 18,220,173 65,206 605,879

1887 7,328,127 20,824,664 82,175 335,476

1883 6,521,408 17,479,220 164,228 6,586,848

1899 6,574,572 17,170,312 477,444 10,161,564

1830 8,907,638 11,836,984 1,700,052 5,321,564

1891 9,604,491 15,554,409 583,518 11,146,254

1892 9,504,926 18,927,846 420,221 10,315,629

The figures of the above table present the following sum

marised totals :


France and French

Colonies . Foreign Countries. Totals.

Francs. Francs . Francs .

IMPORTS from 58,939,020 144,789,600 203,728,620

EXPORTS to ...

4,272,027 49,048,007 53,320,034

TOTALS 63,211,047 193,837.607 257,048,654

* The figures for 1883 are taken from “ Le Régime Commercial de l'Indo - Chine

française,” Paris, 1894. Those for the following years from the “ Rapport général

sur les statistiques des douanes pour 1892,” Hanoi, 1893. There is good reason to

believe the latter to be inaccurate in the direction of exaggeration, and indeed in

one or two cases I have proved them to be so . But after many vain attempts to

secure a set of accurate and uniform figures I have been obliged to fall back upon

these as they stand . The variations of figures in different French official and semi

official publications would be incredible to any one who has not attempted to

reconcile them. In the above table the figures of coasting trade, and the trade

between the different members of the Union of French Indo - China , are, of course,

not included.


From this it may be seen at a glance what effect the " tarif

général” has had upon the development of trade between

France and French Colonies on the one hand, and Tongking

on the other. This tariff was forced upon Indo- China in spite,

as I have already said, of her vehement and unceasing

protests, and in defiance of the prophecies of every enlightened

French economist. Its intention was, of course, to exclude

foreign products from Tongking, and to make of the colony a

great market for French domestic and colonial products . Its

result has been that French imports were comparatively little

more in 1892 than they were in 1887 ; while foreign imports

are more than in 1886 and comparatively little below 1887 .

And that the total trade between France and her other colonies,

and Tongking, has amounted in ten years to the pitiſul sum of

63 millions of francs, or £2.520,000 ; while the total foreign

trade during the same time has been nearly 194 millions of

francs, or £ 7,760,000 . That is to say, the high protective

system has been the most disastrous failure, or, as M. Leroy

Beaulieu says , " the application to Indo- China of a general

Customs tariff is a colossal error.”

In the debate in the Chamber of Deputies, to which I have

already frequently referred, M. Armand Porteu said : “ The

French Colonies together contain a population of 20 to 24

millions of inhabitants . Now let us see what they cost and

what they bring in . Our French Colonies cost us yearly 70

millions of francs : 53 millions inscribed in the colonial budget,

12 millions in the budget of the navy, and 5 millions in the

budget of post and telegraphs. . . . Their total commerce is

410 millions per annum . Of that sum the share of France

by sale and purchase is 170 millions, and our importations

into the Colonies reach only 70 millions. You thus spend

70 millions in order to dispose of 70 millions' worth of goods.

That is the result of your Colonial system. I ask you if it

is not grievous." From the figures I have here given with

reference to one colony, I can leave the statement of M.

136 FRANCE .

Porteu far behind. Excluding the deficit of 1893, namely,

28,958,648 francs, the total cost of this colony to the mother

country to 1892 inclusive has been 476,422,522 francs, and

the total French trade with it during the same period has

only amounted to 63,211,017 francs. Or, to afford a com

plete parallel to the figures given by M. Porteu, France has

spent, 476 millions of francs upon Tongking in order to dispose

of 59 million francs ' worth of French products.*

One final lesson remains to be drawn. Regarded from the

ordinary point of view of the political economist, the above

figures present the following result :



TOTAL IMPORTS ... 203,728,620



TOTAL EXPORTS ... 53,320,034

Balance of Trade against Tongking 150,408,586

A blacker result than this from the conventional point of view

could hardly be imagined ; but these last figures point another

moral even more unmistakable. To quote M. Leroy- Beaulieu

again : “ We are practising a systematic exploitation of the

public funds for the profit of a thousand or so persons. ...

What is needed is the suppression of a Colonial Council which

only represents a handful of furnishers and functionaries."

That remark hits the last nail upon the head.

As a matter of sober fact, in conclusion, the French

colonisation of Tongking - and Tongking is only one ex.

ample of a truth which every other French colony would

illustrate to a greater or less degree - has amounted to this :

France has taken possession of a country ; she has des

patched to it an army of soldiers and a second army of

* This general statement, as I wish to make quite clear, is not an absolutely

accurate one, since the details of expenditure given in the above tables refer for

the most part to Annam and Tongking, while the figures of trade refer almost

exclusively to Tongking alone . But the share of Annam in both cost and returns

is of course a very minor factor in comparison with that of Tongking.


functionaries ; a handful of dealers has followed to supply

these with the necessaries and luxuries of life ; the dealers

have purchased these necessaries and luxuries from France

(the foreign imports being chiefly for native consumption ),

as the Customs tariff prevents them from buying cheaper

elsewhere ; these purchases have practically constituted the

trade of France with the Colony. Castra faciunt; coloniam





HE Russian Government and the geographical situation of


Russian Tartary have succeeded between them in keeping

their Pacific stronghold well out of the world, and ten thousand

miles nearer to it in body bring you little or no nearer to it in

knowledge. “ Going to Vladivostok ? Dear me ! ” people said

just as naturally at Nagasaki, a hundred yards from the vessel

which was getting up steam to go there, as they did in London

on the other side of the world. But the journey is easy enough

to make. From Yokohama the magnificent steamers of the

great Japanese steamship line, the Nippon Yusen Kaisha, take

you southward along the coast to Kobe, the pleasantest foreign

settlement in Japan ; then to Shimonoseki, famous for its foreign

bombardment in 1865, and now strongly and skilfully fortified

with coast batteries of the latest design, armed with heavy

howitzers of Japanese manufacture — most efficient weapons ;

then through the Inland Sea, ranking high among the “ show

scenery ” of the East, and drop you at Nagasaki. From Yoko

hama to Nagasaki is 692 miles ; from Nagasaki to Vladivostok

is 659 more . At noon next day the Takachiho steams out into

the Korean Straits ; during the night she passes Port Hamilton

a long way off, those bare islands of which the world talked

for a year, and about which , too, opinions are as divided in the

East as at home, the truth probably being that England did

very well to give them up, since they would have been quite

untenable in the event of a bombardment ; and on the follow


142 RUSSIA .

ing afternoon she drops anchor at Fusan , the treaty port and

Japanese settlement on the south coast of Korea. Then came

a revelation of head-gear among the white-robed Koreans, &

chat with the Commissioner of Customs, and an afternoon

with a hammerless companion, resulting in three brace of

pheasants, a snipe, and a small deer ; and off again . For

twenty-four hours we steamed along a rocky, desolate, and

forbidding coast, and next morning the anchor dropped again

in the splendid harbour of Wönsan (Gensan ), the western

Treaty Port, alongside the big white French ironclad, the

flagship Turenne. Soon a smart petty officer came up the

gangway bearing a courteous invitation to Captain Walker

and myself to dine with “ M. le Contre - Amiral Layrle, com

mandant en chef la division navale de l'extrême Orient," and

that night on board the Turenne a dozen merry guests, all very

far from home, the flashing of many wax candles over silver

plate and glittering glass, the skill of a decorated French cook ,

the witchery of old Burgundy, and the strains of Offenbach

and Suppé, all combined to dispel the thought that we were

lying off the uninhabited Port Lazareff, in the wild and lonely

seas of the Hermit Kingdom . But at midnight our anchor

was heaved again , and at daylight next day but one the heim

was suddenly put over to starboard opposite a break in the

high wall of cliffs, the man in the chains took up his

monotonous cry, and we swept round into the harbour of

Vladivostok -- the proudly -named “ Possession of the East."

An old -fashioned theologian would say that Providence had

intended this place to be made impregnable. The harbour is

shaped, speaking roughly, like the Greek capital r. It has two

entrances, one at the south -east corner, the other in the middle

of the west side, both narrow deep-water channels, the latter,

indeed , being only a few hundred feet wide. The Eastern

entrance is the one used for traffic, the other being dangerous

on account of currents and sandbanks. As you steam straight

north up the long leg of the T , you notice first an ex.


tensive beach on the right, then several large bays open out in

succession , and you pass through a narrow opening between

Capes Novosilsky and Nazimoff, and leave the western entrance

on the left. The hills around are densely wooded , and all

the defences visible so far have been extensive earthworks

building on your right, and loads of bricks for them lying on the

shores below . Now, however, as the ship passes Cape Goldobin

you discover a large two- storied battery from which six black

muzzles look down. What may be behind the earthworks of the

upper storey you cannot tell , but the guns below are visibly

6 - inch breech-loaders. They constitute only an inner line of

defence for the interior of the harbour, but they would , of

course , make it very hot for a ship in the harbour with their

plunging fire at short range, but Vladivostok is defended by

altogether different weapons, however dreadful these may look

to the captain of peaceful merchant vessels . Soon after pass

ing Fort Goldobin , a sharp turn to the right, almost at a

right angle , brings you into the harbour, which then stretches

out due east in a straight line , upwards of two miles long

and half аa mile wide. This is the Eastern Bosphorus, and the

“ Golden Horn " of the Pacific.

The town of Vladivostok extends nearly the entire length of

the north side of the harbour, and in configuration it rather

resembles St. John's, Newfoundland , the houses beginning at

the water's edge and gradually thinning out as the hills behind

get steeper. They are of all sorts, from the log -cabin and

Chinese shanty to the neat wooden cottage in its little garden

and the handsome brick business house of several storeys. Over

all rises the cathedral-the one thing in Vladivostok that

remains unfinished for want of money. The anchorage is

80 admirable that the Takachiho (now, alas ! at the bottom of

the sea, off Tsushima) , a vessel 327 feet long, lies within

a stone's throw of the wharves, and the same anchorage exists

all round. Directly in front are three little parallel streets

constituting the Chinese bazaar. On the west is the Chinese


and Korean town of wooden shanties ; behind are five or six

blocks of fine brick buildings forming the winter barracks, while

straight away ahead is a broad street soon disappearing over the

dusty hill , to become two miles away the great Siberian post

road. The main street runs parallel with the harbour, and on

this are the chief stores and many of the private houses. A

quarter of a mile along it to the east is the Governor's residence,

buried in a square mass of foliage - the gardens where a first-rate

band plays regularly and the society of Vladivostok comes to

walk and to gossip. Further on, always between the water and

the street, is the “ Staff," the Governor's official head-quarters,

a large handsome building, and further still, a mile or

from where we lie, a tall chimney marks the situation of the

“ Port,” as the Russians call it, a score or more of storehouses

and machine shops forming the Navy Yard or Arsenal. This

extends along the shore for a quarter of a mile, and the torpedo

boats and small ships of the Siberian Squadron lie alongside,

with a confiscated American fishing- sloop, while the ironclads

and gunboats are anchored a little further off. On the opposite

shore of the harbour there are no buildings of any kind, except

an iron storehouse deep in the woods here and there, isolated

presumably on account of inflammable or explosive contents.

On the summits of the two high hills behind the town are two

stations for the fire - watch .

The streets of Vladivostok are gay enough . Civilian costume

is the exception, almost every figure being either a soldier or

a Chinaman .. The rank and file have none of the smartness

of European troops. Their uniforms are rough and simple

—white blouse and cap, long black boots and belt—they are

evidently expected to last a long time, and their wearers

do a lot of hard manual work. If not exactly dirty, therefore,

the soldiers look very unkempt. The officers also, and their

clothes, have the hardened appearance of active service, but

their flowing cloaks make them picturesque. Blue and white

Chinamen, sombre-suited Japanese, and shrouded Koreans,





TURI duera



with marvellous hats of cardboard and bamboo fibre, variegate

the scene . An element of picturesqueness

and noise is added

by the droschky -drivers in their long scarlet blouses and black

" zouave ” waistcoats , their long unpolished boots, and their

filowing hair. They congregate at the corners, and dash up and

down the main street at a gallop, their whips cracking like


The chief hotel of Vladivostok is at a pastrycook's shop,

so I remained in my comfortable quarters on board , and after

breakfast I went on shore to present my semi-official introduc

tion - an imposing -looking document, a foot square, with the

Russian Eagle on the back - to the Military Governor, Rear

Admiral Ermolaiew . His Excellency received me with the

utmost courtesy, but his efforts to conceal his vast surprise at

my visit were in vain. He read the letter—a long one-then

he looked at me ; then he read it again and looked again .

“ Yes, " he said , finally, " anything I can do for you, of course,

but what on earth do you want to see at Vladivostok ? " I

modestly replied that, with His Excellency's permission, I

wanted to see everything. “ But what ? ” As I had only been

an hour in the place, however, I was not in a position to specify


my desires in detail . “ But what shall I do ? ” To dictate to

a Russian Military Governor was naturally repugnant to me,

and as Admiral Ermolaiew's French - the only language in

which we could communicate---was of a rudimentary character,

the conversation was rapidly approaching an embarrassing

dead-lock . Suddenly, with an explosive "" Ah !” the Governor

sprang from his chair and disappeared , returning in a minute

with his wife, a most attractive and energetic lady, charming

even at that early hour of the morning. Madame Ermolaiew

spoke French perfectly : with the native tact of a Russian she

straightened matters in a moment, and five minutes later I was

bowed out between the salutes of a bluejacket and a sentry,

with the Governor's card in my pocket bearing a written

permission to go almost anywhere and see almost anything,


146 RUSSIA .

and with an appointment to meet an officer the next morning

at eleven, who would act as cicerone. I was slightly out of

breath , it is true, at the speed of the interview, but naturally

very grateful for the distinguished courtesy.

Vladivostok is a purely military town — technically, a

" fortress.”” That is , not only does it owe its existence to

strategic and military considerations , but even after it has

been thus created no other interests or enterprises have grown

up around it. In this case trade has not followed the flag:

the place is just Russia's one stronghold and naval base on

the Pacific, and nothing else. Its imports consist of the

supplies for the military and naval population and those who

minister to them ; its only export at present is a little sea

weed . Two other industries might be developed here, how

ever, and these are well worth the attention of energetic

men with some capital. Siberia contains vast forests of the

finest and largest timber, and a very important export trade

in this could easily be cultivated . And the authorities find

great difficulty in supplying themselves with fresh meat.

Cattle are imported regularly from Korea, but the supply is

poor and uncertain , while Siberia is probably as well suited in

many parts for cattle-raising as Western Canada . I believe,

moreover , that the Russian authorities would materially help

the right man to introduce this. At present , however , all its

commerce is a tribute to the God of Battles . A Russian store

has just closed , and the two great stores, magnificent stone

and brick buildings, employing scores of clerks and sales

men, where you can buy absolutely everything , from a pound

of butter to a piano - are owned by Germans , the one by

Messrs. Kunst and Albers, the other by Mr. Langelütje.

There is also the smaller general store of Mr. Hagemann ,

almost the only English resident . The population of the place

when I was there was about 15,000, of whom 5,000 were

Chinese , 2,000 Russian civilians , and 6,000 troops and blue

jackets ashore. But the strength of the troops has no doubt

been considerably raised lately.


The Chinese and Koreans are under very strict regulations ,

being only allowed to reside in their own quarter, and any

found in the street after nine o'clock at night are arrested and

locked up. This was found necessary to prevent disturbance.

The Koreans, I should add, have an intense hatred for the

Russians, due largely, no doubt, to the harshness with which

they are treated. There are large numbers of them in the

immediate neighbourhood , and they are always in a state of

discontent bordering upon revolt. Whenever they can get

hold of a Russian by himself, they are very apt to murder

him out of hand. Of course, their power is but that of the

mosquito on the elephant, but if Russia were engaged in

hostilities they might well prove an annoying thorn in her side.

Probably 2,000 Chinese labourers are employed in the arsenal

alone, and they fill the streets when they come streaming

out from work, and all the harbour- front population, boatmen ,

cargo-handlers, &c. , are Chinese or Koreans. The stores

employ many Chinese ; they are patrolled all night by Chinese

watchmen , and the only domestic servants are Chinamen or

Japanese women . Many of the Chinese come in the spring,

when the harbour opens, and leave again, mostly for Chefoo,

in the late autumn when it closes. There has been some talk

about putting a prohibitory tax upon poor John Chinaman here

too, but it will come to nothing ; he is indispensable.

Life in this corner of Russian Tartary is lively enough,

especially in winter. Communication with the outside world

is easy by mail and telegraph. Letters come by sea (very few

go overland) from San Francisco in four weeks , and telegrams

to European Russia are ridiculously cheap. During the

summer there are the constant festivities attending the arrival

of foreign men -of-war. All the Russian officers, too, are fond

of society, and there is a first -rate band. In winter it is of

course dreadfully cold, and a frozen stick of milk is left at

the door in the morning, and the beef is kept frozen in a tub,

and chopped out as wanted. But from Christmas onwards for

118 RUSSIA .

a couple of months there is a ceaseless round of social gaiety.

Excellent pheasant and duck - shooting is to be had over the

surrounding bays and hills, and large deer abound in an

island a day's sail to the south . This, however, is strictly

preserved as an Imperial reserve, and Russian game-keepers

are stationed there, and periodically murdered by Korean

marauders. The famous thick -coated Northern tigers are

sometimes to be found by seeking. One of the traditions of

Vladivostok, and a true one, too, tells how a young fellow

named Chudjakow was out shooting one day, when a tiger

met him . He fired and killed it. Scarcely had it fallen,

however, when a second walked out of the woods . He fired

again, hitting this one, which turned tail and disappeared. A

moment later a tiger appeared again from the same place.

He fired for the third time, supposing this to be the same

animal, and wounded it slightly. Before he could reload,

however, it was upon him , and he was fighting it for his life.

His rifle was useless, and he had only a long hunting-knife.

As he did not return at night his father and friends organised

a search -party , and at last found him unconscious between the

paws of the dead tiger. A little way off lay the body of the

first, and just inside the wood they found the second , which

had died of its wounds . The days are gone by when the

houses at Vladivostok were barricaded against the great cats,

which used to come into the back yards at night to revel in the

family slops put for them, and when men did not venture out

after dark except five or six together, all armed ; but I have

seen one of the tigers thus shot by Chudjakow, and a photograph

of the young man himself and the three skins.

Everything in Vladivostok is made subservient to military

interests, and there is no pretence to the contrary . As is

the case in all “ fortresses " no civil rights exist, and the

merchants can be required to leave at twenty- four hours’

notice, without any explanation being given. The Mayor is

merely the vehicle of the Governor's will. The neighbourhood


of every fortified point is strictly guarded by sentries, whom no

civilian ever passes. The local weekly newspaper, the Vladivostok,

with a circulation of 450 copies, is edited (excellently so far as

geographical, ethnological, and other non -contentious informa

tion is concerned ) by a member of the Staff, and the Governor

himself is the Censor. In return for this, however, it receives

an official subsidy of 2,000 roubles a year . The police, who

are supposed to know everything that passes and the move

ments of every one, resident or stranger, are of course the

Governor's pawns, under the command of a military officer.

No foreign consuls are allowed to reside at Vladivostok, the

only foreign representative being a Japanese called Commis

sioner of Trade, or some such non -political title. Most

foreign newspapers and books are forbidden, as in European

Russia, and at the only bookseller's in town I could not

buy a single volume in any foreign language, except a few

French works of world -famous innocence, used everywhere

as school reading books ; and inquisitiveness or gossip on the

part of the foreign population about local naval or military

affairs is sternly discouraged , and trespassers against this

unwritten law soon learn very distinctly that they will be more

comfortable if they obey it. I ran up against this before I had

been in Vladivostok four hours. My first day there I was lunch

ing at a foreign house, and happened, naturally and quite inno

cently, to put some question or other about the batteries. “ That

is a matter, " I was immediately told by my host, “ that we inake

a point of knowing nothing about. We find that ignorance on

such subjects is the only way to get along pleasantly with our

Russian friends. Besides, it is none of our business, any way .

We are here as traders, not as possible combatants.” So I

put no more questions of that kind. The regulations against

publicity have recently been made much more severe . It is

now forbidden to ascend the neighbouring hills, and patrol


parties are frequently sent to scour the surrounding country,

their orders being to deal promptly with any investigator,


150 RUSSIA .

The many Russian officers that I met and talked with, told

me of course just as little as they liked, and the sources

of information were therefore distressingly conspicuous by

their absence. I must add, however, that the authorities put

no ridiculous restrictions or professions of violent secrecy in

my way. I was immediately told that I could not inspect

the batteries or fortifications from within—a permission I

should never have dreamed of asking ; but several places

where no Englishman had ever been before—the whole of the

Navy Yard and Arsenal , for instance - were thrown open to me ;

the Governor's card took me almost everywhere ; I had a written

permission to take photographs, with certain specified exceptions

a permission unfortunately nullified to a great extent by

rain ; I was immediately introduced at the Naval Club ; and

finally the Governor's Adjutant lent me his own boat. As

I thus sped across the harbour of this Russian stronghold, in

a Russian official's barge, pulled by six lusty Russian blue

jackets, with a Russian rear- admiral's flag trailing behind

me, it struck me as a decidedly unique position for an English

journalist, and as an interesting commentary upon the suspicion

and unfriendliness that are so freely attributed to the Russians

in some quarters.



VLADIVOSTOK is of great interest to the rest of the civilised

world , and chiefly , of course, to England , the United

States , and Japan , as the Powers with most at stake in the

Pacific, for exactly the same reasons that it is of importance to

Russia, namely , as the one great naval stronghold and base

from which Russian ironclads could issue in time of war to

fall upon their enemies in the Pacific, and to which they could

return for supplies , for repairs, or for refuge. Is it a great

stronghold ? Could it defy a hostile fleet ? Is it provided

with the necessaries of an efficient naval base ? Does it , as

its name declares , confer upon those who hold it “ the posses

sion of the East ” ?

The last so-called “ scare showed exactly what would be

done at Vladivostok in case of war. The lights on Skrypleff

Island in the east entrance and near Pospaloff Point to guide

ships through the west entrance were extinguished ; the west

entrance was completely blocked from Larioneff Point to Cape

Tokareffski with contact mines (one of these got adrift and

blew up a Russian fishing - vessel some time afterwards) ; the

narrow passage from Cape Novosilsky to Cape Nazimoff was

blocked with contact and electric mines, except a channel

fifty feet wide under the former, and a gunboat lay near by

to stop merchant vessels and send an officer on board to

pilot them through ; while preparations were made to remove

all the civilian inhabitants to a sheltered valley some distance


152 RUSSIA .

inland . Supposing now that these precautions were all

carried out to-day, could a fairly powerful fleet reduce the

place ? We will say for the sake of argument, to begin

with , that the Russian fleet is out of the way. Until a few

years ago, what were the defences of Vladivostok ? The inner

ends of both channels were commanded and their mine- fields

protected by Fort Goldobin , and this was armed with a

number of 6-inch breechloading guns of Russian manufacture.

Its upper part was only, I believe , a battery of mortars . In the

centre of the long narrow strip of land forming the western side

of the harbour were two powerful batteries, each containing, I

believe, two breechloading Krupp guns, probably about 27 - ton

guns, throwing a shell of 516 lb. , and these were the heaviest

guns with which Vladivostok was armed. Further to the north

was another battery, formed, I believe, of two 8-inch breech

loading cannon , two more of the same Krupps, and four rifled

mortars. These two batteries are designed to protect the weak

point of Vladivostok-the shelling of the town and arsenal over

the land . That was all. The answer was therefore easy.

Vladivostok , in the absence of men -of-war to protect it, could

undoubtedly have been taken, and if the last " scare ” had

become a struggle, there can be little doubt that the British

fleet would have first shelled the town and then forced an

entrance to the harbour. For the town could have been shelled

easily at 8,000 yards, while the bombarding ships constantly

moving would present a poor target for the Krupp guns at

nearly 4,000 yards ; the men fighting the inner forts would have

been terribly exposed ; while removing or exploding mines which

are not well protected by batteries is a comparatively easy matter

nowadays. If defending ships had been present they would

have added to the difficulty by exactly their own strength.

But after an attack made a few years ago, Vladivostok would

certainly not be the “ possession of the East ” -it would be

the possession of the enemy .

The truth of the foregoing assertion can be almost proved, as


you prove a sum in division by another in multiplication, by the

fact, hardly yet appreciated , that the Russian Government has

been adding to the defences of Vladivostok in every respect and

on the most lavish scale. An estimate was passed by the





Scale - 3 Inches to I Mile

Batteries..... O

Goldobin Point

Cape Tokarefyski

Larionoff Point Cape Nazımofy Petroclus



Nov Bay Cape Novosilsky

ik Basarghinc

& Island






Governor -General of Eastern Siberia, and submitted to St.

Petersburg for approval, for strengthening Vladivostok by

engineering work alone at an expense of no less than 6,000,000

roubles. The Arsenal is being greatly enlarge by both new

• It should hardly be necessary to explain that I do not present this sketch -map

as anything even remotely resembling a map for naval or military purposes. It is

merely a reduction from the Admiralty chart, with such additions as are of general

interest and my eyes and information enabled me to add . Nor is my account of

the place intended to serve naval or military ends in the slightest degree . The

British authorities, at any rate, as is well known by experts, stand in no need of

information about Vladivostok . They have plenty of it from a very different

source .

154 RUSSIA .

buildings and new machinery ; an addition to the great floating

Stanfield dock is just finishing ; all along the harbour side

of the west arm are rows of fine new barracks ; and several

new forts were already half finished when I was there, of a

size and arrangement far in advance of anything existing

previously. One of these forts, just to the north of Cape

Tokareffski, will command both entrances to the harbour and

ships in position to shell the town ; another of great size will

command the mine- field with which Novik Bay, from which

Fort Goldobin and part of the town could be bombarded, is

to be protected ; and two or three others, including one on

Skrypleff Island, will command the harbour and its approaches

from the east . It is only reasonable to suppose that these,

which should all be complete by this time, are armed with guns

of the latest pattern and great power. If the Government

sanctions the engineers' estimate recently submitted , batteries

will also be placed on some of the large islands south of the

harbour, an extremely important situation. By this time,

therefore, it is not too much to say that Vladivostok is im

pregnable from the sea . The Russians admit that the Chinese

town can always be destroyed from the sea, but I believe

they estimate that they can burn this and rebuild it for

24,000 roubles. They deny, however, that the town proper and

the Arsenal are open to shell fire from beyond the west

batteries, but I cannot agree to this, as with my field -glass I

have distinctly seen the church over the southernmost of the

two west land batteries , within bombarding distance. This,

however, is of comparatively small moment, for all war stores

would of course be removed to a place of perfect security,

and Vladivostok would be little weaker as a naval stronghold

after the town had been destroyed than before. Moreover, it

is an accepted military and naval maxim that under modern

conditions ships stand practically no chance whatever against

well- equipped and well- handled coast batteries, and that it is

little short of suicidal for a fleet to attempt to reduce a fortress


by bombardment alone. In case of war an enemy would

probably try to find the Russian Fleet and blockade it some

where, for if the ships were once destroyed or captured,

Vladivostok would cease to be worth attacking. It should be

clear, however, from the foregoing, that the Russian authorities

are determined on no half measures . They have got Vladivo

stok and they mean to keep it, and it is doubtful if there is

at present any army and fleet in the whole East strong enough

even to try to take it away from them.

The new restrictive regulations so much discussed and so

severely criticised in naval circles , by which only two ships of

any foreign fleet are allowed to anchor in Vladivostok Harbour

at one time, were officially stated to have been made in accord

ance with similar regulations by other Powers. But they were

really the result of one particular incident. On August 21 ,

1886, the British squadron on its summer cruise north reached

Vladivostok while all the Russian vessels happened to be away,

and our eight ships entered in a thick fog, and were not

discovered by the Russians on shore until they were dropping

anchor in faultless order in the inner harbour. It was a most

brilliant piece of seamanship — the Russians themselves would

never have attempted it—but it was surely most indiscreet, as

the consequences soon showed . For naturally enough the

Russian authorities were thrown into a panic, and said to

themselves that an enemy might do this very thing a short

time before war was suddenly declared , when Russia on the

Pacific would be at his mercy. Therefore, rather than risk

multiplying unpleasantness by prohibiting the entry of foreign

vessels from time to time as circumstances might seem to re

quire, they decided to cut off the danger once for all. It was

natural and explicable enough on the part of the Russians, but

it is an innovation far from welcome to the greater part of any

foreign fleet, which must remain knocking about outside at gun

practice or steam tactics , while the flagship and one other vessel

are comfortably anchored and politely entertained within . The

156 RUSSIA ,

Russians, by the way, do not seem to navigate their own waters

very well, for a gunboat had gone aground near Vladivostok

just before my visit ; a foreign merchant- captain told me that

he had once steamed after two other gunboats on the coast to

warn them they were running into shallow water ; and the Vitiaz

was totally lost a short time ago and actually in Port Lazareff

--the very harbour which Russia is supposed to have selected

for her base on the Korean coast .

The impression made by the rank and file of the land forces

at Vladivostok is that of soldiers who have been on active service

for six months, long enough to have grown careless about the

polishing of leather and steel and the details of personal care

which go to make up the much admired “ smartness " of crack

regiments. Their clothes are solid and coarse , their boots are

unblacked, and their weapons look as if they had seen several

campaigns. The men themselves are hardy enough, but they

appear to be extremely poor and far from happy. It is

certainly very astonishing to see soldiers in uniform hawking

wild flowers at street.corners, as I did in Vladivostok itself.

They are mostly much younger than troops with us, and they

are evidently drawn from the lower classes of a farming popula

tion. Their winter barracks are spacious and handsome build

ings, but their summer barracks, several miles inland by the

shore of a beautiful part of the Amur Bay, are rather ram

shackle, and if the truth is to be told , much dirtier than

Tommy Atkins would be satisfied to live in . But I spent a

jolly evening with them when I rode out with my military

guide , and shared their palatable if frugal supper of black

bread , potato soup, and kvass—a — a kind of thin bitter beer.

The detachment I visited was under the command of a

lieutenant who looked fifteen , and was certainly not twenty.

They would make good rough fighting material - Kanonen

futter as the Germans cynically call it-all the better for

war work in this far-off hard country because they do not

know what it is to be petted or pampered in time of peace. In


fact, peace means perhaps more hard work for them than war,

for they are employed on building fortifications, making bricks,

and several other occupations that are not included in the

military curriculum elsewhere, very much like common

labourers. The following estimate of their numbers at Vladi

vostok is not far from the mark : two battalions of infantry,

2,000 ; artillery , 350 ; sappers, 250 ; total , on peace footing,

2,600 men . This is doubtless much smaller than is generally

supposed, but the tendency is to distribute the forces all over

this part of Eastern Siberia, and only to collect a large number

at Vladivostok in times of danger. Probably 30,000 men could

be concentrated here in a short time.

The officers, on the whole, struck me as a fine body of men,

dignified, devoted, and intelligent. But they must suffer

intellectually from being cut off by the strict Russian censor

ship laws from the information which circulates so freely else

where . The growing importance, by the way, of this stronghold

in Russian Tartary, is shown by the fact that officers are no

longer liberally pensioned for short service here and elsewhere

on the Siberian coast. Officers used to elect to serve in Siberia,

and after ten years' service were entitled to retire upon half- pay,

and after twenty years ' service upon full-pay. For service in

European Russia, on the other hand, retirement upon full -pay

comes only after thirty - five years' service. Full- pay in Russia,

however, does not mean the same as elsewhere. A Russian

officer's total military income is made up of three parts, pay

proper, lodging allowance, and table-money, in the proportion

that a total income of say over 3,000 roubles a year, a lieu

tenant's pay, would mean only 1,400 roubles of pay proper.

Half -pay for him , therefore, after ten years in Siberia would be

700 roubles, and full pay 1,400 roubles. These liberal terms

of pension naturally made service in Siberia popular, but the

whole system of naval pension was altered a year ago , and the

above only applies now to officers who entered the navy before

1887. An occasional officer there speaks a little English ,

158 RUSSIA .

several speak French, and almost all speak more or less German.

To Lieutenant Vladimir Maximoff, “ flag - officer to the Com.

mander of the port,” in whose charge I was placed , and who

combined the maximum of courtesy and hospitality with an

irreducible minimum of information, I owe very hearty thanks.

As for the naval and military hospitality of Vladivostok , it was

generous and constant, and as everybody was familiar with the

Biercomment of German student-life, it was also both formal and


I made one peculiarly interesting discovery. It is universally

believed that Vladivostok is a closed port for four months out

of the twelve-isolated by impassable ice from about December

17th to April 17th . And this is regarded as the sole ex.

planation of Russia's Drang nach Süden , her necessity to

press gradually southward for an open port in Korea or

below it. Such is not the case . A man -of-war — and there

fore a dozen-can be got in or out of Vladivostok Harbour

in case of urgent need at any time of year. There is an

American ice-breaking machine, which on a trial trip broke

a channel through the thickest part of the ice, one hundred feet

long and six fathoms wide, at a pace which would take it out

beyond Goldobin Point, where the ice is naturally more or less

broken, in three or four days. Moreover Patroclus Bay, and

especially the bay further to the south -east, are practicable bays

all the year round. At any rate two American ships came up

there unaided a few winters ago. Indeed the authorities are

considering whether they will not make this the mercantile

terminus of the railway.

In conclusion, I may add that the Amur peninsula is fine

wooded country for at least thirty miles, with small rivers

running east and west, and one or two good roads . The west

side presents to the eye a succession of sandy beaches, whilst

the east side ends abruptly for the most part in precipitous

cliffs .



the relations of Russia and the Far East, one matter far

In outweighs in importance all others put together — the

Trans- Siberian Railway. It is my conviction that this

colossal enterprise is destined to alter the map of that part

of the world at no very distant date. To Englishmen it is

therefore of the first interest, for if I am right they will

shortly be called upon to decide one point of the utmost

moment in connection with it.

The absorption of " Siberia ” —that is, the whole of Russia's

Asiatic possessions with the exception of Transcaucasia, the

Transcaspian territory, and Turkestan - occupying an area of

not far from 5,000,000 square miles, has proceeded, now

quickly, now slowly, but without interruption, ever since the

traders of Novgorod began to raid the Finnish Yugra tribe

in the twelfth century , for the valuable furs they secured .

For centuries the conquest proceeded , through the efforts of

hunters and fishermen , the ransackers of mounds, and the

mere raiders, their advances being gradually recognised from

time to time by the Government. After a while, expedition

after expedition added huge territories in a more formal

manner . An important date is 1581 , when Yermak , a Don

Cossack , entering the service of the immensely wealthy Stro

ganov family, who ruled and practically owned the Ural district,

defeated the Tartar Khan, Kuchum , and sent his lieutenant ,

loaded with furs, back to Moscow to “ humbly salute the


160 RUSSIA .

Lord Ivan Vaselivich the Terrible , with the acquisition of a

new Siberian Kingdom .” Slowly but surely Russian settlers

and soldiers pressed eastwards , and the eighteenth century was

distinguished by a number of remarkable exploring expeditions.

One by one, every territory was absorbed , the final great achieve

ment, the annexation of the whole Amur district, coming in

1854. All the territory on the American Continent was ceded

to the United States in 1867 , and the Kurile Islands were

exchanged with Japan for Sakhalin in 1875. At that date

Siberia practically took its present shape.

It is an interesting fact that the first person to lay before the

Russian Government a proposal for the Trans- Siberian railway

was an Englishman . He was an engineer named Dull , and his

plan was to construct a tramway, on which horses should supply

the motive power, from Nisbni-Novgorod, through Kazan and

Perm to one of the Siberian ports. It is not surprising that the

Russian Government passed over in silence so fantastic a scheme,

unsupported by any estimates. Simultaneously with this pro

posal , Count Mouraviev, afterwards Governor-General of Siberia,

proposed to unite De Castries Bay in the Tartar Straits with

Sofiisk on the Amur by a carriage road which could be after

wards converted into a railway .** The surveys for this road

were actually made in 1857 , but nothing came of the proposal.

In the same year an American named Collins petitioned the

Government for a concession to found a company to unite

Irkutsk and Chita . Next, three more Englishmen , Messrs.

Morrison , Horn, and Sleigh offered to build a railway from

Moscow to the Pacific shore of Siberia, but asked for such privi

leges in connection with it, as in the opinion of the Russian

Government would have led to the concentration of the whole

trade of Siberia in the hands of foreigners for a long period . In

the same year, 1858, a Russian named Sofronov proposed a line

* Most of the facts here given are taken from a volume published last year by

the Russian Department of Trade and Manufactures. I have also drawn slightly

from an interesting article by Mr. Frederic Hobart, in the Engineering Magazine

for June, 1893.


through the Kirghiz steppes to Peking, and four years later

another Russian named Kokorev conceived the idea (based

upon the schemes of a Government mining official named

Rashet) of uniting the basins of the Volga and the Obi. His

scheme, however, although favourably received, was soon after

wards abandoned for that of Colonel Bogdanovich , who was

despatched in 1866 to inquire into the famine of two years

before. He sent the following telegram to the Minister of the

Interior : “ After removing all difficulties in the provisioning of

the governments of Perm and Viatka, and investigating the

local conditions, I am of opinion that the only sure means of

preventing famine in the Ural country in the future, is the

building of a railway from the governments of the interior to

Ekaterinburg and thence to Tiumen.. Such a line, being subse

quently continued through Siberia to the Chinese frontier , would

acquire a great importance both strategical and for international

trade .” Two years later many surveys were carried out in con

nection with this plan. A third scheme starting, like the two

previous ones, from Perm, but ending near Kurgan on the river

Tobol, was planned by a trader named Liubimov in 1869.

These three schemes were carefully investigated, and it was

decided to build a line 463 miles long to join Kama and the

Tobol. A Special Commission decided that it was impossible to

make the line serve as a link in the chain of the great Siberian

railway of the future without sacrificing the mining interests of

the Ural district. The idea of the through route was therefore

relegated to the future. Surveys, however, continued , and in

1875 it was at length decided to build the first section of a line

to approach the Pacific from Nishni-Novgorod , but viâ Kazan

and Ekaterinburg to Tiumen. In 1878, the Ural railway was

opened, and two years later the Imperial order was given to

continue it to Tiumen .

For some time afterwards preference was given to the plan of

crossing Siberia by a route which should utilise the vast stretches

of water-communication, joining these by means of railways.


162 RUSSIA .

The obvious advantage of this scheme was the enormous saving

of cost.In detail it was to proceed from Tiumen, by the Tura,

Tobol, Irtish and Obi rivers, to Tomsk ; then by rail to Irkutsk ;

thence by the Angara river, and across Lake Baikal ; thence by

rail to the head of the Amur and down it for 1,600 miles ; thence

by rail to Vladivostok. One fatal objection caused the abandon

ment of this scheme-namely, that in winter the eleven hundred

miles of railway from Tomsk to Irkutsk would be isolated, for it

would begin at one frozen river and end at another. Therefore,

after much discussion , and in spite of the greatly increased cost,

an all-rail line was decided upon in 1891 at the instigation of

the Tsar himself. The railway from Samara to Cheliabinsk had

been completed in the meantime, and the Siberian railway was

to begin at the latter place. On May 17, 1891 , the Tsarevich,

being at Vladivostok at the conclusion of his tour in the Far

East , formally announced by the will of the Tsar that the Grand

Siberian Railway should be built, and inaugurated the Usuri

section. To take charge of the enterprise the “ Siberian Railway

Committee " was formed at St. Petersburg, and the Tsarevich

appointed president.

The entire railway is divided into seven sections. First, the

Western Siberian Section , from Cheliabinsk to the river Obi, an

easy section, through an agricultural country, ending at Pochi

tanka, whence a branch line of 82 miles will connect it with

Tomsk ; 1,328 versts, at an estimated cost of 47,361,479 roubles.

Second, the Central Siberian Section , from Obi to Irkutsk, a

difficult and tortuous section, through a mountainous and

mineral country and across many rivers ; 1,754 versts, at a cost

of 73,272,898 roubles. Third , the Baikal Circuit, round the

southern end of the “ Lake of Death ,” from Irkutsk to Mysovsk

pier, the shortest and most difficult section, with the heaviest

grades and the sharpest curves, and a tunnel 12,500 feet long

at the height of 770 feet above the lake ; 292 versts, at a cost of

22,310,820 roubles, which is likely to be much exceeded. Fourth

the Trans-Baikal Section, from Mysovsk to Stretensk, the most


rich in minerals and containing the highest point of the whole

line, the Shoidak Pass, 3,700 feet ; 1,009 versts, at a cost of

53,309,817 roubles. Fifth , the Amur Section, from Stretensk to

Khabarovka, the longest, easiest, and most promising section,

through the “ Garden of Siberia ," the valleys being fertile and

well-watered , and abounding in timber, and the climate milder

than elsewhere ; 2,000 versts, at a cost of 117,555,835 roubles.

Sixth , the North Usuri Section, from Khabarovka to Grafsk,

347 versts, cost 18,738,682 roubles. Seventh , the South Usuri

Section, from Grafsk to Vladivostok, along the valley of the

Usuri, through coal-bearing and mineral country ; 382 versts,

cost 17,661,051 roubles. Total length , 7,112 versts ; total

estimated cost, 350,210,482 roubles. The Grand Siberian

Railway may therefore be thus summarised :


1 Western Siberian Cheliabinsk - Obi 880 5,120,159

2 Central Siberian Obi - Irkutsk 1 , 162 7,921,394

3 Baikal Circuit Irkutsk - Mysovsk 193 2,111,980

Trans - Baikal Mysovsk - Stretensk 668 5,763,223

Amur Stretensk - Khabarovka 1,325 12,708,738

North Usuri Khabarovka - Grafsk 229 2.025,803

7 South Usuri Grafsk - Vladivostok 253 1,909,302

Total ... 4,713 £ 37,860,592 *

According to the latest news, progress is being made on all

the sections. From Vladivostok to Spasskoye 150 miles of

railway have been open to traffic since last June, and 41 miles

from Grafsk station are ready. The second telegraph line is

ready for a distance of 30 miles, and 36 station- houses and

other buildings have been erected. Between Cheliabinsk and

Omsk 61 miles of line are ready, and 116 station-houses and

buildings completed. Nearly 9,650 tons of rails have been

supplied , 270,000 sleepers, 587 tons of fastenings, 190 tons

of water-pipes, and two reservoirs. The survey has been

The discrepancies in the additions are due to the fact that the decimals are

omitted from the senarate items. Exchange : £ 10 = 92 } roubles.

164 RUSSIA .

completed between Omsk and the Obi for 94 miles, and over

21,000 cubic fathoms of earthworks have been made. On the

Central Section between the Obi and Krassnoyarsk much

forest has been cut down , 25,000 cubic fathoms of earthworks

made, and five stations built. The manufacturers have

supplied 260 tons of iron for the bridge across the Tom,

2,200 tons of rails and 700 tons of fastenings, 200,000 sleepers

have been laid, and 6,000 telegraph poles erected. Thirteen

miles of the line and 25 of the telegraph are ready.* All

this amounts, of course, to but a small fraction of the whole,

but it shows that the work is actively proceeding. The great

trial of strength will not come until the line is finished and

the Russian government is face to face with the financial

problem of maintaining it and the army of men it will require.

It is likely enough that the Siberian Railway may not be

finished either for the money or by the date calculated upon,

which is 1904. Nothing, however, unless the Russian Empire

should be plunged into war, will prevent its completion early in

the next century. When Moscow and the Pacific are in railway

connection, and to some extent even before that, the effect upon

Russia's domestic and foreign relations must be enormous. The

vast extent of Siberia thus opened up, its agricultural possibili.

ties, its mineral certainties, the great variety of its other natural

products, and the opportunities it will offer to colonisation, will

inaugurate a new epoch in the history of Russia . But the rest

of the world is more concerned with the alteration it will bring

into the relations of Russia with other countries . This will be

startling. The railway will not be built as a commercial, but

as a political enterprise. It will not pay its expenses for a long

time to come, and the through traffic will be insignificant for a

century. Portions of it will soon be paying for themselves, but

as a whole the Siberian Railway is to be regarded as a long step

forward politically. The interesting question therefore is, in

what direction ? The Transcaspian Railway is at Samarcand,

• The Times, October 19, 1894 , Vienna correspondence.


and will soon be at Tashkend and Khokand, approaching the

western frontier of China. The Siberian Railway skirts the

northern and eastern frontiers of China practically from Irkutsk

all the way to Vladivostok . A branch line will at once be built

along the Selenga river, 75 miles, from Verkhne-Udinsk to

Kiakhta, thus securing the whole Russo - Chinese trade at once.

Before long, therefore, speaking in general terms, the entire

northern half of China will be completely surrounded by Russian

railways. Given the supineness of China and the energy of

Russia, and it is not difficult to forecast the results . In the

second place, the ability of Russia to convey any number of

European troops to a port on the Pacific, will give her an

enormous advantage over any of her European rivals there.

With a powerful Pacific fleet and a sufficient number of trans

ports she will be able to descend almost irresistibly upon any

part of the Far East except Japan, which has little to fear

from any invader. Unless England secures a further and

firmer foothold, at least a thousand miles north of Hongkong,

she will not be in a position to dispute with Russia any step

that the latter may choose to take. China is threatened

territorially, Great Britain is menaced commercially, but

always excepting Japan—the Siberian Railway will place the

whole of the Far East almost at the mercy of Russia, unless

England casts off her confidence and indifference.

Finally, there is the question of the Russian port on the Pacific.

Can anybody believe for a moment that Russia will build the

longest railway in the world , stretching five thousand miles

from the furthest edge of her European possessions, and will

spend upwards of forty millions sterling upon it, for it to

end in a harbour that is frozen solid during five months of

the year ? Nothing could be more unlikely. Except for some

European cataclysm which will set back all Russian schen es

for a century, it is certain (except in the case of one possible

eventuality which I describe later) that the terminus of the

Siberian Railway will be in Korea. And in Korea it will be at

166 RUSSIA .

Wön- san, or Port Lazareff, as she prefers to call it. This is a

splendid harbour, easily fortifiable, open all the year, surrounded

by a country offering many facilities for development. Such

a port is absolutely essential to Russia, and who shall blame

her for trying to secure it ? At any rate, as soon as the South

Usuri Section is joined to the rest of the finished Siberian

Railway, Russia's moment will have come. First the piece

of Manchuria which projects like a wedge into her territory

will become bers by one means or another, enabling her greatly

to shorten and straighten the railway, and then she will simply

take such part of Korea as may suit her. If this be only the

district of Wön - san, to begin with , the subsequent absorption

of the whole of the Korean peninsula may follow . She

will then be in possession of a good land route, across the

Yalu river, straight to the heart of China at all seasons of the

year, and her position in the Far East will be upassailable.

Whatever else may be thought of the prospects of the Far

East, however, let the fact that Russia intends to go to

Korea be regarded as certain . My own views of the inter

national question springing out of the Siberian Railway and

this fact, particularly in so far as it concerns the future of

Great Britain , will be found in subsequent chapters upon the

question of Korea and the future of Japan.





THE passage from Hongkong to the two thousand islands

which constitute the Philippine group is usually accounted

the worst in the China seas. It is a sort of sailing sideways,

through cross-currents of very deep seas , and into the favourite

hatching-place and haunt of the dreadful typhoon . Moreover,

Manila is not the easiest place in the world to find . Its position

is wrong on the charts, so my skipper assured me, and he would

not find it unless he knew better himself. It is, too , one of the

most earthquaky places in the world.. When a British scientific

and surveying expedition came some years ago to the Philippines,

and wished among other things to determine the precise latitude

and longitude once for all, although it waited for a couple of

weeks the islands were never steady enough to afford a satis

factory base for the instruments . The earthquake season was

on, and they were wobbling about the whole time ! This may

be a " yarn,” but it is a fact that the seismographs of the

Observatory are in a state of perpetual motion . For myself,

however, Manila will always be remembered as the place where

for the first time I had my pockets publicly and officially

searched. As soon as we anchored, a guard of soldiers came

on board and assisted the custom -house officials in minutely

examining everything in our baggage. When this was over I

was stopped at the head of the gangway by the lieutenant in

command and courteously informed that before I could land he


170 SPAIN .

must be permitted to see what I had in my pockets. When it

came to my pocket- book he turned it over, separating every

piece of paper in it . A bystander informed me that all this was

to prevent the introduction of Mexican dollars, on which there is

a premium , and which are prohibited of a date later than 1877,

and a pamphlet attacking the priests, recently published in

Hongkong. I tried to square accounts with this officer by

hinting that I had copies of the forbidden pamphlet in my

boots, but like the Prig, he only " answered with a silent

smile ."

In the most conspicuous spot in Manila stands a statue to

Magellan, who discovered the Philippine Islands in his famous

first circumnavigation of the globe in 1521, and whose lieutenant,

Legaspi , founded the city fifty years later. Then came Manila's

golden days. It was the goal of the galleon - imagination - stirring

name—that made its romantic voyages from Spain , deep loaded

with treasure ; that named the coast California — fit godfather

for the golden harvest of '49 -before even a foot was set on it ;

whose captain earned forty thousand dollars by his trip, and

pilot twenty thousand1 ; whose treasure chests yielded up a total

of a million dollars to Drake alone ; out of whose overflowing

stores one victorious British cruiser sailed into the port of

London with damask sails and silken rigging. The galleons are

gone, the wars of which they were the constant prey are as

forgotten as the men who fought them , and “ the most for

tunately situated city in the world , " as La Pérouse called it, is

far off in its lonely ocean, days distant from any of the great

routes of commerce , almost unheeded by the world in which it

was once so renowned, unvisited even by the ubiquitous globe

trotter. Yet there is something in the aspect of Manila sugges

tive of romance—something more picturesque than other places

show. The first thing I saw was a native drifting down the

river fast asleep on a heap of coconuts. Then the streets are

dazzling with their "flowers of fire"-large trees ablaze with

scarlet blossoms. The olive -skinned mestizas, half -caste descen


dants of emigrated Spaniard and native Indian , step daintily

along on bare feet encased in chinelas, embroidered heel-less

slippers, with gay fluttering garments of jusi, a woven mixture

of silk and pine-fibre, their loose jet-black hair reaching some

times almost to the ground-one woman was pointed out to me

whose hair was said to be eighty inches long—and their deep

dark eyes passing over you in languid surprise. The native

men are a community which has forgotten to tuck its shirt into

its trousers. Their costume consists of a pair of white trousers

and an elaborately pleated and starched shirt, with the tails left

flying about. Every one is smoking a cheroot, and every other

one has a game-cock under his arm , a constant companion and

chief treasure, and sometimes chief source of income too, until

the deadly spur on the heel of the stronger or pluckier rival

turns all its pride and brilliance into a shapeless heap of blood

and feathers in the dust, while a thousand voices execrate its


The City of Manila consists of two parts : the Spanish walled

city, called the parish of Intra Muros, and the general settlement

outside . The former is crowded with Spanish houses, the

streets being so narrow that in many of them two carriages can

not pass each other ; their overhanging upper storeys make a

perpetual twilight ; the inhabitants go out but little, and the

whole place leaves upon you an impression of darkness, of

silence, of semi-stagnation. Outside the walls are the wharves,

all the warehouses and business offices, the hotels, many large

residences of the wealthy half-caste population , and as the city

gradually merges in the country, the charming river - side

bungalows of the foreign residents, the Club, the racecourse,

and so on , till you reach the squalid but picturesque outlying

native villages. Inside the city you cannot take a hundred steps

without coming upon striking evidence of the earthquakes.

Here is &a church half broken down by the convulsion of such a

year ; there are the grass-grown ruins of the Government Palace

destroyed by another historic outburst ; in the great Cathedral

172 SPAIN .

itself the lofty roof of the transept is split and cracked in an

alarming fashion. On the shore of the bay there is an extensive

and well laid - out boulevard or embankment, called the Luneta,

where all fashionable Manila walks or drives in the evening to

the music of the military band . Behind this are the forts,

moss-covered antiquities of masonry, armed with rusty and

harmless pieces which might have come from the gun-deck of

some old galleon. The military authorities, however, make up

in strictness of regulation what they lack in effectiveness of

armament, for the foreign tennis-club was refused permission to

play upon a piece of land within hypothetical range of these

guns on the ground that it was " within the military zone," and

I myself was told, though with great courtesy, by H. E. the

Captain -General, that he must refuse me permission to take any

photographs in which a part of the fortifications appeared. It

was, of course, only for their ancient picturesqueness that I

wished to photograph them—a mop vigorously twirled would be

as effective for defence. In one fort at another place there are

two decent modern guns, nearly surrounded by brittle masonry,

and of these I purchased a large and excellent photograph taken

from inside and showing every detail ! Manila, however, if the

information is of interest to anybody, could be reduced with ease

by a couple of gunboats .


The history of Manila has been well divided * into four epochs:

1. The Chinese period ; 2. The Spanish and Mexican period of

monopoly before the introduction of steam traffic ; 3. The

period of open commerce with British predominance, which

commences simultaneously with the age of steam ; 4. The

period from the opening of the Suez Canal until the pre

sent time. The Chinese were the original traders with the

Philippine Islands, doing business always from their junks

to the shore. They were persecuted and massacred , but

returned in ever increasing numbers. Legaspi encouraged

them , and their numbers at the beginning of the seventeenth

By Mr. Consul Stigand , in a very interesting Report, F. O., No. 1391.





century have been estimated at thirty thousand. When the

British occupied Manila in the course of one of the wars with

Spain, the Chinese revenged themselves by joining the invaders ,

in return for which, as soon as our ships had left, a general

massacre of Chinese was ordered and carried out , and so late as

1820, says Mr. Stigand, another massacre of Chinese and

foreigners took place. At the present day there are one hundred

thousand Chinese in the Archipelago, of whom forty thousand

are settled in Manila, where they occupy the chief shops and

do almost all the artisans' work. The second period was that

of purely Spanish commerce , from 1571 to the beginning of this

century. The Philippines were a dependence of Mexico, com

munication was forbidden except through Acapulco, from which

port the State galleons, termed Naos de Acapulco, made their

annual voyages, laden with the treasure which has rendered

their name one of the most picturesque words in history. They

were four -deckers, of about 1,500 tons, and strongly armed . In

times of war they were, as everybody knows, the easy and

greatly-sought prey of the enemy's ships. One of them , the

Pilar, captured by Anson , was a prize worth a million and half

dollars. At last foreign enemies pressed them so hard that

after the Philippines had been without a State galleon for six

years, they were discarded, and a commercial company, largely

financed by the King of Spain himself, was formed in 1765 ,

and to it was conceded the exclusive privilege of trading

between Spain and the Archipelago, except for the direct

traffic between Manila and Acapulco. This monopoly in its

turn came to an end in 1834 , and from that time the Philip

pines have been , according to Spanish ideas , open to com

merce . The opening of the Suez Canal brought Manila within

thirty-two days' steam of Barcelona, and, as Mr. Stigand avers ,

doubled the importance of the commerce of the Philippine

Islands, which now reaches the yearly sum of fifty million


The two principal banks, and the principal firms

in Manila, are all British, and of the ships that entered and

174 SPAIN .

cleared from the port during 1893, amounting to 240 in all, 139

were British and 53 Spanish. But for the excessive port dues and

the bad harbour accommodation which compels cargoes to be


carried in lighters to ships lying off the Bay, foreign trade with

Manila would undoubtedly be greater than it is. The one

railway in the islands, from Manila to Dagupan, which has just

been completed by the building of a bridge over the Rio Grande

river, has also been constructed chiefly with British capital, on

which it promises ultimately to pay a good return . The fall of

silver has hit it very hard, however, since the Government

subsidy which, at par of exchange, would be £85,000, is only

£ 53,000 at the present rate . Japanese enterprise is likely to

make itself felt before long here as elsewhere, since Mr.

Nakamura, formerly Japanese Consul, is announced to be on

the point of establishing a trading company in Manila, with

a capital of half a million dollars.

Considered as a contemporary community, Manila is an

interesting example of the social product of the Roman Catholic

Church when unrestrained by any outside influence. Here the

Church has free sway, uninterrupted by alien faith, undeterred

by secular criticism. All is in the hands of the priests. The

great monasteries, with their high barred windows, shelter the

power, the wealth , the knowledge of the community. The

Dominicans, with their Archbishop, the Augustinians,, the

Recoletanos, and the Franciscans, divide the people among them,

their influence being in the order I have named them. Wise in

the knowledge of that which they have created, their own wealth

is invested in foreign banks, chiefly in Hongkong, though that of

the Dominicans, richest of all, is entrusted to the Agra Bank.

The people are plunged in superstition, and their principal

professed interest in life (after cock -fighting) is the elaborate

religious procession for which every feast-day offers a pretext.

The two newspapers are parodies of the modern press, ignorant

of news, devoid of opinion save the priests’, devoted in equal

parts to homily and twaddle. The port, for its exasperating


restrictions and obstructions, is said by agents and captains to

be the most disagreeable in the world to enter or leave. The

civil authority itself is in many respects subject to the religious :

during the chief religious festivals nobody but the Arch

bishop is permitted to ride in a carriage . A large part of the

real estate of the city is in the possession of the religious

orders. If you would prosper, it is absolutely indispensable

that you should be on good terms with the priests . Their

suspicion and disfavour mean ruin. The personal liberty of

the common man may almost be said to be in their keeping.

It is hardly necessary to add that the people as a whole are idle

and dissipated, and that most of the trade is in the hands of

the foreign houses. Altogether, Manila, distant as it is from

other communities, with little intercourse to enlighten it, and

few visitors to criticise or report, is a remarkable and instruc

tive example of the free natural development of “ age-reared

priestcraft and its shapes of woe.”

Of the six characteristics of Manila - tobacco, hemp, earth

quakes, cock -fighting, priestcraft and orchids—the first two are

known to all the world. Manila cigars and Manila hemp are

household words, the yearly product of the former reaching the

colossal total of nearly 140,000,000, besides tobacco, and of the

latter 80,000 tons, of which Great Britain takes considerably

more than half. Orchid -hunters come here year after year,

travel far into the virgin forests of the interior, and emerge

again after months of absence, if fever and the native Tagalos

spare them, with a few baskets full of strange flowers which

they carry home with infinite precaution and sell for a king's

ransom . I was told of one collector who sold a plant for £500.

Tobacco is of course the staple industry, and a morning spent

in a tobacco factory is extremely interesting. Through the

kindness of Messrs. Smith, Bell & Co., the leading business

house in Manila , I visited the most important of these, “ La

Flor de la Isabella ," and followed the tobacco from its arrival

in the bale, through the seasoning -room , to the wetting and

176 SPAIN.

sorting-tubs, on the benches where it is rolled into cigars, past

the selecting-table where its colour and quality are decided by

a lightning expert, through the drying -room , and at last into

the gaily-labelled cedar box. Manila tobacco is considered here

to be superior to any in the world , except the famous “ Vuelta

Abajo ” of Cuba, and millions of Manila cigars are sold as

Havanas. In fact, the two styles, Manila and Cuban, the

former with the end cut blunt off and parallel sides, are

turned out in almost equal quantities. Five colours are dis

tinguished for sale, Maduro, Colorado Maduro, Colorado,

Colorado claro, and Claro, although the expert at the selecting.

table divides his heap into thirty different colours. The filling

of a cigar is called tripa, or tripe, the wrapper capa, or overcoat .

London takes assorted colours, while the dark brands are sent

to Spain, the light ones to New York , and the straight cheroots

to India . From this factory a million and a half cigars are

shipped every month to one London firm alone. The figures of


- are astounding. At “ La Flor de la Isabella ,"

and this is only one of a score of factories in Manila, 4,000

people are employed , their hours of labour being eight, from

7 to 12 and from 2 to 5 o'clock. And from the huge “ Im

periales” to the tiny “ Coquetas ” and the twisted “ Culebras,"

4,000,000 in Manila style and 1,500,000 in Cuban style are

made menthly. But cigarette-making caps the climax. The

tobacco leaves are cut into hebra or thread, which we call

“ long-cut," and the whole process of making is done by a

single machine. I saw nine of these hard at work, and each

turns out twelve thousand in a day. It is a simple sum :

9 X 12,000 X 30 X 12, say 38,000,000 cigarettes a year from

one factory. And yet,

“ There is poison , they say, in thy kisses,

O pale cigarette ! ”

Or, from the other point of view, what an altar for Mr. Lowell's

worship of -


“the kind nymph to Bacchus born

By Morpheus' daughter, she that seems

Gifted upon her natal morn

By him with fire, by her with dreams."

The great cockpit of Manila at the “ Fiesta del Pueblo ” is

one of the most remarkable spectacles in the world. Imagine a

huge circus with an arena raised to the height of the faces of

those standing; behind them tier upon tier gradually rising ;

above the arena, which is enclosed with fine wire netting, the

red draped box of the farmer — the leading Chinaman of

Manila , named Señor Palanca ; and a packed audience of four

thousand people . Squatting on the earthen floor of the ring,

inside the wire netting, are the habitués, half Chinese and half

Jlestizos, while the officials walk about-the juez de justicia or


referee, the sentenciador or umpire, the casador, " go-between ”

or betting-master, and several others. Then two men enter

the ring, each carrying a bird whose spur is shielded for the

moment in a leather scabbard . One wears his hat-he is the

owner of the challenging bird-called llamado ; the other,

hatless, is the outsider or dejado, who takes up the challenge.

An official calls out the sum for which the challenger's owner

backs it, and how much is still lacking to make up the sum.

Then comes the most extraordinary scene of all . The moment

the words are out of his mouth , it rains dollars in the ring.

From those inside, from those who are within throwing distance,

apparently from everywhere, dollars pour in, without method,

without ownership, without a bargain, so far as one can judge

amid the deafening clamour. When the sums on the birds are

equal the betting master shouts Casada ! “ matched,” literally

" married," the farmer from his box on high yells Larga !

" loose them ,” and the fight begins. Sometimes it lasts ten

minutes, sometimes only a second, the first shock leaving one

bird a mangled corpse . No need to describe it -- every one knows

how a cock fights, and that it is the very gamest and pluckiest

thing that lives. The fight over , the betting -master goes round


178 SPAIN .

handing money back recklessly, so it seems, to anybody who

holds out a hand. I asked Señor Palanca how betting could

possibly be carried on like this. He replied that each one asks

for or takes the sum that belongs to him . But if anybody

should put out his hand for another's money ? He gave me to

understand that it was never done, and that if anybody were

detected doing so he would probably have a dozen knives in his

body on the spot. In a short time I had witnessed 105 cock

fights, and I shall never willingly see another. The entry of

the two brilliant birds ; the final adjustment of the long razor

edged spurs ; the frantic betting ; the rain of silver ; the irrita

tion of the birds, held up to pull a few feathers out of each

other in turn ; their stealthy approach ; the dead silence ; the

sudden double spring and mad beating of wings ; the fall of

one or perhaps both, the gay plumage drenched in blood , and

perhaps a wing half- severed and hanging down ; the mad yells ;

the winning bird carried carefully away, the loser picked up

like carrion and flung away with a curse ; the distribution of

money ; the instant appearance of another pair—the ceaseless

spectacle was an obsession of horror. The authorities make

a large revenue from the cockpit. For this and one other,

Señor Palanca pays 68,600 dollars a year, and there are five

other farmers.

Two other reminiscences may conclude my sketch of Manila.

One is that a hundred people were dying every day of cholera

while I was there, and several times my guide pushed me

hastily back against the wall as we threaded our way along the

narrow streets, and stuffed his camphorated handkerchief in

his mouth, muttering “ Colerico ! ” as a couple of men passed

bearing on their shoulders a long object wrapped in a sheet

and slung between two poles— the latest case going to the

hospital. One of the Chinese firemen died of cholera on board

the steamer three hours before we sailed. The other reminis

cence is that the thermometer stood at 1050 in the shade, as I

saw, and at 1600 in the sun, as I was told.


The Philippine Islands are the only Spanish possession in

the Far East. Indeed, only a part of them can properly be

said to be in Spanish possession at all , as the natives of many

of the islands have never been brought under Spanish rule.

At this moment hostilities are proceeding in the almost un

known island of Mindanao, with uncertain results as yet.

Although mining has always been a failure, there is undoubt

edly vast wealth in the tropical forests of the Philippines, but

it will hardly be developed under the present régime. In spite

of her growing feet of first-class cruisers at home, Spain is

without influence in the Far East outside her own immediate

territories, and she will play little or no part in shaping its






THERE the carcase is, there also will the eagles be gathered


together. " China is the great carcase of Asia, and round

her the eagles of Europe and America press and jostle one

another. England is entrenched at Hongkong, and many a fat

slice has she carried away. And now she is stretching out

another claw through Thibet. America has half of Shanghai,

and to and from San Francisco the bird of prey passes regularly

in his flight. France is trying hard to carry off her share of the

carcase through Tongking, and Port Arthur in the north brought

huge sums to a French syndicate. Herr Krupp has secured

Germany's chief plunder, and the Yamên of Li Hung-chang

at Tientsin is a nest of commercial intrigue on behalf of the

Fatherland , And Russia is laying a heavy paw upon China

from the north . All this is natural enough , and so far as

England and America are concerned it is the inevitable flow

of trade in the channels of least resistance. But among the

birds around this Asiatic carcase there is a beetle ; among the

birds of prey there is a parasite. The extreme south-east corner

of China is the scene of the dying struggles of a mongrel

fragment of a once intrepid and famous race — a fragment

drawing its meagre sustenance with more difficulty every day.

The hand of Vasco da Gama would have wavered upon the helm

as he rounded the Cape of Good Hope, of all the men in Europe

" the first that ever burst into the silent seas ” of the East, if he

could have foreseen to what a wretched pass and laughing-stock



his countrymen there would come after less than four hundred

years. The daughter of a King of Portugal was at Hongkong a

few years ago. She went, of course, to visit her own people

and stand under her own flag at Macao . But a glimpse was

too much for her, and she left within twelve hours.

Yet Macao (what is the relation of its name, one wonders, to

the Piccadilly game over which Beau Brummel used to preside ,

doubtless with much profit to himself, at Watier's ?) is not such

a bad place, at first sight. Its bay is a perfect crescent. Around

this runs a broad boulevard , called the Praya Grande, shadowed

with fine old arching banyan trees. At each horn the Portuguese

flag waves over a little fort. Behind the town, green wooded

hills rise like an amphitheatre, and among the houses &

picturesque old building sticks up here and there - the

cathedral, the barracks, the military hospital, the older Fort

Monte. The whitewashed houses with their green blinds and

wide shady porticoes and verandas, from which dark eyes look

idly down upon you as you pass, recall many a little Italian and

Spanish town. A couple of yacht-like Portuguese gunboats lie

at anchor in the river beyond the bay. On Sundays and

Thursdays the band plays in the public gardens, and surely

nowhere in the world do the buglers linger so long over the

reveille and the retreat as they do here every day. To the busy

broker or merchant of Hongkong, who runs over here in the

summer from Saturday to Monday, after a week of hard work

and perspiration, coining dollars in a Turkish bath , Macao is a

tiny haven of rest, where the street is free from the detestable

ceaseless chatter of Chinamen , where the air is fresh and the

hills green , and where a little " flutter " at fan -tan is a miniature

and amusing substitute for the daily struggle with exchanges

and settlements and short sales .

And Macao has its glorious past, too. After they had

rounded the Cape the Portuguese occupied a great part of the

coast of India, sent an Embassy to the Emperor of China, and

occupied Ningpo. There one night 1,200 of them were


murdered . So they resettled a place called Chinchew, where

the same fate overtook them. Nothing daunted, they came

further south, and after helping the Chinese to destroy hordes

of pirates were permitted to settle in peace on a small peninsula

near the mouth of one of the two river approaches to Canton.

Here Macao was founded in 1557, and up to 1848 the Portuguese

paid a yearly rental of 500 dollars in presents or money. In

1582 when the Crown of Portugal passed to Spain , Macao

followed suit. When it went back again in 1640 in the person

of John IV. of Portugal, Macao again changed its flag and made

" a great donation ” to the new king. At this time it was

described as a melhor ê mas prospero columna que os Portu

gueyes tem em todo o Oriente " —the best and most prosperous

colony that the Portuguese possess in all the East. Then its

population was 19,500. By 1830 it had dwindled to 4,628, of

so mixed a blood that only 90 persons were registered as of pure

Portuguese descent. To-day it holds 63,500 Chinese, 4,476 so

called Portuguese, and 78 others—in all 68,086. What is the

explanation of this sudden enormous multiplication of its

population ? Like Satan, Macao was “ by merit raised to

that bad eminence." It won back its ancient prosperity by

offering its houses and its traders as the last refuge in the East

to that hell upon earth, the legalised coolie traffic. When

Hongkong stopped this for ever under the British flag by the

Chinese Passengers Act of 1854, Macao opened eager and

unscrupulous arms to the “ labour agents,” and for nearly

twenty years, when public opinion became too strong for

even this mongrel and far-away community, the little city

flourished, its inhabitants made fortunes, the Praya Grande

was crowded every evening by a gay and gaudy throng, the

streets were beautified , the cathedral was rebuilt, and the

Portuguese colony became famous throughout the East for

its elaborate religious processions and its eloquent priests.

And during these twenty years uncounted thousands of coolies

were decoyed, entrapped , stolen , and pirated to Macao, kept


prisoners in the gloomy " barracoons, " whose grated windows

are still everywhere visible, theoretically certified as voluntary

contract labourers by an infamous profit-sharing procurador, and

then shipped to toil, and starve, and rot, and die in mines and

fields and plantations everywhere, literally “'from China to

Peru ." As a single specimen of the traffic it is commonly

affirmed that of 4,000 coolies sent to the foul guano-pits of

the Chincha Islands, not a single soul returned. Altogether

500,000 Chinese were exported viâ Macao, before the traffic

was finally extinguished in 1875. There has been lately a

semi-surreptitious attempt to revive the trade. A company

was formed to supply a million Chinese to South America ,

and a ship called the Tetartos actually carried 300 “ free

labourers ” to Brazil in October of last year, concerning

whose destination and fate there is still great uncertainty.

And it has been rumoured that a new and influential coolie

emigration “ ring ” is being planned , but fortunately public

opinion and Chinese official opposition may be counted upon

to thwart its efforts .

A retribution has fallen upon Macao—it seems as though the

curses of the murdered coolies have come back to it. Not a& soul

walks the beautiful Praya ; the harbour is silting up so fast, from

the detritus brought down by the Pearl and West rivers, between

which Macao is situated, that in a few years there will not be as

many feet of water in it ; even the Chinese are leaving it — the

last of rats to quit a sinking ship ; its miserable inhabitants,

interbred from Chinese, Portuguese, Malay, Indian, and unknown

human jetsam to such an extent that the few Portuguese troops

here regard the Chinaman as socially superior to the “ Mestiços,"

have fallen into utter apathy ; they hardly show themselves out

of doors, they subsist on monies furnished to them by their

pluckier relatives in foreign employ in Hongkong and elsewhere,

and the military band in the public gardens plays to a score of

loafers. There is no manufacture, no social life, and almost no

trade since the smuggling of opium has been stopped by Sir


Robert Hart's recent treaty, giving Macao in perpetuity to

the Portuguese on the condition that its Customs should be

virtually controlled by his staff.

Another illegitimate source of income was lost to Macao in

1885. The most intense interest is taken in China—an interest

comparable only to that of the great sporting events of the year

with us — in the official literary and military examinations in

Peking, and upon the results of these every other man in China

desires to have a wager . A lottery to this end, called the

Wei-sing Lottery, has existed for a long time. The Chinese

Government have made more or less sincere efforts to put it

down ; indeed, in 1874 the Emperor went so far as to cashier

the Governor-General Ying Han for sanctioning its establish

ment in Canton. The authorities of Macao, of course, saw the

possibilities of an enormous profit herein. They therefore

farmed out the lottery to a Chinaman , who smuggled the

tickets from Portuguese into Chinese territory, and who paid

them 353,000 dollars a year for the privilege. Against this the

Chinese were powerless, so in 1885, in self-defence, they con

sented to the Wei-sing in China, with the result that the sum

the monopolist was able to pay the government of Macao fell

instantly to 36,000 dollars. Trade is going the way of the coolie

traffic, the opium-smuggling and the lottery revenue , but the

peculiar genius of Macao is not yet at an end . According to the

British Vice- Consul, a new source of income has been invented

in what is called “ lie " tea , the legitimate tea trade having

almost completely fallen off. Mr. Joly writes : “ This term

sufficiently explains its quality, for there is no doubt that the

mixture could only be called tea in its correct acceptation

through a considerable sacrifice of truth. These teas are

manufactured from exhausted tea-leaves , which are dried ,

re - fired , and mixed with a certain proportion of genuine tea

and of seeds and dust. Most of this preparation proceeds to


Hamburg , where no ' Adulteration Act ' is in force ; but a

good deal of mystery enshrouds its ultimate fate, for there are


various versions as to its disposal, some parties averring that

it is consumed by the lower classes, others that it is sold to

ships, and others that a quantity of it probably leaks into

England as well. From what I can gather, some of this lie ‘ '

tea is often packed in chests labelled best Congou,' and

shipped to India for the lower classes . But tastes differ, just

as the tea sent to France and the Continent generally is a

mere conglomeration of stalks and twigs, and to all appearances

no tea at all.” Macao, however, is practically being wiped out

of existence by Hongkong, with its enormously greater capital,

enterprise and freedom of trade. So far from attempting to

meet this competition, the Macanese authorities go blindly

along the old road of commercial restriction , the port dues at

Macao being exactly three times what they are at Hongkong.

In 1854 the Abbé Huc wrote as follows : “ Aujourd'hui Macao

n'est guère plus qu'un souvenir ; l'établissement anglais de

Hongkong lui a donné le coup mortel ; il ne lui reste de son

antique prospérité que de belles maisons sans locataires, et dans

quelques années, peut-être, les pavires européens, en passant

devant la presqu'île où fut cette fière et riche colonie portugaise,

ne verront plus qu'un rocher nu , désolé, tristement battu par

les vagues, et où le pêcheur chinois viendra faire sécher ses


noirs filets. " Although this prophecy is not yet wholly fulfilled,

each year brings its realisation nearer. One peculiar source of

revenue, however, remains — the sale of postage-stamps. When

ever Macao desires a lift for its treasury it is able to secure it

by abandoning one set of stamps and issuing another, when

philatelists from all over the world eagerly add it to their

inflated collections . Our consul declares that he has “ endless

applications from different countries for stamps of this colony ."

Portugal doles out to Macao a yearly pittance, and its other

chief source of revenue is the 150,000 dollars it draws annually

from its gaming -tables. For, as I have said, whenever one

wickedness was stopped in Macao it was quick to find another,

and to -day it is the only place in the Far East where you can


play fan -tan under a foreign flag. But its history is almost

closed, the days of its disappearing trade and its decomposing

population are numbered , and unless a Cement Company which

has been started on a small island leased from the bishop , or

the establishment of bonded warehouses, as suggested by the

Chinese Customs, should bring back a semblance of prosperity,

this " gem of the orient earth and open sea ” will have dis

appeared like other places and peoples which were, sinned too

much , and are not.

One classic memory, however, may save Macao from oblivion .

It was here that the exiled Camoens composed the greater part

of his Lusiads. On one of the hillsides overlooking the bay is an

extensive old shrubbery, where narrow paths twist in and out

among gnarled and ancient trees, and where half - a -dozen

enormous boulders heaped together form a natural archway or

grotto-the Gruta de Camoēs. Camoens was appointed Provedor

dos defuntos e ausentes -- Commissary for the Defunct and the

Absent - in Macao, and is supposed to have come here every day

to work at his great task. The place, which is now known as

" Camoens' Garden ," belongs to a family named Marques, and

by them a remarkably fine bronze bust of the half-blind poet ,

inscribed “ Luiz de Camoes, Nasceo 1524, Morreo 1580," was

placed in the arch in 1840, upon a pedestal bearing six cantos

of the Lusiads, while tributes to him in half- a - dozen languages

are engraved upon stone tablets placed around . There is

a fine sonnet of Tasso's and various verses in Portuguese and

Spanish, while Sir John Bowring's exaggeration is unfortunately

conspicuous :

“ Gem of the orient earth and open sea ,

Macao, that in thy lap and on thy breast

Has gathered beauties all the loveliest

On which the sun smiles in his majesty ; "

and so on . One degree worse in style, though a thousand times

truer are some wonderful Latin verses perpetrated by a Mr.

David , who laments


“ Sed jam vetustas aut manus impia

Prostravit, eheu ! Triste silentium

Regnare nunc solum videtur

Per scopulos, virides et umbras ! "

Among all, however, the sincerest seems to me to be some

quaint lines in French, said to have been written by the com

mander of a French man - of -war which visited Macao in 1827,

and ingeniously dedicated as follows :

“ Au Grand Luis de Camoens, Portugais d'origine Castillane,

Soldat religieux, voyageur et poète exilé,

L'humble Louis de Rienzi, Français d'origine Romaine,

Voyageur religieux, soldat et poète expatrié.”

This poet too was doleful, for apostrophising Camoens he

says :


• Agité plus que toi, je fuyai dans les champs,

Et le monde, et mon cæur, l'envie et les tyrans . ”

What the Macanese of to -day think of Camoens may be

judged from the fact that I tried in vain to borrow or buy in

Macao a copy of the Lusiads, to see what are the stanzas

engraved on the pedestal, the chiselling having become illegible.

Camoens himself was shipwrecked off Malacca on his way home

when pardoned , and swam ashore with the manuscript of the

Lusiads, losing everything else. Curiously enough, by the way,

on leaving the grotto and turning into the old half-deserted

cemetery I came across an old -fashioned granite monument,

with this inscription : “ Sacred to the Memory of the Right

Hon . Lord Henry John Spencer Churchill, 4th son of George

5th Duke of Marlborough, Captain of H.B.M.S. Druid, and

Senior Officer in the China Seas . Departed this life in Macao

roads, 2nd June, 1840. This monument is erected by His

Officers and Petty Officers in testimony of their Esteem and

Affection .”

Finally, Macao, as I have said, is the Monaco of the East,


and from its gaming-tables its impecunious government reaps

150,000 dollars a year, the price said to be paid by the syndi

cate of Chinese proprietors for the monopoly. The game is a

peculiarly Chinese one, well fitted to afford full scope to the

multitude of refinements and hypothetical elaborations with

which the Chinaman, the greatest gambler on earth, loves to

surround his favourite vice . It is played on a mat-covered

table, with a small square of sheet lead and a heap of artificial

gilded “ cash ."

.” On one side stands the croupier, on the adjoin

ing side sits the dealer, and between them , a little to the rear, is

the desk and treasury of the cashier. The sides of the leaden

square are called one, two, three, and four. The dealer takes

up from the heap as many “ cash " as he can grasp with both

hands and places them apart upon the table. Then the

players, who sit and stand round the other two sides of the

table, make their bets, that is, they place at either side of the

square any sum from 50 cents to 500 dollars, or at either

corner any sum up to 1,500 dollars. When all have done ,

the dealer slowly counts the heap out in fours, and the last

remaining four or three or two or one, as the case may be, is

the winning number. Those who have placed their money at

the corresponding side of the square, which is called playing fan,

are paid three to one ; those who have staked at the corner,

covering two numbers or playing tan, are paid even money if

either number wins. From all winnings the bank deducts eight

per cent. Besides the above ways, there are many other of

infinite complication , scored with buttons and cards and ivory

counters, which nobody except a Celestial can possibly under

stand . But they play with the greatest eagerness, the coolie

who works a week to save his dollar, the shopkeeper who

calmly stakes his watch and chain if he is short of ready money

and the well- to - do merchant, who watches the game for half an

hour to judge of the chances and then lays down his hundred

dollar bill and walks imperturbably away whatever the result may

be. Of course everybody asks, cannot the dealer after years of


practice take up a fixed number of “cash ” according to the

sums staked upon the table ? It seems probable, but I have

watched him for a long time and I am convinced that if he could

it would in nearly all cases be impracticable, for many sufficient

reasons . A few years ago it was common enough to see a

thousand dollars on the table for a single deal, when the

Hongkong brokers were rich, and came over on Saturday nights.

Conspicuous in Macao are the following lines by S. de Passos,

chiselled in marble over an arch :

“ Nacão que dormes, do sepulchro a borda ,

Ergue-te , surge , como outr' ora , ovante !

Teu genio antigo, teu valor recorda,

E aprende n'elle a caminhar avante ! "

But the appeal comes too late. Portugal had her Eastern

glory, as she had also what Richard Burton called her “ mani

fold villainies." Her share in the politics of the Far East is gone

for ever, and Macao is not even an inspiring monument to its

memory .






As soon as you are safely on Chinese soil at Tientsin you

begin to ask how far it is to Peking and how you can get

there. You are told eighty miles by road , and a hundred and

twenty by river, and that there are three methods of travel open

to you — cart, horseback, and boat. I chose the second, hired

a couple of ponies and a mafoo (groom ), and thankfully left the

noisy, narrow, and nasty streets of the native city of Tientsin

behind me at seven o'clock one bright Sunday morning. Then

forty miles of jog-trot and canter along a narrow path across a

landscape of dry mud, and a night at a Chinese inn—a series of

small cold, bare guest-rooms surrounded by a hollow square of

stalls. To bed at eight, up again at three in order that the cart

which carries the baggage and bedding and food might start

and reach Peking before the gates are closed at five o'clock.

A trip to Peking is good for two moments of interest and

satisfaction — two real sensations of traveller's delight. The

first is at first sight of the walls of the great city, after the

second dull ride of forty miles. You enter through a gate of

no proportions or pretensions, you ride for a quarter of an hour

among hovels and pigs, and then suddenly on climbing a bank

a striking sight bursts upon you . A great tower of many storeys

forms the corner of a mighty wall ; from each of its storeys

& score cannon -mouths yawn ; for a mile or more the wall

stretches in a perfectly straight line, pierced with a thousand

embrasures, supported by a hundred buttresses. Then you halt


196 CHINA .

your pony and sit and try to realise that another of the desires

of your life is gratified ; that you are at last really and truly

before the walls of the city that was old centuries before the

wolf and the woodpecker found Romulus and Remus ; in the

wonderland of Marco Polo, father of travellers ; on the ere

of exploring the very capital and heart of the Celestial Empire.

This is the first of your two precious moments. When you ride

on you discover that the cannon -mouths are just black and

white rings painted on boards , and the swindle — fortunately you

do not know it then - is your whole visit to Peking in a nutshell.

The place is a gigantic disappointment .

Although the temptation is great to write marvels about a

place one has come so far to see—to play Polo, so to speak,

on one's own account—the truth is that Peking is not worth the

trip. It is worth coming to study, but not to see. The nose

is the only sense appealed to by the capital of China . It is not

half as picturesque a place as Seoul, nor a quarter as interest

ing as San Francisco . Moreover, you cannot see nearly as

much of it to -day as you could a few years ago. One by one

thie show -places have been closed to foreigners , and the Marble

Bridge, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven —to mention

only the first that come to mind--are now hermetically closed

against the barbarian, and neither rank nor money nor impu

dence can force an entrance . Even the ascents to the top of

the wall--the only place where a foreigner can walk in comfort

and decency -are now barred , and you must find a bribable

sentry . And if by reason of strength or luck you do get into

one of the forbidden spots you are very likely to have a narrow

escape —as I had at the Great Llama Temple - of never getting

out again.

The history of Peking is to be read in the walls which

surround it in ruin or in preservation, and if you trace them

within and without the city (I did not) they will show you

where lay the “ Nanking ” of the Khitan Tartars in 986 ; how

the famous “ Golden Horde "” of Kin Tartars laid out their









PUBLE inti i

wir ?'







capital of Chung-tu in 1151 ; what Genghiz Khan and his

Mongols thought a great city should be in 1215 ; how the

immortal Khublai Khan constructed Khanbalik , “ the city of

the Khan,” a century later_Polo calls it Cambaluc ; and much

more interesting history down to the advent of the present

Manchus in 1644. And it is the walls, in excellent preserva

tion, that mark the divisions of the Peking of to -day - first,

the so- called “ Chinese " or Outer City, more properly the

Southern City ; adjoining it the Inner or “ Tartar City,"

properly called Northern ; inside this the “ Imperial City ,”

and inside this again, like the inmost pill -box in a nest, the

"Forbidden City ," the actual Imperial residence itself. The

ethnological distinctions of Chinese and Tartar are practically

effaced ; the only distinction for the flying visitor is that the

shops are in the Chinese City, while most of the temples , public

buildings, and “ sights,” together with all the foreign residences,

are in the Tartar City, and that the wall of the latter is much

the larger and more massive structure. The ground - plan of

Peking is supposed to represent a human body, the palace being

the heart, but it is better described as being laid out on the

chess-board plan of American cities west of Chicago. There

are two great streets which intersect at a central point, and from

all parts of these other streets, lanes and alleys run in straight

lines. Every corner in Peking seems to be a right angle ; there

are no winding thoroughfares. The houses are all very low with

flat roofs, and I did not see a single first-class Chinese dwelling-.

house in the whole city. But it is the streets of Peking that

strike the observer first, and fade last from his recollection.

Whether wide or narrow, dark alley or main artery, they are

entirely unpaved—the native alluvial soil and the native sewage

form every Pekingese pathway. From this state of things spring

sereral curious consequences. The roads are so uneven , the

holes in them so numerous and deep, the ridges so high and

steep, that no vehicle with springs can navigate half a mile.

The only conveyance, therefore, is the famous Peking cart, an

198 CHINA .

enormously strong and heavy square two -wheeled, covered

vehicle, drawn by a mule, the passenger squatting tailor- fashion

inside and the driver sitting on the shaft. If you go out to

dinner or your wife goes to church, this is practically your

only vehicle, as there are very few chairs in Peking. But to

be rolled about and jolted in one of these is simple torture,

and if you do not hold on closely to the hand -rails inside you

run no little risk of having your brains dashed out. After a

good shower of rain in Peking you cannot set foot out of doors ;

the mud is often three feet deep, and the centre of the street

sometimes a couple of feet higher than the sides. But on the

other hand, if no rain comes there is the dust, and a Peking

dust-storm , once experienced, is a dreadful memory for ever.

After a drought the dust is ankle-deep, every night at sunset it

is watered with the liquid sewage of the city, and so it has come

to be composed of dried pulverised earth and dried pulverised

filth in about equal proportions. And when the storm comes

you are blinded and choked by it ; it penetrates your clothing

to the skin ; windows and doors and curtains and covers do not

stop it for an instant ; people say it even finds its way into

air-tight boxes. So whether the barometer indicates “ rain "

or " fair, ” you are equally badly off. The Secretary of the

British Legation says in his latest Report : “ The foreign com

munity started a roads' committee with the praiseworthy desire

of cleansing and levelling the foul streets immediately around

the legations and Customs residences. A water - cart was pur

chased and created no small sensation among the populace on

its first appearance ; but only a torrent of rain suffices to lay

the deep dust of Peking, and the efforts to remove the filth of

the roads have proved inadequate and almost abortive.” Few

European travellers, he adds, have visited Peking during the

past three years .

To learn what the Chinaman really thinks about the foreigner,

you must go to Peking : no other city in China will serve so

well. And the discovery will be far from flattering to your


national pride. Peking is the only place I have ever visited

where the mere fact of being a foreigner, a stranger in speech,

dress, and manners, did not of itself secure one a certain amount

of consideration, or at any rate make one the object of useful in

terest.. Here the precise opposite is the case. The " foreign devil ”

is despised at sight - not merely hated, but regarded with sincere

and profound contempt. " If the Tsungli Yamên were abolished.”

said a Peking diplomat to me, “our lives would not be safe here

for twenty -four hours . The people just refrain from actually

molesting us because they have learned that they will be very

severely punished if they do.” At home we cherish the belief

that we are welcome in China, that the Chinese are pleased to

learn of our Western civilisation, that they are gradually and

gladly assimilating our habits and views, and that the wall of

prejudice is slowly breaking down. It would hardly be pos

sible to be more grossly and painfully mistaken. The people to

a man detest and despise us (I am speaking, of course, of the

real Chinese, not of the anglicised Chinese of Hongkong and

elsewhere, who are but a drop in the ocean of Celestial

humanity) ; and as for the rulers, it will not be far from the

truth to say that the better they know us, the less they like us.

Let us say that you start out in the morning for a prowl in

Peking. What are your relations with the people you meet ?

First of all, of course , they crowd round you whenever you

stop, and in a minute you are the centre of a mass of solid

humanity, which is eating horrible stuff, which is covered with

vermin , which smells worse than words can tell, and which is

quite likely to have small-pox about it. As for taking a photo

graph in the streets, it is out of the question. The only way I

could manage this was to place my camera on the edge of a

bridge, where they could not get in front of the lens, and then I

was in imminent danger of being pushed into the canal, as the

bridges have no rail or parapet. The crowd jostles you, feels

your clothes with its dirty hands, pokes its nose in your face,

keeping up all the time (I was generally with a friend who

200 CHINA .

understood Chinese) a string of insulting and obscene remarks,

with accompanying roars of laughter. By and by the novelty

and fun of this wear off, and you get first impatient and then

infuriated. But beware, above all things, of striking or even

laying a finger on one of these dirty wretches . That would be

probably a fatal mistake. They will do nothing but talk and

push ; but if you should hit one of them, you would be more

than likely not to get away alive, or at least without bad injuries.

But suppose that you walk steadily and imperturbably on ?

The pedestrian you meet treats you with much less considera

tion than one of his own countrymen ; the children run to the

door to cry “ Kueidzu ! " - " devil !” — at you. They have other

indescribable and worse ways of insulting you. Wben a member

of a foreign legation was riding underneath the wall, a brick was

dropped upon him from the top. It just missed his head and

struck the horse behind the saddle. The Chinese children,

again, have an original way of amusing themselves at the

expense of the foreign devils. A child will provide itself with

a big fire -cracker, and then sit patiently at the door till he sees

you in the distance coming along on your pony. Then he will

run out, drop the cracker in the road, light the slow -match with

a fire -stick, and retire to a safe place to watch events. With

devilish precocity he generally manages to cause it to explode

just under your pony's nose ; and if you are lucky enough to

keep your seat and pull up a mile or so in the direction you do

not wish to go, he doubtless considers that his experiment has only

been a moderate success. If you should break your neck and

be left there dead in the road, that would confer imperishable

lustre upon his family and neighbourhood. When this has

happened to you once or twice, you learn to jog about the

Celestial City with short reins and your knees stuck well into

your saddle, ready for developments at any moment. I was

told that Lady Walsham's chair was actually stopped in the

open street and she herself grossly insulted , that a member of

our Consular service was nearly killed outside the Llama temple,








and that there are few foreigners who have not had some un

pleasant experience or other. No doubt it is sometimes the

foreigner's own fault, but a life -member of the Aborigines

Protection Society would fail to get on smoothly at all times .

The foreign legations in Peking are in a street near the chief

gate of the Tartar City, known among the foreigners as

“' Legation Street.” It is half a mile long, either mud or dust,

as level as a chopping sea , with here and there its monotony of

blank walls or dirty native houses broken by a strong gateway

with a couple of stone lions in front. These are the legations;

and inside the gate you find pleasant gardens and generally

spacious and comfortable foreign houses, sometimes built ad hoc

and sometimes converted to their present use from Chinese

temples. So long as you are the stranger within the gates, you

are extremely well off ; but as soon as the porter shuts them

behind you—well, the residents in Peking say it is a charming

place, but for my part I can only believe in their veracity at the

expense of their taste. I would rather live in Seven Dials or

Five Points . When your guide says, “ This is Legation Street,"

you laugh , it is so dirty, so miserable, with its horrible crowd of

dogs and pigs and filthy children . But when you have lived in

it for a few days you laugh no more : you count the hours till

you can get away.

What, however, about the “ sights ” of Peking ? To

be truthful is to declare frankly that there are almost

none. Much the finest building that I saw-indeed, the only

one not in positive dirt and decay-is the entrance pavilion

in the grounds of the British Legation, shown in my illus

tration . That is a massive wooden roof, richly carved and

gorgeously coloured, supported upon many columns corre

spondingly decorated. One day I was riding with a member

of the Russian Legation, and he said , “ By the way, wouldn't

you like to see the Imperial Chinese War Office ? ” " Very

much indeed," I replied enthusiastically, supposing it to be

something splendid . So we turned into a wretched by-street,

202 CHINA .

and steered our ponies round the mud-holes and the heaps of gar

bage till we reached it-a broken -down, weather- stained, rotting

structure, with a waving field of weeds on the roof, and a guard

lounging at the door one degree more dirty and dilapidated than

the place itself. And all the other offices of State —— the Board

of Rites, the Board of Punishments, the Astronomical Board,

and the rest-- are facsimiles of the Board of War. Professor

Douglas says, in the Encyclopædia Britannica, that the halls of

the palace, " for the magnificence of their proportions and bar

baric splendour, are probably not to be surpassed anywhere."

Whatever may be his authority for this statement - I thought no

foreigner had ever had an opportunityof examining them - nothing

else in Peking suggests any magnificence and splendour. The

yellow - roofed buildings of the palace are closely walled in , and

no foreign foot passes the threshold of the “ Forbidden

City" ; but I have looked at them through my glass from the

top of the highest building in the neighbourhood, and they

appear commonplace enough. And when the Emperor recently

quitted the palace in great pomp, and after him came the

solemn procession of the Records, an experienced eye- witness

said of the latter, " Like everything Chinese, it was disappoint

ing, tawdry , and sordid , " and added, “ It is safe to conjecture

that the Emperor's own retinue, could it be seen , would reveal a

similar state of affairs." The Temple of Heaven, with its semi

circular marble altar and bright blue dome, as you look down

upon it from the wall, seems to be in good preservation , and &

really impressive and beautiful structure ; but not a single other

place or thing did I see that suggested the " gorgeous East " in

the remotest degree.

Of interesting places, however, there are certainly a few

in Peking . First among these comes the wall itself. It is built

of large bricks , filled in with sand, and is fifty feet high , sixty

feet wide at the base, and forty feet at the top. Peking, seen

from the wall, is a stretch of flat roofs, more than half hidden in

foliage, from which here and there a tower or a pagoda or high


roofed temple projects. Not a trace of the actual dirt and dis

comfort and squalor is visible ; the air is fresh, the smells are

absent, and the Celestial capital is at its best. A walk of a

mile along the top brings you to the famous Observatory, and

the marvellous bronzes of the Jesuit Father Verbiest, who

made and erected them in 1668. Below the wall, in a shady

garden , are the much older ones which Marco Polo saw, less

accurate astronomically, but even more beautiful for their grace

and delicacy, and linking one's imagination closely with the

romantic past ; for this great globe and sextant and armillary

zodiacal sphere were constructed in 1279 by the astronomer of

Khublai Khan. Either the climate or their own intrinsic excel

lence has preserved them so well that every line and bit of

tracery is as perfect to our eyes as it was to those of the great

Khan himself.

Then there is the Examination Hall. The Government of

China is a vast system of competitive examination tempered by

bribery, and this Kao Ch’ang is its focus. It is aa miniature city,

with one wide artery down the middle, hundreds of parallel

streets running from this on both sides, each street mathematic

ally subdivided into houses, a big semblance of a palace at one

end of the main street, and little elevated watch-towers here and

there. But the palace is merely the examiners' hall, the streets

are three feet wide, and one side of them is a blank wall, the

towers are for the “ proctors ” to spy upon cribbing, and the

houses are perfectly plain brick cells measuring 38 inches by 50.

In the enclosure there are no fewer than fourteen thousand of

these. After emerging successfully from a competitive examina

tion in the capital of his own province, the Chinese aspirant

comes to Peking to compete for the second degree. He is put

into one of these cells, two boards are given him for a seat and

& table, and there he remains day and night for fourteen days.

Every cell is full, an army of cooks and coolies waits upon the

scholars, and any one caught cribbing or communicating with

his neighbour is visited with the severest punishment. The

204 CHINA .

condition of the place when all these would-be literati are thus

cooped up for a fortnight, with Chinese ideas of sanitation, may

be imagined, and it is not surprising to learn that many die.

But what joy for the successful ones ! They are received in

procession at the gates of their native town, and everybody

hastens to congratulate their parents upon having given such a

son to the world. By and by there is another examination in

which the already twice successful compete against each other,

thousands again flock to Peking, and the winners are honoured

by the Son of Heaven himself, and their names inscribed for ever

upon marble tablets. Better still, they are provided with Govern.

ment posts, and this is the reward of their efforts. But the

subject-matter of their examination is simply and solely the

letter- perfect knowledge of the works of Confucius, the history

of China, and the art of composition and character-forming as

practised by the great masters of old. In the works of the

masters, argue the Chinese, is all wisdom ; he who knows these

works best is therefore the wisest man ; whatever needs doing,

the wisest man can do it best. So the successful literati are sent

all over the country to be magistrates and generals and com

manders of ships and engineers and everything else haphazard,

without the slightest acquaintance of any kind with their subject,

densely and marvellously ignorant and impenetrably conceited.

An idea of the part this Examination Hall plays in the con

temporary life of China may be gained from the fact that in

June, 1894 , no fewer than 6,896 candidates presented themselves

in Peking, of whom 320 were successful, including the son of a

well-known Formosa millionaire, who was promptly made

Assistant Imperial High Commissioner of Agriculture in

Formosa. The Marquis Tsêng was one of the great Chinamen

of the present day who did not enter public life by this triple

portal to invincible incompetence.

The shrine of the Master himself is really an impressive spot.

The great hall and its columns are of bare wood , the floor is of

plain stone, and do adornment mars the supreme solemnity of









E N li

| TIL D OVti



the place. In the middle, upon a square altar, stands a small

tablet of red lacquer, upon which is written in Chinese and

Manchu, “ The tablet of the soul of the most holy ancestral

teacher Confucius." Up the marble terrace to this hall the

Emperor comes to worship twice a year, and the Chinese do

really hold this place in some veneration , for when I offered its

miserable guardian five dollars to let me photograph it, he re

pulsed the offer with much scorn . Yet five dollars would have

been a small fortune for him .

One experience .of Celestial sight-seeing I am not likely to

forget, and should be very unwilling to repeat. Among the

places of interest in Peking the Yung Ho Kung, the Great

Llamaserai or Llama Temple, ranks very high. It is a monas

tery of Mongol Buddhism or Shamanism , and contains over a

thousand Mongol and Thibetan monks ruled over by a “ Living

Buddha ." No foreigner, however, had been in it for several

years, as the inmates are a rough and lawless lot, practically

beyond the control of the Chinese authorities, and the last party

that entered it was rudely handled. It is regarded as all the

more sacred, too, because an Emperor was born in one of its

temples before they were given to the Llamas. When I spoke

of going there both my mafoo and “ boy ” told me that

strangers could no longer get in, the former adding that he had

accompanied different employers there six times without success .

A friend in Peking, however, told me that one of the priests,

called the Pai Llama, whatever that may mean, had come to

him a few weeks before to borrow five dollars, and had said as

an inducement that if he or any of his friends wanted to see the

Llamaserai he would take them over it himself without a fee.

So my friend gave me his big red Chinese card with the Pai

Llama's name on it as an introduction , and a member of the

Legation, who spoke Chinese, was good enough to go with me,

as he was equally anxious to see the place. It is on the out

skirts of Peking, nearly an hour's ride from Legation Street, and

we passed in through two or three gates from the street without

206 CHINA .

any difficulty. Then some boy-neophytes or acolytes — we knew

them from their shaven heads — ran ahead of us and warned the

priests, who shut the doors. After a quarter of an hour's

colloquy we bribed the doorkeeper to tell the Pai Llama, and

by and by the latter appeared, a small dirty individual, who

succeeded with much difficulty in persuading the others to open

the gates and let us step just inside. Then he immediately

disappeared and we saw him no more. After another half-hour

of bargaining we agreed to pay them a certain moderate sum to

show us the four chief sights of the Temple. The first of these

was the great Buddha, a wooden image 70 feet high , richly

ornamented and clothed , holding an enormous lotus in each

hand, and with the traditional jewel on his breast. In each

section of his huge gold crown sat a small Buddha, as perfect

and as much ornamented as the great one. His toe measured

21 inches. On each side of him hung a huge scroll 75 feet

long, bearing Chinese characters, and a series of galleries,

reached by several flights of stairs, surrounded him. The

expression of his great bronze face was singularly lofty, and I

was seized with a great desire to photograph him. The crowd

of monks was outside the locked door, one only entering with

us, so I hinted to him that if he permitted me to take a photo

graph a dollar might be forthcoming. The dollar interested

him , but he had no idea what a photograph was. After a while

my companion succeeded in explaining what the Chinese call

the " shadow - picture, " and then he would not hear of it, declar

ing that the whole temple would instantly fall down if such a

thing were attempted. I offered two dollars, three , four, five,

ten, and then, my eagerness increasing with the difficulty,

twenty. At last he said that for twenty dollars he would agree

to smuggle me in next morning to do it, as if any of the other

priests knew, there would be trouble. So we passed on to the

other sights — two magnificent bronze lions, and a wonderful

bronze urn ; many temples filled with strange idols, hung with

thousands of silk hangings, and laid with Thibetan carpets ; all


sorts of bronze and enamel altar utensils, presented by different.

emperors, among them two elephants in cloisonné, said to be

the best specimens of such work in China ; and the great hall,

with its prayer-benches for all the monks, where they worship

every afternoon at five.In a couple of hours we had seen

everything, and came out again into the central courtyard.

Here were already a hundred or more monks waiting for us, all

with their heads shaven like billiard-balls , and on the whole a

set of as thorough -paced blackguards as could be imagined ;

filthy, vermin -covered, bloated, scrofulous, and with the marks

of nameless vices stamped clearly on many of their faces. “ I

shall be glad when we are out of this,” I remarked, and my

companion heartily assented. But easier said than done. They

crowded round us with brutal inquisitiveness, pulled us about,

shouted to us, and laughed grossly as half-rational gorillas

might do. My companion said to them that we were very

much pleased with our visit, and we slowly edged toward the

door . But there seemed to be a sort of tacit conspiracy

to crowd us in any other direction . They did not actually

oppose us, but somehow we could not get there. It was as

though they did not like to let us get away , yet were conscious

that they had no excuse for detaining us. After a quarter

of an hour of this we began to get annoyed . Just then we all

came to a sort of tunnel gate in a wall, leading from one court

to another, my companion and one crowd first, I and another

crowd afterwards, and my “ boy " and a third crowd last. As

I was passing, a man whom I took from his dress to be a sort

of doorkeeper sprang out and addressed me volubly. Not

understanding him I took no notice, when he grasped my arm

to detain me . I shook him off and was passing on when

suddenly he seized me by the collar with both hands and flung

me violently back against the wall. At such a moment one

does not reflect upon consequences , and I did what anybody else

would have done. The moment his grasp quitted my collar I

struck him. He recovered himself, and the misunderstanding

208 CHINA .

was about to be prolonged vigorously on both sides when a very

old priest in a fine yellow robe emerged from a doorway and

began to play the peacemaker with many smiles, holding us

each by the hand . A second's reflection showed me the

extreme folly of getting into a quarrel in such a place, so I

responded effusively to the venerable Llama's overtures, and,


calling my “ boy, ” bade him explain that if the priest bad

anything to say to us we should be very glad to hear it, but that

if he laid a finger on us he would get into trouble. As we were

two, and they were upwards of two hundred by this time , I have

wondered since that the ludicrous side of this did not strike

them . However, as I followed up the remark with a few small

coins, nobody cared to impugn the logic.

As soon as I overtook my companion I saw from the move

ment of the crowd that something was wrong, and when I forced

my way into the middle it was evidently a much more serious

affair than mine. A young brute of a monk had approached

him from behind and suddenly and violently kicked him .

In return he had received a good cut across the face from a

riding-whip The monk was foaming with rage, and rapidly

stripping off all bis upper clothing with a most unmistakable

intention . Already he was nearly half-naked, and although

perhaps a trifle fat, still an ugly customer to handle . “ He

struck me with his whip ! ” he exclaimed, pointing to the mark

on his face , and then followed a string of remarks levelled at us.

“ What does he say ? " I asked . “ He says we sha'n't get out

alive." Just then a monk shouted something which the others

eagerly echoed, and a dozen of them instantly ran and shut the

great gates of the courtyard.

There was no doubt whatever that we were in a very tight

place. We were in the centre of probably the most dangerous

place in Peking, on the outskirts of the city, a quarter of a mile

from the street, with half a dozen closed gates between us and

it, and completely at the mercy of two hundred savage Mongols

and Thibetans, who had vowed to have our lives . There were a


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thousand of them within call, they acknowledge no Chinese

authority whatever, the Chinese Government would be ex

tremely loath to interfere with them for fear of provoking

trouble in Thibet, and if they had just knocked us on the head

and hid our bodies in one of their temple dens , we should very

probably never have been heard of again. Clearly the only thing

to do was to get out of the place at any cost. Then I called my

" boy ,” wbo was yelling and struggling to keep possession of my

two cameras, and told him to ask quietly the best- looking of the

monks for how much they would consent to let us go out. All

this took but half a minute to do, and as soon as the crowd

heard the question the pugilistic gentleman was squelched by

common consent. “ Fifty dollars ” was the conclusion arrived

at after several minutes ' discussion . “ Tell them we have not so

much money with us, but they can come and get it from my

house to-morrow morning.” But they were much too wary to

fall into such a palpable trap. To bring the story to an end,

however, at last my “ boy " made a bargain with them, and we

were fleeced of several dollars at each gate that they could

manage to lead us through before we reached the street and

our horses. I got through the gate all right, and my

" boy ” was following when several of the monks precipitated

themselves on him and sent him flying head first into

the middle of the street , while the broken camera, tripod,

and bag of double-backs landed each in a separate mud

hole .

That afternoon as I was mending my camera the “ boy ”

came in with the tea. “ Master ? " “ Well ? " “ I no go

Llama Temple any more - belong velly bad man ! ” And I did

not keep my appointment next morning to photograph the big

Buddha furtively.

Above all other characteristics of Peking one thing stands out

in horrible prominence. Not to mention it would be wilfully to

omit the most striking feature of the place. I mean its filth .

It is the most horribly and indescribably filthy place that can be


210 CHINA .

imagined. Indeed imagination must fall far short of the fact.

Some of the daily sights of the pedestrian in Peking could

hardly be more than hinted at by one man to another in the

disinfecting atmosphere of a smoking -room . There is no sewer

or cesspool, public or private, but the street ; the dog, the pig,

and the fowl - in a sickening succession - are the scavengers ;

every now and then you pass a man who goes along tossing the

most loathsome of the refuse into an open-work basket on his

back ; the smells are simply awful; the city is one colossal and

uncleansed cloaca . As I have said above, the first of the

two moments of delight vouchsafed to every visitor to the

Celestial capital is at his first sight of it. The second is when

he turns his back, hoping it may be for ever, upon - the

body and soul-stinking town” (the words are Coleridge's) of

Peking .




THE first time I met a camel -train near Peking I reined up

my pony and feasted my eyes upon it. And although I

saw hundreds afterwards, I found them just as amusing as

ever. The two -humped or Bactrian camels of Northern China

are much bigger than those we know at home, and I have seen

few sights so picturesque as a string of them approaching

over these brown plains. A score are fastened together by a

cord attaching the nose of one to the tail of the other ; a bell , a

couple of feet long, is hung round the neck of the last, to warn

the driver in front by its ceasing if the line breaks anywhere ; a

medley of bales and boxes and clothing is slung on their backs ;

ruddy -faced Mongols, dressed in scarlet and yellow, with orna

ments of gold and silver in profusion, sit up aloft and smile at

you as you pass ; the great shaggy beasts step softly along,

ingeniously out of step, lifting their sponge-like feet and dropping

them again with perfect and unvarying deliberation, the whole

train moving with the silence of a dream , broken only by the

jang -jang of the solitary bell. Their big brown eyes look you

straight in the face, and there is something pathetic and reproach

ful in their glance. All day long, one street of Peking is filled

with these picturesque processions, gaunt, wretched creatures

with worn - out coats and covered with coal-dust, carrying sacks

of coal from the Western Hills into Peking ; and far finer

and better-kept animals bearing tea away up into the North.

During all my stay in Peking I longed for the moment when I


212 CHINA.

too should ride away at dawn toward Mongolia, in the worn

tracks of these strange beasts and their merry masters..

My pony was a little creature not much bigger than a dog,

with a white coat as long and thick as a Polar bear's. The

mafoo had bought him a few days before from a Mongol for

twenty taels, and he had never had a foreign saddle and bridle

on till I mounted him. Therefore the all-day ride was not so

monotonous as usual , and for the first five miles it was even

exciting. We started at day break and the sun was well above

us before we got outside the two gates of Peking. Then the

mafoo took the lead. Once in the open country we were on a

great alluvial plain , dotted with mud houses, broken up by

irregular patches of verdure and cultivation, laced in all direc

tions by dozens of bridle-paths, and ending on our left in the

dim outline of the Western Hills, the summer sanitarium of

Peking. We plunged into the labyrinth of roads, and the mafoo

threaded his way among them without a moment's hesitation.

Afterwards I found that he had been over them forty - six times

before, but for my own part I could see hardly any signs by

which to distinguish one from another. Till eleven o'clock we

trotted steadily on, reaching then a small town called Sha-ho,

where we stopped an hour for rest and tiffin . Here already

foreigners are scarce and I was the centre of much curiosity,

keen and inquisitive, but quite good-natured . Crossing a river

over two very old broad flat bridges of white marble, built

curiously at an obtuse angle to each other, we emerged again

into the plain . This grew more and more uneven as we

advanced, till at last we were riding along a narrow path on the

sloping stony bank of a dry water - course . The stones grew

bigger and more numerous, till they could no longer be safely

negociated, and then my guide struck up to the right, and an

hour's detour across country, with half a mile of such bad going

at the end that I got off and led my pony, brought us at three

o'clock to the fortified city of Nan-k'ou, thirty miles from

Peking, our resting place for the night.


Nan-k'ou is a very interesting little place . Its wall is in

ruins, but that only makes it the more picturesque. On the

hills right and left of the entrance to the pass which the city

is supposed to guard, are two sprightly little towers ; a dozen

others are just visible dotted about the chain of hills around it.

Its one broad street, paved once with great blocks of stone, now

worn away and upset till a pony can hardly make his way at all

over their slippery rolling surface , is crowded with traffic of men

and beasts, and every fifty yards a wide arched doorway leads

into a spacious inn-yard. This street is part of the great com

mercial highway between China and all her neighbours of the

North . Through it a constant stream of camels and ponies and

donkeys and even laden coolies passes, bringing Mongol produce

to Peking, and taking brick- tea back from Tientsin to Kiakhta

on the Russian frontier. And through this street this stream

has passed for who knows how many years - thousands, at any

rate .

I strolled along it and turned into one of the gateways. But

I had only just time to step aside when a drove of at least a

hundred ponies suddenly stampeded through it and galloped

headlong through the street, whinnying and kicking up their

heels in delight at being free. Just outside the city they drank

greedily at a little stream , and then rolled over and over each

other in the dirt. But such a spectacle of cruelty to animals as

was afforded by the state of their backs I have never seen . Not

one of them was without a large raw wound on each side, and

half them had horrible, deep , bleeding, festering sores bigger

than two hands. The sight was sickening, and nothing what

ever was done for them except that afterwards I saw a coolie

beating the insides of the rough pack -saddles with a stick to

keep the blood -soaked places from getting quite hard. Each

pony had carried two bales of tea , as hard as blocks of granite.

I tried the weight of one and found I could just raise it off the

ground . Therefore the ponies were shockingly overloaded .

The camels require so much space for themselves and their

214 CHINA.

burdens that they have special caravanserais. Their saddles,

with the loads deposited on each side, are arranged in regular

rows, like game after a battue, and the animals betake them

selves to a trough which runs all round the yard, squeezing close

together. The yard of a caravanserai at feeding -time therefore

exhibits a complete circular horizon of camels' tails. When

they have eaten they sink down and very deliberately chew the

cud. It is just as well to keep on good terms with a camel , for

when he is standing up he can swing his hind leg like a pendulum

in an arc of about twenty feet and therefore deliver aa kick which

would break in the door of a San Francisco gambling.den ;

while when he is lying down he can always spare a couple of

gallons of cud to spit at an enemy. I saw a Mongol driver to

whom this had happened , and the sight was unpleasant and

instructive. Several hundred camels shared the hospitality of

Nan-k'ou with me that night.

Next morning we embarked upon little white donkeys, the pass

being impracticable for ponies. This road in its glory is said to

have been paved with great smooth granite blocks ; now in the

valley it is a broken mass of rough stones in a river bed, through

which a shallow stream runs ; while during the ascent and at

the height of the pass it is a bad mountain road obstructed by

great masses of rock . A couple of hours' riding and walking

brought us to another walled town called Chu-yung-kuan, famous

for a heavy arched stone gateway, the whole inside of which is

covered with sculptures in low relief and a Buddhist inscription

in six languages — Chinese, Thibetan, Mongol, Sanscrit, and two

others that I could not get any one to identify. From the other

side of this gateway the pass of Nan-k'ou is spread out before

you , a brown, barren, rock-strewn, gloomy valley, rising and

narrowing till it disappears in the hills, through which an endless

file of brown camels is slowly passing, filling the air with the

dust of their feet and the clangour of their bells. For an hour or

more we jogged on . Then when the pass had become wearisome

and I was thousands of miles away in thought, my mafoo rode




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up beside me and silently pointed to the hill-top on the right. I

strained my eyes, and there, sure enough, the sky -line far away

was broken by the crenellated outline of the Great Wall itself.

“ This ,” said Marco Polo when he saw it, “ is the country of

Gog and Magog.”

The Great Wall of China is, after all, only a wall. And it

was built with the same object as every other wall—to keep

people from coming where they were not wanted. Mr. Toole's

famous account of it is as historically accurate as any. “ The

most important building in China," he is accustomed to say,

" is the Chinese Wall , built to keep the Tartars out. It was

built at such an enormous expense that the Chinese never got

over it. But the Tartars did. And the way they accomplished

this feat was as follows : one went first and t'other went arter . "

It differs from other walls in only two respects , its age and its

size. It was built by the great Emperor Chi Hwang-ti, who

came to the throne in B.o. 221 , to keep back the Mongolian

hordes, and was called by him the “ Red Fort.” The origina

wall is 1,400 miles long and stretches from far Kansu to Shan

hai -kwan on the gulf of Pe-chih - li, the present terminus of

China's solitary railway - from Tientsin. This wall,, however,

is neither so well built nor so large as that which I am de

scribing, the latter being a five -hundred mile erection, dating

from several hundred years later. It is, however, an integral

part - and the most impressive -— of the “ Great Wall. ” Besides

its age it enjoys the reputation of being the only work of human

hands on the globe visible from the moon . The Chinese name

for it is Wan -li -ch'ang -ch'êng, “ the rampart ten thousand li

long." And the gate on this highway is called Pa -ta -ling and is

about fifty miles north-west of Peking and 2,000 feet above the

sea. Beyond it lies Mongolia .

Half an hour after this first glimpse I stood upon the wall

itself. The gateway is a large double one , with a square tower

upon it, pierced with oblong openings for cannon , of which a

dozen old ones lie in a heap, showing that at one time the road

216 CHINA .

was seriously defended at this point. A rough stairway leads to

the top, which is about twenty feet wide, with a crenellated

parapet on each side, and you can walk along it as far as you

can see , with here and there a scramble where it has fallen in a

little. On the whole it is in excellent repair , having of course

been mended and rebuilt many times. Every half -mile or so is

a little square tower of two storeys. The wall itself varies &

good deal in height according to the nature of the ground,

averaging probably about forty feet. On one side Mongolia, as

you see it , is a vast undulating brown plain ; on the other side

China is a perfect sea of brown hills in all directions, and across

these stretches the Great Wall. On the hill -top, through the

valleys, up and down the sides it twists in an unbroken line,

exactly like a huge earth-worm suddenly turned to stone. For

many miles it is visible in both directions, and when you can do

longer trace its entire length you can still discover it topping

the hills one after another into the remote distance. And as

you reflect that it is built of bricks, in almost inaccessible

places, through uninhabited countries ; that each brick must

have been transported on a man's shoulders enormous distances ;

and that it extends for 2,000 miles, or one-twelfth of the circum

ference of the globe, you begin to realise that you are looking

upon the most colossal achievement of human hands. The

bricks are so big and heavy that I had to hire a little donkey to

carry off two of them . This is the only piece of vandalism

to which I plead guilty during years of tempting Eastern

travel , but the temptation was irresistible and “ they never will

be missed ” Nowadays, of course , the wall serves no defensive

purpose whatever, and is not guarded in any way . Not aa soul

lives within miles of it at most points, and it is but a landmark

for the Mongols ' camel-trains, a stupendous monument to the

past of China, and an evidence of Celestial greatness and

enterprise gone never to return .

After taking a dozen photographs, several of which are

here reproduced , and reflecting how comical now were the


learned arguments produced in England a few years ago to

prove that there was no such thing

no such as a Great Wall of

thing as

China, I turned back to Nan-k'ou, reaching there at night.

fall. Next morning before daylight we started for the tombs

of the great Ming dynasty, thirteen miles away, and as

famous in China as the wall itself. These lie in a pleasant

green valley surrounded with an almost complete circle of high

wooded hills - an ideal spot for an emperor's grave. There are

thirteen of them, called the Shih -san -ling, disposed in the shape

of aa crescent, but the crescent is so extepsive that only four or

five of them can be seen at once . I visited the largest, the tomb

of Yung-le, who brought his court bither in 1411. A square of

perhaps two hundred yards across the face is surrounded with a

high wall of plain red brick . The side of the hill forms the

fourth side, and the entrance is through a pair of ordinary wooden

doors. When you enter, the spectacle is not at all striking.

There are a few little pavilions on either side of you , each

covering a carved stone tortoise or an inscribed tablet, and in

front a long low temple-shaped building with an approach of

steps and balustrades in carved white marble. Inside is gloom ,

through which you faintly discern the magnificent outlines of

thirty-two enormous wooden columns, each a solid log of hewn

and polished teak twelve feet round and thirty-two feet high .

Where they came from - unless it was from Burmah - or how

hey were conveyed hither, nobody knows, but their grandeur is

ndisputable. In the centre, upon a sort of stone table, stands

plain tablet of red lacquer, a couple of feet high and

foot wide, bearing the posthumous title of Yung-le, “ The

Irfect ancestor and literary Emperor." But the ancestor him .

sf is not here. Passing out behind the great columns and

azin crossing the garden, at the edge of the hillside there is a

80l square tower of brick and granite, supporting a kind of

obgk. The sarcophagus itself is deep in the hill, and upon

thebelisk a long inscription narrates the deeds and extols the

virts of the long-departed Ming. On the whole, however,

218 CHINA .

China disappoints you here once more, as everywhere and

always. The situation is finely chosen for the last resting -place

of immortal emperors, but man's handiwork rather weakens

than enliances the effects of nature. There is no suggestion, for

instance, of the solemnity of that cathedral aisle

" Where the warriors in the gloom

Watch o'er Maximilian's tomb ; "

and there is nothing to arrest the hasty footstep lest even " the

hushed tread "

“ Should burst the bands of the dreamless sleep

That holds the mighty dead ."

As you ride away you pass through an avenue of stone carvings,

where pairs of knights and courtiers, with camels and elephants

-beasts fit to follow their master into the shadow - world

glare at you from each side. They are enormous, being some

fifteen feet high and carved out of a solid block of stone ; and

wonderful, for you cannot imagine how they were transported.

But they are utterly dwarfed by the hills around them , and

soon your only recollection of them is that your pony positively

refused to pass between them and ended by bolting with you.

And I may as well give my little Polar bear of a pony credit for

the way in which he trotted back to Peking so as to get ther

before the gates closed , in all forty miles in four hours, wit

three-quarters of an hour for rest and food . I have knop

costlier horseflesh make poorer progress. And when we pt

back again at last to Tientsin my mafoo sold him to the ju .

keeper for twice what he had paid for him .



10 understand contemporary China it is absolutely necessary

Tºto undergo, either personally or by proxy, some very un

pleasant experiences. This must be my excuse for the following

chapter. China is claiming her place among the nations of the

world. The question, What shall that place be ? can only be

answered by those who know what China is. I have looked

upon men being cruelly tortured ; I have stood in the shambles

where human beings are slaughtered like pigs ; my boots have

dripped with the blood of my fellow - creatures ;-repulsive as all

this is, it is one of the most significant and instructive aspects

of the real China, as opposed to the China of native professions

and foreign imagination, and therefore it must be frankly

described .

It was in Canton , a colossal human ant-hill, an endless

labyrinth of streets a dozen feet wide and a score high, crowded

from daylight to dark with a double stream of men and women,

exactly like the double stream between an ant-bill and a carcase.

All this mass of humanity was presided over for years by H.E.

Chang Chi-tung, now Viceroy of the Hu Kuang provinces, the

most independent and foreigner -hating Viceroy in China, and

therefore it may be imagined what is the temper of the

populace, especially as the Cantonese are the most turbulent

people of the Flowery Kingdom.

During the day the streets of Canton are in semi-obscurity,

as they are closed in at the top by broad strips of cloth and long


220 CHINA.

advertising streamers ; but at night they are as black as Tar

tarus . Public safety and order are supposed to be preserved by

occasional posts of soldiers, with a collection of weapons and

instruments of torture hung up outside to strike terror into the

evilly-disposed. But, as may be imagined, crime of every kind

is rife in Canton , and so bad is the reputation of the place that

very often a servant from another part of China, travelling with

his master, will rather forfeit his situation than accompany him

there . And where the crime is, there is the punishment too .

It by no means follows in China that the person punished is the

criminal, but there is enough legal cruelty in Canton to glut an

Alva. Respect for the presence of an occasional foreigner causes

a good deal of it to be hid, and the spectacle of a man hung up

in a cage to starve to death in public is therefore not seen there

as it is in other parts.

The magistrate sat in his Yamên dispensing justice. He was

a benevolent-looking man of perhaps forty, with an intellectual

forehead and the conventional enormous pair of spectacles. He

glanced up at us as we entered, visibly annoyed at the intrusion

and hardly returning our salutation. But as we were under the

wing of a consul for whom Chinese officialism has no terrors

whatever, a fact of which the Cantonese authorities have bad

repeated experience, we made ourselves quite at home. There

was little of the pomp of Western law in the scene before us.

The magistrate's own chair, draped with red cloth covered with

inscriptions in large characters, was almost the only piece of

official apparatus, and behind it were grouped half- a -dozen of

the big red presentation umbrellas of which every Chinese

official is so proud . Before him was a large open space and a

motley crowd , in which the most conspicuous figures were the

filthy ruffians in red bats, known as “ Yamên-runners," whose

business is to clear a way before their master in the streets

and do anything else that he wishes, down to the administration

of torture. The magistrate himself sat perfectly silent, writing

busily, while several persons before him gabbled all at the same











time. These were presumably the plaintiff, the defendant, and

the policemen . After a while the magistrate interrupted one of

the speakers with a monosyllable spoken in a low tone without

even raising his head , but its effect was magical. The crowd

fell back, and one of the little group in front of the chair

wrung his hands and heaved a theatrical sigh. Before we could

realise what had happened , several pairs of very willing bands

were helping him to let down his trousers, and when this was

accomplished to the satisfaction of everybody he laid himself

face downwards on the floor. Then one of the “ runners ”

stepped forward with the bamboo, a strip of this toughest of

plants three feet long, two inches wide, and half an inch thick.

Squatting by the side of the victim and holding the bamboo

perfectly horizontal close to the flesh, he began to rain light

blows on the man's buttocks. At first the performance looked

like a farce, the blows were so light and the receiver of them so

indifferent. But as the shower of taps continued with monoto

nous persistence I bethought me of the old torture of driving a

man mad by letting a drop of water fall every minute on his

shaved head. After a few more minutes of the dactylic rap

tap -tap, rap-tap-tap, a deep groan broke from the prisoner's

lips. I walked over to look at him and saw that his flesh was

blue under the flogging. Then it became congested with blood,

and whereas at first he had lain quiet of his own accord, now a

dozen men were holding him tight. The crowd gazed at him

with broad grins on their faces, breaking out from time to time

into a suppressed “ Hi-yah, ” as he writhed in special pain or

cried out in agony. And all this time the ceaseless shower of

blows continued, the man who wielded the bamboo putting not

a particle more or less force into the last stroke than into the

first. At length the magistrate dropped another word and the

torture stopped as suddenly as it had begun, the prisoner was

lifted to his feet and led across the court to lean against the

wall . For obvious reasons he could not be " accommodated

with a chair."

222 CHINA .

The next person to be called up was a policeman. The

magistrate put a question or two to him and listened patiently

for a while to his rambling and effusive replies. Then as before

the fatal monosyllable dropped from his lips. With the greatest

promptitude the policeman prepared himself, assumed the

regulation attitude, and the flagellation began again. But I

noticed that the blows sounded altogether different from before,

much sharper and shriller, like wood falling upon wood, rather

than wood falling upon flesh . So I drew near to examine .

Sure enough, there was a vital difference. The policeman had

attached a small piece of wood to his leg by means of wax, and

on this the blows fell, taking no more effect upon his person

than if they had been delivered on the sole of his boot. The

fraud was perfectly transparent - everybody in the room ,

including the magistrate himself, must have known what was

happening Thus another peculiarity of Chinese justice is

evidently that the punishment of an ordinary offender is one

thing, while that of an erring official is quite another. I

learned that the policeman was ordered to be bambooed for

not bringing in a prisoner whom the magistrate had ordered

him to produce . When the sham punishment was over he

jumped briskly to his feet, adjusted his clothing, and resumed

his duties about the court.

While we had been watching the process of " eating bamboo,"

far different punishments were going on in another part of the

court-room unnoticed by us . The bamboo is not so very far

removed from still existent civilised deterrent methods, but

what was now before us recalled the most brutal ages. In one

corner a man had been tied hand and foot on a small bench the

length of his back , in such a manner that his body was bent as

far back as it could possibly be stretched in the form of a circle,

his back resting on the flat seat of the bench , and his arms and

legs fastened to the four legs. Then the whole affair, man and

bench , had been tilted forward till it rested upon two feet and

upon the man's two knees, almost falling over- almost, but not


quite. This, as well as the bambooing and other tortures,

is illustrated in the native drawings here produced. The

position of the miserable wretch was as grotesque as it was

exquisitely painful; his hands and feet were blue, his eyes

protruded, his mouth gasped convulsively like that of a dying

fish , and he had evidently been in that position so long

that he was on the eve of losing consciousness. And he was

apparently forgotten. A few boys stood gazing at him open

mouthed , but nobody else paid any more attention to him than

if he had been a piece of furniture. This was enough for my

companions, and they left the room. But how is the Western

world to know what the Celestial Empire really is unless people

are willing to see and hear of its innumerable horrors ? The

utterly mistaken notion of China which is so wide-spread at

home is due in great part to this very unwillingness to look

straight in the face what aa French writer has so well called the


“ rotten East."

In another corner an unfortunate creature was undergoing

the punishment called “ kneeling on chains.” A thin strong

cord had been fastened to his thumbs and great toes and passed

over a hook in an upright post. Then by pulling it sufficiently

he was of course lifted off the ground, his knees being the

lowest part of his body. Under them a small chain, with

sharp-edged links, had next been coiled in a circle as a natty

sailor coils a rope on the deck. The cord had then been

slackened till the whole weight of the man rested upon his

knees, and his knees rested upon the chain. The process seems

simple, but the result is awful. And this man had been under

going a prolonged course of torture. Amongst other things,

his ankle-bones had been battered with a piece of wood shaped

like a child's cricket bat. His tortures ended for the moment

while we were looking at him . Two attendants loosened the

cord, and he fell in a heap. They rolled him off the chain

and set him on his feet. The moment they let go he sank

like a half - filled sack. So they stretched him out on the floor

224 CHINA.

and each one of them rubbed one of his knees vigorously for a

couple of minutes. But it was no use, he was utterly incapable

of even standing, and had to be dragged away. As we passed

out , a woman was before the magistrate, giving evidence. Her

testimony, however, was either not true enough or not prompt

enough, in the official's opinion, for he had recourse to the

truth - compeller.” This is a little instrument reserved exclu

sively for the fair sex, shaped exactly like the thick sole of a

slipper, split at the sole part and fastened at the heel. With

this the witness received a slap across the mouth which rang

out like a pistol- shot. A glance at the frontispiece of this

volume, which is a facsimile of a native drawing professing to

be a perfectly truthful representation of a common method

of torturing women , will show that this woman was more

fortunate than many of her sex in China.

It is only fair to add that the Chinese have a sort of rational

theory of tortuie, although they are far from adhering to it.

By Chinese law po prisoner can be punished until he has con

fessed his guilt. Therefore they first prove him guilty and then

torture him until he confesses the accuracy of their verdict.

The more you reflect on this logic the more surprising it

becomes. To assist in its comprehension I procured, by the

aid of the Consul and a few dollars, a complete set of

instruments of torture - light bamboo, heavy bamboo, ankle

smasher, mouth - slapper, thumb- squeezer, and sundry others.


“ Mandarins, ” says Professor Douglas, - “ whose minds have

grown callous to the sufferings of their fellow - creatures, are

always ready to believe that the instruments of torture at their

disposal are insufficient for their purposes. Unhappily, it is

always easy to inflict pain ; and in almost every yamun through

out the Empire an infinite variety of instruments of torture is

in constant use."

One Chinese punishment, of which I am fortunately able to

give a striking picture, deserves particular attention. This is

ling -chi, or death by the “ thousand cuts." It is otherwise

1 Cuts






known as death by the “slow process or by the " slicing

process. ” It is supposed to be reserved for culprits who com

mit triple murder and for parricides, but the penal code is no

doubt as elastic in this as in other respects. Here is a specimen

'announcement of ling-chi, from the official Pekin Gazette :

" Ma Pei-yao, Governor of Kuangsi , reports a triple poisoning case in his pro

Fince. A woman having been beaten by her husband on account of her slovenly

habits , took counsel with an old herb woman , and by her direction picked some

poisonous herb on the mountain , with which she successively poisoned her husband ,

father- in - law, and brother-in -law . She has been executed by the slow process. –

Rescript : Let the Board of Punishments take note.”

The criminal is fastened to a rough cross, and the executioner ,

armed with a sharp knife, begins by grasping handfuls from the

flesby parts of the body, such as the thighs and the breasts, and

slicing them off. After this he removes the joints and the

excrescences of the body one by one—the nose and ears, fingers

and toes. Then the limbs are cut off piecemeal at the wrists

and the ankles, the elbows and knees, the shoulders and hips .

Finally, the victim is stabbed to the heart and his head cut off.

Of course, unless the process is very rapidly carried out , the

man is dead before it is completed, but if he has any friends

who are able to bribe the executioner he is either drugged

beforehand with opium, or else the stab to the heart is surrep

titiously given after the first few strokes . It would be easy to

quote from the Pekin Gazette dozens of instances of the infliction

of this penalty, and these would probably be but a fraction of

the occasions on which it is practised. I believe it has only

been witnessed once by a foreigner, as the Chinese have a

great and not unnatural objection to the presence of foreigners

on such occasions. The photograph here produced is no doubt

the only one ever taken. A few words of explanation concerning

it are therefore desirable. The British captain of a river steamer

plying between Hongkong and Canton strolled one day into

the native city with a small hand-camera which he had just

purchased. Observing a crowd in the street, he made his way

through it and discovered the remains of a man who had been


226 CHINA .

executed by the ling -chi. As his camera was a very small one ,

he was able to point it at the spectacle and snap the shutter

without attracting attention , as the bystanders would never

have allowed a formal photograph to be taken . On his return

to Hongkong he placed his camera in the hands of an

experienced photographer , who developed the negative and

made from it an enlargement of which this illustration is a

copy . It is thus a unique and absolutely genuine illustration

of contemporary Chinese life . The susceptible reader will

doubtless be grateful to me for having caused the edge of

this picture to be perforated .

It is, however, the last act of the drama of Chinese justice

that is the great revelation. I am inclined to think that nobody

can claim to have an adequate and accurate appreciation of

Chinese character who has not witnessed a Chinese execution.

This is not difficult to do at Canton, or even at Kowloon , on the

other side of Hongkong harbour, for the Canton river swarms

with pirates, and when these gentry are caught they generally

get short shrift. A few bambooings to begin with, then several

months in prison-and it is not necessary to explain what a

Chinese prison is — with little to eat and a stiff course of torture,

and then one fine morning a short sharp shock ” at the execu

tion-ground. If the reader cares to accompany me further I

will try to place the scene before him.

The execution is fixed for half-past four, so at four the guide

comes for us at Shameen , the foreign quarter of Canton , and

our chairs carry us rapidly through the noisy alleys of the native

city. Until we get close to the spot there is no sign of anything

unusual. There suddenly we run into a jammed crowd at the

end of a long and particularly narrow street. The chair coolies,

however, plunge straight into it and it gives way before us till

we are brought up by a huge pair of wooden gates guarded by a

little group of soldiers. To hear these men talk you would

suppose that they would die then and there rather than let you

pass, but the production of a couple of ten-cent pieces works a


miracle and they open the gates for us, vainly trying to stop the

rush of natives that follows and carries us before it right into

the middle of the open space. It is a bare piece of ground, fifty

yards long by a dozen wide, between two houses, whose blank

walls hem it in on three sides . To-day it is the execution

ground ; yesterday and to-morrow the drying -ground of a potter

who lives there. There is no platform , no roped -off space ,

nothing but this bare bit of dirty ground so crowded with

Chinese that we are forced into the middle, not more than four

feet from whatever is to take place. It is useless to try to get

further off – here we are and here we must stop.

Suddenly the gates are thrown open again, and welcomed by

a howl of delight from the crowd, a strange and ghastly pro

cession comes tumbling in . First a few ragamuffin soldiers,

making a fine pretence of clearing the way. Then a file of

coolies carrying the victims in small shallow baskets slung to

bamboo poles. As soon as each pair reaches the middle of the

space they stoop and pitch their living burden out and run off.

The prisoners are chained hand and foot and are perfectly help

less. The executioner stands by and points out where each load is

to be dumped. He is dressed exactly like any other coolie

present, without any badge of office whatever. The condemned

men have each a long folded piece of paper in a slit bamboo

stuck into his pigtail; upon this is written his crime and

the warrant of execution . One after another they arrive and

are slung out. Will the procession never end ? how many can

there be ? this is perhaps more than we bargained for. At last

over the heads of the crowd we see the hats of two petty man

darins, and behind them the gates are shut. The tale of men is

fifteen , and the executioner has arranged them in two rows,

about two yards apart and all facing one way. All except one

seem perfectly callous, and he had probably been drugged with

opium, a last privilege which a prisoner's friends can always

obtain by bribery. They exchange remarks, some of them

evidently chaff, with the spectators, and one man was carried in

228 CHINA .

singing and kept up his strain almost to the last. The execu

tioners—there are now two of them -- step forward . The

younger tucks up his trousers and sleeves and deliberately

selects a sword from several lying close by, while the other, an

older man , collects the strips of paper into a sheaf and lays them

on one side. Then he places himself behind the front man of

the nearest row and takes him by the shoulders. The younger

man walks forward and stands at the left of the kneeling man.

The fatal moment has come. There is an instant's hush and

every man in the two rows of condemned men behind twists

his head up and cranes his neck to see. I will not attempt to

describe the emotions of such a moment — the horror, the awful

repulsion, the wish that you had never come, the sickening fear

that you will be splashed with the blood , and yet the helpless

fascination that keeps your eyes glued to every detail. The knife

is raised . It is a short broad-bladed, two- handed sword, widest

at the point, weighted at the back and evidently as sharp as a


For a second it is poised in the air, as the executioner takes

aim. Then it falls. There is no great apparent effort. It

simply falls, and moreover seems to fall slowly. But when it

comes to the man's neck it does not stop, it keeps falling. With

ghastly slowness it passes right through the flesh and you are

only recalled from your momentary stupor when the head

springs forward and rolls over and over, while for a fraction of a

second two dazzling jets of scarlet blood burst out and fall in a

graceful curve to the ground . Then the great rush of blood

comes and floods the spot. As soon as the blow has fallen the

second executioner pitches the body forward with a “ Hough ! ”

It tumbles in a shapeless heap, and from every throat goes up &a

loud “ Ho ! ” expressive of pleasure and approval of the stroke .

But there is no pause, the executioner steps over the corpse to

the front man in the second rank, the knife rises again, it falls,

another head rolls away, another double burst of blood follows,

the headless body is shoved forward, the assistant shouts



CHINESE JUDICIAL TORTURES, ( From Vatire Drawings. )







“ Hough ! ” and the crowd shouts “ Ho ! ” Two men are dead .

Then the headsman steps back to the second man of the front

row and the operation is repeated.

Two things strike you : the brutal matter -of-factness of the

whole performance, and the extraordinary ease with which a

human head can be chopped off. As a whole it is precisely like

a drove of pigs driven into the shambles and stuck ; and in

detail it is—or seems—no more difficult than splitting a turnip

with a hoe or lopping off a thistle with a cane. Chop, chop,

chop — the heads roll off one after the other in as many seconds.

When the seventh man is reached, either because the knife is

blunted or the executioner misses his blow, the neck is only cut

half through. But still he does not stop. He comes quickly

back, takes another knife, passes on to the next man, and only

comes back to finish the wretched seventh when all the other

heads are lying in bloody pools in front of the shoulders which

carried them a few moments before. And every man has

watched the death of all those in front of him with a horrid

animal - like curiosity, and then bent his own neck to the knife .

The place is ankle -deep in blood, the spectators are yelling with

delight and frenzy, the heads are like bowls on a green, the

horrible headless bodies are lying all about in ghastly grotesque

attitudes, the executioner is scarlet to the knees and his hands

are dripping. Take my word for it that by this time you are

feeling very sick.

Fortunately you are not detained long. The moment the last

head is off, the crowd is gone with a rush , except a score of

orchids who begin skylarking with the bodies and pushing each

other into the blood. The bodies are thrown into a pond and

the heads are plastered up in big earthenware jars and stacked

up with those already round the wall of this potter's field . I

had a few minutes' conversation with the executioner afterwards.

Decapitation, he told me, was not the occupation of his family ;

it was only a perquisite. But the business is not what it was.

Formerly he used to get two dollars a head for all he cut off ;

230 CHINA .

now he only gets fifty cents. It is hardly worth while chopping

men's heads off at that rate . But then it doesn't take very long.

Would I buy his sword ? Certainly. Nine dollars. It hangs

on my wall to-day, a valuable antidote to much that I read about

the advancing civilisation of China.




THE ““ I. G.” These letters, meaningless at home, call up

instantly in the mind of every foreigner in China a very

distinct and striking image — they are as familiar in the Far

East as “ H.R.H.” is at home. For the image is that of the

benevolent despot whose outstretched hand unites or severs the

Celestial Kingdom and the outside barbarian world ; through

whose fingers five hundred millions of dollars have run into the

coffers of the Son of Heaven, and never one of them stuck ; to

whom the proudest Chinamen turn for advice in difficulty or

danger when other helpers fail ; who has staved off a war by

writing a telegram ; who has declined with thanks the proffered

dignity of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of

Her Britannic Majesty ; who has ringed China round with an

administrative commercial organisation the whole world cannot

surpass ; who, finally, born to struggle for the poet's bays, has

laboured late and early all his life over dollars and duties, with

diplomatic nut, which other people have failed to crack, thrown


to him now and then for relaxation . The “ I. G. ” signifies a

person and a post : the former is Sir Robert Hart, Bart. ,

G.C.M.G. , the latter is Inspector -General of the Imperial

Chinese Maritime Customs. And the transcendence of the

Customs Service in China may possibly be judged from

the story that a Commissioner once took personal affront

and quitted the sacred edifice when a missionary implored


232 CHINA .

the Almighty to "“ deliver this people from their wicked


After the above, it is hardly necessary to say that Sir Robert

Hart is by far the most interesting and influential foreigner in

China. To begin with , his power is enormous. The Chinese

language, so far as his own field is concerned, is much the

same as English to him, and with the Tsungli Yamên he has

the influence which thirty years of close dealing with Chinese

officials gives him , backed by the proud boast that they have

never had reason to regret taking his advice. Then he handles

the service he has created from nothing, to one which employs

over 3,500 people, presides over an annual foreign trade of

£ 44,000,000, collects £ 3,600,000 a year , clears 30,000,000 tons

of shipping annually, and lights 1,800 miles of coast, exactly

as an engineer handles a machine he has constructed —just

as tenderly and just as firmly. And yet very few of the men

whose livelihood and prospects are absolutely and at every

moment in his hands, without the possibility of appeal, would

willingly see anybody else in his place. The mere irresponsi

bility of the " I. G." would ruin most men. Yet Sir Robert

owes all his success to his free band. Does he learn of an old

friend or schoolmate fallen upon evil times ? “ Send your boy

to me, ” he telegraphs, and the youngster's future depends then

only upon his own ability and industry. When there was a

particularly bad piece of work to be done by one of his sub

ordinates in delimiting the new Tongking-Chinese frontier

months of lonely labour, in savagery and solitude, with never

a breath to draw that might not bring fever with it — whom did

he send ? His brother. Yet his avowal of nepotism is

refreshingly frank. “ I have never, ” he says, " advanced a

worse man over a better, yet if promotion is due to one of two

men of equal deserts, and one of them is of my own flesh and

blood, it would be simply unnatural to pass him over . ” More

than once already he has brought out the son of some companion

of his boyhood, seen him grow up in the service from student to


Commissioner, save his competency and retire, leaving his

benefactor and chief still working the same number of hours

every day at his desk. But he rules with a despotism that a

Tsar might envy . Any subordinate proved to have dis

credited the service in any way, is instantly dismissed.

His secretary and representative in England, Mr. James

Duncan Campbell, C.M.G.,> who has already distinguished

himself in diplomacy on behalf of China and his chief at

Paris and Lisbon, is absolutely impersonal in putting all

applicants through their preliminary examination ; but recog

nising how often even a limited competition of the broad and

practical kind established for the Customs fails to " place " the

man who will really be fittest for the work, it is part of Sir

Robert's plan to allow Mr. Campbell occasionally to select from

the unplaced competitors an individual who seems to him a

desirable recruit, as promising and possessing qualities that

indicate all-round fitness. So the benevolent despotism works .

Sir Robert Hart left the Consular Service for the Customs

it was barely in existence then-in 1859, and in 1863 he became

Inspector-General. And during the thirty -five years that have

intervened he has been home twice, once for twelve months and

once for six - that is, he has had in his whole lifetime less

holiday than one of his subordinates gets every five years. He

has never been to the Western Hills, a few miles away, to which

all the foreigners in Peking retreat in summer, and he has never

even seen the Great Wall, two days' journey distant. But

" next spring," he says, he is certainly going home. “ Poch,” say

people in the Customs Service, when you tell them this ; " he

has been going home in the spring' for the last fifteen years.”

As for the services he has rendered to China, to England, and to

the world, the statesmen of Europe know them very well, and it

would take a volume to tell them to others . Besides the creation

of the Customs Service itself, which will be his immortality, to

take the latest example, it was he alone who concluded the

treaty of 1885 between France and China. All negotiations

234 CHINA .

had failed and matters looked very black and threatening.

Then, as usual, the Ministers of the Tsungli Yamên came

to Sir Robert. He agreed to take up the task on his two

invariable conditions—that he should have a free hand , and

that his connection with the affair should be kept a profound

secret till he either succeeded or failed. Then negociations

began by telegraph in cipher between his “ den ” in Peking

and his representative in Paris, and very awkward ones they

were , Month after month they proceeded, and at last, when

80,000 taels had been spent in telegrams , Mr. Campbell,

who conducted the negociations at the Paris end of the line,

was able to report to his chief that a settlement had been

reached , and that the Protocol was ready for signature. The

“ I. G.'s ” reply (March 31st) was characteristic : “ Signez

sans délai, mais ne signez pas premier Avril ” ! The treaty

was signed on April 4th . Then Sir Robert got into his

cart and went to the Tsungli Yamên. The Ministers were

there and he sat down to a cup of tea with them . By

and by he remarked, with the apparent indifference of the

Oriental diplomat, “ It is exactly nine months to-day since

you placed the negociations with France in my hands."

“ And the child is born ! ” instantly cried one of the

Ministers, seeing the point and delighted at the truly Chinese

way of conveying the information . And the curious part of the

business was that all this time a special French envoy had been

residing at Tientsin, chafing at the slow progress he was making,

and not having the least idea that other negociations had been

on foot until he received word from home that he might return,

as all was arranged. He was so angry that he would not speak

to Sir Robert . After sending the last telegram settling the

French business, Sir Robert went to the funeral service of Sir

Harry Parkes, the British Minister, who had just died. As he

entered the chapel of the Legation, Mr. O'Connor, the British

chargé d'affaires, handed him the translation of a telegrain

which had just arrived. It was a despatch from Lord


Granville offering him the post of British Minister to China.

He accepted , after much hesitation, and his appointment

received the Queen's signature on May 3, 1885. At his own

request the matter was kept secret at home while arrange

ments were making for the succession to his position as head of

the Customs Service. Meanwhile a Conservative Government

succeeded to office in England and telegrams from the Foreign

Office kept asking, “ May we not publish the appointment ? ”

Sir Robert had seen, however, by this time that the Customs

Service would suffer severely if he left it at that time, and this

was more to him than any other honour in the world. He

therefore telegraphed, “ Must I keep it ? ” and Lord Salisbury

replying in very complimentary terms that he was free to do

exactly as he thought best , he finally declined—the Empress of

China, who was at that time exercising the Imperial function,

as his official reply truly but perhaps inadequately explained,

preferring that he should remain .

I have said that the statesmen of Europe are well aware

of Sir Robert Hart's services, and the proof of this is that

there are few civilians so decorated as he. In England a

Conservative Government made him a C.M.G. , and a Liberal

one added the K.C.M.G. , and later the G.C.M.G. and

Baronetcy. Sweden made him a Chevalier of the Order of

Gustavus Vasa ; Belgium, a Commander of the Order of Leo

pold ; France, a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour ; Italy,

a Grand Officer of the Crown of Italy ; Austria sent him the

Grand Cross of the Order of Francis Joseph ; America has

presented him with several medals of Republican appreciation ;

Portugal has decorated him with the Military Order of Christ ;

the Emperor of China has conferred upon him the coveted

peacock's feather and the Order of the Double Dragon , and has

ennobled his ancestors ; and his friends at Belfast - his native

place — will no doubt be much interested to learn that he is, by

direct gift from the Pope - nothing less than sub annulo pisca

toris — a Commander of the Papal Order of Pius IX. As for

236 CHINA.

knowledge of China and the Chinese, there is no one living who

can compare with him, and I learned more of the inner working

of Celestial affairs during the fortnight that I had the honour of

being his guest, than a lifetime of simple residence could have


The “ I. G.” and Sir Robert Hart, however, are two very

different people. “ I was calling upon Lady Hart one day,”

said a lady to me, " and as I wished to speak with Sir Robert I

was shown into his office. I found the ‘ I. G. ' there. Oh , it

was terrible – I covered my face and fled ! " The distinction

is indeed admitted by himself. He is not Jekyll and Hyde,

but he is certainly post and person. The secret by which he

has accomplished so much is an extraordinary devotion to

method-most extraordinary of all for an Irishman . This is a

subject on which he is far from averse to giving good advice to

men younger than himself, and on which , too, he establishes an

immediate entente cordiale with his guests. “Your early tea,"

he says, “ will be brought to you when you ring your bell

please ring it once only, holding the button pressed while you

can count three. Then will it be convenient to you to tiffin at

twelve sharp ? Because if not, I will tiffin myself at twelve

sharp and order your tiffin to be served at any hour you like.

I ride from three to five-there is always a mount for you if you

wish it. Dinner at half-past seven sharp, and I must ask you


always to excuse me at eleven . " The consequence is that every

thing runs like clockwork in Sir Robert's household, and a guest

is perfectly at home from the start. But the above methodity

is nothing, in comparison. In the dining room there is a big

wicker chair, always covered with a rug, so that you cannot sit

down in it. In that chair the master of the house has had his

tea every afternoon for thirty years. Upon a shelf stands a large

blue and white cup. Out of that he has drunk his tea for thirty

years.. And by employing the odd moments that his " boy "

who is punctuality itself — has kept him waiting each day in that

chair for that cup, he has managed during the last year or two








to read the whole of Lucan's Pharsalia ! Of course he has kept

a diary since he could hold a pen. To test his preciseness I

made a point of standing each day behind my door, watch in

hand, till the clock struck twelve or half-past seven. Then I

walked into the central hall from my own side of the house.

Sure enough the door opened opposite me and my host walked

in from the other. It was like watching for a transit of Venus,

or waiting for the apostles to come out of the clock at Strasburg

at noon . And as I find I have not said a word of his outer man

I may conclude these personalities by saying that he is of

medium height and slight build , rather bald, with a kind ,

thoughtful, and humorous face, a low voice, a shy and punc

tilious manner ; that he is a most entertaining companion, a

teller of countless good stories, fond of fun and merry company ,

devoted to children, a player of the violin and 'cello, and a

host whose care and thoughtfulness for his guests are feminine

in their insight and famous in their execution . Sir Robert

Hart's remarkable personality has played, and may yet play, so

great a part in the politics of the Far East that I need hardly

apologise for giving these details in illustration of it.

And what, in a word, is this Customs Service ? It is first

and foremost the collection of all their Maritime Customs at

the twenty -four trading ports, reaching nearly 22,000,000 taels

last year, their chief source of national income, which the

Chinese bave confided to the hands of one foreigner, leaving

him absolutely free in his action and unhampered by any

colleague .

In passing round the coasts of China you frequently see a

smart little cruiser flying the yellow flag, with perhaps a minia

ture steel turret and a couple of quick - firing guns on board ; or

in a swift launch passing you will notice the Chinese crew and

foreign skipper in dapper uniforms, and a ten -barrelled Norden

feldt projecting over the bow. These are the Customs fleet,

watching the coast for smugglers, and ready at a moment's

notice to fetch back some outgoing junk that disobeys the

238 CHINA .

waving of the red flag signal to heave -to and be examined. The

duty on opium is so high that smuggling is extremely profitable,

and therefore the Customs officers are proportionally keen in

discovering and preventing it. Along the coast, too, in the

neighbourhood of Hongkong and the Treaty Ports you will see

little stations, consisting of a house or two, a few boats, and a

look-out. These are also the Customs, and all the lighthouses

are in the same hands. Indeed, Sir Robert Hart has already

established the “ Customs Post ” between the Treaty Ports, and

he very nearly gave China an Imperial Post Office and an

Imperial silver coinage as well. The relations between Sir

Robert Hart and the Chinese Government exhibit the most

extraordinary example of confidence in individual integrity that

I have ever heard of. The “ I. G.” fixes the total cost of the

service, the Tsungli Yamên hands it over to him without a

word, and all money collected is paid directly by the merchants

into the Chinese bank. A little while ago the grant was

1,300,000 taels annually (a “ Haikwan " or Customs tael is the

official monetary standard in China, a Mexican dollar and balf,

in 1893 about 3s. 11 /d. ) , but an envious Chinaman , whom

I will not name, approached the Ministers at the Yamên with

a secret offer to do it for 500,000 taels less. The Yamên quietly

informed Sir Robert of the attempt to cut him out. His action

was characteristic . He replied that the annual sum had been

inadequate for some years, and that he, on the other hand,

must ask them to raise it by 400,000 taels, which they accord

ingly did ! With this 1,700,000 taels a year Sir Robert does

exactly what he likes, his own remuneration being fixed, paying

to others the salaries he considers just, according to the con

ditions he has established . The pay of a student when he enters

the service to learn Chinese is 900 taels a year, and this rises to

8,000 taels, more or less, the pay of a full Commissioner. Instead

of a promise of pension, which Sir Robert felt that he could

not be certain the Chinese would keep when he should be gone,

he pays a bonus of one year's pay for seven years' service to the


Indoor Staff, for ten years' service to the Outdoor Staff, and

for twelve years' service to the Chinese Staff. But this bonus

may be withheld at his pleasure (he has never yet withheld it) ,

and it therefore does not form part of a dead man's estate

a thoughtful provision for widows and children. The Indoor

Staff get two years' leave after every seven years' service , and the

Outdoor one year after every ten, both on half -pay. As may be

expected , the personnel of so attractive a service is of a very high

class, comprising all nationalities, and to be “ in the Customs”

confers social standing throughout the Far East. He is a

fortunate father, in these days, who can see his son safely

started on so pleasant, so well-paid, so assured a road of

livelihood, though in exile.

The establishment of the Chinese Customs takes us back to

one of the most interesting chapters in the story of the opening

of China. The theoretic basis upon which the collection of

duties had previously stood, left, like so many other Chinese

theories, little to desire, but actual practice corresponded only

remotely with it. The native tariffs were “ minute and precise,”

the duties leviable amounting to about 10 per cent. ad valorem,

but the rule was for each district to be assessed , so to speak , at

à certain figure, which it was obliged to remit, anything over

that sum remaining the personal profit of the collecting officer .

This naturally resulted in a “ dicker ” between the merchant

and the Customs, the latter demanding as much , and the former

paying as little, as possible . In an official memorandum upon

the subject Sir Robert Hart wrote as follows:: “• The paltriness

of the amount to be answered for, the absence of the supervision

of superiors, and the generally subordinate nature of the work

to be performed, have all tended to produce such utter laxity

and irregularity that the Tariff rates have become dead letters

except in that they represent the maximum collectable on any

one article ; the additional exemption from all question as to

extra and unreported collection has encouraged, if not originated,

a species of dishonesty, in which each subordinate lies to his

240 CHINA .

superior, who, again , winks at such knavery, involved, as he is

himself, in turn, in precisely similar transactions. "

The introduction of foreign supervision resulted through the

confusion that sprang up when Shanghai was held by the rebels

in 1854, the Government officials expelled and their Yamêns

closed , the collection of duties by the Chinese at an end , and

the foreign Consuls in self-defence against future demands

taking duties from merchants in the shape of promissory notes

whose validity was questionable. But as Lord Clarendon wrote

to Lord Elgin, it was “ no part of the duty of Her Majesty's

Consular authorities to take greater care of the Chinese revenue

than the Chinese authorities are disposed to take.” To bring

the confusion to an end, it was at length agreed that the Chinese

custom - house at Shanghai should be reopened under the proper

authority, and that it should be placed under the supervision of

foreigners to be nominated by the Consuls of the three Treaty

Powers—England, France, and the United States. This, of

course, was a purely foreign measure, and it met with opposition

alike from the Chinese, who found their illegitimate profits

threatened, and from the European merchants, who were more

strictly treated and unable any longer to drive bargains for

the clearing of their cargoes. Nevertheless, said Sir Robert

Hart, it tended, “ with unpremeditated gravitation,” to become

Chinese, and no serious objection was made from any quarter

when the proposal was made to extend it to the whole

foreign trade of China. Accordingly, by Art. 46, and Rule

X. of the rules appended to the tariff, of Lord Elgin's

Treaty of Tientsin, 1858, it was agreed that “ one uniform

system shall be enforced at every port.” This was the

birth of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs. For a

time, like its immediate predecessor , it met with opposition from

both natives and foreigners, since both suffered in pocket from

its honesty and exactitude . But first of all, it secured for the

Chinese Government funds “from a hitherto unappreciated

source, and that, too , to an extent never dreamt of before ." In


fact, one may say without exaggeration that it has been the

backbone of all Chinese finance ever since. To -day, when

China hints that she desires a loan, and is prepared to offer part

of the Customs revenue as a guarantee, the agents of all the

great banks and financial houses of Europe tumble over one

another in their anxiety to be first in the field with their offers.

Yet they would look askance indeed at a loan based solely upon

native administration . The service has been extended to each

fresh port of China ; its numbers and responsibilities have con

tinually increased ; and all sorts of duties, outside its original

charter, have been laid upon the willing shoulders of its staff.

To-day, as I have said , a position in the Customs gives a

high social standing of its own. The Customs publications

are among the most elaborate volumes of public information

and statistics issued in the world , its huge volumeof “ Decennial

Reports ” just circulated being possibly the most instructive

single work ever printed about China. Finally, to the Customs

Service and the labours of Sir Robert Hart, the world owes the

lighting and buoying of the whole coast of China. In 1863

there were only two small lights in the Canton district and a

lightship at Shanghai, whereas now there are 108 lighthouses,

4 lightships, 89 buoys, and 67 beacons, employing a staff of 66

foreigners and 186 natives, all under the control of the Inspector

General of Customs, and paid for out of the tonnage dues .

Although the Customs Service was established under the

Treaty of Tientsin between Great Britain and China , all

nations have shared equally in its advantages, and they are

equitably represented upon its staff. Britishers (it would be

inaccurate to say “ Englishmen , " where many are Scotch and

Irish ) , Americans , Germans, French , Swedes, Danes, and now

Portuguese, form the personnel, subjects of every nation having

a treaty with China being equally eligible under the most

favoured nation clause . There are doubtless more subjects

of Great Britain than of any other Power, but not nearly so

many as there would be if appointments were bestowed in


242 CHINA .

proportion to the share of each country's trade with China.

The staff is at present as follows:


Revenue Department 682 3,185

Marine 81 388

Educational 6 1

769 3,574 TOTAL 4,343.

The value of the Foreign Trade of China , controlled by the

Customs, for 1893 was 267,995,130 taels- £ 44,665,855 * ; the

duties collected amounted to 21,989,300 taels- £ 3,664,883 ; the

number of ships entered and cleared was 37,902, and their

aggregate tonnage 29,318,811. The direct trade of Great

Britain with China amounted to 39,823,987 taels- £6,637,361,

but the total trade with the British Empire, namely, Hong

kong, Singapore and the Straits Settlements, India, Australasia,

South Africa, and Canada, reached the enormous figure of

195,710,240 taels—£ 32,618,373, or over 73 per cent of the

entire Foreign Trade of China.

The Chinese Customs Service forms, in short, an imperium in

imperio without parallel , so far as I know, in history, and it

should be a matter of great pride to us that it is built upon the

genius, the devotion, and the integrity of an Englishman .

The one dark spot on the horizon of this great organisation is

the question of Sir Robert Hart's successor. It is practically

certain to be an Englishman - at least, the appointment of a

man of any other nationality, however qualified in other

respects, would be as unwelcome to the service as it would

be impolitic and unfair. It has been suggested, however,

that the Chinese Ministers might be tempted, when Sir Robert

resigns, to replace him by a Chinaman , in the belief that the

The tael is nominally an ounce of silver, but its value varies in China in

different parts according to the quality of the metal. All the official calculations as

above are in Haikwan — or Customs - taels . The average exchange value of this for

1893 was 3s . 117d . , but at present its average exchange value has fallen to 3s. Ad .,

at which rate I have calculated it. It must be borne in mind , of course , that the

purchasing power of silver in China has not fallen with European exchange .


service would run of itself, and that they might therefore just

as well follow the usual custom of selling the post to the highest

bidder. Such an event would be a calamity for the commerce

of the world, and therefore the Treaty Powers would never

permit it. For whatever may be thought of the statement at

home , not a single voice will be raised in the East to contradict

me, when I say that among her 350,000,000 people China has

not one official who could be trusted to handle so much money

without regarding it first of all as a means of personal

enrichment. In 1864 Sir Robert wrote to the Secretary of

State at home that the Inspectorate “ will have finished its

work when it shall have produced a native administration, as

honest and as efficient, to replace it.” Does the experience

of thirty -five years lead him to cherish this hope of ultimate

Chinese honesty and efficiency ? I cannot say, of course, but I

should be extremely surprised to learn it.



THEto Emperor of Chinahashitherto been practically invisible

any barbarian eye, and if he were not, he probably

knows less about his country than the least of his officials. The

real Emperor is the Empress-his aunt, and her proud and

determined personality is known to the outside world chiefly

through Li Hung-chang. Between the Empress and the Great

Viceroy there has always been a close political partnership and

an offensive and defensive alliance. Therefore the presence of

the Viceroy, till his recent fall from power, at any rate, has been

the nearest possible approach for a foreigner to the throne

of China. Viceroy of the province of Chihli, hence ex officio

guardian of the gate of China, Senior of the four Grand Secre

taries of State, formerly Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent,

President of the Board of War, Superintendent of the North

Sea Trade, Count Shinu -ki of the first rank , special plenipoten

tiary times without number ; practical owner of an army and a

fleet ; immensely wealthy, preternaturally astute, utterly unscru

pulous, having been able to laugh calmly at the dreaded

Censors themselves, Li Hung- chang may be fairly looked upon

as the ruler for many years of these 350,000,000 of shaven

heads and plaited tails, at least so far as the outside world is

concerned. If I had a chief object in my travels in the Far

East, it was to have an interview with Li Hung -chang. And

I talked with him at last for two hours.

Li Hung - chang was born in Anhui in 1825, and is a Metro



politan Graduate of the year 1847. In the following year we

come across the first mention of him in public affairs. He was

Financial Commissioner at Soochow , and there issued a pro

clamation of a highly dictatorial character against coiners and

" smashers.” He fought against the Taipings for the first time

in 1853, when they were defying the Imperialists in the province

of Chihli, and he was one of the principal Imperialist leaders

when the Wangs again took up their arms in the valley of the

Yangtze in 1858. In 1859 he was made Futai, or Governor , of

Fuhkien, and in 1862 Governor of Kiangsu. This was the

moment when Ward, the founder of the “ Ever - Victorious

Army," who had carried on the war against the Taipings with

a handful of queer foreigners and a few thousand native troops

whom he had been allowed to enlist and train , had been killed

in retaking Tseki, and when his lieutenant, the traitor Burgevine,

was trying to succeed him in the command . Li refused to

recognise Burgevine's rights , and in spite of the fact that the

latter won several battles, succeeded in getting him dismissed

by the Emperor, and thus clearing the way for the military

reputation of himself and his lieutenant, General Ching. In

February, 1863, the British Government consented to the com

mand of the “ Ever- Victorious Army," which up to that time

had experienced at least its fair share of defeats, being given to

Captain Charles Gordon, R.E. Li showed signs at first of being as

jealous of him as of his predecessors and the force he commanded ;

but he probably soon discovered that so long as Gordon was

allowed to win the battles he did not care a straw who took the

credit, and their relations were amicable until Li committed his

great act of treachery. When it became evident to the Taiping

leaders that Soochow must fall, and with it their rebellion come


to an end , they decided to surrender to the Imperialists. Mow

Wang alone was for fighting to the bitter end, and he was

accordingly murdered by his fellow Wangs. Chung Wang, the

great Taiping general, and eight others surrendered. General

Ching had sworn brotherhood with Lar Wang, and Li had pro

216 CHINA.

mised Gordon that the lives of them all should be spared. Gordon

himself had quarrelled with Li because the pay of his men had

not been paid, and had withdrawn the “ Ever-Victorious Army "

to its headquarters at Quinsan. The first thing Li did as soon as

he was left in undisturbed possession of the place was to invite Lar

Wang and eight other Wangs to a banquet on board his own

boat, and shortly afterwards their nine headless bodies were

found on the shore. Gordon's anger was so great that he is

said to have returned and sought Li for a whole day, revolver

in hand, to shoot him, but the astute Futai was not to be found.

Gordon, however, retired in disgust, refused to have anything

more to do with Li and his cause, and indignantly refused the

decoration and the large sum of money that the Emperor sent

him. He came to realise, however, that he would be doing great

harm by allowing the war to drift on, instead of bringing it to a

speedy close, as he felt able to do ; so he returned to his com

mand . Years afterwards he appears to have forgiven Li, and

at any rate the incident did not destroy his opinion of Li's

character as a whole, for I have seen a letter from him in which

he says, “ Li, in spite of his cutting the Wangs' heads off, is

a man worthy the sacrifice of a life I have ceased to value."

Nevertheless, Gordon's estimate of Li's character may be judged

from his view of the future relations of China and Russia, which

was that Russia would advance, driving the Chinese forces

gradually back upon Peking, and that Li, while pretending, in

response to reiterated and imploring appeals from the Emperor

and Empress, to be making his best efforts, would do absolutely

nothing ; that then, when the Russians had taken Peking, Li

would open negociations with them, grant them any terms they

desired in return for their support of him ; that they would

retire and that Li would pose successfully as the saviour of

China , and possess himself of the throne. This opinion of

Gordon's was once published in Shanghai, and Li was so angry

that he succeeded in bringing enough pressure to bear to get

the paper suppressed . “ It is impossible ,” says the chief


historian of China, with regard to the murder of the Wangs,

" to apportion the blame for this treacherous act between Li

Hung-chang and General Ching. The latter was morally the

more guilty, but it seems as if Li Hung-chang were the real

instigator of the crime.” * The facts that the fatal banquet took

place on Li's boat, that Ching was directly subordinate to Li

and would hardly have dared to take so irrevocable a step on his

own authority, and that Gordon himself was sure who was

the perpetrator of the crime, leave little doubt on the subject. All

that can be urged in Li's defence is that to break one's promise

and murder one's enemies in cold blood is no serious infraction

of Chinese military ethics. The Wangs were fortunate that

they were not tortured as well as murdered.

In 1867 Li took the field against the Shantung rebels, and in

the same year he was made Governor -General of Hu Kwang. In

1870 he was elevated to his present post of Viceroy of Chihli ,

the most important viceroyalty in China, since that Province lies

between the capital and the outside world , and this post he has

held ever since, except for a period when he went into mourning.

In 1876 he took the leading part in coping with the great famine,

and in 1884 he was made Grand Secretary of State.

For many years the Yamên of Li Hung-chang at Tientsin has

been the centre of Chinese foreign affairs - indeed the question

has been raised whether it would not be better for the foreign

Ministers to reside there, instead of ruining their tempers and

wasting their time by fruitless visits and endless discussions at

the Tsungli Yamên, the theoretical Board of Foreign Affairs at

Peking. Whenever China has had to deal diplomatically with

foreign nations, Li has been her mouthpiece. Thus at Chefoo,

where Sir Thomas Wade very rightly compelled Li to meet him ,

he signed the Chefoo Convention (never ratified) in 1876 ; at

Tientsin, the Li-Fournier Convention of 1881, in connection

with which charges of falsification of the document were made

D. C. Boulger, “ A History of China, ” iii. p. 616, from which work I have

also taken the allusion to the first mention of Li in public life .

248 CHINA .

by each signatory against the other, leading to Captain

Fournier's subsequent duel in Paris ; the Treaty with M.

Patenôtre, representing France, at Tientsin in June 1885 ; and

the Li - Ito Convention of Tientsin regarding Korea, in 1885.

His career, however, has by no means been an uninterrupted

success. Many times he has been reprimanded from the throne

for faults small and great, and his enemies have unceasingly

plotted against him . His great influence has never been

sufficient to procure the restoration to office of that very able

literate but unscrupulous man , Chang Pei-lun, who was dis

graced and banished to the Russian frontier for having deserted

his post as governor of Foochow Arsenal , and to whom Li

married his daughter-in spite of her weeks of weeping and

desperate opposition , according to gossip-in 1889. Much of

his power-or rather, much of the failure of his enemies - must

be attributed to the army with which he has surrounded him

self. This has been supposed to number fifteen thousand men,

but all Chinese figures on such matters are pure guess-work.

These have undoubtedly been the best-armed and best -drilled

troops in China, and from them have been drawn the contingents

for the defence of the Taku Forts at the mouth of the Peiho

River , and the fortress of Port Arthur. One of the most

astonishing features of the Japanese war is the fact that this

army has given no account of itself ; indeed, it is not certain

that it has not been kept in the neighbourhood of Tientsin all

the time, in view of eventualities in which its master might have

dire personal need of its services. I made many attempts while

I was staying at Tientsin to see some of these much-praised

battalions and their camps, but although I had the formal

permission of Li himself to do so, every opportunity that I

suggested was found to be quite impossible, and I never caught

sight of them, except the few that were occasionally to be seen

in the streets . With regard to the great Viceroy himself, how

ever, I was more favoured .

It will easily be believed that he is not the most accessible



T Ch'ing


. c Ilung






! ‫آناز‬






of men, and after waiting a week at Tientsin for an answer to

my request for an interview, my methods of influence being all 1

exhausted for the moment, I had temporarily relinquished the

project and ordered my ponies to be ready to start for Peking

the next morning. It happened to be the Race Day at Tientsin

and business was suspended, the banks closed and everybody

gone to the course. At half- past two, as I had my foot in the

stirrup to go too, a European-looking note was put into my

hand. It was beautifully written, and read : “ Dear Mr. Nor

man, I have the pleasure to inform you that His Excellency the

Viceroy Li will be pleased to receive you this afternoon at 4.30.

I hope therefore to find you in the waiting-room of His Excel

lency’s Yamên at the hour appointed . Yours sincerely, Lo Fêng

Lub ." There was no time to be lost, as the Viceroy's residence

is two or three miles from the hotel , and it was necessary to pro

cure a chair, with bearers in official red hats, and a man to carry

one's card, for I was informed that it would not be dignified to

pay such a visit of ceremony on horseback or in a jinriksha. A

friendly Chinese merchant soon procured these for me , and the

four bearers carried me off in the closed chair , like a cat in a

basket, at the rate of five miles an hour, while the card -man

trotted alongside and objurgated anybody who got in the way .

Mr. Lo Fêng Luh, I should add, is the English Secretary to the

Viceroy , and an official holding several important appointments.

The Yamên (literally " official gate " ) of a Chinese official is

his combined private and official residence, though in general

use the word “ Yamên " is equivalent to “ office ” or “ bureau.”

It consists always of a number of buildings surrounded by a

strong wall, with a wide gateway and painted doors. In the

centre are the official's private living -rooms and the apartments

of his wife, and of his concubines if he has any ; then come his

secretaries 'offices, his waiting-rooms and his large official court

or reception room. Around the yard into which you enter are

the buildings where his servants and “ runners " live , the latter

being the harpy-like dependents, who shout when his dis

250 CHINA .

tinguished visitors enter, form his train when he goes out, do

all his dirty work, “ squeeze ” his petitioners and sell his

secrets—a set of ruffians of the worst type. If he is a magis

trate his Yamên contains also a prison , and his " runners

stand by to deal with culprits condemned to “ eat bamboo ."

An official Yamên is also a house of refuge for anybody fleeing

from popular vengeance. Half an hour's shaking through the

narrow streets of the native streets of the city of Tientsin

brought me to a bridge over the river, across which two dense

crowds were passing both ways—coolies , beggars, mandarins in

chairs, on ponies and on donkeys, and all kinds of common

citizens. By the time we had jostled half- way across, the

famous Yamên was in full view—a mass of roofs enclosed in

a bigh wall of grey brick, with a big gateway projecting at one

side, over which a score flags and banners were waving, while in

front a crowd of petitioners and beggars raised a ceaseless

hubbub. My bearers broke into a trot as soon as they came in

sight of the gate, and entering it swung rapidly round a blank wall

built directly in front of it, and deposited me in the courtyard

behind . This wall is set up in every Yamên with the geoman

tic object of stopping evil influences, which can only proceed in

a straight line. Two enormous and gaudy figures of officials or

emperors or deities—I do not know which — were pasted to the

doors, and opposite these, so placed as to catch the eye of the

Viceroy every time he goes forth , is a similar flaming monster,

the tan or beast Avarice—a warning against the besetting sin

of Chinese officialdom . While I was noticing these, and the

runners loitering about were commenting in chorus upon my

personal appearance in a manner evidently very entertaining to

themselves, my card -man had rushed forward and two petty

officials came to conduct me to the waiting-room .

This was the first surprise. The great man's anteroom

resembled the out- patients' waiting -room in a charity hospital

at home—a bare , dirty, whitewashed room, no bigger than an

ordinary parlour, with a seat like that of a third -class railway


carriage running round it, broken at intervals of a couple of feet

by small tables placed upon it. Mr. Lo Feng Luh , by contrast

more resplendent in his official winter dress of silk and satin

and sable and ermine, wearing of course a red -roofed hat

crowned by a big button , was already there, and tea was served

to us at once. Before we had time to touch it, however, the

Viceroy's chamberlain came to say that the Chung Tang awaited

us.. I should explain that to say “ Li Hung -chang," as we do,

is to Chinese ears both ignorant and rude ; he should be spoken

of as “ Li Chung Tang,” i.e., “ Grand Secretary Li,” or more

simply, when in his own province, “ the Chung Tang.” The

foreign community at Tientsin , at least all of them who are

familiar with Chinese etiquette, invariably employ the last


We followed the chamberlain , or whatever he was, for a

couple of minutes, across a yard, through several doorways,

around the veranda of an open court, and turned abruptly into

a room and round a large screen . “ The Viceroy,” said Mr. Lo ,

with perfect European manners, as he stepped back and left me

face to face with a tall and strongly-built Chinaman who put out

his hand and smiled pleasantly and grunted a solitary syllable.

“ The Viceroy says he is very glad to see you ,” explained Mr.

Lo, very much as a proud mother elaborately interprets the

inarticulate cackle of her first - born . The great man acknow

ledged my bow in the Chinese manner-by bowing with his

clasped hands at the height of his chin , and motioned us to be

seated, myself opposite him , Mr. Lo on a foreign circular lounge

between us.

Li Chung Tang is a pure Chinaman, not Manchu like the

dynasty he serves. He is very tall for a Chinese , five feet

eleven, I should guess , and must have been a powerful man in

his youth . His face is the most strongly moulded I saw in

China-not flat, as they usually are, but with all the features

distinctly marked and the lines broad and deep, a face that

would hold its own in comparison with any foreign face. A thin

252 CHINA .

grey moustache and “ chin -beard ” did not conceal his mouth

and chin at all, but what the general expression of his face may

be I have no idea, as he wore an enormous pair of round

tortoise-shell goggles. This may be his custom, as it certainly

gives him a great advantage in diplomatic conversation, or it

may have been by a temporary order of the doctor, as he was

just recovering from a rather alarming attack of facial paralysis

which rendered him unable to speak for several days, and of

which I could see traces in the twitching and drawn lines of one

side of his face. But at any rate he looked me straight in the

eye during nearly the whole of our interview , while I have so

slight a notion of what he really looks like, that if I were not

familiar with his photograph I doubt if I should recognise bim

in the street without his glasses.

The Viceroy was dressed simply, not to say shabbily, in the

ordinary Chinese stiff round hat, a thickly- padded upper

garment of some kind of yellow silk and an undergarment of

grey silk . His hands were tucked into his wide sleeves and only

came out twice during our conversation , once when he wished to

blow his nose, which he did in the familiar but indescribable

manner of the tramp in the street, and once when he was

startled by a little piece of news. Yet he smoked a pipe five

feet long. An attendant stood with pipe, smoking materials

and fire, at the back of the reception -room , and every five

minutes he walked solemnly forward , filled the pipe, blew the

fire -stick into a flame, the Viceroy opened one corner of his

mouth , the attendant inserted the stem and applied the light to

the bowl, the great man absorbed the smoke and opened his

mouth again , when the pipe-bearer withdrew as he had come.

This occurred a score times at least, and never a muscle did the

Viceroy move, except just to open the corner of his mouth wide

enough to admit the pipe- stem. The reception-room is a small

parlour, well-furnished with modern European furniture, except

on one side where an alcove, hung with scarlet silk , contains a

cushion and table adopted for sitting and writing in the Chinese


fashion . The Chung Tang probably sits in this elevated post

on state occasions ; on the present he reclined very comfortably

upon a sofa . Three or four attendants did nothing and did it well,

simply listening to the conversation, while I saw in the back

ground that another had opened a window an inch and was

listening from outside. These attendants are always present at

official interviews, extraordinary as such a habit may seem to us,

and the natural result is that most of the foreign representatives

have one at each Yamên in their pay, and that there are few

secrets which money will not buy. After I left the Chung Tang

I met a facetious acquaintance who inquired where I had been.

" Talking with the Viceroy, ” I replied. “ Oh , ” he said, “ I'll

get all you said to him for a couple of dollars to -morrow . ”

Naturally I offered it to him then and there at half- price.

There are two interesting pictures in this reception - room . One

represents the fable of the monkey, the cat and the chestnuts,

and I believe the Viceroy pointed to this on a recent occasion

when he was approached on behalf of British interests in Thibet.

The other puzzled me a good deal. It hung immediately over

the Viceroy's own seat and was a very large full-length portrait

in oil , representing a tall man with a long grey beard , in a frock

coat, and covered with decorations .Later I learned that it was

& portrait of Herr Krupp, presented by himself. Its position

suggests the reflection - an undoubtedly true one - that the

Chinese have always loved that foreigner best who has best

helped them to keep all foreigners away.

As soon as we were seated, an attendant brought tea and

champagne and placed them on a little table beside each of us,

and the interview began, Mr. Lo translating so perfectly and so

promptly that it was as though we were both speaking the same

language. My own idea, of course, was that I was about to

interview the Viceroy. Nothing was further from his intention,

which was clearly to interview me . Question after question fell

from his lips for a whole hour, and as Mr. Lo apparently did

not translate the feeble attempts I made from time to time to

254 CHINA .

stem the interrogatory torrent, I was as helpless as a man in a

dentist's chair. I think the best thing I can do is to repeat the

first part of the conversation verbatim , not that the subject

matter is of the slightest importance, but because it throws a

flood of light on the working of the Viceroy's mind , and exhibits

a curious mixture of childishness, astuteness and Chinese

manners . After nearly an hour of it I began to feel that I must

be with Alice in Wonderland. Here it is, then , as nearly word

for word as I can recall it.

“ The Viceroy hopes you are in good health and that you have

had a pleasant journey.” Reply taken for granted. " Where

have you been ? ” and “ Where are you going ? ” Easily

answered . “ How old are you ? ” This, I afterward learned,

is an inquiry essential to politeness in China - I ought to have

returned the compliment. “ What is your yearly income from

writing for newspapers ? ” I remembered that sophists hold it

to be not always imperative to speak the exact truth under

pressure , and I replied accordingly, with the natural result

that the next remark was, “ His Excellency says you must

be a very skilful writer to earn so much money ." I could not

observe whether he also winked under his goggles . “ You

have made a long journey – have you no companion ? ” “ None

whatever ." “ Are you not afraid of being stabbed ? ” “In

dangerous countries - not, of course. in China - I carry means of


defending myself.” “ * The Viceroy says you must have been in

very great danger.” “ Not to my knowledge.” “ The world is

full of wicked people.” “ His Excellency is evidently well

acquainted with it. ”' “ Are you going to Thibet ? " I took

this inquiry for a joke, as nobody knows better than the Chung

Tang that it is almost as easy to go to the moon , so I replied in

the same spirit, “ Yes, and I have specially to beg from His

Excellency the favour of a safe -conduct and letter of recom

mendation to the Grand Llama himself.” But it was no joke at

all. “ Impossible ! ” exclaimed the Viceroy, sitting bolt upright

80 suddenly that the pipe- bearer narrowly escaped prodding him


in the eye with the mouth-piece. “ Impossible ! Certainly not !

I cannot do anything of the kind. It would be most unwise of

him to think of going.” I did not dare to admit that I had

ventured to joke with the great man , so I said , “ Then if it is

impossible for me to go, perhaps His Excellency will tell me

what is the truth about the recent troubles ."” “ The people of

Thibet are very foolish , ” was the reply, “ but I have sent a

Commissioner to them , who is at this moment conferring with

the English , and there will be no more fighting." I tried to

look like a person who believes what he is told As a matter of .

fact, Li Hung-chang has as much power over the Thibetans as the

Sultan has over the Mahdi, but Thibet is a very sensitive spot

with the Chinese authorities, and they would probably do any

thing, even to declaring war, to keep it out of the hands of the


Then followed an hour during which the Viceroy questioned

and cross-questioned me upon everything I had seen in the Far

East, and my opinions upon every conceivable question at issue

between the Powers. At last my patience gave way. I had

seen Li Hung -chang, I had talked with him, I had examined his

surroundings, and if he was not going to tell me anything, it

was not worth while for me to sit there any longer. So to the

twentieth inquiry about possible Russian action in Korea, I

replied, “ My opinions upon such a matter can have no value

whatever for His Excellency , whereas if he would favour me with

an authoritative statement concerning the relations of China ,

Korea and Russia, it would have the greatest possible value for

the rest of the world .” And I emphasized the request by taking

up my hat and drinking the glass of wine ; for I had been

instructed previously that when either host or guest in China

wishes to give the signal for departure, he empties his cup or

glass. When Mr. Lo had translated my remark there was a

moment's silence. Then, speaking very deliberately, the Viceroy

said, “ The relations referred to in your question are as follows :

there is a distinct understanding between China and Russia that

256 CHINA ,

any action by the latter in Korea will be regarded by the former

as a casus belli. ” In reply to a second question the Viceroy

added, “ At present the relations between China and Russia are

simple. Upon the long Russian-Chinese frontier China is

strong, Russia is weak . Vladivostok is very far from real

Russia . It is alone . Russia and China had better be good


friends." But when the trans- Siberian railway is finished,

Excellency — ? ” “ Yes, then the relations of China and

Russia will be revised. As regards Korea, it is a country unable


to stand by itself, any talk of its independence ' is waste of

words, the relation of China to it is the same as it has always

been, and you may be prepared shortly to see events which will

make this relation quite clear to all the world ."

I knew enough of China at the time not to attach much

importance to all this ; but recent events have shown how

peculiarly fatuous it was. Did the Viceroy know, when he said

these things to me and similar ones to many other persons, that

China was rotten through and through, and as incapable of

either attack or defence as she was of internal reform ? I think

he did. When our conversation was over, he took his glass at

last and we all drank, Mr. Lo translating, “ His Excellency

wishes you a pleasant journey, and says you will please give a

good account of your interview with him ." Then the Viceroy

was so kind as to accompany me across his private courtyard

and Mr. Lo politely saw me into my chair.

He would be a presumptuous critic who should attempt an

analysis of so complex and subtle a character as that of the

Grand Secretary Li. Something, however, must be said , if

only in correction of a popular misapprehension. It is com

monly supposed that Li's intimate acquaintance with foreigners

and his long experience of their diplomatic and commercial

methods have led him to conceive a certain sympathy with them

and a certain desire to see foreign influence stronger in China.

This is far from the fact. The more Li has seen of foreigners

the less he has liked them . We must not be wholly surprised


at this, since in some respects foreigners have shown him an

unattractive side of their character. His Yamên has been the

focus of every commercial intrigue undertaken on behalf of

Western nations, and most European commerce with official

China has been conducted by means of intrigue. So far as

merchants are concerned , British and German and French and

American have occupied virtually the same position , though I

like to think that our own countrymen have not descended to

the methods of some of their competitors . But the difference

between British and other civilised commercial dealings with

the Viceroy has been this, that whereas other nations have

been supported through thick and thin by their Ministers ,

our diplomatic agents have left our merchants to fight their

battles alone . This policy has sometimes been carried to the

point of indifference , and China merchants have some very

well- founded grievances against at least one British Minister

for his supineness, but on the whole the attitude of our

representatives has been one of dignity . As regards France

and Germany, every diplomatic concession Li has desired has

had to be bought by a corresponding commercial concession on

his part. Hence many a fat contract lost to British trade .

And on countless occasions when a commercial offer has been

refused by the Chinese on its merits , an irate Minister has

hastened off to the Viceroy's Yamên and by means of very

direct hints , if not by thinly -veiled threats , has secured a

favourable consideration for it. Moreover, the great European

firms have been well aware of the part that bribery plays in

Chinese affairs. Whether Li has taken bribes or not , I do not

know , though dozens of amusing stories on the subject are in

circulation in Tientsin ; but it is safe to say that if he has

not, he occupies a solitary position of honour among Chinese

officials . These are the circumstances , therefore , under which

Li has not always seen the best side of European civilisation .

Apart from individual acts, however , he is like all his countrymen

in thoroughly disliking us and all the principles of our ways .


258 CHINA .

Between the European and the Chinaman there is this quite

instinctive, as well as quite reasoned, aversion. He has sought

to avail himself of our abilities, especially where these might

enable him to hold us and all other foreigners at arm's length

in the future, but to him the millennium would be the final

disappearance of every “ foreign devil ” from China. Upon

this point there can be no doubt whatever, however much it

may suit the policy of China from time to time to let the

contrary be assumed . A recent British Minister to China said

to me himself that he believed the vast majority of Chinamen

of all classes would willingly mortgage the whole revenue of

China for the next thirty years, to see the back of the last

foreigner, and to have the certainty that he would never return ;

and that Li Hung- chang would be the leader in this step.

There can be no better example of Li's employment of Western

relations to suit the purposes of China than a remarkable letter

he wrote in 1881 to a Korean official : - " Oflate years Japan has

adopted Western customs. ... Her national liabilities having

largely increased, she is casting her eyes about in search of

some convenient acquisition which may recoup her. ... The

fate of Loochoo is at once a warning and a regret to both China

and Korea. . Her aggressive designs upon Korea will be

best frustrated by the latter's alliance with Western nations. " .

While this was his advice, however, the Viceroy has endeavoured

in every possible way, through his nominee and creature, Yuen,

the Chinese Resident in Seoul, to thwart foreign influence upon

Korea .

In a previous chapter I have spoken of Li Hung-chang's

commercial enterprise, the China Merchants' Steam Navigation

Company and the cotton-mills at Shanghai. These are other

examples of his attempts to beat foreigners at their own game.

He has also established a medical college at Tientsin , where

twenty youths are trained for the medical staff of the army and

* Quoted “ The Life of Sir Harry Parkes , " by F. V. Dickins and S. Lane

Poole , ii. p. 205.


navy . In view of his treatment of several young Chinese

graduates in medicine, however, whom in public he compli

mented , and in private refused to employ, one hesitates to

accord him the credit which should belong to this innovation .

The news now is that Li Hung-chang has been degraded,

and that his unique position is gone for ever. We should not

be too ready to believe this. It may be, of course , that his

enemies have thrown him at last, but the Emperor and

Empress-Dowager will hardly realise how dependent upon

him they have been, until the barrier of his unique personality

and experience has been removed from between themselves

and the barbarian world. The decree depriving him of his

Yellow Jacket and peacock's feathers must not be taken au

grand sérieux. “ Degradation " of this character is merely

& Chinese method of incentive. In fact , the decree itself

virtually promises restitution, and as I have not seen a trans

lation in the English Press it is worth reproducing in full :

The Wo- jén having broken faith with Korea and forcibly occupied that country ,

the Throne sympathised with its tributary kingdom in her distress and so raised

an army to attack the common enemy. Upou Li Hung-chang, Imperial High

Commissioner of the Pei-yang, having chief control of the forces there, rested the

entire onus of being prepared for emergencies. But, instead , he has been unable to

act with speed and promptness in his military preparations, so that much time has

elapsed without any important results. He has indeed failed in the trust reposed

in him by us. We therefore command that his decoration of the three-eyed

peacock feather be plucked off from (his hat), and that he be stripped of his Yellow

Ridivg Jacket as a slight punishment. It is necessary then , that the said Imperial

High Commissioner exert himself to the utmost and decide upon what should be

done ; that he direct and hasten the various armies from the various provinces to

the front, in order that all may put forth their best strength to chase and root out

the enemy. In this way Li Hung-chang may hope to redeem his former errors.

This is instructive not only for the light it throws upon such

Chinese “ degradation ,” but also as a contemporary example of

the paternalism of the Imperial sway. It might be a great

mistake, however, to conclude from this that the aged Viceroy

has at length reached that third day on which there

" comes a frost, a killing frost ;

And — when he thinks, good easy man, full surely

His greatness is a-ripening-nips

a his root,

And then he falls."



N the original plan of this volume, the chapter with the

IN above title was intended to be one of the longest and most

argumentative. At that time, though it was less than a year

ago, China was regarded by almost all foreign writers as one

of the Great Powers. Her enormous resources in population,

and her excellent credit—thanks to Sir Robert Hart's work,

which made every financial house in Europe eager to lend her

money-were regarded with the greatest respect by military

writers. It was understood that she had taken to heart the

lesson of her defeat by France, and was labouring earnestly to

guard against similar misfortunes in the future. It was known

that she had purchased enormous quantities of military and

naval equipment in Europe, that she had built arsenals, docks,

and forts up and down the country, and that a considerable

number of the most capable and energetic foreign military and

naval experts had been engaged for years in arranging her

armaments and drilling her men. She had gained one or two

distinct successes in diplomacy against European Powers, and

Li Hung.chang had frequently declared that he would regard

certain actions as a casus belli ; her naval base and dockyard

at Port Arthur had been built for her at enormous expense by a

French syndicate ; Gordon's advice to fortify Wei-hai-wei had

been followed ; the powerful Taku forts at the mouth of the

Peiho commanding the approach to Tientsin, and the Bogue



forts on the Canton River had frowned impressively upon every

foreign visitor ; while the famous Northern Squadron of German

built ironclads had visited the ports of the Far East and

exchanged elaborate salutes. From all this, foreign writers

came to the conclusion that China had shaken off her Oriental

lethargy, had drawn boldly upon her vast reserve of strength ,

had armed herself strongly according to modern scientific

fashions, and had therefore at last taken her place among the

great military and naval Powers of the world. To such an

extent was this believed, that probably a majority of publicists

came to look upon China as the great bulwark in Asia against

the Russian advance, and suggestions of an Anglo- Chinese

alliance were the commonplaces of diplomatic conversation .

Such was the opinion a few months ago regarding China, and

it was against this view that the present chapter was to be

directed. I had come to the conclusion , and had frequently

expressed it in print, that so far from China being a Great

Power, her land forces would not stop any foreign army for a

week, and that her navy would be the prey of the first foreign

fleet that attacked it ; that so far from an Anglo-Chinese

alliance being a reasonable ideal , in the first place China

would not make an alliance with any foreign country, second,

if she made one she would not adhere to it, and third, if she

made it and adhered to it, it would not be worth having.

The unlooked -for outbreak of war between Japan and China,

and its inevitable results, have rendered unnecessary any

further exposure of the hollowness of Chinese claims . The

sword of the Japanese has proved mightier in demonstration

than the pen of any critic could have hoped to be. Against the

French soldiers in Tongking , as brave as possible, but mere

handfuls in number, exhausted by the climate, badly led, and

feebly supported from home—the Chinese troops won a good

many victories and were several times within a hair's breadth of

winning greater ones ; but against the regiments of Japan ,

fighting in a climate which was their own, admirably officered,

262 CHINA .

perfectly armed , and enthusiastically supported, the Chinese

braves have fallen back like sheep. And since in the first

naval battle the European strengthening of the feet was killed

off, the Northern Squadron has done nothing but lie under the

guns of the forts , or search those parts of the sea where it was

certain that no Japanese ships would be found. A-san, Phyöng

yang, the Yalu River, Kinchow, and Port Arthur, have given us

at last that most difficult thing to secure — the truth about China.

It would be waste of time, therefore, to dwell upon matters now

so familiar to the whole world , or to argue in support of truths


so irresistibly taught by events. It may still be interesting,

however, to describe briefly some of the ways in which China

prepared herself for the defeat which has now overtaken her,

especially since these are hardly less amusing than instructive.

Five years ago the Englishman who knows more of that

inscrutable entity, the Chinese mind, than any man living, told

me that of all her " vassals," there were only two for which

China would fight-Thibet and Korea. Personally, I do not

believe that anything which could lappen, short of an advance

upon Peking itself, would cause China to declare war against

any European Power. The role of sleeping leviathan suited her

perfectly, but she has well known that the first step she might

take would destroy the illusion upon which her security has

been based. What she has liked is to remain perfectly

quiescent, while the world trembled to think what she might do

if aroused — to lie still in her Confucian savagery, while such

utterances as that mass of rubbish called “ China : the Sleep

and the Awakening,” which the Marquis Tsêng signed (but did

not write) in the Asiatic Quarterly for January, 1887 , have

represented her as advancing with a cautious but irresistible

march . The strangest thing is that the civilised world bas

been deceived by these tactics, and even such keen analysts of

national characteristics as the late Mr. Charles Pearson have

painted a future in which China, having prepared herself by

long training, should put forth her gigantic strength and over


run the world . This ethnical fable of “ Jack and the Bean

stalk ” has been amusing enough to anybody who really knows

the first facts about China, but it is safe to conjecture that

nobody has been moved by it to such hearty laughter as the

Viceroy of Chihli himself. Japan has had no illusions about

China, and she was quite ready to prick the bubble. But the

Beanstalk is hard to cut down . At the beginning of the war a

news agency solemnly announced that each province of China

was called upon to furnish 20,000 men ; nineteen multiplied by

20,000 is 380,000, and the astounded reader was invited to

believe that this enormous force was gathering and marching

to Peking like Lars Porsena's men to Rome. The newspaper

reader might perhaps not be expected to know that the Emperor

of China could as easily raise 20,000 men in Mars as in some

of his provinces ; that it would not be difficult to enlist a con

siderable force in one part of China to attack another part ;

that absolutely no organisation exists in China for the handling

of such masses ; that the men would find themselves without

uniforms, without arms, without food, without the most rudi

mentary knowledge of war, without leaders of any description

whatever ; or that a huge army of the kind in the neighbour

hood of the capital would be almost certain to seize the

opportunity to upset the present alien Government. But it is

hardly making too high a demand upon any reader that he

should have glanced at the map of China, made a rough

multiplication of the degrees of longitude he saw before him ,

and asked himself bow 20,000 men were to march a thousand

miles through a country which is always on the verge of famine.

However, when one of our leading statesmen was of opinion

that China must inevitably win in the end, “ because of her

enormous armed strength ," other people might be excused for

going astray. One expression of opinion , however, puzzled me

extremely. Captain Lang, R.N. , to whose great administrative

skill and absolute devotion to her interests China owes most

of whatever naval strength she has acquired—and whom, it

264 CHINA .

may be added, she characteristically rewarded by dismissing

him with insult - has been reported as saying to an

interviewer, among many other rather startling tributes to

Chinese naval prowess, that “ with an officer like Admiral Ting,

whom I would not hesitate to follow anywhere, the Chinese

navy would prove a splendid force." But this worthy

“ Admiral " has had no education whatever as a seaman, owing

his appointment to the ordinary routine of competitive examina

tion in the Chinese classics, and being merely the nominal equal

of Admiral-as he then was - Lang, to " save the face ” of the

Chinese. In fact, he was previously a cavalry General, &

branch of the service in which he would be equally unpreju

diced by any information. Moreover, Admiral Ting Ju -ch'ang

was the hero of the famous story of the Chinese Admiral who

was found one day playing pitch and toss, or what corre

sponds to it in China, with the sentry at his door, both of

them seated on the floor of the Admiral's cabin . I had an

opportunity once of talking with a foreign instructor on board

a certain Chinese ironclad. In reply to my inquiry when the

ship would sail, he said, “ The only way we really know when

we are to sail is by the Admiral coming aboard. He leaves the

ship as soon as we come into port, and we never see him again

until we sail. He knows nothing at all about naval matters

he is just the mandarin put on board by Li. Why, when some

body comes aboard to visit him , he'll perhaps call a sampan and

see him off over the port side ! Then I have seen him gambling

here on the quarter-deck with a common seaman, and when he

has won all his money he'll tell the paymaster to advance the

seaman some more, so that he can go on playing. Yes, sir,

that is a literal fact. The only men on board that could really

do anything are these young fellows, the captain and lieutenants,

and they have no power at all. They fought against the French

and got nothing at all for it — just a few dollars, and were told

to take themselves off. The rings on the big Krupps are begin

ning to open out already, and if there is the least dirt or sand


you can't shut them .” “ Then I suppose," I said , “ that no

European squadron need be afraid of the Pei-yang Squadron

yet ? " ' No fear, sir , it is only a question who will get them

as prizes,” was the reply.

“ The truth is, that if the Japanese do not sweep the Chinese

from the sea, then study, skill, devotion, and experience go for

nothing, and there is no need for us to train our naval officers

at all. One thing only could save the Chinese on the sea - the

enlistment by large promises of money of European naval

officers, in whose hands complete and unfettered control should

be placed. The Chinese seamen are not wanting in courage, but

naturally enough they have no confidence whatever in their

leaders, and they would probably fight well enough to give their

undoubtedly fine ships a chance if they were well commanded." *

The actual condition of the Chinese army and navy , while so

much was believed of it abroad, cannot be understood from any

descriptions in general terms. Let me therefore give a few

scattered facts which came to my knowledge. I was once being

shown by a Chinese naval officer over one of their two biggest

ironclads, which was on a cruise at the time , and therefore

presumably in first -rate condition. I noticed a gun carefully

protected in a canvas cover. As we passed it, I asked casually

what it was. The officer explained with pride that it was a new

quick -firing gun, and called a quartermaster to remove the

covering. The order was obeyed with evident reluctance , and

when the gun was at length exposed it proved to be used by one

of the watches as a receptacle for their “ chow , " and was filled

with chop-sticks and littered with rice and pickles. Of course I

promptly looked the other way, but it required no knowledge of

Chinese to interpret the remarks of the officer to the quarter

master. No doubt the whole watch went through the process of

To avoid the appearance of prophesying after the event I may be permitted to

say that I wrote these words on August 18, 1894, and that they appeared in the

Contemporary Review for September. The battle of the Yalu was fought on

September 17.

266 CHINA.

“ eating bamboo " the moment I was off the ship ; but the

Chinese are incorrigible. It would be discouraging to a

European engineer who should be appointed to a Chinese ship

to find that if there were any subordinate boiler small enough

for the purpose, it had been used for stewing dog. There is

nothing inherently improbable in the story repeated by the corre

spondent of the Pall Mall Gazette that a Chinese warship went

to the Yalu without one of its guns, the commander having

pawned it and not been able to redeem it in time .

Another example of Chinese administration which came to

my knowledge may be interesting at this moment. Some years

ago the Chinese Government ordered a magnificent set of

Hotchkiss cartridge-making machinery. In due time this

arrived , but two mandarins claimed it for their respective

districts, and, failing to agree, each seized such portions of the

machinery as he could secure and carried them off to his own

place. When I was there, half the machinery was in one

arsenal and half in another several hundred miles away.

Unfortunately, Europeans are not always above taking advan

tage of Chinese supineness. A cargo of cocoa powder was

ordered from well - known manufacturers and landed at Port

Arthur for use in the big guns there. By -and -by it was tried

and found not to ignite, and finally the whole of it was thrown

into the sea. But both Europeans and Chinese had pocketed a

good “ squeeze " out of the transaction. The superintendent of

one of the largest arsenals in China receives an allowance to buy

steel : he buys iron , and pockets the difference . It is, therefore,

fair to presume that the rifle barrels he is turning out are made

of iron . With my own eyes I saw at an important arsenal the

machinery for making rifle barrels standing idle, while hundreds

of men in the same workshop were making them by hand.

Here is another story which I know to be true. An American

agent showed a Chinese Viceroy the performance of a Hotchkiss

gun . The Viceroy promised an order, but said he should like

first to show it to some of his officers, to find out if they could


use it. So the gun was lent. The Chinese took it to pieces,

worked day and night in making full- sized working drawings,

put it together again, and sent it back, and the Viceroy wrote

to say that he had decided not to purchase it. Again - in all

these instances I have names and places and dates in my note

books, but for obvious reasons I omit them-a Chinese Viceroy

ordered estimates for a complete set of rifle-making machinery

from the United States. The total cost was (say) 500,000 dols.

The Viceroy, supposing it was like a Chinese estimate, drew

that sum from the Treasury, cut the estimate down to 400,000 ,

and gave the money and the estimate to an official with orders

to procure the machinery. He, in his turn , “ squeezed "” it a

little more, and then made the estimate agree with the money

that remained by striking his pencil through several important

items. The machinery in due course arrived as ordered, and of

course could not be set up.

I had a very interesting conversation with a foreigner acting

as torpedo-instructor in the Chinese navy. He told me that

Chinese officers receive pay for a certain number of men , and

that they are in the habit of making up the total by putting all

their relations and servants in uniform on inspection days, and

drawing their pay all the rest of the time. When an admiral is

appointed to a ship, he makes his brother-in-law the boatswain,

and his cousin the cook . I asked this torpedo -instructor whether

his pupils really acquired any comprehension of the art of

torpedo warfare. He assured me that a considerable pro

portion of them really did . I asked him whether they would

actually fight. He hesitated, and I added : “ Would they not

probably discharge all their torpedoes at once and then run

away ? ” “ I think they would,” he answered. À propos of


squeezing , ” he told me that all his pupils had to give money ,

not being able to afford it, to the Viceroy before they could get

the rewards that had been promised them by him when he

inspected them . My informant himself, when he went to the

Yamên to get his decoration, was stopped with a demand for

268 CHINA.

sixty taels by the Viceroy's head “ boy," and finally beat him

down to forty dollars, without which it would have been impos

sible for him to get an audience. This system , he added, extends

through everything. All the “ boys ” at the Yamên actually

buy their posts, and only keep them by a regular subsidy to the

Viceroy himself. A Chinese official who “ squeezes ” up to 20

per cent. is regarded as honest ; more than that the Chinese

consider grasping .

As an example of Chinese naval procedure, I may repeat a

story told me by the agent of one of the great European naval

contractors. The Chinese sent an Armstrong cruiser to carry

troops along the coast of Formosa, a very costly and complicated

vessel , instead of chartering a common merchant steamer. Her

captain ran her promptly upon a rock and stove in her lower

bottom ; then he steamed down to Hongkong and had her

examined, the double bottom being full of water . To escape the

consequences of their mishap, the admiral and commander

determined to pay for the repairs themselves" ; so they told the

dock company that if the vessel could be put right for 15,000

dols. she might go into dock. But the company replied that so

far as they could judge from their divers' reports, the cost would

be at least 40,000 dols. So the vessel steamed away to Tientsin

just as she was, and was docked at Port Arthur. “ But the

dock ,"” continued my informant, “ was so built that when the

water was let in, the pumping -house was submerged, and they

could not get the water out again, so there the ship lay and

rusted for I don't know how long."

While the French fleet was off Tamsui, the 27-centimetre

Krupp guns in one of the shore batteries had been trained upon

the Gallissonnière at 1,000 yards range for several days. At the

first French shot all the Chinese artillerymen fled , except one,

who succeeded in discharging three guns before a shot struck

him and blew his head off. One of the shells he fired pierced

the ship, and remained imbedded in the wood -work, failing to

explode. The vessel went to Hongkong, where with infinite


precautions the shell was removed and opened. It had been

manufactured at the Foochow Arsenal, and contained - char

coal ! The maker had , of course, been paid for gunpowder and

had pocketed the difference.

The Japanese were blamed in many quarters for threaten

ing to withdraw their promise to treat Shanghai as a neutral

port, if the Kiangnan Arsenal did not cease its operations. The

Chinese replied that the arsenal was only a very small affair,

and its output unimportant. This is not the case. It consists

of an engine department, capable of turning out marine engines

up to 3,000 h.p.; an iron ship and boiler yard, containing a slip

upon which has been built an iron cruiser of 2,000 tons, with

å speed of 14 knots ; a small-arms factory, manufacturing

Remington rifles, the production of which is given by the

Chinese at 200 per week, though under efficient superintendence

this figure could be raised to 1,000 ; an iron and brass foundry,

which has turned out castings up to 30 tons each ; a projectile

department, under a superintendent from Elswick, with capa

bilities of 5 tons a day, ranging from the 6-pounder shell for

field guns up to the 800-pound shell for the Krupps ; an ordnance

department, capable of turning out guns up to 40 tons, with

boring and turning lathes by a dozen different European makers ;

a steam bammer which strikes a blow of 135 foot-tons ; and a

furnace which will admit work 100 feet long. When I visited

this arsenal there was an 8-inch gun of 121 tons and 35

calibres, mounted on a hydro -pneumatic disappearing carriage,

which had been entirely constructed at Kiangnan, and eight

similar ones were in course of manufacture. The superin

tendent of this department, an Englishman of great skill and

administrative talent, Mr. N. E. Cornish, from Elswick-had

turned out in two years twenty -two 8 - inch guns, eight 6 - inch guns,

and one 9-inch gun . Not far away are powder-works and cart

ridge factories, under native superintendence, with capacities

respectively of one ton and 10,000 cartridges per day ; but the

quality of the output had fallen off so seriously since the foreign

270 CHINA.

employees had been dismissed, that grave doubts were expressed

as to whether it would be of any use at all . I give these details

not only as an example of the falsehoods that the Chinese put

forward and which find acceptance among foreigners, but also as

a striking proof of the fact that the ability to produce all the

implements of warfare has not prevented the Chinese from

experiencing a humiliating defeat, on the first occasion that they

have been seriously attacked during the last twenty-five years.

Unless the character of the Chinese Government can be vitally

changed, all the guns and ships in the world will not save them.

The Canton River can now be blocked against the most power

ful fleet at a few hours' notice, and the story of how this came

to be done is a curious one. The British Consul went one day

to a former Viceroy of the province to protest against the partial

barrier which then existed, as a great obstacle to trade. “ More

over,” he said, “ it is not of the least real use to keep out an

enemy, as a foreign fleet could destroy it without the least diffi

culty .” The Viceroy listened with interest, promised to give the

matter his best consideration, and the moment the Consul had

left his Yamên he issued instructions to his foreign naval

instructor to replace the old barrier by one which could not be

destroyed. Accordingly a number of huge iron piles were

driven in, and these when filled with stones in war-time would

constitute an impenetrable obstacle. The river, too, is very

strongly defended by forts of the latest pattern, heavily armed.

As a matter of fact, however, all these precautions are useless,

because no enemy would think of attempting to force the

entrance to the river in face of them. A strong force would be

landed, would advance overland, occupy Canton, re-establish

peace there, collect the duties of the richest city in China, and

with this revenue to pay all military and naval expenses, war

with China could be carried on for ever at a profit.

To Captain Lang, R.N., as I have said, is due almost all that

there is of good in the Chinese navy of to-day, and if the

Japanese war had taken place immediately after his retirement,


the Chinese ships would undoubtedly have given a much better

account of themselves. The universal testimony of people in

China is that since Captain Lang left, the Chinese fleet has

gone to the dogs as fast as possible. He was, as every con

scientious British officer under the same circumstances would

have been, too much of a détailliste for the Chinese . He pro

bably made a mistake in accepting an executive position-no

foreign officer should do that with the Chinese. He should have

been merely adviser, with more or less power to get his advice

insisted upon . 99

“ Captain Lang,” said a Chinese commander,

" is quite right to tell me about my ships and my guns, but he

need not come and look at my water-closets . ” An arrangement

under which an experienced officer of the British navy, and Ting

Ju -ch'ang, who, on passing a Chinese literary examination, was

made a cavalry officer and thence promoted to command the

Northern Squadron, were placed nominally upon an equal foot

ing as “ Admirals," was destined to break down sooner or later.

The strain which finally destroyed it came when the fleet was in

barbour somewhere in Northern China. Admiral Ting went

away as usual, whereupon the senior Chinese commodore hoisted

his flag. Captain Lang immediately sent him orders to haul it

down. He refused to do so, and Captain Lang thereupon tele

graphed to the Viceroy, who replied ambiguously through the

commodore. Captain Lang then went ashore with all his

belongings, and sent in his resignation, which was instantly

accepted. It is understood that the Admiralty refused permis

sion for any British officer to replace him . Indeed they could

not do otherwise ; and the fate of Captain Lang should make it

clear that no foreigner who is not prepared to pocket the

indignities along with the salary should accept a post in the

Chinese navy .

It may be supposed that the utter collapse of the Chinese

navy in the war with Japan came as a surprise to the Chinese,

and particularly to the Chinaman who has had the chief influence

in creating it. On the contrary, I have had in my hand a

272 CHINA .

detailed and most crushing indictment of the Chinese navy ,

written less than five years ago, which was handed personally

to Li Hung -chang by one of his highest foreign advisers. In

order to strike his imagination, this was drawn up in the forin of

an imaginary account of what had happened to the Chinese in

a naval war—a species of Chinese " Battle of Dorking , ” in fact.

The Chinese ships, it said, were entirely unprovided with stores,

such as oil and patent packing, and these could not be obtained

nearer than Shanghai. When a merchant ship arrives bringing

them , it has to go to Port Arthur, at that time the only defended

Chinese port where any of the Pei-yang Squadron, except gun

boats, could go. But Port Arthur is not large enough to accom

modate the whole squadron, so that while the cruisers are taking

on board coal and stores, the ironclads must remain outside.

Then the enemy blockades Niuchwang and Taku, because there

are no torpedo boats there. The Chinese officers are so nervous

under fire, from having had no torpedo practice at night, that

they fire torpedoes at eight hundred yards. But the squadron

has no reserve of either good men, coal, stores, or provisions,

and on the outbreak of war it is too late to procure them . The

Chinese engineers are afraid of using forced draught, and when

they try to do so the boiler-tubes leak. The Chao Yang is

rammed , because her turning circle is so great and her maneu

vring power so small. (This prophecy was strikingly fulfilled,

as the Chao Yang ran on shore while manæuvring in the battle

of the Yalu .) The enemy land a large force to the eastward of

Talien-wan Bay, entrench themselves strongly, and cut off al

supplies from Port Arthur, which ought to be provisioned for a

year but is not, and starve it out in two months. Finally, said

this report, an enemy with a smaller or even an equal naval

force, would thrash China, and take Port Arthur and keep it.

This report was written primarily to procure for the navy the

money to buy stores and supplies. It had , however, no appreci

able effect, and a disastrous war has been needed to demonstrate

how well -founded were the criticisms it embodied .


The war has confirmed more than the severest critic has ever

said of the personnel of the Chinese army. An eye -witness has


described how the “ picked troops ” embarked at Tientsin on

board the Kowshing were dressed in blouses, wore " thigh -pads,"

carried old rifles, and were provided with an executioner to each

regiment ! The discipline of these troops was such that they

promptly mutinied as soon as they thought themselves in

danger, and the first time they used their rifles was upon their

own comrades who were saving themselves by swimming. Of

desertions and consequent beheadings we have already heard

more than enough. Both before and after being defeated, the

Chinese troops outraged and plundered the peasantry of the

districts to which they were despatched , until the Japanese were

welcomed as deliverers in Manchuria, while in China the refugees

asked the nearest way to a foreign settlement, knowing that there

alone would they be safe. The Rev. John Ross, a well - known

missionary and author, has stated that on the way to Mukden

" every part traversed by the Chinese army has been stripped

of its vegetation, and resembles fields over which locusts have

passed , so complete is its devastation .” When the last mail

arrived from the Far East the first batches of Chinese prisoners

were reaching Japan . The Kobe Herald says of four hundred

of them : “ If these are samples of the Chinese regular troops

we must admit that they are a poor, miserable crowd, being

without exception as ragged, dirty, and puny a collection of

human beings as it has ever been our lot to inspect.” And the

Tokyo correspondent of the Times writes of seven hundred that

arrived there : “ It would be difficult to conceive a dirtier, less

formidable -looking lot of men . They appear to have been

collected from the highways and byways without any regard to

age-some are in their teens, others in their fifties — or any

thought of physical capacity.” The Chinese have taken very few

prisoners, but those they have treated according to their usual

babit. At the beginning of the war I warned foreign corres

pondents that they must on no account be taken alive by the


274 CHINA.

Chinese, and Marshal Yamagata afterwards gave the same advice

to his troops. After impressing upon them that only those

Chinese who bore arms were the enemies of Japan, and that

mercy to the conquered and kindness to prisoners must be abso

lutely shown under all circumstances, he proceeds : “ The

Chinese have, from ancient times, ever been endowed with the

cruellest and most merciless dispositions ; therefore, if during &

battle a warrior by any chance falls into their hands, he is sure

to suffer the most pitiless treatment by them, to which death is

far more preferable ; in the end even he will be put to death

with savage ferocity. It follows that in whatsoever circum

stances a soldier should avoid being taken alive, and should

rather in such a case die gallantly, manifesting by such a death

the warrior spirit of Japan and perfecting the fame of our

heroic ancestry." His warning has been justified by events.

The first thing that the Japanese found inside Port Arthur was

a number of headless and mutilated bodies of their comrades,

and the correspondent of the Times whom I have already

quoted , writes : “ * The Chinese take no prisoners. From dead,

wounded , and vanquished alike they shear off the heads,

mutilate them in various ways, and string them together by

a rope passed through the mouth and gullet. The Japanese

troops have seen these ghastly remnants of their comrades. A

barrel full of them was found after the fight at Ping- Yang, and

among the horrible trophies was the head of a young officer

who had fallen wounded in a fort evacuated by General

Oshima's men .”

Having been thoroughly beaten, the Chinese have decided to

“ reform ” the organisation of their army, and how have they

set about it ? At the head of the organisation of reform they

have placed Chang Chih -tung, the notorious foreigner -hater, the

instigator of the murders of missionaries, the Viceroy who was

recently disgraced for defying Imperial orders from Peking.

Better than this, however, they have associated with Captain

von Hanneken, who is to be the chief foreign adviser, with the


rank of General , a certain Hanlin scholar named Hu Ching-kuei.

That is, a man who represents above all things the old Chinese

literary culture — an official of the Hanlin Yuan , or “ Imperial

Academy," which is the most conservative institution in China ,

and attaches more importance to the propriety of an ideograph

than to all the Western knowledge in the world. The farce of

Chinese “ reform " could not be better illustrated.

To conclude, the truth is that like almost everything else in

China, her offensive and defensive power is a sham. The off

spring of corruption and bombast is inefficiency. The Viceroy

Li said to me that along the thousands of miles of the frontier

between China and Russia, the former was strong and the

latter was weak. Yet a considerable proportion of the troops in

Northern China is armed with flint-locks, gingals, and bows and

arrows, and skill with the bow is still considered a most

desirable military art. Gordon, with his habitual frankness ,

told Li that for China to think of fighting Russia was " sheer

madness. " And even Captain Lang, in the interview from

which I have already quoted, declared that “ when under arms,

one -half of the Chinese army is made up of savages.” A force

made up half of coolies, torn from their homes, afraid of their

weapons, clamouring for their pay, driven forward by the lash ,

punished by the headsman's knife ; and half of uncontrollable

savages, defiers of their own officers, insulters of foreigners,

plunderers of peasantry, torturers of prisoners, murderers of

missionaries, outragers of women, mutilators of the dead,

is not the kind of army with which Englishmen should desire

to stand shoulder to shoulder, and the sooner we learn to look

for our Eastern alliance elsewhere than in China, the better.



one learns about China, the less confident become


opinions about it. The first result of experience and

study of this extraordinary people and this vast land is to teach

that any sweeping generalisation is almost necessarily untrue.

Every individual Chinaman is a mass of contradictions ; the

gulf between the theory of Chinese government and its practical

administration is not to be bridged ; the geographical differ

ences of the country are greater even than those of the United

States ; the variations of race are almost equal to those of

India ; to the Chinaman of the south the Chinaman of the north

is a foreigner, a person speaking a different language , and usually


an enemy ; to the Chinaman of the far west the central authority

of the east is an alien and an incomprehensible dominion ; at

any moment an army could be raised in one part of China to

operate against another part ; public feeling or community of

sentiment is unknown. In fact, there is no such thing as

“ China .”

The wisest remark ever made by a foreigner setting out to

write about things Chinese, was, in my opinion, that which

Mr. George Wingrove Cooke, the special correspondent of the

Times with Lord Elgin's mission, prefixed to the reprint of

his letters . He said :

I have, in these letters, introduced no elaborate essay upon Chinese character.

It is a great omission . ... The truth is, that I have written several very fine

characters for the whole Chinese race, but having the misfortune to have the



people under my eye at the same time with my essay, they were always saying some

thing or doing something which rubbed so rudely against my hypothesis, that in the

interest of truth I burnt several successive letters. I may add that I have often

talked over this matter with the most eminent and candid sinologues, and have

always found them ready to agree with me as to the impossibility of a Western

mind forming a conception of Chinese character as a whole. These difficulties,

however, occur only to those who know the Chinese practically : a smart writer,

entirely ignorant of his subject, might readily strike off a brilliant and antithetical

analysis, which should leave nothing to be desired but Truth..

This book is old , long out of print, and forgotten , but between

the soiled and antique covers of my copy I find more common

sense about China, and more appreciation of what should be the

attitude of Europeans towards it, than in almost all the works

with the exception of Professor Douglas's volume just published

that have been written since. And if I may say so without

being misunderstood, I would add that to learn what China is

not, and what should not be our relations with it, one has but


to look at contemporary European opinion , and to examine the

actions of the British Foreign Office for the last ten years. In

writing of the people of China I shall certainly not attempt the

foolish task of including them all within the limits of any

definition, or laying down any rule about Chinese character

without exceptions. But there are so many mistakes prevalent

concerning China, and so many errors in dealing with her have

been made, that it is both easy and imperative for any one who

has seen under the least corner of the veil which conceals her,

to point out some of these as vigorously as he may.

By way of breaking ground for what is to follow , I may pause

for a moment to give an illustration or two of the difference

between Chinese and Western views upon a single point, and the

consequent extreme difficulty in the way of our comprehension

of this people. Take, for instance, the subject of human life .

A foreign resident of Peking who speaks Chinese well was riding

along one day and came to an excited crowd. Drawing near, he 1

discovered a circle of people quietly watching a man desperately

George Wingrove Cooke, “ China : being The Times Special Correspondence

from China in the years 1857–58,” London, 1858, p. vii.

278 CHINA.

attempting to commit suicide by dashing his head against a

wall. He dismounted, restrained the man , harangued the

bystanders, and learned that this was a coolie who claimed that

his payment for a certain porter's job was short by ten cash

less than a penny—and as the employer refused to pay more he

was proceeding to take revenge by killing himself on the spot,

knowing that by so doing he would get the other into consider.

able trouble. On another occasion a man threw himself into the

canal, but was dragged out. So he simply sat down on the edge

and starved himself to death , to be revenged against somebody

who had cheated him. Again , one day a man was found

murdered on a bridge near the British Legation. The law

of China prescribes that a murdered body must not be removed

till the murderer is caught. Therefore it was covered with a

mat and left. Days passed and a month and still the rotting

body lay there, till at last the Minister, who had to pass it every

day, vigorously protested , and it was taken off the bridge and

placed a little further away. And a Chinese newspaper is

responsible for this story, which indeed has nothing whatever

incredible about it. One day a sow belonging to a Mrs. Feng

happening to knock down and slightly injure the front door of a

Mrs. Wang, the latter at once proceeded to claim damages, which

were refused. Whereupon a fierce altercation ensued, which

terminated in Mrs. Wang's threatening to take her own life.

Mrs. Fêng, upon hearing of this direful threat, resolved at once

to take time by the forelock, and steal a march upon her enemy

by taking her own life, and thus turn the tables upon her.

She accordingly threw herself into the canal.

This merely by way of illustration. First of all , as I said of

the Grand Secretary Li, most foreigners are wofully wrong in

regard to the feelings of all Chinese towards peoples of other

nations. So far from the Chinese growing more sympathetic

in consequence of greater commercial intimacy, they are

undoubtedly growing more hostile. “ The ruling and influential

classes still only tolerate our presence in the country ; and I









T LDEN FOUN77,0 ,?




firmly believe they would hail the day when they could see

(were such a thing possible) the last foreign factory razed to

the ground and the last ship dismissed the coast, in spite of

the loss to the national revenue and the ruin of the districts

dependent on our trade that would certainly ensue.” * This

was written twelve years ago, but it is absolutely true to-day.

I have said that the sights of Peking are not nearly so accessible

to foreigners to -day as they were a few years ago. And it is the

testimony of most of the foreign residents that their treatment

by the Chinese grows worse each year, and that they are less

safe in the streets. The closing of the top of the wall to pedes

trians is the last act of petty unpleasantness . There was no

reason whatever for this except to deprive the foreigners of their

only decent walk. Another example is that the Marchioness

Tsêng, when first she returned from Europe, used to have an

afternoon “ at home ” once a week, like European ladies. This

gave, however, such deep offence in all Chinese quarters that

she was compelled to cease. A Chinese lady, again , who had

been in Europe, called upon two European ladies who were

visiting Peking. Next day, desiring to be polite, they returned

her call. Immediately afterwards they received a message from

her begging them never to come to her house again. So, too, if

you begin to study Chinese with a teacher in Peking and you

happen to meet him in the street, do not expect the least sign

of recognition. He will cut you dead , and then come next

morning to apologise and explain that it would be very un

pleasant for his family if he were seen bowing to a foreigner.

He will teach you and take your dollars : he will not greet you.

And the Abbé Favier, the finest specimen of a priest I have ever

met , a beau sabreur of the church , who wears Chinese dress and

his hair in a queue, who speaks Chinese perfectly , who has even

been decorated with a sapphire button by the Emperor, told me

that he had just received the most remarkable honour and

recognition of his whole life in China. He met the Governor

* Medhurst, " The Foreigner in Far Cathay,” 1872, p. 177.

280 CHINA,

of the city in his official chair, and the great man positively

bowed to him, to the stupefaction of the lookers-on. " Il

m'a salué, Monsieur-comme ça ! ” And while I was in Peking,

H.R.H. Prince Henry of Bourbon (Comte de Bardi) desired very

much to see the Temple of Heaven , which had been closed to

foreigners for several years. Accordingly the German Minister

(he was travelling, of course, with an Austrian passport) applied

to the Tsungli Yamên for special permission for his distinguished

guest. After some delay it was granted , as some say only after

the Marquis Tsêng had carried the request to the Empress

herself, and an appointment was made. The Prince and his

party, accompanied by the Secretary of the German Legation,

rode out to the gates of the Temple and only succeeded in

passing the outer one after long discussion and altercation .

The next gate was still more difficult, and after an hour's parley

the keepers agreed to let the men of the party in , if the Princess

would go back into the street and wait for them. This was too

much , and the whole party naturally left in indignation . The

German Minister sent a formal and vigorous complaint to the

Tsungli Yamên, and after a while he received a sort of apology


and expression of regret at the misunderstanding. But the

exclusion was undoubtedly deliberate and according to orders

received. The Ministers could not well meet the request with

a flat refusal, but they took care that the permission should

have no value .

“ As for any moral influence that foreigners may exercise by

their presence in the country, it may be regarded as simply

nil.” I believe this to be absolutely true. The reader may

naturally be inclined to reply that in the face of many years

of devoted missionary work and the large sums of money that

are yearly subscribed in England to support this, such a state

ment is incredible.My answer is, that from the missionaries

themselves come some of the strongest testimonies in support

of the assertion of declining foreign influence. I once asked &

Roman Catholic priest whom I met in China, and of whose


knowledge and character I formed the highest opinion, if he

believed that the result of missionary enterprise would result,

even in the fulness of time, in anything that could be remotely

described as the Christianising of China. “ Jamais ! ” he

replied, emphatically. “ Then ,” said I, “ why are you here ? "

“ I am here ,” he replied , “ simply in obedience to the command

to preach the Gospel to all peoples. Like the soldiers in the

ranks I obey the orders of my commander, without understand

ing in the least what good is to come of them . " Yet no

missionary who has been in China for centuries has achieved

such extraordinary victories or has a position of so much power

as this man . To pass from Roman Catholic to Protestant

testimony, in September, 1888, the Rev. A. Williamson, D.D. ,

read a paper at Chefoo on “ Missionary Organisation in China.”"

He said : “ The startling, though it is not the most serious,

aspect of the question is that not only is heathenism extending,

but immorality is increasing in all directions. ... Those of us who

have lived long in China see the evil spreading before our eyes ,

especially in and around our great emporiums , with an ever

widening area every year. The Chinese are learning evil faster

than they are learning good. They are adding foreign vices to

their own, aping foreign free -living and habits, often in the

most powerful manner: ; and the fact is, that in and around our

centres of commerce they are less honest, less moral, and less

susceptible to the preaching of Divine Truth than formerly by a

long way." And again : " Further, we are not rising in the

respect or esteem of the Chinese as we expected. A few years

ago there was a general sense of satisfaction among us at the

attitude shown towards us by many, both officials, wealthy

civilians, and literary men . Now a change is perceptible in all

directions. They respect us less than they used to do, receive

our visits less readily. We find it more difficult to rent or buy

houses , and so on . " Another Protestant missionary—the Rev.

William Ashmore, D.D. , of the American Baptist Mission-in

an article in the New York Examiner, wrote as follows : "Already

282 CHINA.

the revulsion from the old, kindly feeling towards America has

begun . Now they are learning to hate us. It is passing from

mouth to mouth , from village to village, from province to

province, from ruler to ruler, from prince to prince, from

beggar to beggar, until we can contemplate the possibility of

an epidemic of ill- will extending over a fourth part of the whole

human race .” After these witnesses I shall hardly be accused

of prejudice in making the same assertions. I will add, how

ever, one weighty piece of official testimony recently given on

this characteristic of contemporary China. In his review of

the volume of Customs Reports for last year the British

Minister to China forwards, and therefore approves, a report

written by one of his subordinates which concludes with these

striking words : “ I hardly venture to make any comments of my

own upon the pages which I have reviewed ; but in one word I

consider that the conclusion of the whole matter inevitably is

that the trade conducted by foreigners in China has made but

little progress during the ten years 1882-91 ; that it does not

promise any immediate or considerable advance ; and that

foreign interests and influence therein have decreased and

deteriorated to an appreciable extent." *

The character of Chinese officialdom is probably more familiar

to European readers than the diverse characteristics of the

Chinese people, and therefore less need be said about it.

Every Chinese official, with the possible exception of one in

a thousand, is a liar, a thief, and a tyrant. This may be

doubted in Europe, but it is recognised as an almost inevitable

fact by every Chinaman , and volumes could easily be filled

with examples of it. It is well known, for instance, that the

larger part of the sums subscribed in England on one occasion

for the relief of the famine districts in China found its way into

* Mr. Beauclerk's report upon the volume of “ Decennial Reports ," 1832-91,

published by the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs, forwarded to the Foreign

Office by Mr. O'Conor, H.B.M. Minister to China. F. O., 1894, Misc. Series,

No. 330, p. 38.


the pockets of the army of Chinese officials. I learned of one

instance of this which would be vastly amusing if it were

concerned with a less painful subject. Some time ago the

turbulent Chinese of Canton attacked the foreign settlement

of Shameen and plundered and destroyed the houses of the

resident foreigners. For this the Chinese Government was, of

course, compelled to pay an indemnity. At the time, however,

the London Mansion House Famine Relief Fund had oppor

tunely been collected and forwarded to China, and this sum

was in large part devoted to paying the Shameen indemnity !

One of my illustrations, by-the-way, shows instructively the

conditions upon which foreigners reside in safety in certain

parts of China. Shameen is separated by a species of moat

from the native city of Canton, and access to it can only be had

across a bridge which is barred by iron gates and held by a

posse of Chinese soldiers. My two friends who were good

enough to stand before my camera on this bridge, with the

Chinese soldiers by their side and the Cantonese mob held back,

like wild beasts, behind the bars , furnish a typical example of

the relations of Chinese and foreigners at the present day. But

to return to the subject of Chinese officialdom . One relief fund

was so carefully safeguarded by Europeans that the officials

were thwarted in their efforts to obtain it, and the Administrator

(Mr. Bruce) wrote : “In a country where corruption and bribery

are indispensable in all business — where in the case of dis

tributing charity it is a large proportion for one-third of the

original contributions to reach those for whom they are designed

-the practically complete absence of ' squeezing ' in this relief,

would seem to the natives to be a marvel.” By order of the

Emperor certain districts stricken by famine were to be

exempted from taxation , and proclamations announcing this

were to be posted up. An Imperial decree, however, published

some time afterwards, declares the Emperor's abhorrence of

what he had learned of the way his orders had been carried out,

since “ the lists of the districts for which exemption from the

284 CHINA .

tax is claimed are too often falsified, and what is worse , the

officials take care not to post the Imperial proclamation until

they have collected the tax in full. The revenue is lost to the

state and goes into the pockets of the hangers-on about the

yamens.” To the common people, adds the Hongkong Daily

Press, from which I take the above, “lekin stations are

6 >

squeeze stations ' pure and simple, and yamêns are places to

be avoided by every possible means. That the mandarins

should practise extortion is looked upon as quite a natural

circumstance, quite as natural, in fact, as that the people

should evade payment of legal dues when opportunity offers.

On both sides common honesty is held in more or less con

tempt, and a man who does not take advantage of his oppor

tunities is regarded as a fool." As a matter of fact, in spite

of the Emperor's pious indignation, it was a common occurrence

for the tax- gatherer to follow the distributor of relief and seize

upon the money as soon as it had been given. The subscriptions

to relieve the starving Chinese were, unfortunately, but another

example of mistaken foreign benevolence. From three of the

distressed provinces grain was actually being exported while

foreign relief was being given, and the foreigners' money merely

caused the return of thousands of natives to a district wholly

incapable of supporting them. The Rev. Mr. Candlin wrote that

there was room for the refugees in other districts, where they

could always get food and generally work, while they were

worse than useless when they returned and hung about the

famine region , subsisting on the missionaries' doles. Mr.

Consul Allen , in a report written a few years ago, gave some

striking instances of the failure of promising Chinese com

mercial undertakings, simply because of their connection with

officials. Referring to the China Merchants' Steam Navigation

Company, he says : “ This is a powerful organisation enough,

with a large fleet of river and sea -going steamers, and it might

be supposed that the China Merchants’ Company was a most

flourishing concern . No doubt it is, but its connection with


the Government is felt by the trading class to be an effectual

bar to its ever becoming the lucrative association that an un

hampered and free trading company could be, and its scrip

shows this.” A Chinese company was started to develop the

mines of Yünnan , and the prospectus declared that the enter

prise promised fabulous riches. An official of high rank was

to be placed in charge of the operations, and shareholders were

promised a minimum dividend of 6 per cent. , with various

bonuses. But, says Mr. Allen , “ the shares in the company

are not eagerly taken up. The Chinese distrust all official

connection with mercantile enterprise, alleging that all the

profits earned go into the pockets of the mandarins, while the

man who has no claims to official rank is left out in the cold.

Europeans, of course, will not touch such a speculation. The

risk is altogether too great."

The Hupao, a vernacular Chinese newspaper in which there

is often much frank information about China, mingled with

superstition and ignorance, reproduced once a proclamation

from the Provincial Treasurer of Kwangtung, in which he said

that the priest in charge of the Temple at Canton pays as much

as from 7,000 taels to 10,000 taels for the post, recouping him

self afterwards for his original outlay by all manner of extortions

from the worshippers. Thus they are not allowed to bring in

their incense-sticks or candles, but must buy these from the

priest inside at ten times their value . They must also pay an

exorbitant bire for space on the mats on which they perform their

prostrations ; and women are persuaded by the priest that a

night's sleep on the mats in the temple, for which they pay a

heavy hotel bill to the priest, will ensure them male progeny.

An amusing light is thrown upon Chinese ideas by a story told

me of Sir Harry Parkes. He once arrested several mandarins,

and kept them for a fortnight. All their friends were allowed

access to them, but they were not permitted to leave the house.

After a few days he sent to inquire how they were getting on.

" We cannot sleep at night,” they said, “ for the dreadful heavy

286 CHINA.

tread of the sentry round the Yamên. Our own watchmen come

and clap, and then they go to sleep ; and we have waited night

after night for yours to do the same, that we might get away.

But he never stops ! ” So the sentry was told to stand still. A

foreign mining engineer in charge of important Chinese mines,

told me that he had eighty soldiers under him armed at first

with percussion-cap guns, and afterwards with sniders. On one

occasion he placed an armed sentry by the boiler to prevent

the miners drying dynamite upon it, which they were constantly

trying to do. The sentry went to sleep on the boiler ; a boy

brought a box of dynamite and placed it there ; it exploded and

blew up the whole place, including the sentry.. Occasionally his

soldiers were all allowed to drill , when the officers sat in their

quarters half a mile away, with their red flags in front of them,

and looked on. This expert foreigner-he was not an English

man-added : “ If you could take away from the English

artisan his present character, and substitute for it the Chinese

character, in six months English industries would be at a stand

still, and in ten years the accumulated wealth of England would

have disappeared .” A correspondent of the Times recently told

a capital and thoroughly characteristic story of Chinese official

dom, to the effect that about ten years ago some of our politicals

had a meeting on the Sikkim frontier with some of the officials

from Thibet. In the course of conversation some reference was

made to our last war with China, ending in the occupation of

Peking and the destruction of the Summer Palace . “ Yes," said

the Thibetan officials, laughing, “ we know you said you went

there, and we read with much amusement your gazettes giving

your account of it all. They were very cleverly written , and we

daresay deceived your own subjects into a belief that you actually

went to Peking. We often do the same thing."

The most illuminating of my examples, however, of the natural

mind of the official Chinaman came from my own personal

experience. When in Peking I visited the Tungwen College, an

institution where Chinese students are instructed in foreign


languages, literature, and science, by foreign masters, a small

monthly allowance being given them by the Chinese Government

for regular attendance . I was shown a class of young Chinese

engaged in writing essays in French upon the subject of “ Pro

tection and Free Trade . ” As a specimen of their work, the

composition of one named Tok-kun was taken from his desk and

handed to me. It was wholly an original production, and I venture

to think that the following passage, which I copied exactly, throws a

vivid light upon the point of view of the would -he Chinese official

after a number of years of foreign teaching : “ Ce qu'il y a de

mauvais et de terrible à l'Etranger, c'est que le peuple forme des

partis qui se mêlent de politique, je suis enchanté de l'ignorance

des affaires d'Etat des Chinois, qui, s'ils s'y entendaient seraient

certainement libre échangistes, car nous achetons beaucoup plus

que nous ne vendons. Notre Gouvernement, profitant de cette

ignorance du peuple, peut augmenter les droits de douane à sa

fantaisie, cela ne fait aucun tort aux commerçants, mais beau

coup aux acheteurs, qui ne comprennent pourquoi. Les mar

chandises venant de l'Etranger, augmentent de prix tous les

jours, et ne cherchent pas du tout à comprendre pourquoi. Ils

paient sans se plaindre du Gouvernement, c'est heureux pour la

Chine. "

Dirt, falsehood, corruption , and cruelty are some of the least

objectionable of Chinese vices. Of the last-named I have drawn

a moderate picture in a previous chapter, but the following

description of what the Abbê Huc saw when travelling once in

the Interior may be added : — " Le chariot avança, et nous vîmes,

en frissonnant d'horreur, une cinquantaine de cages , grossière

ment fabriquées avec des barreaux de bambou et renfermant des

tétes humaines. Presque toutes étaient en putréfaction et

faisaient des grimaces affreuses. Plusieurs cages s'étant dis

loquées et disjointes, quelques têtes pendaient accrochées aux

barreaux par la barbe ou les cheveux, d'autres étaient tombées à

terre, et on les voyait encore au pied des arbres . Nos yeux ne

purent soutenir longtemps ce hideux et dégoûtant spectacle."

288 CHINA.

The Taotai of Ningpo recently issued a proclamation to agri

culturists which contained the following admirable sentiments :

“ Frogs are produced in the middle of your fields ; although they

are little things they are little human beings in form . They

cherish a life- long attachment to their native soil, and at night

they melodiously sing in concert with clear voices. Moreover

they protect your crops by eating locusts, thus deserving the

gratitude of the people. Why go after dark with lanterns,

scheming to capture the harmless and useful things ? Although

they may be nice flavouring for your rice, it is heartless to flay

them. Henceforward it is forbidden to buy or sell them, and

those who do so will be severely punished . ” The cruelty of the

Chinese to animals is indescribably great ; hence the necessity

for the inculcation of such sentiments. A friend with whom I

rode a good deal in Peking told me that one day, hearing screams

of laughter from his stable, he went to investigate . There he

discovered that his groom and “ boy · had caught a big rat,

nailed its front paws to aa board, soaked it in kerosine, set fire to

it, and were enjoying the spectacle. But this is not so bad as

one of the tricks of the professional kidnapper, who will catch a

child in the street, carry it off to another town, blind it, and then

sell it for a professional beggar. Their cruelty, moreover,, is

by no means confined to foreigners and dumb animals : they are

cruel under almost all circumstances . A steam launch, built at

Hongkong, blew up on her trial trip, and amongst others the

wife of the editor of a Hongkong paper was thrown into the

water. Some Chinese in a sampan paddled up, and positively

refused to take her on board until she had promised them

fifty dollars. Another member of the same party had to pro

mise five hundred dollars before a boatman would undertake to

convey several of the survivors to Hongkong. An eye-witness

related to me how a junk upset off Macao, and the seven men of

its crew were all drowned, though there were a dozen Chinese

boats round them . While I was in Hongkong a Chinaman

was terribly injured in an accident at Kowloon. His fellow .











workmen simply laid him in the gutter, and afterwards even

refused to carry him to a steam launch sent to take him to the

hospital. At one of the “ dragon races ” in the Canton River,

150 men were upset out of two of the long canoes, amidst a

thousand other people afloat, and every one of them was

drowned. One of the latest papers from China tells how aa boat,

paddled by two men, carrying rice from Shanghai to Pootung,

capsized in the midst of a number of fishing-boats. The fisher

men immediately seized upon the rice and property belonging

to the capsized boat, but took not the slightest notice of the

drowning men, whose bodies had so far not been found .

Foot-binding, which is practised in most of the provinces of

China, and of which one of my illustrations shovs the results, is

a sufficient example of widespread cruelty ; but the practice of

infanticide is infinitely worse. Attempts have been made to

deny the existence of this practice to any large extent, but proofs

could be adduced by the thousand. One of the most thoughtful and

instructive newspapers ever issued in China was the Chinese Times

of Tientsin, conducted by Mr. Alexander Michie, who possessed

a remarkable knowledge of Chinese life and a profound acquaint

ance with the Chinese mind. This paper, unfortunately, came

to an end for want of foreign support a few years ago. In its

columns I found the following account of infanticide in the

province of Shansi . One man , who had been in the employ of a

foreigner for two years and had received good wages, put his

little girl to death because, as he said, he could not afford to feed

her. A woman, without solicitation, told one of the foreign

ladies that she had killed five children in order to go out as a

nurse, and that her husband compelled her to do it. “ Yes, it

was a great sin ,” she said, “ but I could not help it.” A man ,

who passes for a gentleman , volunteered the information that

he bad allowed two of his girls to die for want of care. “ Only

a small matter . We just wrapped them up in bed -clothes and

very soon they were gone . I am a poor man ; girls are a great

expense and earn no money , and as we already had two we con


290 CHINA.

cluded we could not keep any more. " The testimony of a

Chinese teacher is as follows : - “ Infanticide is very common

among the poor , and even people in pretty easy circumstances.

There is hardly a family where at least one child has not been

destroyed, and in some families four or five are disposed of.

Nothing can be done. As soon as the little ones are born they

are laid aside and left to perish. Girls are more often destroyed,

but boys also are very often killed. The officials know it, but say

it is something they cannot control.” Another man, who

is now a member of the Christian Church, says that in his

village there is hardly a family that has not destroyed two or


three children . And once more, " a woman said that it was

very common for poor people to go into rich families as wet

nurses because they received good wages, and in fact they often

destroyed their babies that they might do so.' Such a state of

things is terrible in the extreme, and the worst feature about it

is that there seems to be no public or individual conscience

against it : even well - informed and otherwise respectable people

look upon it as a matter of course." A lady contributor to the

North China Daily News furnished the following statistics : - " I

find that 160 Chinese women , all over fifty years of age, had

borne 631 sons, and 538 daughters. Of the sons, 366, or nearly

60 per cent . , had lived more than ten years ; while of the

daughters orly 205, or 38 per cent. , had lived ten years. The

160 women , according to their own statements, had destroyed

158 of their daughters ; but none had ever destroyed a boy. As

only four women had reared more than three girls, the proba

bility is that the number of infanticides confessed to is con

siderably below the truth. I have occasionally been told by a

woman that she had forgotten just how many girls she had had ,

more than she wanted. The greatest number of infanticides

owned to by any one woman is eleven .” Wife -selling and

child-selling are also common, and during the last famine &

party of beggars were actually observed in the streets of Tientsin

with baskets, loudly crying, Mai nü— “ Girls for sale ! ” in one


of the baskets being four baby girls with pinched faces and

wizened limbs .

The subject of Chinese medicine reflects the Chinese mind in

a very instructive manner, but it is too large to be dealt with

here. I will only say that when Sir Robert Hart recently

instructed the Customs officials to prepare lists of the substances

used in Chinese medicine, amongst the 1,575 entries appeared

dried toads, toadspittle cake, dried snakes, liquid manure pre

served for years, and various other preparations of human excre

ment, the genitals of different animals, deer fætus, the human

placenta, centipedes, and the dung of different animals. Dr.

Mackay of Tamsui, in Formosa, recently prepared a catalogue

of Chinese prescriptions which had come under his notice, and

be points out that the most repulsive and disgusting "“ medi

cines ” are given to the unfortunate children . Among the

remedies prescribed for diseases of children are the following :

For cough , bat's dung -name given in drug -shop, “ night clear

thread .” For worms and yellowish face , grubs from filth

washed and dried -name in drug-shop " grain sprouts.” Also

rabbit's dung , called “ the worm -killer." For thrush , cock

roach’s dung -name in drug - shop “ worm pearls . ” For bad

stomach , earth - worms swallowed alive after being rolled in

honey. Fever , dog's dung -prepared — the dog being first fed

on rice . Eruptions , boil on upper lip, fowl's dung. If a child

is frightened from any cause , prepared centipedes are given . Dr.

Mackay adds that “ for different diseases there are a number

of worthless and filthy preparations , some of them scarcely

mentionable. ” Some of the medicines prescribed for adults are

not much better . Thus a man suffering from enlarged spleen

would be ordered to take grass of deer's stomach dried and

cut in slices , skins of silkworms , lining of hen's gizzard , salted

scorpions " ; while another seized with colic might be asked to

swallow a preparation made from horse -manure or, as an alter

native , sow's excrement . I once procured from a Chinese drug

shop a typical prescription , consisting of about thirty different

292 CHINA .

drugs mixed together to be taken as a dose, and the Protector

of Chinese in Hongkong asked a Chinese physician , who had

been educated in Europe, to translate it for me. He returned it,

however, with most of the ingredients marked, “ Substance


The greatest obstacle of all to any improvement of the

masses of China is their profoundly ingrained superstition ; this

is common alike to officials and people, to the educated and the

ignorant. The Viceroy of Nankin, Liu Kun-yi, recently declared

that he had suddenly recovered his health in consequence of a

vow to pay for ten days' theatricals to be performed on a stage

before the shrine of Prince Siang-ting, a deified prince of the

seventh century . When the Viceroy Chang's new iron-works

were opened at Wuchang, the Chief Commissioner went through

a ceremony of sacrificial worship before the various workshops,

to ward off any evil influences. There is aa wind- and water

compelling dragon known as Ta Wang, and he has a temple

bchind the Viceroy's yamên at Tientsin called the Ta Wang.

miao. When a boat conveying a prefect and his family was

nearly overwhelmed by a sudden storm, it was evident that the

boatman with his long pole had inadvertently disturbed Ta Wang.

On search being made a small spake was discovered near the

railway bridge, and prostrations and apologies were at once

made before it, and it was conveyed with great solemnity to the

temple aforesaid. This occurred on August 11, 1890. It might

be thought that intimacy with foreigners would destroy such

beliefs ; this , however, is far from being the case. The

Chinaman born and bred in Hongkong or Singapore is every

bit as superstitious as the Chinaman of the mainland. As an

example of this I may tell the following story. One of the

oldest inhabitants and most intelligent Chinamen in Hongkong

had set his heart upon having two houses in a certain terrace to

live in. At last his chance came and he bought them . Then

he went to his lawyer and exclaimed in delight : “ I would have

given three times the sum for them ! ” “ But why, there are


plenty of better houses ? " “ Don't you know that house

has the best feng-shui of all Hongkong ! " Feng -shui means

literally “wind and water,” and refers to the geomantic

or occult topographical influences. Even birth and half a

lifetime under the British flag is not enough to eradicate the

gross beliefs of the Chinaman. For instance, when an extensive

reclamation of land at Singapore was begun by the Government,

a colonial oiñcial had occasion one night to send his head

servant - a British subject and an old resident in the colony

on an errand into the town . He refused point-blank, and when

asked his reason explained that no Chinaman would go down

town at night for the next three nights because, as the Govern

ment were beginning their reclamation, they wanted a hundred

Chinese heads to put at the bottom, and were on the look-out to

catch Chinamen down-town and take their heads. During the

recent plague at Hongkong placards were posted all over the

city of Canton warning the people not to go to Hongkong, since

their wives and children would run the risk of being chopped up

by foreign doctors to make medicine out of their bones and

eyes. This plague has had the effect of exhibiting the views of

the Chinese mind with regard to foreigners and their ways

perhaps more clearly than has ever occurred before. Mr.

Sydney B. J. Skertchly, late of H. M. Geological Survey, has

borne very remarkable testimony to this, and his words deserve

the widest circulation and the closest attention. He says :

“ The sad fact has to be faced that some 200,000 Chinese are living voluntarily

among us for the sake of the facilities the colony offers, and that they hate us,

despise us, and fear us at the same time. Fifty years of British rule has taught

them that we protect their lives and property better than their own countrymen,

that wages and profits are better among us than in China proper, that we do not

squeeze them, that our officials are not corrupt. In fine, that Hongkong is a

temporary paradise where they are allowed to live as they like, to follow all their

own customs, and where dollars are almost as easily earned as cash at home. They

know , too, that we will educate them gratis , so that they can earn the high wages

of the European clerk , and above all that when the loved dollar is netted no hungry

mandarin will clamour for his share.

" In spite of all this they hate us and fear us. They acknowledge our skill as

mechanics, they see our medical men and women daily minister to their wants

294 CHINA .

unselfishly ; but they dread the doctor more than the plague. They are firmly

convinced that we destroy pregnant women, and cut out children's eyes to make our

medicines, and they are taught this by their so-called educated classes. The

Chinese mind is steeped in the most soul- destroying superstition. The dread fëng

shui, the spirits of their ancestors , the myri of demons that throng the air, are

to thein active principles, and as virulent as they are active. They know every

European can cast spelis over them , can , with an outward show of benefit, destroy

their health , and they are sure we have deliberately caused this plague, for they see

it passes the European by and slays the Chinaman. No African savage is more

ground down by fetish than is the Chinaman by his superstitions. The way we

designed this plague is to the Chinaman proof of our diabolic powers ; we made a

tramway up to the Peak ! This interfered with the feng shui by stopping the flow

of benign influences from the south and causing the evil influences to stagnate in

the island. Is not this proof positive ? Were not the Chinese warned of the coming

evil ? Was not the sun eclipsed ? Did not the bamboo flower this year ? Is it not

an established fact that all Englishmen can see the hidden treasures in the earth ?

Not one in a thousand has any doubts on these subjects. ... Then we woke up

and cleared out the filth , disclosing scenes of horror that no pen can describe. We

pulled down the partitions in the rooms, we removed the people from the stricken

haunts, we started hospitals, we nursed the sick, we buried the dead.

“ And how did the Chinamen take it all ? The answer is visible as I write, in the

gunboat anchored off the China town , for they threatened to fire the city . They

posted placards ascribing untellable atrocities to the doctors ; they hid their sick

from us ; they refused to go to our hospitals, they threatened to poison the water

supply. The viceroy of the province allowed Canton to be placarded with atrocious

libels and threats against the European settlement, and he has stated to the

governor of Hongkong that he will not guarantee the safety of the foreigners living

in the country, though they have a right, under treaty, to be there. They nearly

killed a lady doctor last week , who was attending to a sick coolie.”

Finally, the most important because the most fundamental

fact to remember about the Chinese mind, is that theory and

practice bear no relation whatever to each other. Chinese

literature inculcates all the virtues : Chinese life exhibits all the

vices. Chinese professions—and this is the point where foreign

diplomatists have so often gone astray - are everything that is

desirable : Chinese practices are everything that is most con

venient. “ The life and state papers of a Chinese statesman,"

wrote Mr. George Wingrove Cooke, “ like the Confessions of

Rousseau, abound in the finest sentiments and the foulest deeds.

He cuts off ten thousand heads, and cites a passage from Mencius

about the sanctity of human life. He pockets the money given

him to repair an embankment, and thus inundates a province ;

• The Times. Letter to the Editor. August 26, 1894 .


and he deplores the land lost to the cultivator of the soil. He

makes a treaty which he secretly declares to be only a deception

for the moment, and he exclaims against the crime of perjury."

One of the chief living authorities upon China has just declared

the same truth, in these words : - " There is no country in the

world where practice and profession are more widely separated

than in China. The empire is pre -eminently one of make

believe. From the emperor to the meanest of his subjects

a system of high-sounding pretension to lofty principles of

morality holds sway ; while the life of the nation is in direct

contradiction to these assumptions. No imperial edict is com

plete, and no official proclamation finds currency, without pro

testations in favour of all the virtues. And yet few courts are

more devoid of truth and uprightness, and no magistracy is


more corrupt, than those of the celestial empire.” This con

trast was never more picturesquely shown than when the

Emperor of China made his periodical procession with the

sacred records. Here were documents of so sacred a character

that hundreds of miles of roads were repaired for their passage ;

carried in shrines of Imperial yellow silk ; escorted by high

officials ; preceded by the music of the Imperial band ; and

despatched on their journey by the Emperor in person , and yet

the coolies who carried them actually jerked open the hangings

of the shrines and threw in their indescribably filthy and

vermin -haunted overcoats to be borne in state side by side with

the boxes containing the precious records.t

My object in this chapter has been a simple one. I have at

tempted no complete analysis of any aspect of the Chinese

character. Upon the virtues of the Chinese I have not even

touched. But by describing a few of their views and vices I

• Professor Robert K. Douglas, “ Society in China, ” London, 1894, p. iii.

Professor Douglas's book tells the truth about China in so indisputable and enter

taining a manner, and he speaks with so much authority, that there is very little

left for any one else, especially a much more superficial inquirer like myself, to say.

I have omitted from this volume much of my material about China and my experi

ences there, simply because Professor Douglas's work appeared a few months ago

and has covered the ground finally. † Chinese Times, October 27, 1888.

296 CHINA .

have sought, first, to show how little likelihood there is of the

reform of China coming, as Gordon believed it would ultimately

come, from the inside ; and second, to make it clear that what

ever change comes upon China from the outside, in consequence

of recent events and the relations of foreign nations to one

another, cannot be otherwise than a blessing to the Chinese

people themselves.



THERE is one building in Peking which every foreign visitor


should be careful to see, not because it is in any sense a

" sight,” but because when its history and significance are under

stood it affords a great object-lesson on the relations of Chinese

and foreigners. It is also necessarily the focus of any discussion

of the future of China. This is the Tsungli Yamên, the “ Board


of Foreign Affairs ” for the Chinese Empire. My illustration

shows its external appearance, and thereby hangs an instructive

little tale. I desired permission to visit it and photograph it ,

and the Marquis Tsêng courteously endeavoured to procure this

for me. This distinguished official, however, who was regarded

by all Europe as one of the chief influences in modern China,

who had negociated with half the Governments of Europe, who

had set the world agog by a magazine article, and whose return

to China was confidently expected to inaugurate a new era of

sympathy with foreigners, was so destitute of authority in the

capital of bis own country and lay under so profound a suspicion


of being permeated with the views of the " foreign devils, ” that

he was actually unable to procure this small favour for me, and

admitted the fact to me with his apologies. A friend thereupon

applied on my behalf directly to Prince Ching, the Emperor's

uncle and President of the Tsungli Yamên , who instantly granted

the permission and ordered several of the secretaries to make an

appointment with me there. The buildings of the Tsungli

Yamen are not of a very imposing character, but they are supe


298 CHINA .

rior to most Chinese public buildings in this respect , that they

are in good repair. They consist of an external hall and aa series

of reception-rooms, leading finally to a small and trim Chinese

garden. What they lack in appearance , however, is more than

made up by the magnificence of the moral sentiments placarded

upon them. The room in which I was received, and which

serves , I was informed, as a reception-room for the Ministers of

the foreign Powers , was a comparatively small one, containing

a round table with a polished top, and a number of heary black

Chinese chairs. On one side of it were hung three scrolls, con

taining each a number of Chinese ideographs. The first of

these reads, “ When the tea is balf made the fragrance

arises.” This I do not profess to interpret. Perhaps it is

intended as an encouragement to persevere in the tortuous

and interminable paths of Chinese diplomacy. The second

declares, “ To study is indeed excellent." The third, appearing

where it does , can only be regarded in a humorous light. The

most treacherous, untrustworthy, and unscrupulous set of

diplomatists of modern times, of whom the united Ministers of

foreign countries accredited to China have solemnly declared

that no faith can be placed upon their assurances, meet their

European colleagues beneath an inscription which reads, Wei

shan tsui töh— " To do good is the highest pleasure ! ” In the

large reception-room is the inscription, " May Heaven and Earth

enjoy great peace " ; while the inscription over the principal

doorway, which is shown in my photograph and reproduced on

the cover of this volume, is formed of the characters, Chung

wai ti fu — literally “ Centre,, outside , peace, happiness ”" —China

being the centre and the rest of the world the outside. The

inscription thus means, “ May China and foreign countries alike

enjoy peace and happiness, " an admirable sentiment, and one

which the Tsungli Yamên has persistently done its best to


The future of China depends upon the relations of China and

foreign countries -- that is all that can be said of it with certainty.












A discussion of its future therefore amounts to a discussion of

the history and prospects of its foreign relations. The Tsungli

Yamên, as I have said, is at the focus of these. It was founded

by a remarkable man, Prince Kung, in 1861 , after the war with

China had come to a close and the Treaty of Tientsin was signed

at the Board of Rites on October 25th, 1860, by Lord Elgin. By

this treaty, foreign representatives were received at Peking,

large indemnities were paid, the Roman Catholics were com

pensated for the destruction of their buildings, Chinese emigra

tion was sanctioned, and Kowloon was added to Hongkong. A

new era in the relations of the " centre " and the “ outside "

was thus inaugurated, and some new point of contact became

essential . To meet this demand Prince Kung founded the

Tsungli Yamên, and remained at its head until 1884, when ,

after rendering very great services to China, and showing him

self to be a man of great sense and power, he was suddenly

disgraced for the second time, and deprived of all his offices.

He was succeeded by Prince Ching, who died during the present

year, when to the surprise of every one, Prince Kung, after ten

years of degradation and inactivity, was again appointed by the

same decree President of the Tsungli Yamên, President of the

Admiralty, and co - director with Li Hung-chang of the operations

of war. The Tsungli Yamên consists of the President, eight

Ministers, six Chief Secretaries, two Assistant Secretaries, and

thirty clerks of Department apportioned as follows :–English

Department six, French Department seven, Russian Department

six, United States Department seven , Maritime Defence Depart

ment four ; and six superintendents of current business and the

Manchu Registry Department. To “ Their Excellencies His

Imperial Highness the Prince of Kung and the Ministers of the

Tsungli Yamên ” are addressed all communications from the

foreign Ministers at the Court of China, and from it all Chinese

representatives abroad receive their appointments and instruc

tions. Theoretically the arrangement is an admirable one ;

practically, it has been an almost uninterrupted failure. If the

300 CHINA.

Chinese Ministers desired to promote foreign relations, the

organisation of the Tsungli Yamên would be perfectly suited to

their wish ; as a matter of fact, they desire to obstruct foreign

relations and have moulded their institution accordingly. In the

first place, the Tsungli Yamên, while theoretically possessing

supreme political authority, has not possessed it practically.

The Emperor, and still more the Empress, have demanded a

considerable share of personal influence upon current politics,

and Li Hung- chang has always been the avowed rival of the

Tsungli Yamên, and with him most foreign arrangements have

been ultimately concluded. In the second place, the Tsungli

Yamên has never insisted upon its own authority for the defence

of foreign rights. Margary was treacherously murdered while

travelling with a special safe - conduct issued by this Board, and

beyond the money indemnity to his relatives, no punishment

was ever dealt out to his murderers. Missionaries have been

murdered on many occasions, in spite of the assurance of the

Tsungli Yamên that the strictest orders for their protection had

been issued. Chow Han, the well-known author of the vile

anti-foreign placards, is still unpunished. Rights assigned by

treaty have been deliberately suffocated under years of diplomatic

correspondence. In fact,, so obstructive have the Ministers of

the Tsungli Yamên become of late that the foreign representa

tives regard it as a mere waste of time to enter upon the

discussion of any point with regard to which they are not pre

pared to insist upon an immediate settlement, by force of arms

if need be. Any Minister or Secretary of Legation who goes to

the Yamên is deliberately wearied out by needless talking,

ceaselessly recurring trivialities, an incredible fertility of puerile

argument—one of the reasons solemnly given for delaying the

treaty right of navigation of the Upper Yangtze was that the

monkeys on the banks were so mischievous that they would

throw stones on the deck of the steamers, and thus kill the

foreigners ; and finally, by grudging promises made only to be

broken. Sir Harry Parkes deciared that to get any definite


answer from the Tsungli Yamên was " like trying to draw water

from a well, with a bottomless bucket.” Whatever the Tsungli

Yamên may have been created to do, it bas served only to head

off foreigners and postpone the satisfaction of their legitimate

demands . It is to -day the great stronghold of Chinese pro


Little or nothing, then , has been accomplished by this in

stitution towards bringing China and Europe nearer together.

In further support of this opinion, which will no doubt meet with

much criticism, I will only refer back to the opinion of the

present British Minister to China , as quoted in the preceding

chapter, to the effect that foreign influence is not so great to-day

as it was a few years ago. To see how small it is, take the

recent example of the unprovoked murder of the two Swedish

missionaries, Messrs. Wikholm and Johansson , at Sung- pu.

In response to much pressure the Chinese promised to punish

not only the murderers, but the officials and the Viceroy himself,

all of whom were clearly among the instigators of the crime.

The Swedish Consul foolishly accepted a small money indemnity,

against which all his colleagues protested, and appealed to the

Ministers of the Powers to make a united demand upon the

Imperial Government for the execution of its promise. The

Viceroy in question was Chang Chih-tung, whose offences against

foreigners are legion . So far from being punished or disgraced

in accordance with the undertaking given , Chang Chih -tung has

received a series of distinguished honours, culminating with his

appointment to the head of the scheme of Army reform . Except

under direct pressure, or in an extremity of fear, the Chinese

Government has never done anything to punish outrages upon

foreigners. The Rev. Mr. Wylie was brutally murdered at

Niuchwang by Chinese soldiers at the outbreak of the present

war, and as the Chinese authorities naturally feared that any

procrastination at that moment might bring the British as well

as the Japanese down upon them , they promptly beheaded half

a-dozen privates and disgraced their officers . The same fear of

302 CHINA.

immediate foreign interference has just caused them to issue the

following edict in Peking :

China is under obligation to exercise extra precaution for the protection of

( Christian) churches, missionaries, and other foreigners in the capital. We , as in

duty bound , give stringent orders to soldiers and people that they must, as hereto

fore, behave amicably ( towards foreigners ). Let every one attend to his own

business and thus he will not wantonly listen to evil rumours or join in circulating

them. Should any dare to disobey orders let them instantly be seized and sent in

chains to this Yamên , where they will be severely punished, no leniency being

shown them. The American Missionary Headland and his wife were insulted and

reviled by local roughs outside the Chi-Hua Gate. We have already severely repri

manded the local officials, and the ruffian offender, Wang Yao -erh , has been taken,

and, as is right, will be severely punished by this Yamên. We further issue this

proclamation in the hope that there may be everlasting mutual amity ( between

natives and foreigners ). The local officials and police must honestly search out


If our officials had properly insisted , this would have been done,

of course, years ago. So, too, the latest rumour is that the

Chinese Government is prepared to make foreign nations the

concession of opening two more ports to trade. They offer

two, of course , under the fear that twenty may be otherwise

demanded .

Now whose fault is this ? The answer is easy. It is entirely

due to the supine attitude of foreign Governments with regard

to China , which, again, has sprung, so far as this country is

concerned, chiefly from the fantastic belief that China might be

a valuable ally in Asia and therefore must not be offended. The

one representative we have had in Peking who really understood

the Chinese and had his way with them , was Sir Harry Parkes.

Sir John Walsham introduced for the first time the manners of

the great world to the Court of China. With much personal

charm and dignity he conducted his diplomatic relations with

the Tsungli Yamên as he would have conducted them with the

Foreign Offices of Paris, Berlin, or Rome. The result was total

failure, unmitigated by the faintest redeeming success .

The history of the famous so-called “ audience question "

points the same moral. The first Ambassadors to China were

required to perform the Kotou — knocking their heads nine times


against the ground in the Imperial presence. Lord Macartney,

in 1793, refused to do this, and had an audience of the Emperor

Kienlung, at which he merely bent the knee. Lord Amhurst

refused to do it in 1816 to the Emperor Kia King, and had no

audience. In 1873 the corps of Foreign Ministers refused either

to perform the Kotow or to go down on one knee as Lord

Macartney had done, and the Chinese Ministers accordingly

arranged an interview at a place set apart for the reception of

the Ambassadors of “ tribute nations ” like Korea. The foreign

Ministers—to their disgrace be it said - fell into this trap and

thus lowered the prestige of all Europeans for a generation. In

1891 "“ all the nations " were again received in the same place .

In 1893 the British Minister was received with the same empty

form , but in an Imperial temple ; and during the present war

he is said to have been received by the Emperor in person , within

the enclosure of the Palace itself. It has thus taken a century

and the dire extremity of a foreign war to enable a repre

sentative of Great Britain to be received by the Emperor of

China as he would be received by any European Sovereign . As

Professor Douglas says, " we have humbly implored, to use the

Emperor's own words, to be admitted into the Imperial presence,

and we have reaped our reward . ” Chinese representatives of all

sorts have been accredited to the Court of St. James . They

have often been men of no personal standing in their own

country, but thought good enough to be foisted upon the outer

barbarians. We have received them with the most elaborate

honours, have accorded them the most formal and distinguished

reception , and have even permitted them access , as a matter of

right, into the personal presence of the Sovereign . All this

time our own representatives have been snubbed , insulted, and

deliberately humiliated in China, and have only been admitted

into the Emperor's presence by an act of supreme condescension ,

accorded to them as an opportunity of laying the homage of the

barbarians at the feet of the Son of Heaven. It is high time this

ignoble farce came to an end .

304 CHINA.

In any consideration of the relation of Chinese and foreigners,

the much-vexed Missionary Question cannot be passed over. I

hold very strong opinions about this, but I will express them

as briefly and as moderately as I can. I believe it to be strictly

within the limits of truth to say that foreign missionary effort

in China has been productive of far more harm than good.

Instead of serving as a link between Chinese and foreigners,

the missionaries have formed a growing obstacle. As travellers

in the East well know, Oriental peoples are especially sus

ceptible upon two points, of which their religion is the chief. We

have forced the inculcation of an alien and a detested creed

upon the Chinese, literally at the point of the bayonet. That

very competent observer, Mr. Alexander Michie, whom I have

previously quoted, sums up the results of missionary enterprise

as having produced for the Chinese Government perpetual

foreign coercion ; for the Chinese nation, an incessant ferment

of angry passions and a continuous education in ferocity against

Christianity ; for the foreign missionaries, pillage and massacre

at intervals, followed by pecuniary indemnification - an indefinite

struggle with the hatred of a whole nation, compensated by a

certain number of genuine converts to their faith . * Of the

truth of this, so far as concerns the attitude of the natives

toward the missionary, a member of the China Inland Mission

has just given striking evidence :

The Chi-nan-fu fop, dressed in silks and satins, flipping his sleeves in the face of

a respectable foreign visitor met in the street ; the middle-aged scholar, dressed 83

a gentleman, not thinking it beneath him to hiss out “ foreign devil” or simply

“ devil ” ; young and old spitting on the ground in bitterness close to the visitor's

feet, laughing right in his face , or on passing, turning sharply round and making a

most hateful noise at his ear - these are some of the petty annoyances that the

literati and gentry practise ; underlings easily carry on the treatment to something

more spiteful and serious than this. "

A careful distinction must be made, however, between Roman

Catholic and Protestant missionaries. The former enjoy, on

• “ Missionaries in China " by Alexander Michie, 1891, p. 71.

+ China's Millions, September, 1894 .


the whole, far more consideration from the natives, as well as

from foreigners, and the result of their work is beyond question

much greater. The Roman Catholic missionary goes to China

once for all ; he adopts native dress, lives on native food ,

inhabits a native house, supports himself upon the most meagre

allowance from home, and is an example of the characteristics

which are as essential to the eastern idea of priesthood as to

the western-poverty, chastity, and obedience. To borrow the

words of Sir W. Hunter, he has “ cut himself off from the world

by a solemn act.” More than that, he meets native super

stitions half-way by amalgamating the worship of ancestors,

which is a vital part of every Chinaman's belief, to the

worship of the Saints ; and by teaching his native converts a

prayer for the Emperor of China, which concludes with the

petition, “ de Le conserver jusqu'à une heureuse vieillesse,

en prolongeant la prosperité de Son Empire, afin que nous

puissions plûtard jouir avec Lui de la paix éternelle.” He is

also subject to one authority, and preaches and practises one

doctrine. The two chief grounds of reproach against him are

first, that in China as elsewhere he is nearly always a political

agent ; and second, that many a dangerous suspicion has been

aroused by his habit of paying small sums for dying children,

for the purpose of baptising them in articulo mortis.

Το any one who has read my chapter on Manila , I need not

explain that I am not prejudiced in favour of the Roman

Catholic propaganda ; yet I should not be honest if I did not add

that for the personal character and the work of many a Roman

Catholic missionary whom I have met in China, I have con

ceived a profound respect. The Protestant missionary, on the

other hand, in a majority of cases, looks upon his work as a

career like another ; he proposes to devote a certain amount

of his life to it, and then to return home with the halo of the

Christian pioneer ; he has, in most cases, his comfortable house,

his wife, his children , his servants and his foreign food, and it is

even stated that his stipend increases with each addition to his


306 CHINA .

family. For his doctrine he is virtually responsible to nobody but

himself. Whatever his own views upon the mysteries of Christi

anity happen to be, those he impresses upon his native hearers as

the one and only truth. He is jealous of his Protestant rivals,

between whom and himself there is a perpetual warfare of pious

intrigue to secure converts. So far as education goes, both men

and women among Protestant missionaries are often quite un

fitted even to teach at home, where there would be little danger

of serious misunderstanding ; in their present sphere of work

they are often not too hardly described by the phrase which has

been applied to them— “ ignorant declaimers in bad Chinese."

“ The Protestant missionaries who enjoy the respect of their

compatriots ,” says one writer, “" are the exception, not

the rule, and owe their reputation more to sinological ac

complishments than to ecclesiastical prestige . Protestant

missionary tracts are distributed bearing coarse illustrations

of such Biblical incidents as the swallowing of Jonah by

the whale, and the killing of Sisera by Jael. Moreover, up

to the present, the Protestant missionaries have circulated the

whole Bible in Chinese. They have recently seen their error,

and are now considering the advisability of following in the

steps of the more circumspect Roman Catholics, and withholding

certain parts obviously unfit for Oriental comprehension. Their

failure to do this hitherto has resulted in parodies of the most

vital doctrines of orthodox Protestantism being spread all over

China, of a brutality so revolting and ferocious as to be beyond

all possibility of mention. Again, they reproduce in China all

the petty sectarian divisions of their own country. I quote

a list of these from a missionary address. There are three

branches of the Episcopal Church, nine sects of Presbyterians,

six sects of Methodists, two sects of Congregationalists, two sects

of Baptists, besides several minor bodies. In Shangbai alone

there are seven missions—the London Mission, American

Presbyterian, the American Episcopal, the American Episcopal

• Balfour, “ Waifs and Strays from the Far East," p. 113.


Methodists, the Church Missionary Society, the American

Baptists, and the Seventh-Day Baptists. “ Here, then,” says

the Rev. Dr. Williamson, “ we have seven sets of foreign

missionaries working seven different churches ; seven sermons

every Sunday, seven sets of prayer meetings, seven sets of com

muning services, seven sets of schools, two training agencies,

seven sets of buildings, seven sets of expenses, four or five

versions of the Bible, and seven different hymn -books at least.”

In the face of these facts, one is surely justified in saying

that we have not yet reached a point of Christian unity which

affords us any moral justification for thrusting our theological

views by force of arms upon heathen nations.

I am well aware, of course, that to some missionaries the

world is deeply indebted for its knowledge of the Chinese

language and literature ; and that among the Protestant

missionaries of the present day there are some men of the

bighest character and devotion, upon whose careers no criticism

can be passed. These, however, are a small minority. The

Chinese themselves bracket missionaries and opium together

as the twin curses of the country, and although it is true that

among Christian converts have been men who have shown under

persecution all the characteristics of the early Christian martyrs ,

it is equally true that the ordinary foreigner carefully avoids

the employment of the native Christian in any subordinate

capacity, having found by experience that in many cases he has

only lost his native virtues to acquire foreign vices in their

place. Conversion to Christianity is looked upon by many

natives merely as a means of an easier livelihood . A friend

of mine asked a Chinese servant whom he had previously

known, what he was engaged in doing. He replied : “ My

have got that Jesus pidgin .” He was no more intentionally

irreverent in saying this than I am in quoting it ; he merely

meant that the profession of Christianity, with its comfortable

concomitants, was his new occupation . Mr. Michie declares

that were the alliance of the Christian nations with the military

308 CHINA .

Powers of the West to be brought to an end, a chief root of

bitterness would be extracted from the Chinese mind. For my

own part, I am convinced that if the subscribers to Chinese

missions could only see for themselves the minute results

of good and the considerable results of harm that their money

produces , they would find in the vast opportunities for refor

matory work at home a more attractive field for their charity.

At any rate, in considering the future of China the missionary

influence cannot be counted upon for any good.

The prospects of future reform in China may be estimated

from the fate of her railway schemes. In 1876 the first railway

in China was laid by a foreign firm from Shanghai to Wusung,

where the notorious bar on the Shanghai River interrupts the

traffic. It was well patronised , paid a dividend at once, and

after running sixteen months was purchased by the Chinese

authorities, who no sooner came into possession of it than they

tore it up and shipped the materials over to Formosa. Under

its energetic Governor, Liu Ming-chuan , now Commander-in

chief of the Chinese army , a railway was built in Formosa, and

prospered for a time under foreign management ; but the

foreigners have almost all been dismissed - from 1886 to 1889

there were no fewer than six consulting “ chief engineers " in

succession in the Governor's service--and the working of the

railway is now a farce. Six or seven years ago an Imperial

edict was issued, declaring that “ to make a country powerful,

railways are essential,” but the reactionaries at Court succeeded

the progressives in their influence upon the Emperor, and a

subsequent edict declared that " they must only be built with

Chinese money. ” That is, they must be postponed indefinitely,

for the Imperial Government in China is always poverty

stricken , and the wealthy Chinese would not dream of putting

their money into a Chinese official scheme. But at this time

foreigners were so confident that the era of railway construction

in China had at last dawned, and that the consequent opening

up of the vast Celestial Empire was about to begin in earnest,


that long descriptions of the route of the first “ Great Western

Railway of China ” were published ; the Emperor called for

reports from the leading provincial Viceroys ; and the talk was of

nothing but railways. The Imperial family, and Liu Ming -chuan ,

and a few others were strongly in favour of the introduction

of railways, and against this powerful combination the conserva

tive officials could not prevail directly. So they cunningly adopted

the round -about method of declaring that not only must the

railways be built with Chinese money , but that the ore must be

mined and smelted , and the rails made , in China, since other

wise foreigners would acquire an influence so great as to be

dangerous to the stability of the Throne, and would profit by

enormous sums which ought to be spent in China. The result

was that nothing whatever was done, and the subject has not

been heard of for five years. The original proposals were to

build one line from Liu -ko - chiao, near Peking, to either Hankow,

the great port on the Yangtze, in Hupeh, or to Chinkiang, near

the junction of the Grand Canal and the Yangtze, in Kiangsu

Another short line was to connect Tungchow, the village at

which one leaves the Peiho River for Peking, with Tientsin , and

thereby place the capital in communication with the coast ; while

a third , which would certainly prove an extremely prosperous

undertaking and which British capitalists have long been eager

to build , would connect Canton with British Kowloon, and thus

bring the commercial metropolis of China into close relations

with the great port of Hongkong. An American mining expert

who had charge for a time of the largest silver mines in China,

gave me this interesting explanation of the failure of the Chinese

to take any steps with regard to railways. They desire , he said,

to do the biggest thing at once. They reason thus : Great

Britain, with 38,000,000 population , has 20,000 miles of rail

way ; therefore China, with 350,000,000, ought to have x

miles. They will not buy rails abroad : they insist upon making

them ; and they will not make iron rails, which they could

easily do, and which would serve just as well for their light

310 CHINA.

traffic. They must have steel ones. But steel rails cannot be

made cheaply except on a very large scale, say the smelting of

250 tons of ore a day, and without long experience ; and with

the Chinese habits such an output is utterly impossible, no

matter what the mines may be. They have already discovered

excellent iron mines, but as the phosphorus limit is exceeded,

steel cannot be made there, and they will not make iron. More

over, they sent two Englishmen and two Germans to seek

for steel-making iron and coal throughout the provinces of

Southern China. This, again, was wrong-English and German

methods of work are entirely different, and the task should have

been assigned exclusively to one or the other.

One railway only have the Chinese-or, rather, has Li Hung

chang - pushed towards completion. It was first laid from

Tientsin to the coal mines at Kaiping-80 miles. It is now

completed as far as Shan -hai-kwan, where the Great Wall

reaches the coast, a total distance of 180 miles, which a fast

train is supposed to cover in eight hours . It was next to be

extended to the Taling River, an addition of 128 miles — and

40 miles of earthworks at one end and 38 at the other have

been practically completed -- whence one branch would run


south through Kinchow to Port Arthur, and another north to

Mukden and ultimately to the very important strategic city of

Kirin . The war has, of course, put a complete stop to this for

the present, but before the war broke out the birthday of the

Empress-Dowager came in sight, and the railway subsidy of

2,000,000 taels was promptly diverted to swell the funds for

celebrating the occasion. Foreigners have pointed out to the

Chinese authorities again and again, that without this railway

they could hold neither Port Arthur nor the sacred and rich

province of Manchuria, but no attention was paid to the

warnings, and now the inevitable result has come. Except as

the result of foreign pressure, China is as little likely to build

railways—except possibly for purely strategic and defensive

purposes-as she is to introduce any other feature of reform or

progress .


Finally, the time has come when the interests of British trade

must be more closely regarded. We have done up to the present

three - quarters of the foreign trade of China, but the returns show

a distinct falling off, and with the establishment of manufactures

in China, and above all, in the face of Japanese competition, this

will certainly tend to become more marked every year. In spite of

the admirable Chinese Customs service foreign trade is hampered

in many ways, and successful efforts are made to keep it from

extending into the interior. The likin , or inland tax, stations

are merely opportunities for “ squeezing " on the part of the

mandarins, in spite of some recent reforms in this direction, and

the vast interior of China is almost as closed to us to-day as it

was before the first treaty port was opened . China may not

prove the bonanza to foreign manufacturers that is sometimes

supposed. The population presses so hard on the means of

subsistence , and there are so many parts always on the verge of

famine, that the purchasing power of the inhabitants may fall

short of all expectations based only upon their numbers. But at

any rate the time has now come for us to insist upon a radical

reform of the government, and a consequent lifting from the

shoulders of the people the load of corruption and extortion they

bear. One of the first effects, too, of greater foreign influ

ence would be the revival of the tea and silk trades, which would

mean at once enormously increased exports, and ability to

purchase foreign imports. This, again, would furnish a natural

and most welcome palliation , even though only a temporary one,

of the silver question, because of the demand for silver that

would arise among the 350,000,000 inhabitants of the Chinese

Empire. As an example of the silver -absorbing power of China,

it is only necessary to consider the statistics given by the British

Consul at Canton, according to which from May, 1890, to

December, 1891 , no fewer than 23,000,000 silver coins were

made at the Canton mint, and put into circulation, their value

ranging from a dollar to five cents.

There is one factor in Chinese life which prevents the outlook

312 CHINA .

from being utterly hopeless, and curiously enough this factor

is one of the most ancient of original Chinese institutions. I

mean the system of competitive examination for office . If this

system could be detached from its Confucian ineptitudes, and

filled with a living content of western knowledge, the future of

China might be vitally changed . It is important, therefore, to

understand what this system is. Chinese historians declare

that the Emperor Shun examined his officials competitively in

the year 2200 B.C. , and that the Emperor Chow, in 1115 B.C.,

instituted examinations into the “ six arts " of music, archery,

horsemanship, writing, arithmetic, and social rites. This is

no doubt mythical, but to- day the entire Chinese Empire is

covered with a network of machinery for examining ambitious

men in the “ six arts , ” and the “ five studies," and conferring

the " three degrees." The latter are, first, hsui-tsai, or

Budding Genius ” —a sort of B.A.; second, chü-jên , or “ Pro

moted Scholar ” —or M.A .; third , tsün -sz, or “ Ready for Office "

- which may be compared with LL.D. The first of these exami

nations is held every year in each provincial district, of whic

there may be sixty or seventy in a province. The subject of

examination consists of an essay and poem upon assigned

topics, and the examination lasts a night and a day. Out of

about 2,000, twenty " budding geniuses ” are selected ; they

wear a gilt button ; they are no longer liable to corporal punish

ment ; and they become marked men of the literary class.

The second examination takes place triennially at every pro

vincial capital. On the last occasion Wuchang had 15,000

competitors and Nankin 18,000. Of these, less than 1 per

cent, can be successful . The examiners in this case come from

Peking ; the examination is divided into three sessions of three

days each ; and again the subjects consist almost solely of com

mentaries upon some passage of ancient literature. The

examination is conducted with extraordinary ceremony and the

utmost stringency . The Examination Hall is like that which I

have described in Peking ; everybody - examiners, magistrates,














police, competitors, doctors, cooks, tailors, and executioner, for

any offence within the sacred enclosure is punished by death-is

shut up irrevocably during the nine days that the examination

lasts. The strain is, of course, intense, and competitors fre

quently die from the close confinement and extremely insanitary

surroundings. As a specimen of the subjects of examinations ,,

the following passage from the Analects of Confucius was one of

the themes in the last competition at Nankin :- “ Confucius


said, ' How majestic was the manner in which Shun and Yu

held possession of the empire, as if it were nothing to them .'

Confucius said, ' Great indeed was Yaou as a sovereign ! How

majestic was he ! It is only Heaven that is grand and only

Yaou corresponded to it ! How vast was his virtue ! The

people could find no name for it !' " The competitors , that is,

were simply invited to write an essay in the most extravagant

style of eulogy upon the wisdom of the sage as exhibited in this

passage. Three weeks after the examination, the names of the

hundred successful are published, and the happy ones are more

than repaid for what has often been a lifetime of study, by the

honours that await them. No actual reward of any kind is

conferred upon the “ Promoted Scholar,” but his position bas

been compared with that of a victor in the Olympian Games,

and his fortunate family shares in his fame. He mounts a

larger gilt button upon his hat , places a tablet over his door,

erects a couple of flagstaffs before his house, and plunges into

study again for the third and final examination of the following

spring. “ Though ordinarily not very devout, he now shows

himself peculiarly solicitous to secure the favour of the gods.

He burns incense and gives alms. If he sees a fish floundering

on the hooks, he pays its price and restores it to its native

element . He picks struggling ants out of the rivulet made by a

recent shower, distributes moral tracts, or better still , rescues

chance bits of printed paper from being trodden in the mire of

the streets .” The final struggle takes place in Peking, and is ,

of course, more difficult and even stricter than the preceding,

314 , CHINA.

for success in it means public office - - the offices being dis

tributed among the successful by lot. Beyond this triumph,

however, there is still a possible pinnacle of literary glory,

namely, to be selected by the Emperor himself as the best of all

the successful competitors in Peking, and to receive the title of

Chang -yuan - say, “Poet Laureate " —the finest flower of the

literary culture of the Celestial Empire. To have produced

such a man is the highest honour to which any province can

aspire ; the town of his birth is immortalised, and his happy

parents are regarded as the greatest benefactors of the


As at present organised, this system of competitive examina

tion has its excellent side. The Rev. Dr. Martin , who has

written a luminous analysis of the system , * gives three great

merits. First, the system serves the State as a safety-valve,

providing a career for ambitious spirits who might otherwise

foment disturbances. Second, it operates as a counterpoise to

the power of an absolute monarch , since without it the great

offices would be filled by hereditary nobles, and the minor ones

by Imperial favourites. Every schoolboy is taught to repeat a

line which declares that “ the General and the Prime Minister

are not born in office." It constitutes, in fact, the democratic

element in the Chinese Constitution. Third, it gives the

Government a hold on the educated gentry, and binds these to

the support of existing institutions. “ In districts where the

people have distinguished themselves by zeal in the Imperial

cause, the only recompense they crave is a slight addition to the

numbers on the competitive prize list.” On the other hand, the

evils of the system are sufficiently obvious. Its sole effect, so

far as education and the government of China are concerned, is

to limit knowledge to the moral and intellectual level of the far

past. As an example of the pitilessly mechanical character of

the Chinese culture which this system promotes, the following

• “ Hanlin Papers ," by W. A. P. Martin , D.D. , LL.D., Peking, 1880, p. 51.


sketch of the rise and fall of a Chinese literate is illuminat


“ The provincial records have not been revised for many years, and thus are not

available to determine what success Kwangsi has had in the examinations at

Peking; but there are those who say that not for a century had a Kwangsi man

taken first, second, third, or fourth place until 1889. In that year Chang Chien

hsün secured the highest honours. He was born in 1856 of a very poor family, of

Hunan origin , living in Lin -kuei -hsien , Kuei - lin - fu . He became a hsiu - tsai at the

age of 15, à chi -jên at 23, and chuang.yuan 10 years later. The story goes

that in all the examinations before taking the chü - jên degree he was easily first,

and his talents attracted the attention of Yang Chung-ya, appointed Governor of

Kwangsi in 1876, who promised him his grand -daughter in marriage. We may

suppose that from that time his poverty was not allowed to interfere with the

prosecution of his studies . After Mr. Chang's success at Peking, he became,

as is usual, a compiler in the Hanlin College. Unfortunately, the career which

opened so well has received a sudden check. The report reached Kwangsi this

summer that the chuong -yüan of 1889 , in the course of tests upon the result of

which depended appointment to the provincial literary offices, wrote another

character of the same sound in the place of one he intended, as if, for example

(the illustration is intended for readers unfamiliar with China) , in writing of the

position of the subject in the State, he had spoken of his rites and duties. The

reader acquainted with Chinese feeling will understand how much worse than any

moral delinquency was this error." +

The competitive system is the door beyond which lies the way

to the civilisation of China. Upon that door is written the word

Confucius ; and unless this is erased and the word Truth sub

stituted , China must remain the victim of more enlightened

races, even until she be finally dismembered and disappear. If,

however, any pressure could be found strong enough to provide

for modern teaching in her provincial centres, and for the

westernisation of her topics of competitive examination, with

offices as rewards for those who distinguish themselves in the

different branches of modern science , China might emerge from

her slough of Confucian ignorance, prejudice, cruelty, and cor

ruption. As Dr. Martin says, “ If the examiners were scientific

men , and if scientific subjects were made sufficiently prominent

in these higher examinations, millions of aspiring students

would soon become as earnest in the pursuit of modern science

Chinese Imp. Maritime Customs, Decennial Reports, 1882-1891 , Mr. C. C.

Clarke's Report on Lungchow , p . 656 .

316 CHINA .

as they now are in the study of their ancient classics . " Nothing

could have so great an effect in moulding the future of China

as the modernisation of her best-preserved and most ancient

institution .

War has once more given us our opportunity. Japan has

pricked the bubble of the " awakening " of China,, and has

exhibited the Chinese Government as the imposture it really is.

Without in the least exercising our power to dictate to Japan the

terms she may make so far as regards herself—which we have

not the faintest right to do — we must not fail to control the results

of the peace so far as other nations are concerned. First of all,

we must insist upon the opening of treaty ports wherever these

may be required for foreign trade. It would, perhaps, be in

advisable to insist upon the opening of the whole of China at

present, until the people of the remoter districts have had time

to learn that we are only peaceful traders, and not barbarians,

though if this should be possible, no scruples regarding extra

territoriality should be allowed to stand in the way for a moment.

Second, we must insist upon foreign representatives being

received by the Emperor himself at regular intervals, and under

such circumstances as to make it clear that the honours of the

audiences are divided ; and the Ministers of the State must

realise once for all that diplomacy and procrastination are not

synonymous terms. Third , for the protection of our future

interests in the Far East, we must secure by purchase, exchange,

or otherwise, a naval base a thousand miles north of Hongkong.

This is an absolute necessity, and there will not again be such

an opportunity for acquiring it. Chusan at once suggests

itself, if we do not want the responsibility of taking Formosa,

which has no harbour. Chusan has been occupied by us before;

it has an excellent harbour, which can be easily fortified and

made impregnable ; and it is at the mouth of the great trade

route of China. But this is a point that our naval authorities

must decide. Fourth, the literal fulfilment of our previous

convention with China regarding Indian trade with Thibet must


now be demanded. The Chinese will say that they cannot

guarantee that the Thibetans will not oppose us by force . This

is quite true — it is wholly out of the power of the Emperor of

China to give any such guarantee. Our answer must be that in

that case we will look after ourselves . The present moment is

the turning - point in our relations with China, and it must not

be allowed to pass. China, we must never forget, yields only to

pressure. She has never been opened except by war, and will

never admit reform except at the point of the bayonet or at the

sight of the ironclad.

It may be said that I am calmly assigning the predominant

role in the present situation to Great Britain, to the exclusion of

other Powers. To this I unhesitatingly reply that the pre

dominant role belongs to us, and that it is not our policy to

exclude anybody, for, unlike other nations, whatever we get is

thrown open to the whole world. Beside the commercial

interests of England in China, those of all other nations are

almost insignificant. This is an assertion which can be proved

in a moment. Take the question of foreigners in China first.

On December 31 , 1891, a census was taken in all the treaty

ports of China, including the two Customs stations of Lappa and

Kowloon, by the Chinese Customs service. These were the

results :

British . American, French , German . Portuguese. Spanish . Italian .

Residents 3,746 1,209 681 667 659 316 133

Firms 345 27 24 82 7 5 4

That is, in the Treaty Ports alone, there were 3,746 Britishers

and 345 British firms, against 3,811 subjects and 161 firms of

all the other European Powers and the United States put

together. But to this must be added the British population and

firms in Hongkong and Singapore trading with China, by far

our most important representatives in the Far East. When this

addition is made, it is clearly not too much to say that the

interests of other nations are insignificant in comparison .

318 CHINA .

Second, take the question of trade. The figures furnish the

following astonishing results :


Haikwan Taels.

Continent of Europe, except Russia 21,070,988

United States 17,169,213

Russia ... .. .. 10,267,743 48,507,944

Great Britain and British Possessions 195,710,240

That is—taking the Haikwan tael roughly at four shillings (it

averaged 3s. 11 {d. in 1893 )—the total trade of Great Britain and

British possessions for 1893 amounted to £ 39,000,000, against

£ 9,700,000 for the whole continent of Europe (except Turkey)

and the United States. These are the figures given by the

Customs, but a considerable reduction must be made from

British trade in view of the fact that a good deal of the trade

passing through Hongkong and Singapore is not British . It is

impossible to calculate how much this is, but to show the orer

whelming superiority of British trade, let us suppose that Hong

kong and Singapore, our greatest trading centres with China,

were wiped off the map , with all their trade. Even in that case

British trade would still stand at 62,288,436 taels, or £ 12,400,000

against £ 9,700,000 for all our civilised competitors put together!

If under these circumstances we do not recognise that we are

the predominant Power in all foreign relations with China,

and act accordingly, then we are indeed unworthy of the heritage

of good fortune that sturdier Englishmen have made and be

queathed to us.

In all the foregoing I have written upon the supposition that

at the conclusion of the present war we may still have a united

China to deal with . This, however, may well not be the case.

The Abbé Huc , Cooke, and Gordon , all thought that the Chinese

Empire would possibly one day collapse, and indeed the ties

which hold it together are much weaker than is realised by most

people. The victory of the Japanese, if carried beyond a certain


point, would quite surely bring about the downfall of the present

dynasty, seated as it is upon an insecure throne. If China,

however, is torn asunder or falls to pieces, then a much vaster

problem will face us. For in that case we shall find ourselves

face to face with the momentous suggestion of Asia for the

Asiatics. Upon this I shall have something to say in a later

chapter .





I TOOK an unusualway to reach thecapital of the Hermit

Kingdom . The ordinary route is to go by steamer from

Nagasaki or Chefoo to Chemulpo, and then walk or be carried

in a chair twenty-six miles to Seoul. The steamer which

took me from Nagasaki to Vladivostok touched at Wön- san

on her way north , so I made arrangements, by the kind

help of the Commissioner of Customs, for ponies and men

to be ready for me on my return , to make the journey

across the peninsula to Seoul, instead of going round by

the beaten track. There is a road from the coast to the

capital, and a number of Japanese and an occasional Con

sular officer had travelled it ; but at the time of my journey

very few other Europeans had crossed the country. The road

is of interest at this moment because it was for a long way the

route of the third column of the Japanese army to the battle

of Phyöng-yang, and Wön-san itself was worth seeing for

the sake of its possible future. The Korean authorities dis

courage travellers, and the Korean Minister at Tokyo per

sistently declined to give me a passport or to apply to Seoul

for one for me, although pressed by the British chargé to do so .

And the condition of the country may be judged from the fact

that four months before my journey marines were landed from

the American , Russian, and Japanese men-of-war at Chemulpo,

and marched all night up to the capital to protect the foreigners

there ; while H.M.S. Leander got up steam in a hurry and left


324 KOREA .

Yokohama at a few hours' notice for the same purpose. Some

Chinese, it was stated , had entrapped Korean children and sent

them to Tientsin for immoral purposes, and the Koreans pro

fessed to believe that the missionaries had stolen them to use

their eyes for medicine and for taking photographs. Hence

murders of Koreans and a threatened attack upon foreigners.

The town and harbour of Wön -san — which is known as Gensan

to the Japanese, and Yuensan to the Chinese --are of great










interest because of the part they are likely to play in the future

of the Far East. Broughton Bay, named after Captain William

Robert Broughton, the companion of Vancouver, who dis

covered it in 1797, afterwards losing his ship, the Provi

dence, near Formosa, is situated in the middle of the east

coast of Korea . The northern arm has been named Port

Lazareff by the Russians, whose ships come regularly for

manoeuvres . It was here that their cruiser, the Vitiaz, ran on


a rock in broad daylight and calm weather, on May 10, 1893,

and became a total wreck . This bay is the only useful harbour

on the whole six hundred miles of coast ; but to make up for

the deficiency, it is one of the finest harbours in the world. Its

area is not far short of forty square miles ; it is perfectly

sheltered ; it is open all the year round ; there is excellent

anchorage in from six to twelve fathoms ; and several streams

empty into it, from which excellent water may be obtained.

The provinces of which it is the sea outlet are the most moun

tainous in Korea, and they undoubtedly contain the two most

precious of minerals—gold and coal. The former , to the value

of half a million dollars annually, has been passed through

the Custom House, and probably an equal amount has been

smuggled ; while deep seams of coal have been observed in several

places, and anthracite from the district is burned by foreigners

at Wön- san. For game of all kinds the surrounding provinces

are a sportsman's paradise. Tigers and sables abound, and

wild -fowl of all sorts exist in myriads. And the sea, says the

Commissioner of Customs, “ literally teems with legions of

fish ," which the Koreans are too lazy to catch. " The whales,

black - fish , sharks, and seals, which abound on the coast, are left

to fatten on the multitudes of salmon , cod, tai, haddock, whiting,

ribbon - fish , herrings, sardines , and innumerable other tribes

that crowd the waters at various seasons." With all these

natural advantages, Wön -san , in the hands of energetic and

intelligent people, would soon become a place of great com

mercial prosperity and strategic importance.

The port of Wön-san was thrown open to the Japanese in

June, 1880, and to the trade of all nations in November, 1883.

The settlements there, as shown in the accompanying sketch

map, are the native town, dirty, crowded together, and traversed

by filthy alleys in the place of streets ; the Japanese settlement,

neat and clean and prosperous ; and the Chinese quarter, some

thing between the two. Tbe total population is about 15,000 .

Steam communication is kept up with Vladivostok and Naga

326 KOREA.

saki by the excellent Japanese line, the Nippon Yusen Kaisha ; &

Russian steamer, which calls at regular intervals ; and one

small but very profitable coasting steamer flying the Korean

flag. The total tonnage of the port for 1893 was 69,835 ; the

total import and export trade, 1,481,260 dollars ; the export of

gold , 632,960 dollars, besides 140,000 dollars' worth remitted as

taxes on Government account to Seoul ; and the net total col.

lection of revenue, 53,089 dollars, say £ 6,500. A telegraph-line

now connects Wön-san with the capital. I give all these

details because of my belief, the reasons for which will be

found in other chapters, that Wön -san - or, at any rate,

some point in Broughton Bay - will ultimately be the Pacific

terminus of the Trans- Siberian Railway.

As soon as the Takachiho reached Wön -san, I said good -bye to

my very pleasant quarters, and went on shore, where through

the glass I could see the ponies already waiting. A Korean

pony is a small, shaggy, scraggy creature ; but you never like

him less than when you first set eyes on him ; and before I had

gone far with these I learned that many virtues were concealed

in their little brown bodies. Four ponies and six men were at

the landing, the latter being three grooms, two soldiers , and an

interpreter. One pony was for me to ride ; upon the second

were strapped my bag, canvas hold-all, containing rug and

sleeping arrangement, camera, and gun ; the third was burdened

with two boxes of provisions, for it is necessary to carry with you

almost everything you need to eat ; while the fourth pony had all

he could do to transport the money for current expenses — about

twenty Mexican dollars, £2 10s. The only Korean currency

consists of miserably-made copper, iron, and brorze coins,

called " cash ” in English, and sapek or sek in Korean, about

the size and weight of an English penny, with a square hole in

the middle by which they are strung on plaited straw in lots of

five hundred, subdivided by knots into hundreds. Hence the

expression “ a string of cash.” The pony carried about fifteen

thousand of them .










X !!



The personnel of my little caravan was decidedly curious, but

not very impressive. The grooms, called mapou , were good

natured, grinning creatures, low down in the social scale, dressed

in extremely dirty white cotton robes and trousers , with straw

sandals, and battered old bamboo hats, or none. The soldiers,

called kisiou, were tall, well -built fellows, distinguished from

civilians by a broad-brimmed hat of heavy black felt, with a

scarlet tuft trailing behind, and a coat of rough blue cotton ,

shaped exactly like the exaggerated dress-coat , reaching to the

heels, that one sees in a burlesque on the Gaiety stage. They

carried no weapons but a long staff, and they appeared amused

when I asked where, since they were soldiers, were their guns ?

My interpreter was a tall, really handsome man, with a striking

resemblance to the Speaker of the House of Commons, dressed

in spotless white, topped by a monumental black pot-hat made

of woven horsehair, and with nothing undignified about him but

his name, which was I Cha Sam. It was impossible to get a

Korean who knew any English , even a little “ pidgin ,” so I had

to be content with one who spoke Japanese. From his preter

natural silence and solemnity I soon discovered that his know

ledge of Japanese was on a par with my own . The bill of

expenses furnished me by Mr. Creagh was as follows :

4 Horses , at 5,000 cash .. .. .. .. 20,000

1 Interpreter (falsely so-called) .. 4,000

2 Soldiers, at 100 cash a day, 11 days there and back ..


3 “ Kumshaws ” (tips) to soldiers and interpreter, at $1 2,000

Total, 28,200 cash, say forty-three Mexican dollars, plus travelling


expenses and food . The price of the horses included grooms. .

The cash, by the way-miserable, battered, verdigris-covered

coins, apparently compounded of an alloy of tin and dirt - have

actually been debased by the Korean Government for illicit

profit, while they bear on them such gracious inscriptions as

" Used for Public Benefit," and “ Enrich the People."

The journey overland from the east coast to the capital

generally occupies five days, at the rate of something over thirty

328 KOREA .

miles a day. Thirty - five miles from Wön -san , however, north

of the overland road, is the great Korean monastery of An -byön,

which I was assured was the only interesting place in all Korea.

So I determined to lose a day and visit this. I said good-bye

to Mr. Creagh about midday, and pushed on fast through the

filthy lanes and among the squalling pigs of the native town

of Wön - san.

The red shades of evening appeared while we were still jogging

along at our best speed. When it was quite dark we reached a

little Korean inn, where the grooms had already aroused every

body. Out of a house of apparently two rooms, twenty white

robed travellers turned out and squatted in a row, like tired

us. The men were all for stopping—the road

ghosts, to stare at .

ahead was very steep , the woods through which it passed were

infested with tigers, the ponies were tired , the monastery would

be closed for the night, &c., &c. But I looked at those two

rooms and those twenty travellers , and hardened my heart.

Then the soldiers, seeing that I was determined, rose to the

occasion . One of them shouted to the innkeeper to turn out

and bring torches to light us, and his manner, I remarked with

interest, was peremptory. The innkeeper demurred in a high

tone of voice, when , without another word , this excellent kisiou

took one step toward him, and whack ! with a tremendous slap

in the face sent him staggering across the road. The sudden

ness of the blow took me aback, but nobody seemed in the

least surprised or annoyed, and the innkeeper appeared a

minute later with a blazing pine -knot and led the way. We

left the road at right angles, and fifty yards from the inn we

plunged into the woods and began a steep ascent along a narrow

stone path. Then a curious thing happened . As soon as our

last pony was out of sight, a simultaneous and blood-curdling

howl arose from the twenty travellers behind us, and was pro

longed with a series of yah ! yah ! yah ! till the hills echoed

again, and when it ceased our six men similarly exploded,

each one putting his back into the yell , till it rivalled the notes



of a Chicago mocking-bird. The travellers howled again , and

our men answered, and so on till we could no longer hear the

former . “ What on earth is the matter ? ” I asked I Cha Sam .

* To keep the tigers away ! ” he replied . I strapped my revolver

outside my thick riding- coat, but if the noise was half as dis

agreeable to a prowling tiger as it was to me, no wonder he

avoided our company, for anything so ingeniously ear-splitting

as the sounds our men kept up at intervals of three or four

minutes for an hour and a half I never heard .

Meanwhile the road ascended rapidly and the stony path grew

narrower, till at last we were climbing a mountain-side. At one

moment we were in thick woods, at another a precipice of con

siderable depth yawned a yard or two to our left, then we were

struggling up a stone-heap on to a plateau where half a dozen

miserable houses formed a village. No European horse could

have made a hundred yards of the road, yet the ponies stepped

doggedly over everything, rarely stumbling, and catching them

selves again instantly if they fell. I soon learned that the less

attempt I made to guide them the safer it was . Before leaving

Wön-san Mr. Creagh had said, “ If you don't need the soldiers as

an escort, you'll find them very useful in other respects .” And

I soon learned how. The theory of Korean government is that

the people exist for the officials. And as I had this escort I was

travelling as an official, and therefore entitled to demand any

services from the people to speed me on my way . The night

was pitch dark, and without torches we could not have gone a

yard. Therefore the soldiers levied lights from the people. As

soon as they spied a hovel ahead they shouted a couple of words,

the man carrying the torch helping lustily. I found later the

words were simply Poul k‘ira ( “ Bring out fire ! ” ), and no matter

bow late the hour, how bad the weather, how far to the next

house — no matter even though the sole inhabitant was an old

woman or a child , the torch of pine-wood or dried millet -stalks

bound together must be produced instantly, the guide must hold

it flaming in his hand when we reach his door, and woe betide

330 KOREA .

the unlucky being that keeps Korean officialdom waiting, if it be

only for half a minute. Sometimes the stage to the next house

was two or three miles, sometimes it was only a couple of hundred

yards, but there were no exemptions to this fire -conscription. The

general effect as I saw it from the rear was extremely picturesque

and striking—the line of ponies with their sideways-swaying

loads, the ghostly -white figures of the men on foot, the cries to

each other and the animals, the recurring shout for fire, the

yell to keep off the tigers, the dense wood, the precipice, the

flaming and flashing torch waved ahead or beaten on the

ground , dividing everything into blood-red lights and jet- black

shadows, and finally the thought that it really was just possible

the gleaming eyes of one of the great striped cats might be

choosing their victim a few feet away .

Our goal announced itself long beforehand by gate after gate,

and the instinctive feeling that we had got to the top, whatever

it was . Then the edge of the ravine became paved with stone

slabs, and a hundred yards along it brought us to a pair of

great wooden doors. They were opened after a little parley,

and we found ourselves in a small courtyard, and surrounded

by a score of young priests, apparently delighted to see us.

The rugs were hastily unpacked, and a brazier was brought. I

boiled the kettle, plucked and cooked one of the birds I had

shot, and then, while the monks sat round in a laughing,

chattering circle, I supped magnificently off broiled duck, hard

tack, and marmalade, washed down by many basins of tea.

(Nobody but a traveller knows the real value of tea .) At

midnight I was shown to a clean, paper-windowed room about

six feet square, and turned in on the floor. And when the

morning came it showed how strange and romantic a place I

had reached - one of the most striking and picturesque of the

unknown corners of the world.

The great monastery in the mountains is one of those chosen

and built by a militant Korean sect to serve, according to need,

either as a retreat for the spirit or a refuge for the body. The


monks themselves do not look very warlike, but the situation of

the monastery is an almost impregnable one. It can be reached

by only one road, a long steep stony path, in which " a thousand

might well be stopped by three " ; behind it on two sides are

mountains of rock, and on the fourth it is secluded by a very

deep and precipitous ravine through which dashes a noisy

torrent. The central buildings, on the edge of the ravine, shown

in my photograph, are the sacred apartments of the king,

entered by only one attendant, and they are kept in perfect

preservation and hourly readiness for his coming. When I

woke in the morning I found myself in the midst of great

heavy-eaved temples through the open doors of which could

be seen the solemn faces of squatting gilded gods , while al

ready half a dozen priests were bending before the altars with

incense and drum .

All the buildings of An - byön are in the style to which the

traveller so soon gets used in the East-rectangular wooden

structures with high -peaked roofs and richly-carved curving

eaves, generally with three doors at one side and the chief idol

facing the largest central entrance. Before him are sets of

altar utensils and little brass tallow lamps, and joss-sticks which

the pious visitor purchases for a few cash and lights at his

prayers. The walls are covered with silk and brocade, mostly

very old and time-stained ; the ceiling is marvellously carved

and gilded, perhaps a huge dragon appearing at one end and

worming himself in and out of the masses of ornament to the

other ; and inuumerable gongs and drums invite the hand of

the too willing pilgrim. The interior of these temples is tawdry ,

but the massiveness of the wooden architecture, its bright

colours, its picturesquely contrived vistas of gate and gable and

column and pavilion , taken together with the wonderful natural

situation of the place, form an impressive and romantic spectacle.

The inost curious sight in the monastery, however, is four huge

idols of brilliantly painted wood, carved with a good deal of

appreciation of the heroic human face and form , which stare at

332 KORFA .

one another across a narrow passage from behind the bars of

two great cages, a pair of war- gods being on one side, and a

king and queen (the latter playing a colossal mandolin) on the

other. My Japanese vocabulary unfortunately did not permit

me to make through my interpreter any inquiries as to their

abstract theologic significance. The headgear of the monks

beggars description, and I held my sides again and again as a

new specimen emerged from the dormitories. Hats of paper, of

wood, of bamboo, of horsehair, and of wire ; hats round, square,

triangular, cylindrical, conical , and spherical ; hats like &

clothes-basket, like a sieve, like a pumpkin, like a flying

crow, like a paper boat, like three three-cornered gridirons

fastened together at the edges ; half of them affording not

the slightest pretence of protection against cold or rain or sun,

but being either symbols of sacerdotal rank, or else simply the

offspring of a disordered creative imagination. Every priest,

too, carried or wore a rosary of red wooden beads, polished like

crystal by ceaseless fingering. I told my interpreter to ask one

of them by and by privately whether a string of these could be

purchased as a souvenir. He, however, blurted out the question

to the chief Abbot in the presence of fifty priests, and the

hospitable old gentleman instantly took off his own rosary

bracelet of specially big beads and handed it to me, saying,

“ They cannot be purchased, this is a present. ” Naturally

before leaving I wished to make him some present in return ,

but ransacking my bag produced nothing whatever suitable. My

revolver or knife I could not spare , the old gentleman had

already refused to taste whisky, and there appeared to be literally

nothing to give him. I recollected, however, that I had had

some new silk pocket-handkerchiefs made and embroidered in

Japan, and one of these presented with many airs and the

explanation from the interpreter that the monogram on the

corner was " good joss ," satisfied him completely. For our

entertainment I left a few dollars in the treasury, the amount,

attested by my autograph, being solemnly and elaborately









‫اب ؟‬

: .. ; , ‫܂ ܙ‬ inn




entered in the great ledger of the monastery, and when at noon

I mounted my pony, a hundred of the white-robed , much - hatted

priests, led by the venerable Abbot himself, came a little way

down the hill to give me good-bye.

It would be absurd to deny that I experienced a new sensa

tion - a “ traveller's thrill ” —at this moment. I had never at

this time been out of reach of white men before, and now I was

at the beginning of a week's ride across a country which a very

few years ago was an utterly unknown and “ hermit ” land,

alone with six men of whom I knew nothing whatever, and with

whom I could have communication only through a very difficult

language which my “ interpreter " knew little better than I did ,

and with not a white face between me and the Yellow Sea. The

new sensation comes, I fancy, from the first consciousness of

the fact that all the protective and co-operative machinery of

civilisation has temporarily disappeared — that whatever happens

one has nothing to count upon but one's own health, one's own

wits, and if the worst comes, upon one's own hand. My reflec

tions of this kind, however, were soon interrupted for a con

sultation . There were two roads, I Cha Sam came up to say,

the longer and better one to the left, the much shorter but

mountainous one to the right. Which would I take ? At this

moment my chief desire was to get the trip over as soon as

possible, so I promptly chose the latter, and an hour later we

were in the first pass.

For three hours we climbed steadily up the narrow pass,

and then through it. The road was merely a bridle-path or

the dry bed of a mountain stream strewn with stones of all

sizes. But the ponies never slipped or even hesitated , and our

little train wound along in single file without a moment's rest

till dusk. The mapous sang and jödelled, hundreds of magpies

flew chattering about us all the time, big mangy old crows

hopped alongside, and the rare passers either stopped and

stared till I was out of sight, or else looked on the other side

and passed pretending not to have seen me. From eleven

331 KOREA .

o'clock till half-past three it was blazing hot, and my helmet

with its two inches of solid pith was none too thick. Then it

began rapidly to grow chilly, and long before dusk I had a frieze

riding-coat buttoned up to my chin . How these Korean mapous

and kisious - grooms and soldiers-manage to escape pleurisy

and consumption I cannot imagine. Positively their only

garments are a short loose jacket without any fastening down

the front, and a short loose pair of trousers, both of thin white

cotton cloth. As the man walked at my pony's head in the

evening he shivered till I could hear his teeth chatter, yet less

than two hours before he was wet through with perspiration. By

six o'clock we had descended somewhat to an extensive plateau,

and in the distance we could hear the dogs of a village. As

we entered it they ranged themselves in a snapping, yelping band

at our heels , and from every low doorway an inhabitant crawled

out to look at us. Any one who likes to be conspicuous should

go to Korea, for the look of overwhelming, speechless surprise

that passed over each face as I came in sight was wonderfully

flattering. As a rule, however, the face withdrew immediately,

and the door was hastily and silently closed- I suppose lest my

official attendants should demand the hospitality which every

Korean householder is bound to give .

In the middle of the village—the twenty or thirty miserable

thatched dwellings hardly deserve the name - We came to a halt,

and I Cha Sam approached . “ What is it ? ” I asked him , and

he replied with a single Japanese word , “ We will sleep .” I

looked at the house before us and my heart sank . True , I

knew that Korea did not boast a Palace Hotel , but this was

rather too much . A big, tumble -down , badly -thatched hovel

surrounding a yard ; all round this, stalls for ponies and

bullocks ; in the middle a huge cesspool surmounted by a

dunghill, in which horrible black sows were rooting ; opposite

to the entrance the two rooms in which the dozen members

of the family lived and had their domestic being, and a large

guest - chamber on one side for my men, and on the other ,



exactly fronting the most fragrant corner of the dunghill,

smaller one for myself. I Cha Sam flung open the door

about two feet by three-and bowed me in. The floor was

of hammered earth ; the walls were mud , covered in spots with

very dirty paper ; the material of the ceiling was concealed by

the dirt and smoke of generations, and tapestried with spiders ’

webs. At first, of course, I was highly indignant with Sam

for bringing me to such a hole, but from the look of

genuine surprise on his handsome placid countenance I soon

gathered that this was the regular Korean hotel, and that I

had nothing else to expect. Therefore I accepted the in

evitable with what joy I could, and with difficulty crowded

myself, my bag, rug, and provision - box into the room.

My Korean trip taught me at least two things. First, that

our supposed instinctive dislike to being personally dirty is

merely a matter of local convention . At home I am as un

happy as another if I cannot get my tub at a moment's notice

morning or evening, yet after twenty -four hours of Korea

I regarded washing, except just a swish of face and hands, as

an artificial virtue, and when I found that there was no clean

place anywhere on which to lay my coat if I took it off, I just

kept it on . In fact I kept it on for five days. And whether

it was the new sensation or the old Adam , I do not know ,

but by and by I grew rather proud of being distinctly and

indisputably dirty. The dunghill, of course, did not come

to recommend itself to me as a bedroom balcony, but that,

unhappily, was only a speck compared with later experiences

which I will not describe. The second thing is that repugnance

to certain animals is a foolish weakness which sensible people

should immediately abandon. When I left Wön-san I loathed

cockroaches . To-day I care no more for a cockroach than for

a rabbit. Every room I occupied in Korea was full of them

— literally full, hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands.

The first night was horrible with them, and sleep was theoretical

only ; but after that I used to pick them out of my hair and

336 KOREA .

beard, or flick them off my coat like flies . They came to my

candle till the floor shone all over from their pretty polished

backs, and if I put a sheet of paper on the ground twenty of

them would start surveying it before I could begin to sharpen

a pencil. My third night in Korea was the only other one

wasted . My quarters were even worse, and besides the cock

roaches there was an army of rats. They ran over my feet

the moment my candle was out, they ran over my body, they

crunched at my sugar, they scampered over my bag, till at last

I gave in, lighted the candle again, and read all night. As my

only book was The Newcomes it was a night well spent. Every

Korean choumak or inn was as I have described , sometimes a

little better, once or twice very much worse. In this respect

I should probably have fared better if I had chosen the longer

and more travelled road .

The people of the country varied very much. Two villages out

of three were very friendly, highly inquisitive, and easily moved

to laughter. The third was generally sullen , and its inhabitants

would not come near me, would not reply to the greeting of the

country— “ Oual keuiounni eutesio ? ” (“ How is your health to

day ? " ) — and would not even return a friendly nod. More than

half the time I walked, and my chief amusement was to get a

mile or two ahead of my caravan and enter a village by myself,

walk into the middle of it, and seat myself calmly on somebody's

doorstep as if I were perfectly at home. The stupefaction of the

natives was delicious. Probably they had never seen a white

man before, for very few had ever crossed Korea, and these

generally by the longer and better route. First they would

stare from a long distance, then they would drive off the dogs,

then some patriarch would approach cautiously and hazard a

question. I would reply with a few lines from “ Hamlet ” or

“ Paradise Lost,” whereupon they would all laugh. Then one

would remove his long pipe from his mouth and offer it to me,

and though the courtesy was neither accepted nor returned, it

sufficed to break the ice. Invariably they would begin by feeling


my clothes, and the different textures of these filled them

knowing nothing but the calico which is their sole wear—with

infinite amazement. Especially the corduroy of my riding

breeches pleased them, and they would send to the other end

of the village for an old man to come and feel it. Then if

they were amiable I would give them a little entertainment,

consisting of opening my watch-case by blowing on it, turning

out my pockets for their inspection , doing a few tricks with

coins, making cat's cradles with string, striking matches, and

other such infantile performances, firing my revolver as a grand

finale. Childish and ignorant in the extreme they were, knowing

less of the outside world than a Digger Indian. Poor, too ,

beyond telling. I believe that ten dollars would have bought

: everything (except the crops) that I saw exposed for sale in

hundreds of shops from the time I left Wön - san till I struck

Seoul. The men were well-built, as a rule, and fairly well

featured ; but I did not see a single woman or girl during my

trip who could have been called even moderately good-looking.

The daily labour in the fields or at the millet-mill is too hard for

that, and the women are even more beasts of burden than the

men. One or two men I saw most horribly diseased with some

kind of scabby elephantiasis, and one of these bothered me not

a little by coming and poking his head over my shoulder while

I was taking photographs. Only twice was there the least sign

of hostility. Once in the middle of the night some sneak - thieves

came to my room , but I happened to be lying awake smoking in

the dark, and heard them coming. So when with great stealth

they had got the door half -open , I struck a match , when they

shut it with a bang and scuttled like rats .. On the other

occasion I started out to investigate a big village in the dark ,

and finally got surrounded by a rather unpleasant and unfriendly

crowd, who were gradually edging me along the street in the

direction I did not want to go. But luckily I Cha Sam had

discovered my absence and set out to look for me , and his

commanding tongue soon put matters straight. During the


338 KOREA .

first two days I was greatly annoyed by my mapous, whom I

could not get along at all. At the midday halt they would lie

about for a couple of hours, and in the morning it was two or

three hours after I was up before I could get them to start.

On the third morning I lost my temper, and going into their

room I kicked them one after the other into the yard . This was

evidently what they expected, for they set to work immediately.

Unless they were kicked they could not believe the hurry was

real. Afterwards, by a similar procedure , I started whenever I

wished. At first, in the evenings I tried to learn something by

inviting the innkeeper and an old inhabitant or two, with the

interpreter, into my room, and regaling them with weak whisky

and water and dry biscuits. But they expressed their apprecia

tion in the native manner by such horrible eructations, and

would “ spit refreshingly around , ” as Pendennis says , to such

an extent that I was compelled to decline to receive callers. My

official kisious were of little use, and as lazy as lobsters. My

camera was injured by being jolted on pony-back, so I told one

of these that I would give him a dollar — a fortnight's wages—if

he would bring it safe to Seoul for me. He jumped at the offer ,

carried it for about a mile, then stopped at a house and shouted

the magic words “ Cha’m chim neira ! ” (“ Carry a parcel a

stage ! ” ). The householder hastened to obey, for, as I have

explained, any official (as I was because of my escort) has a

right to demand any such service of the people. This process

was repeated every few miles , and so my camera was borne by

hand across the Hermit Kingdom from sea to sea, with the tall

soldier convoying it in the rear.

As regards the country itself it was far more fertile in

appearance, and also much more cultivated , than I had been

led to expect. After leaving the monastery we climbed till

evening, then slept in a flat valley, then climbed again through

a succession of narrow, rocky, and difficult passes till we reached

an extensive plateau or table-land, 2,500 feet above the sea ,

stretching between two fine mountain-ranges, and perhaps forty










miles in length. The mountains were splendid in their autumn

tints, the air was superb, the weather perfect, and I had not

a lonely moment. In fact, I seldom passed pleasanter days

than four of those spent riding or walking in utter solitude in

Central Korea . The nights were all bad, and at that time I

used to wonder what real travellers think about during the

lonely hour between dinner and sleep, when instead of being a

hundred miles from a white face they are a thousand, when

instead of a day or two dividing them from civilisation they

must be alone for months and years, and when the revolver

under their hand day and night is there from necessity and not

from nerves . I am inclined to think we do not quite appreciate

them as we ought. For my own part, I used to reflect how good

it would be to sit again in the midst of the old faces in the club,

or to drop into a stall at the Lyceum , or to listen once more

to “ Qu'allez vous faire si loin de nous? ” But I wander. To

hark back , therefore, the chief crops grown in the interior of

Korea are rice , millet, beans, and red peppers , the second of

these much predominating and furnishing the staple food for

the people. So far as appearances tell anything to an inexpert

eye, Korea ought to be rich in minerals, and there is certainly

plenty of land which would give fair if not great returns for

cultivating. The village industries were few and far between

a little spinning and a little primitive weaving of cotton cloth. The

country is miserably poor at present, for nobody cultivates much

more than will support him, as the only outlet for the surplus,

and that an unavoidable one, is into the pocket of the nearest


My last day's journey of sixteen hours brought me to the

great gate of Seoul at eight o'clock. This was my first glimpse

of the East of my imagination - the rocky ascent, the towering

battlemented walls, the huge black gates inexorably closed.

Neither persuasion nor money could open them , as the keys of

the colossal padlocks were with the King's guard at the palace.

So rather than return five miles to a choumak, I rolled myself

340 KOREA.

up under my rug, and slept there on a big stone all night ; and

when morning broke, and the countrymen coming to market

lifted the corner of the rug and saw what was underneath, they

were not a little astonished. Then at daylight we rode into the

city , and Mr. Colin Ford, Her Majesty's most hospitable Consul,

met me at his gate in gorgeous pyjamas, and extended the bath

and the breakfast and the welcome of civilisation to a particu

larly dirty traveller.



IT is the City ofIchabod. A few years ago- a few , that is, in

the life of a city - Korea was educating the Japanese people

in the arts : Satsuma ware was born in Seoul . To-day there

is not a piece of porcelain to be bought in the city worth

carrying away. A few years ago it took an army of 130,000

men under the greatest general Japan has ever had , to con

quer the country. Yesterday the advent of thirty American

marines threw 250,000 Koreans into a panic. To -day two

alien nations are fighting for Korea on her own soil, and she

is unable to lift a finger to help or oppose either of them. I

visited one of the old palaces. Pushing the door open to

enter, I almost pushed it off its hinges ; the spacious entrance

terrace is a mulberry orchard ; grass grows in the stables ; the

throne on which the King sat to receive his ministers is black

with mildew ; the splendid carvings are rotting from the lofty

roofs ; not a soul sets foot in these deserted balls. Oddest of

all, as I stood in silence by the great pillars of the throne-room,

a dove cooed from her nest in one of the carven capitals. It

was the vision of Omar Khayyam :

“ The palace that to heaven its columns threw,

And kings the forehead on its threshold drew,

I saw6 the solitary ring-dove there,

And Coo, coo, coo, ' she cried , and Coo , coo, coo. ' "

The word Seoul (pronounced variously Sool, Soul, and Say -ool,

and erroneously marked on many maps as Kinkitau, the name


342 KOREA .

of the province) merely means “ Capital,” the proper name of

the city being Han - yang, “ the fortress on the Han ." It is

a city of about 250,000 people. It is surrounded by a more

or less dilapidated wall, pierced by several imposing gateways,

all of which are closed at sunset at the sound of a great

bell, and the keys placed for the night in charge of the King's

guard at the palace. On one side of the city a second wall

encloses the palace and the royal domain, and from the farthest

point of this a stony mountain rises abruptly and symmetri

cally to a sharp peak . The city is surrounded by mountains,

and lies like the palm of one's hand when the fingers are turned

upwards ; but this one, Nam- san , is the highest, and every night

about eight o'clock a beacon blazes for a few minutes from its

summit. On some bill-top of the west coast, if order reigns,

a signal-fire is lighted after sunset every day. Another

further north repeats it if all is quiet there too, and so from

mountain to mountain the bonfires travel round the Hermit

Land-along the shore of the Yellow Sea, across the frontier

of Manchuria, by Russian Tartary, down the Sea of Japan,

coasting the Korean Strait, up the Yellow Sea again, and

inland to the capital , till at last the sudden blaze upon Nam --san,

almost in the royal gardens, tells his anxious Majesty that one

more day throughout his kingdom has passed in peace. The

telegraph , however, is fast putting an end to this picturesque

custom .

Seoul is twenty- six miles by road from the port of Chemulpo,

but fifty -five by the winding river Han . The latter could

undoubtedly be rendered serviceable for regular water-traffic

to and from the capital, which it approaches within about

three miles, at a place called Mapu, but at present it is

navigated only by native junks, to whose owners time is of

no importance, and an occasional steam-launch which is often

aground during half the time of its trips. Chemulpo — known

to the Japanese as Jinsan , and to us officially as Jenchuan — is &

flourishing place, with a good many excellent modern buildings


and an energetic commercial population, among whom the

Japanese are pre-eminent both in numbers and in enterprise.

In 1882, when the port was opened to foreign trade, Chemulpo

was a handful of mud huts. Now its four settlements — foreign ,

Chinese, Japanese , and Korean—are well built, well lighted, and

have good roads. And they are so crowded that land is rising to a

high price. Its population, formerly a few fishermen, has risen

to about 7,000, of whom Europeans and Americans number

about 30, Japanese 2,500, Chinese 670, and Koreans 4,000 .

The general foreign settlement is under the control of a

Municipal Council, composed of the Consuls, a Korean official,

and three representatives of the landholders. The outer har

bour affords abundant and safe anchorage, but the inner

harbour is small and silting up, and as the tides rise and fall

about thirty feet there is a vast mud flat at low water. Chemulpo

is connected with the capital by telegraph , and there is a daily

courier service, under the control of the Customs Service. The

latter is a branch of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs,

and is conducted in an ideal manner. In 1893 a Chinese

" Mutual Transport Company ” was formed , for the improve

ment and communication with the capital and the development

of trade on the Han . The trade of Chemulpo for 1893 was not

up to the average, owing to droughts and political disturbances,

but its figures, considering what Chemulpo was fourteen years

ago, are a striking proof of the possibilities of Korea with

energetic merchants and honest administration. The exports

are gold, rice, beans, and hides. The first-named was exported

to the amount of 201,846 dollars. The total exports reached

866,495 dollars, as against an average of nearly a million and

a half for the three preceding years ; and the total imports

2,421,133 dollars. The balance against Korea is supposed to be

made up by the export of smuggled gold. The shipping entered

and cleared at the port during 1893 was 490,981 tons, of which

159,626 tons was Japanese, 50,434 Korean, and 28,809 Chinese.

The British flag did not put in an appearance, but it is estimated

344 KOREA .

by the Customs that 54 per cent. of the foreign import trade is

British in origin , 24 per cent. Japanese, 13 per cent. Chinese,

and 9 per cent. German, American, French , and Russian put

together. As I have said, the development of Chemulpo is an

interesting and important index to the potential development of

Korea generally under a reformed administration.

Seoul has two wide streets, and two only. For a quarter of a

mile in front of the palace and then at a right angle for a mile

or so, there is a fine well- kept road fifty yards wide, while

everywhere else in the city the average width is probably about

twelve feet. Almost all are traversed by an unsavoury gutter,

sometimes down the middle, sometimes at the sides, while

every now and then you cross a kind of canal-sewer, a lingering

shallow stream of water, refuse , and filth .. Needless to add ,,

therefore, that the atmosphere of Seoul is very offensive to the

nostrils . The houses are built of wood and paper, and all

thatched, for it is forbidden for anybody except an official to

cover himself with a tiled roof. The shops are segregated in

streets according to their wares. Thus, the grain- market is in

the wide street, and for half a mile this is covered with broad

shallow baskets full of rice, millet, beans, and many other seeds,

among which the merchants and their customers walk and talk.

The cabinet -makers occupy a whole street, the secondhand

dealers another, the dealers in piece-goods have a row of ware

houses, the gold- and silver-smiths live along the canal, and so

on . But there is nothing whatever for a stranger to buy. I

went to a score of cabinet -makers ' shops to purchase one of the

curious little cabinets, but the most expensive one I could find

cost only two dollars, and that was not worth carrying home.

Nothing of gold or silver is made except to order ; the embroidery

is shoddy ; the paintings are ghastly ; the carving is beneath

contempt. The glory has departed.

A street full of Koreans suggests the orthodox notion of the

resurrection. Everybody is in white robes, and even though a

man has only one suit in the world , it is clean . When he goes







‫;‬ ‫܂‪.‬‬

‫ܬܐ ܠܝ‬



home at night, if he belongs to this poor class, he retires to bed

and his wife washes and pommels his clothes. I say “ pom

mels," for ironing is an unknown art in Korea. After being

washed the calico is stretched on a wooden block, and then with

a flat block of wood in each hand the woman pounds it for

hours . After sunset all Seoul rings with the dactylic tap -tap

tap , tap -tap -tap of these domestic voices of the night, as with

the incessant cry of aa million strident insects . The dress of the

women is extraordinary, and certainly, to adapt Dr. Johnson ,

they must have been at infinite pains to invent it, for by nature

no one could be such a fool. The upper garment consists of

sleeves and an apology for the body of a jacket about six inches

deep and reaching therefore about three inches below the arm -

pits. The skirt is a great baggy petticoat attached to a broad

waistband which begins about six inches below where the

jacket ends. Between the two there is nothing—nothing, that

is to say, except six inches of dirty brown skin, just those parts

of the body being exposed which all other women in the world

prefer to conceal . The effect is disgusting. Moreover, as if to

emphasise this ludicrous exhibition, these very women are most

particular to hide their faces from any man . The theory is

that a male Korean always looks the other way, but the moment

a foreigner comes in sight they hastily draw over their faces

the folds of the light cloak worn hanging from the head. It is

a pity they have not fairy godmothers to supply them all with

invisible caps . Seoul would be the more attractive . The

Korean men , on the other hand, are fine fellows, tall , well-built ,

graceful, dignified, generally possessing regular features. They

all have , too, a well- fed look, although the standard of physical

living is about as low as is possible. Poverty reigns in Seoul

extreme, universal, and hopeless. And the explanation is to be

found in one elegant word - nyangpan, of whom more hereafter.

The nyangpan is the official, from the Prime Minister to the

lowest hanger -on of the palace. All Korean society consists of

two classes, those who are nyangpans and those who are not.

316 KOREA .

All work is done by the latter, and the problem of the former

is how to get most of the product of it with least trouble. By

taxes, by enforced bribes, threats, by " squeezes," in short by every

known or discoverable form of extortion, the nyangpan makes

the other support him . Consequently the other takes good care

not to earn a cash more than will keep the life in his own body

and enable him just to hold the nyangpan at arm's length .

Hence, by an obvious chain of causation, the utter rottenness

and inertness and stagnation of Korean society. Any proposed

change for the better has against it the whole nyangpan tribe,

that is, everybody in Korea above the hewers of wood and

drawers of water. And the people themselves have fallen below

the stage at which they could initiate the sole step that would

save them- " swift revolution , changing depth with height.” Is

there, then , any hope for Korea ? Only from outside - that is,

under present circumstances, from Japan.

In considering the present and the prospects of Korea, one is

confronted with the striking discrepancy between the excellent

possibilities of the people themselves, and the almost un

imaginable sloth and degradation in which they are content to

exist. All observers lay emphasis upon the natural capacities

of the inhabitants. “ The Koreans are undoubtedly a fine race.

The men are stalwart and straight, proud and independent ;

they possess intelligent and expressive faces, small feet and

hands, and are even-tempered, except when excited by drink

not an uncommon condition ." * Yet under the native régime

their character is as degenerate as that of a Bushman . They

are totally devoid of ambition or even the elements of personal

or commercial success . “ The average Korean takes life as

easily as he possibly can. Does he till the soil, a mere tick

ling of the surface at seed- time, an occasional weeding at

remote intervals, and a happy- go-lucky mode of garnering,

constitute all the assistance he feels called upon to render a

bountiful nature ; he lets an ample water supply run to waste,

* Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs, Mr. Hunt's Report for Fusan , 1891.


regardless of periodical droughts ; and he recks but little of

ditching or drainage, but allows the heavy summer rains to

gather foot-high on the standing crops. Is he a trader, he

places lis business in the hands of a professional middleman,

who, in turn, passes it on to his satellites ; days, or weeks,

perhaps, are wasted, with sublime unconcern , in bickering for

a trumpery object or a trivial advantage , while his profits

are absorbed in the social entertainment he receives and in

exorbitant brokerage . Is he a fisherman , he is generally

heedless of the magnificent hauls that could be made by

venturing upon the sea , and remains content with such fish

as will run into crudely and easily constructed traps set out

along the shore, which only require attention for an hour or

so each day. Does he labour for daily wage , and extra pay

is given in busy times, a sense of burdensome wealth will

speedily overcome him, and make him decline remunerative

work, except at his own fanciful terms, until the bonanza '

of extra earnings is exhausted and the pinch of necessity drives

him ; then, however, it must be admitted, he falls to again

9 *

cheerfully enough ." *

In further elucidation of this point I may add an explanation

of the foregoing from the same dispassionate source, which will

carry more weight than could attach to my own much briefer

and more restricted observation of the same facts. “ The

buildings and walls of the different cities in the province present

a poverty -stricken aspect, and the Yamêns in all the towns are

in a state of extreme dilapidation. The poverty does not reach

the stage of actual distress, but has rather the appearance of

à curtailment or suppression of every want beyond the bare

necessity of keeping body and soul together. The rapacity and

cruelty of the officials are not conducive to the accumulation of

wealth. All stimulus or inducement to increase his possessions

and give himself comforts is denied the middle- class Korean ; for

he is not allowed to enjoy the results of his labour and industry,

* Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs, Mr. Oiesen's Report for Yuensan, 1891.

348 KOREA.

never feeling sure that the little property he may have (or even

his life) is safe from official despotism, and consequently the

people have become dispirited and indifferent. Safety and

security are found in obscurity only ."" * Hence the saying,

“Given a good meal and a hot floor, and a Korean holds

Paradise cheap.” This is Korea after centuries of vassalage

to China . As for the cruelty and barbarism with which the

law - or the absence of it - is enforced , the vassal has even

surpassed the sovereign . Secret official assassination is the

accepted way of settling a political difficulty or removing a

troublesome Minister . When the body of the murdered Kim

Ok-kyun (whose story will be found in the following chapter)

was brought back to Seoul , this was the treatment meted out

to it : " The corpse was laid flat on the ground face down .

wards , the head and the four limbs being supported on blocks

of wood to facilitate the process of cutting them off. The head

was first severed from the trunk by the tedious process of saw

ing. The right hand was then cut off at the wrist, while the

left arm was severed midway between the wrist and the elbow .

The feet were chopped off at the ankles . Last of all, the back

of the trunk was hacked at regular intervals with three lateral

cuts, seven inches long and one inch deep . The head was

suspended from a tripod made of old bamboo sticks tied

together with rough straw ropes , and the hands and feet,

joined in a bundle , were hung by the side of the head , the

trunk with the three lateral cuts being left on the ground just

as it had been placed for mutilation . The process was carried

out in a barley - field by the riverside at Yokkaichi . Originally

it was understood that the mutilated corpse would be exposed

for a space of about a fortnight, but the disgusting business

came to an end sooner . The trunk was then thrown into

the river , while the head was salted and sent to Chiku -san in

Keiki-do, to be subsequently exposed throughout the length and

breadth of the peninsula , and finally brought back to Chiku -san

* Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs, Mr. Hunt's Report for Fusan, 1891.


and there cast away to become the prey of vultures. As to the

hands and feet, it is stated that one band and foot of either side

were salted and sent to Kankyo and Keisho-do.” Kim's widow

and daughter, who had been living in poverty as washerwomen ,

were brought to Seoul at the same time, and with his father,

an old blind man, were beheaded . The following royal decree

placarded on the walls of Seoul also throws light on the

condition of the country and the character of the throne :

" Considering that the choice of candidates for the harem of

the Korean Prince Royal will take place on 19th inst. , the

Government interdicts throughout the kingdom up to that date

marriages between Koreans."

As a further concrete illustration of the social condition of

Korea, take an event which occurred a week before my visit.

There is a guild or secret society of the colporteurs of Korea,

having wealthy merchants in the capital for its apex, and the

army of itinerant peddlers traversing the country in all

directions for its base. It was discovered or suspected at the

palace that a conspiracy threatening the throne was hatching

among the members of this guild. Therefore one afternoon six

of the most prominent members, rich merchants, were seized,

thrown into prison — the barracks either contain or constitute

the prison—and the same evening, when the general in com

mand found leisure or energy to attend to the matter, the

unlucky six were quietly strangled. There is " no infernal

nonsense ” about trial or conviction or sentence in the “ Land

of the Morning Calm .” So much for law. Politics is on the

same level. I had three letters of introduction to Korean states

men . One was dead, the second was in banishment at Hong

kong, the third sent me his card with a polite message that

he had just been appointed Prime Minister, and therefore could

no longer talk about politics ! And another little illuminating

fact is that when a Korean statesman is banished or executed

for political trespasses, his wife and daughters and all his

womankind are taken and attached as a sort of permanent

350 KOREA .

staff of prostitutes to one of the departments of State for the

use of the Minister and his assistants .

The country has been believed by every traveller to possess

great mineral resources, besides its undoubted gold -mines,

but every attempt to develop these has come to utter failure,

through native corruption and indifference. Mint, post-office,

match -factory, sericulture, mining — all of these have been

introduced with a flourish of trumpets, to collapse miserably

within a short time. If it had not been for the Japanese,

Korea would still be the Hermit Kingdom, without a trace of

trade or the possibility of improvement. One thing only has

saved it from being annexed by anybody who chose - the fact

that it stands at the focus of the geography of the Far Eastern

question , too important to Great Britain, Russia, Japan , and

China for one of these to encroach upon it without arousing

the opposition of the other three. Most Korean affairs

are conducted with a pomposity and a grandiloquence only

equalled by their insignificance. Since the country was opened

to foreign intercourse, for example, a Foreign Office, among

other administrative institutions, has been created. It consists

of a President, two Vice-Presidents, a Councillor, and twenty

two clerks. For futility it can only be compared with the

scenes and personages of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera, yet

it enforces respect by the appalling name of T'ong-ni-kio- syep

tong - sang-sa -mu- a -mun . The Korean navy consists of half a

dozen " Admirals,” who know no more about a ship than a

Hindu knows about skates - indeed , how should they, since

there is no Korean ship for them to know ? And the Korean

army is almost equally non- existent. There are a few thousand

soldiers, under the professed supervision of two American

instructors, called respectively Vice-President and Councillor

of the Board of War, but no account need be taken of them.

Two regiments were drilled for my inspection , and a very

amusing sight it was -- a sort of cross between Swedish gym

nastics and the soldiers of Drury Lane pantomime. An eye




‫ ۔‬N‫ا‬H‫ر‬ inas

SILDE (1 ,



witness has just written that a number of newly-raised " naval

soldiers were armed with muskets without locks ! As has

been seen, Korea has played no part whatever in the struggle

that is being waged on her own soil, with her own future for

the stake. Lower than this no people could sink .

Before I left Seoul I had the honour of an audience with his

Majesty the King, the British Consul -General presenting me.

We were received at the palace at three o'clock by half a dozen

Vice-presidents of the Foreign Office, in a small detached wooden

building where we sat for a quarter of an hour drinking cham

pagne over a green baize table, seated on ordinary foreign chairs,

and with gimcrack brass electric-light fittings over our heads.

Then an officer came for us , and in solemn single file we pro

ceeded through the grounds and yards to the central open

pavilion where alone the King holds audience, first the official

court interpreter, Mr. Kim , a Korean nobleman , as no one of

lower rank is admitted to the presence of the sovereign , then

the Consul, then myself, and more officials in broad-winged hats

and gorgeous purple robes bringing up the rear. As soon as we

came in sight of the King an official left his Majesty's side and

instructed us in a loud voice in the method of our approach

left turn , ten steps, right turn, ten steps, bow, up two steps,

bow , up two more steps , right turn, five steps, and bow—all of

which brought us face to face with the King across a small

square table. Mr. Kim assumed a crouching position from the

first moment, like a sportsman stalking a covey from behind a

hedge, and never quitted it till we were out of the royal sight

again. The first thing that caught my eye was a three-and

sixpenny English hearthrug of glaring red and green , which

formed the cover of his Majesty's reception table . The second

thing was that our noble interpreter was so overcome by finding

himself in the presence that his English took wings and he

could scarcely articulate. The King is a little man , dressed in

handsome dark red silk, richly embroidered with gold, and wear

ing a pot-hat of similar material. His hands he kept hidden in his

352 KOREA,

voluminous sleeves. His face is pale but very pleasing, brim

ming over with good nature, and each of his questions he

chattered out with a rippling nervous laugh like a girl's. And

every time he laughed we could see a large yellow bead of some

thing he was chewing . On each side of him stood a big solemn

faced minister suggesting from time to time a word or a proper

inquiry. Poor Mr. Kim, however, was a broken reed . The

King asked something with a merry laugh. After a short pause

a faint and shuddering gurgle emerged from beneath Mr. Kim's

low bent head. “ What does he say ? " asked the Consul of me

(I was standing between them) behind his hand. “ I give it up,"

I returned. “ I thank his Majesty," said the Consul , taking the

bull by the horns, “ for the honour of this audience .” The King

laughed again, as if it were an excellent joke, and asked some

thing else . This time I nudged Mr. Kim and listened intently.

Slowly in an awe- stricken tone the words came, “ His Majesty

hopes your King is quite well." The Consul looked at me

beseechingly, and IΙ whispered, “ Hopes your King's quite well,"

trying to keep a straight face. “ I thank his Majesty ," replied

the Consul boldly, thinking he was now on safe ground, and not

having caught my words : “ I am quite well.” This time when

his Majesty laughed, we both laughed with him. And so on,

over the usual routine questions for a quarter of an hour, when

the King graciously expressed his good wishes for my journey

and we retired, carrying away the impression of a capital little

fellow , rather in awe of his own big ministers. Afterwards, with

similar formalities, I was presented to the Crown Prince, &

flabby -faced youth of about nineteen, bloated with dissipation,

turning helplessly to two horrible eunuchs who stood beside

him for what he should say to us, bobbing up and down in his

pitiable physical nervousness - altogether a dreadful spectacle,

suggestive of the society of Gomorrah.

The foreign community at Seoul consists of about a score

people, excluding Japanese, of whom there is a long street of

merchants and artisans. A good many missionaries still stay


in Seoul , although , I believe, they are still forbidden to preach ;

and one only, an excellent doctor, is permitted to practise, in

charge of a free hospital and any number of daily out-patients.

The little community manages with difficulty to amuse itself,

and from time to time a threatened attack forms a welcome

break in the monotony of its life. For example, a few weeks

before my visit, there was a passing scare. All the Chinese

servants left, simply saying that the foreigners were to be killed ,

and they dare not stay ; arms were brought out and cleaned and

loaded ; the Russian Legation was prepared for a siege, and

everybody was ready to rendezvous there at a signal of three

rifle- shots, and a rocket, if at night. Thirty American marines,

however , marched up one night ; a number of Russians followed,

and although upwards of twenty Koreans were butchered in the

streets by their compatriots, no foreigner was disturbed. But

the beacon did not blaze from Nam- san that night.

It would be easy to fill pages with descriptions of the queer

scenes and circumstances of Korean life. I will mention only a

few , as specimens. A remarkable figure frequently met in the


street is the mourner. He is dressed in rough material — almost

sackcloth ; on his head is a hat of colossal dimensions—perbaps

four feet in diameter, within which his head almost disappears ;

what is left of his face is hidden by a fan made of a piece of

sacking stretched between two sticks, over the top of which he

peeps to find his way. Another interesting fact is that the ox

slaughterer is the lowest man in the social scale-an obvious

relic of Buddhism — while next above him come the pork

butcher and the prostitute. * Korea, which is modelled in most

respects upon China, has a theoretical system of competitive

examination for office . In fact, however, the system is as

corrupt as everything else Korean. A picturesque and curious

ceremony is this. A successful candidate is introduced by his

friends to one of the examiners, who, amid much laughter,

buffets him about, tears his clothes, breaks his hat, daubs his

• Ross .


854 KOREA.

face with ink, and sprinkles powdered white soap over his

moist countenance . He is then led away home, washed and

dressed in holiday attire, and receives congratulations for the

rest of the day.

As I happen to be much interested in the art of dancing I

took occasion to see and photograph the votaries of Terpsichore

in every country of the Far East. And for charm of sentiment

I must give the palm to Korea, over China, Siam, Malaya, and

even over Japan. The danseuses of the last-named country are,

of course, far more attractive objects, but I was unable, perhaps

from ignorance of the entire significance of the elaborate Japanese

dances, to discover in the rhythmic movements of the geisha or

the elaborate evolutions of the No -dance, a simplicity of senti


ment and a suggestion of romance - the latter the rarest thing

in the Far East-equal to those of the Korean dancing -girl. I

engaged a troop of them to dance one afternoon in the grounds

of the British Consulate, which the Consul was good enough to

lend me for the occasion. They arrived in chairs, with a band,

and the considerable retinue which invariably appears in a

mysterious manner at every eastern function. Each dancer

produced her pipe and tobacco - pouch, and the performance was

preceded by a long and animated conversation. Then mats

were spread upon the grass, the band sat down in a long row ,

and under the trees, amidst the quaint many -eaved architecture,

to a discordant and yet curiously effective accompaniment, was

displayed before us the Korean version of the universal poem of

“ Love's Young Dream ." One of the danseuses assumed the

toga virilis and the pot-hat, the other remaining the embodiment

of womankind. The former was of course the suitor, the

pursuer, the love-beseecher ; the latter was the besought, the

elusive, the hesitating, the Ewigweibliche. A more prosaic

metaphor would be that of the candle and the moth. To a

hand -thundering of the drums the lover advanced, displaying

himself like a purple pigeon in the sun . The drums faded to a

mournful riping of the flutes, and the loved one retreated in




." ove's






. photograph

I.)( nstantaneous





shyness and refusal. With a less confident quick-step the

former advanced and renewed his persuasive suit. The latter

repelled him, but less cruelly. The music grow tenderer and

more insinuating, and the hopeful one returned to his charming.

The shyness grew less, the warmth grew greater, the lento

changed to adagio, and the adagio to presto, the confidence of

the one increased with the increasing hesitancy of the other,

the pursuer revolved in a large but decreasing circle, the pursued

fluttered in her little round, the space diminished, the thrill

became more intense, the doomed pair were within a few feet of

each other , till on a sudden space was annihilated for them and

time at an end, and to a final triumphant outburst of wood and

brass they were merged in each other's arms in an ecstasy of

passion, and the spectators relieved their pent-up feelings in an

explosive sigh. The victor was vanquished at the moment of

his conquest ; the captured triumphant in the moment of her

defeat an exquisite personification of the sex which

“ draws

Men upward as a moon of spring,

High wheeling , vast and bosom -full,

Half clad in clouds and white as wool,

Draws all the strong seas following."



THE Chino- Japanese war is the last link in a perfectly


straight chain of circumstances. Korea remained sealed

against foreigners of all nations until 1876. In 1866 an Ameri

can trading schooner called the General Sherman had been

destroyed by the Koreans, and her crew and passengers

murdered . A man -of-war, the Wachusett, was sent to obtain

satisfaction, but failed to do so. In 1870 a small American

expedition again appeared, and while negociations were in pro

gress the Koreans fired upon a surveying party. Thereupon the

American commander landed his troops upon the island of Kiang

Hwa, destroyed five Korean forts, routed the army, killing three

hundred men, and then retired, with the result that Korea Fas

more firmly closed against foreigners than ever. The young King

came of age in 1873, and succeeded his cruel and conservative

father. In 1875 some sailors from a Japanese man -of- war were

fired upon while drawing water at Kiang Hwa. The Japanese

captain also destroyed a fort and killed a number of Koreans,

but his Government followed up the incident by sending a fleet

under General Kuroda to demand satisfaction , and offer the

Koreans the alternative of a treaty of commerce or a war. The

former was chosen , China, on being appealed to by the Koreans,

refusing-as she has done on several similar occasions --to have

anything to do with the action of her nominal vassal . A treaty

was therefore signed on February 26 , 1876, between Korea and



Japan, and from this moment dates the opening of Korea to

foreign intercourse.. On this occasion, too, the suzerainty of

China was formally set aside, without any protests on her part

-indeed , with her express recognition , since she refused to

interfere. Article I. of this treaty reads as follows : “Chosen

being an independent State enjoys the same Sovereign rights as

Japan." Chemulpo, Fusan, and Wön-san were opened by this

treaty to Japanese trade.

The King himself was in favour of extending the same privi

leges to other nations at their request, but the conservative

party prevented him . In 1882 fresh overtures were made by

foreign nations, and the reactionaries took alarm . Led by a

“ scholar " named Pe Lo-kuan, an insurrection broke out in

Seoul, directed chiefly against the Japanese, as the promoters of

foreign intercourse. Several members of the Japanese Legation

were murdered in the streets , the Legation itself was attacked,

and Consul Hanabusa and his staff were at last compelled to

cut their way through the mob and make for the palace, where

they hoped to find refuge. Here,, however, the gates were shut

against them, so they fought their way out of the city with the

greatest pluck, and walked all night to Chemulpo, where, to

escape violence, they put to sea in a native boat. Fortunately the

British surveying vessel, the Flying Fish, saw them, and conveyed

them to Nagasaki. This happened in July, 1882. Of course the

Japanese Government took instant action, but with great mode

ration began by merely sending Mr. Hanabusa back to Seoul

with a strong escort to demand reparation. This was abjectly

offered , and a Chinese force which arrived with unusual prompti.

tude suppressed the rebellion, executed a number of the leaders,

and caused their mangled bodies to be publicly exposed. A sum of

500,000 dols. was accepted by the Japanese as indemnity, but was

subsequently forgiven to Korea in consequence of her inability

to pay it. Next year, other nations once more following in the

steps of Japan, treaties with Korea were concluded by the

United States, France, England , and Germany.

558 KOREA .

In 1885 the whole incident was repeated, with this difference,

that the instigators of the outbreak were a few students who had

imbibed progressive notions in Japan , and who imagined that if

they began by vigorous assassination foreign nations would

support them. During a dinner - party to celebrate the opening

of the new post-office, an attempt was made to murder Ming

Yong -ik, an influential nobleman , who, though he had visited the

United States, was most bitterly opposed to the party of progress,

and was known to have expostulated with the King for having

conferred office on the students who had been educated in Japan.

The revolutionary leaders proceeded to the palace, secured the

person and to some extent the sympathy of the King, and in his

name, and no doubt with his assent, despatched messengers, and

finally an autograph letter from himself, to Mr. Takezoye, the

Japanese Minister, begging him to come instantly and safe

guard the royal person. Mr. Takezoye, accompanied by the

Legation guard of 130 Japanese soldiers, complied, and guarded

the palace for two days. In the meantime, the revolutionists

executed five of the conservative Ministers. By this time the

Chinese troops in Seoul had decided to assert themselves : two

thousand proceeded to the palace, and without allowing any

opportunity for negociation or explanation, fired upon the

Japanese guard. Although outnumbered by almost ten to

one, the latter had no difficulty in holding their own, but at

length the King decided, to prevent further bloodshed, to place

himself in the hands of the Chinese, and therefore he proceeded

alone, with the consent of Mr. Takezoye, to the Chinese com

mander. Having no further reason for remaining, the Japanese

left the palace, fought their way to the Legation, but finding it

surrounded by an armed mob of Chinese and Koreans, and

without any provisions for a siege, they quitted it again, and it

was immediately burned behind them. Then for the second time

the Japanese representative and a small band of his countrymen

fought their way through the streets of Seoul, and walked

twenty-six miles to Chemulpo, where they chartered a steamer


and returned to Japan. Again the Japanese Government de

manded satisfaction , but this time from China, on account of

the action of the Chinese soldiers. The negociations between

Count Ito and Li Hung-chang, at Tientsin , in 1885, followed,

and after long delays, and finally a distinct hint from the former

that if a result satisfactory to Japan was not arrived at, war would

be declared, the Convention of Tientsin was concluded at the

eleventh hour . China agreed to withdraw her troops from

Korea, to punish her officers who had commanded the troops in

Seoul on the occasion of the attack upon the Japanese there on

December 6th of the preceding year, and to investigate the out

rages committed by her troops on the following day. The

clauses of the Convention, which has unfortunately never been

published officially, were two. The first declared that the King

of Korea should be invited to form a force sufficient to preserve

order in future, to be trained by officers of some nation other

than China or Japan, and that certain internal reforms should

be instituted by him ; and the second, that either China or

Japan should have the right to dispatch troops to Korea , if

necessary to preserve order and protect their nationals, on giving

notice each to the other, and that when order was restored both

forces should be withdrawn simultaneously. Thus China at last

formally recognised the equality of Japan with herself so far as

Korea was concerned . This Convention shows one other im

portant thing — that Japan put forward only the most moderate

claims, that she sought no advantages for herself in Korea, but

accepted in full satisfaction of her demands conditions which

merely guaranteed the future peace and prosperity of Korea .

These facts should have been borne in mind when charges of

intemperance were made against Japan for declaring war.

For the third time history has sought to repeat itself. Another

rebellion broke out, which the King of Korea was wholly unable

to suppress. This time Japan did not wait for the burning of

her Legation and the expulsion of her representative by the

forces of Korean reaction. But let it be remembered that while

360 KOREA.

landing troops in perfect accordance with her treaty rights, she

again contented herself with proposing to China the joint occu

pation of the country until reforms should have been definitely

carried out to render future disturbances impossible. Not one

sign has she ever given of the slightest intention to secure

territorial advantages for herself in Korea . On the contrary

she has taken every occasion to declare specifically that she was

determined upon the independence of Korea. Upon China must

rest the responsibility of refusing these terms Her attitude

toward Korea has been marked by all her characteristic unscru

pulousness. When her suzerainty over Korea has brought

prestige, she has asserted it ; when it has involved responsi

bility, she has repudiated it. She has at last fallen between the

two stools. So far as my knowledge of the situation goes, I

am unable to see how Japan could have acted with greater

moderation, or could have been satisfied to propose any other

conditions .

In the anti- Japanese feeling prevalent in England at the

outbreak of the war , Japan was currently charged with having

deliberately provoked hostilities for the gratification of her own

ends. This charge is baseless in the form in which it was

commonly made. It is true enough that Japan had long con

templated the possibility and even probability of war with

China about Korea, and she had made the most careful prepa

rations for this. But to fear and foresee a series of events is

quite different from provoking them Otherwise half the nations

of Europe might be charged with provoking the hostility of

their neighbours at this moment. Japan, understanding China

so incomparably better than any European nation understands

that strange country, knew well enough that Korean troubles

would occur and recur until drastic measures were taken for

their permanent suppression, and that China would always

oppose these measures, even by force if diplomacy and pro

crastination should fail. At last the old trouble came, in &

rising of the Togaku -to, as it is called in Japanese, or the


Tonghak rebellion—the two characters of this name signifying

“Eastern Learning." This was nothing more than one of the

periodical revolts against official exactions, but it grew rather

faster than usual, and the rotten Korean government was

beaten in several engagements. China thereupon despatched

a considerable force to crush the Tonghaks, and in the despatch

announcing the fact to Japan she employed an expression

which deliberately set the Li- Ito Convention at defiance. Japan

had already been intensely irritated by an incident which had

just occurred, and this significant neglect of a diplomatic re

quirement added fresh fuel to the flames of her anger.

Japanese public opinion at the time cannot be understood

without a knowledge of this incident. I will therefore narrate

it in the fewest possible words. The leader of the Korean

revolutionists who had attacked Ming Yong-ik, that arch

conservative and denouncer of the young Koreans who had been

educated in Japan, was a certain Kim Ok -kyun. When the

revolt was crushed and the hopes of the young Korean Japano

philes at an end, Kim Ok-kyun naturally sought refuge in

Japan. There he lived in security and obscurity for some

time, but the Korean Government had neither forgotten nor

forgiven him. Two or three Koreans were accordingly de

spatched secretly to Japan to assassinate him—in itself a

sufficient outrage to Japanese soil. They nearly succeeded,

but Kim's suspicions being aroused at the last moment he

failed to keep the appointment at which he was to have been

killed. By and by, however, one of the conspirators succeeded

in luring him to Shanghai upon some pretext or other, and

he was shot to death in a native hotel there on the very night

of his arrival. So far from arresting the murderer, the Chinese

authorities sent him in all comfort, with the corpse of his

victim , upon a Chinese gunboat to Korea, where he was

received with rejoicings, loaded with honours and given official

rank, while the body of Kim was publicly hacked in pieces,

his head salted and promenaded through the principal cities,

362 KOREA.

and his relatives murdered. Thus the man who had raised

the standard of revolt in Korea for Japanese ideas, and who

had been received by Japan as an exile to be protected (just

as we have received revolutionary exiles in England) , was

decoyed away to Chinese soil, murdered there with the almost

certain connivance of China, his murderer treated with every

consideration , and a Chinese Government vessel employed to

take both assassin and victim to the honour and the degradation

which respectively awaited them in Korea. This was enough

to have provoked an outburst of popular anger in a much

more sedate country than Japan , and it was while the

Japanese were thus deeply indignant at this combination of

Korean treachery and Chinese insult that Chinese troops were

sent to Korea, and the irritating despatch sent, as I have

described. The Japanese instantly despatched a still larger

force, and the diplomatic negociations began.

It will be remembered that China raised no protest when

Korea described herself as an independent State, and concluded

foreign treaties upon that basis, and that she had further

admitted Japan to equal rights with herself for the preservation

of order in Korea. Yet the despatch announcing to Japan

the departure of Chinese troops to Korea was couched in these

words :

“ The application upon examination is found to be argent both in words and in

fact, and that it is in harmony with our constant practice to protect our tributary

states by sending our troops to assist them. These circumstances were accordingly

submitted to His Imperial Majesty, and in obedience to his will, General Yeh,

Commander of troops in Chihli has been ordered to proceed at once to Zenra and

Chinsei in Korea with selected troops, and to speedily suppress the disturbance in

such manner as he may deem most convenient in order to restore the peace of our

tributary state and to dispel the anxiety of the subjects of every nation residing in

Korea for commercial purposes, and at the same time the General is commanded to

return with the troops as soon as the desired object is attained ."

By thus asserting at the outset the fact that China regarded

Korea as a tributary State, the Chinese Government deliberately

repudiated the past and challenged Japan to make good the


position which she had always maintained, and which had been

formally recognised nine years before. A less conciliatory

despatch -especially considering that Japan was smarting under

the murder of Kim Ok -kyun-could not have been penned.

The reply of the Japanese Government could easily have been

foreseen . It was (June 7), “ In reply, I beg to declare that,


although the words ' tributary State ' appear in your Note, the

Imperial government has never recognised Korea as a tributary


State of China . ” At the same time the Japanese Minister in

Peking informed the Tsungli Yamên that, “ owing to the exist

ence of a disturbance of a grave nature in Korea necessitating

the presence of Japanese troops there, it is the intention of the

Imperial government to send a body of Japanese troops to that

country.” Two days later (June 9) the Tsungli Yamên , with

extraordinary promptitude, replied as follows, and the despatch

is worth giving at length , as it is so deliciously characteristic

of Chinese diplomatic methods :

“ The sole object of your country in sending troops is evidently to protect the

Legation , Consulates, and commercial people in Korea, and , consequently, it may

not be necessary on the part of your country to despatch a great number of troops ,

and, besides, as no application therefore has been made by Korea , it is requested

that no troops shall proceed to the interior of Korea so that they may not cause

alarm to her people. And , moreover, since it is feared that in the event the soldiers

of the two nations should meet on the way, cases of unexpected accident might

occur, owing to the difference of language and military etiquette, we beg to request

in addition that you will be good enough to telegraph the purport of this com

munication to the Government of Japan .”

In the despatch China totally and calmly ignored the fact that

by treaty Japan had identically the same rights as China to

send troops to Korea ! Of course the Japanese reply (June 12)

pointed this out :

“ The Imperial Japanese Government has never recognised Korea as a tributary

state of China . Japan despatched her troops in virtue of the Chemulpo Convention,

and in so doing she has followed the procedure laid down in the Treaty of Tientsin .

As to the number of troops, the Japanese Government is compelled to exercise its own

judgment. Although no restriction is placed upon the movement of the Japanese

troops, in Korea, they will not be sent where their presence is not deemed necessary .

364 KOREA .

The Japanese troops are under strict discipline, and the Japanese Government is

confident that they will not precipitate a collision with the Chinese forces. It is

hoped that China has adopted similar precautions."

This unanswerable despatch brought down the curtain upon

the first act. Both Chinese and Japanese troops were in Korea,

precisely as the Li-Ito Convention of 1885 had agreed that

under such circumstances they should be. The Chinese Ministers

had vainly endeavoured to wriggle out of their previous

promises, and being unable to do so, this aspect of the matter

disappeared .

The next step came from Japan, and took the form of the

following proposals for the future administration of Korea

(June 17)

“ As to the present events, Japan and China to unite their efforts for the speedy

suppression of the disturbance of her insurgent people . After the suppression of

the disturbance, Japan and China, with view to the improvement of the internal

administration of Korea , to respectively send a number of Commissioners charged

with the duty of investigating measures of improvement, in the first place on the

following general points :-(a ) Examination of the financial administration. (6)

Selection of the Central and Local Officials. (c ) Establishment of an army necessary

for national deſence in order to preserve the peace of the land.”

To this the Chinese Minister in Tokyo replied that the

disturbance was already put down , and that reforms must be

left to Korea herself. This suggestion was amusing enough,

but the argument by which it was supported was farcical.

H. E. Wang wrote : “ Even China herself would not interfere

with the internal administration of Korea, and Japan having

from the very first recognised the independence of Korea,

cannot have the right to interfere with the same.” This is

Chinese diplomacy at its happiest : first, Korea is not in.

dependent, but dependent upon China, and therefore Japan

has no right to interfere ; second, Korea is independent, even

of China, and therefore again Japan has no right to interfere !

Is it to be wondered at that Japan should brush aside diplomacy

conducted with such puerile craft ? The point to be borne in

mind, however, is that Japan requested China to unite with her


in joint action for the reform and strengthening of an in

dependent Korea, and that China refused to do so. The

parallel of Great Britain , France and Egypt will occur to every

reader. Japan had determined that this should be the last

wrangle over Korea, and pursuing the parallel, she informed

China in the following admirable despatch (June 22) , that she

should undertake the task single-handed if China persisted in

her refusal :

“ The Imperial Government, much to its regret, finds it impossible to share the

hopeful views entertained by your Excellency's Government regarding the actual

situation in Korea at the present time. Sad experience teaches us that the

Peninsular Kingdom is the theatre of political intrigues and civil revolts and dis.

turbances of such frequent recurrence as to justify the conclusion that the Govern.

ment of that country is lacking in some of the elements which are essential to

responsible independence. The interests of Japan in Korea, arising from pro

pinquity as well as commerce , are too important and far -reaching to allow her to

view with indifference the deplorable condition of affairs in that kingdom . In the

estimation of the Imperial Government the withdrawal of forces should be con

sequent upon the establishment of some understanding that will serve to guarantee

the future peace, order, and good government of the country. That course of

action is, moreover , it seems to his Imperial Majesty's Government, not only in

perfect harmony with the spirit of the Tientsin Convention, but it accords with the

dictates of reasonable precaution. Should the Government of China continue to

hold views antagonistic to those which I have frankly and in good faith presented

to your Excellency, it cannot be expected that the Imperial Government will , under

the circumstances , feel at liberty to sanction the present retirement of their troops

from Korea ."

This was followed by a formal declaration to the Tsungli

Yamên that " in this juncture the Imperial Japanese Govern

ment find themselves relieved of all responsibility for any

eventuality that may, in future, arise out of the situation ."

China still did not realise the danger that lay before her, and

tried one more piece of bluff by demanding that the withdrawal

of the Japanese troops should precede any negociations. The

Japanese, not being fools, dismissed that suggestion for what

it was worth, and took an early occasion to inform China that

any further despatch of troops to Korea would be regarded by

Japan as a hostile act. Both countries had up to that point

availed themselves of their rights under the Tientsin Convention,

366 KOREA .

and it could not be pretended that the Chinese and Japanese

forces together were not abundantly capable of keeping order in

Korea . For Japan to have allowed China to send reinforce

ments at this moment would have been an act of suicide.

She knew Chinese methods far too well to permit anything of

the kind. China's reply was to send the Kowshing, full of

troops, relying upon the British flag to protect them on the sea.

The Chen Yuen met the Naniwa at sea, fired upon her and

steamed away (there seems no reason to doubt the statements

to this effect), and shortly afterwards the Naniwa met the

Koushing, and on the latter failing to surrender, sunk her. I

express no opinion upon the technical point of international

law involved, though to a non-expert it seems clear enough,

but it is probable that if the Japanese had committed an outrage

upon the British flag on this occasion, they would have been

brought to book for it before the lapse of five months. It

is therefore fair to presume that they were within their rights.

The Japanese declaration of war came on August 3, and that

of China, affording a painful comparison by its tone and

language, followed immediately. Subsequent events are too

well known to need recapitulation ; they may be summarised

for the present in the four names, Asan, Phyöng-yang, Yalu, and

Port Arthur .

In Korea itself, in the meantime, little has happened. The

anti-Japanese party has of course been thrust out of office, and

replaced by politicians having presumably Japanese sympathies.

The Government has vacillated, so far as was possible to it

under the circumstances, between China and Japan, promising

and intriguing first for one party and then for another. Naturally

the official class has made every effort in its power to save its

historic right to plunder the people. The Japanese have con

cluded a treaty with the King, to last till the conclusion of the

war, by which his independence is guaranteed . This has, of

course, no significance as indicating the sympathy of the King,

as he had no choice but to accept it ; but it is of importance as


putting the Japanese attitude formally on record. A number

of reforms of a sweeping character have been imposed upon the

government, and the only criticism that can be passed upon

them is that they exhibit perhaps an undue confidence in the

possible political development of the Korean character. As

Japan, however, will be charged with carrying them out, she

may well be left with the responsibility of having proposed

them. As for the intrigues, the shilly-shallying, the professions

of grateful friendship followed by hostile treachery, and these

again succeeded by promises of faithfulness and pitiful revolts,

they are but the natural consequences of stirring up an admini

stration which has been well called a cesspool of corruption.

The main fact is that Korea has come under the influence of

Japan, and that under its influence she will remain .

Japan has one indisputable claim to her new sphere of

interest : she has won it by the sword . That is the kind of

right which the world most easily recognises. Moreover, she

may put in an additional moral claim on the ground that her

control will confer vast benefits upon the unfortunate Korean

people. But beside these she has other very cogent justifica

tions for her action. In the first place, it was she who opened

Korea to foreign intercourse. And second, the greater part of

Korea's modern trade has been created by Japan, and is in the

hands of her merchants. Except with China and Japan, Korea

has little trade worth mentioning, and the interest of the latter

is exactly twice that of the former. The net value of Korean

direct foreign trade for 1892 and 1893 together was 4,240,498

dollars with China, and 8,306,571 dollars with Japan. In tonnage

of shipping the proportion was vastly greater in favour of Japan .

Her tonnage in 1893 was over twenty times that of China, and >

the number of vessels entered and cleared was over twenty-five

times. The exact figures are : tonnage - China, 14,376 ; Japan,

304,224 : number of vessels -China, 37 ; Japan, 956. In fact,

the tonnage of Japan's shipping trade with Korea last year was

more than seven times that of all other nations put together,

368 KOREA .

including China. Many a western war has been fought to

preserve a smaller actual and prospective commercial pre


As regards the future, unless a great change has recently come

over the diplomacy of Japan , it is Russia that she fears . The

status of all the other European Powers in the Far East is ap

proximately fixed. Spain and Portugal count for nothing. Japan

could wipe out either of them. France will hardly claim to

extend north and east of Tongking. Germany is making great

progress with her trade , but she has no opportunity to seek terri

torial advantages. Great Britain bas reached her limit, with

the exception of the Malay Peninsula, which will certainly be hers

sooner or later ; of aa naval base north of Hongkong ; and of Siam,

in which developments are possible ; and Japan is not interested

in two of these directions . But for Russia the Far East lies in

the direct line of immediate expansion. The late Tsar made

the path of international politics an easy and a pleasant one to

tread, and his successor may be counted upon to preserve a

similar attitude . But Japan bas learned that nations have to

reckon with the inevitable Drang of other nations, and that they

cannot count for security upon the good-will of any individual.

Japan has suffered once in a little transaction with Russia, when

she exchanged Saghalin for the Kurile Islands. She has seen

illegitimate European -directed sealing expeditions which sailed

secretly from her shores fired upon murderously by armed parties

in Russian waters, and no redress or even information has been

obtainable . She has watched the Russian fleet come for its

manæuvres year after year to the Korean bay in which lies Port

Lazareff : : only the other day a Russian cruiser, the Vitiaz, was

lost there . She knows that the Russian Minister at Seoul has

tried- as one of his own colleagues expressed it to me - to jouer

un grand rôle dans un petit trou . She has applied to the Russian

Minister and the Chinese Resident there the proverb that “ two

foxes cannot live in the same sack .” She remembers when a

Russian man -of-war - I think it was the Vladimir Monomach


beat to quarters in Yokohama harbour and trained its guns upon

an approaching British ship, and when she telegraphed down

the coast for a little gunboat of her own which carried a 35 -ton

gun, and anchored it alongside the Russian, before sending on

board to exact an apology for the breach of neutrality. The

time for Russian action in the Far East may not be ripe yet,

for it will be some time before the Trans- Siberian railway will

be of any service . But sooner or later Russia will need a winter

harbour in the Far East, and Japan knows that in Russian plans

Port Lazareff has long been fixed upon as one of the two

possible places. This would be a serious matter for Japan,

and in her present state of mind I feel sure she would rather

fight than yield it. Yet for my own part, as I have already

said, I am convinced that the Russian terminus of the Trans

Siberian Railway will be (unless much bigger events take place)

in Korean waters. The discussion of this eventuality, however,

is connected with the momentous suggestion to which I have

already alluded and which is treated in a later chapter, namely, 9

that of Asia for the Asiatics. Of this, Europe is destined some

day to hear not a little. But in connection with the immediate

future of Korea it is of more interest to see exactly what is the

present attitude of Russia as defined in the one international

document upon the subject which has been published. Port

Hamilton , it will be remembered, was occupied by British

vessels under Vice- Admiral Sir W. Dowell in April, 1885, under

instructions from Mr. Gladstone's Government. The naval

authorities reported that it was worse than useless ; protests

were received from China, Japan , and Korea, and it was under

stood that if the occupation were persisted in, both Russia and

Japan would seek some similar territorial strategic advantage.

Lord Iddesleigh (a change of Ministries having meanwhile

occurred) therefore confidentially advised the British Minister in

Peking that the British Government would be prepared to

evacuate Port Hamilton “ if any suitable arrangement could

be made which would ensure that neither it nor Port Lazareff


370 KOREA .

shall pass into hostile [that is , Russian)] hands." An assurance

to this effect was obtained by China from Russia, and com

municated in the following terms, which now become once more

of great importance :

“ Rumours have recently been disseminated from Corea that Russia was inter

fering with China's feudatory . The Chinese Government accordingly demanded

an explanation from Russia as to the existence or otherwise of this fact, and in due

course the Russian Foreign Office gave the Chinese Minister Liu the most frank

assurances that the Russian Government had absolutely no such intentions. M.

Ladygensky, the Russian Chargé d'Affaires at Peking, further went to Tient -sin at

the orders of the Russian Foreign Office, and bad several personal conversations

with the Grand Secretary Li, Minister Superintendent of Northern Trade, to whom

he repeated and enlarged upon the answer earlier given to the Minister Liu. He

also stated that the Russian Government gave a sincere promise that if the British

would evacuate Port Hamilton , the Russian Government would not occupy Corean

territory under any circumstances whatsoever.

“ The Grand Secretary Li, Minister Superintendent of Northern Trade, then told

M. Ladygensky that what was feared was that after the British vessels of war had

retired from these islands they would be again taken possession by some other

Power. Russia, therefore, must guarantee that she would not hereafter seize these

islands, and on the faith of this guarantee China could officially address the British

Government, and urge their speedy evacuation .

“ In the course of time M. Ladygensky, in obedience to instructions from the

Russian Government, gave a most explicit guarantee, distinctly declaring that in

the future Russia would not take Corean territory.

“ The Chinese Government is therefore naturally in a position, on the faith of

he guarantee of the Russian Government, to give a guarantee to the British


Port Hamilton was accordingly evacuated on February 27,

1887 .

It will be observed that the Russian assurance came wholly

through the Tsungli Yamên . We -the public, at least - have

no other source of information concerning this assurance. We

do not know what conditions may have been attached to it, or

what was the exact form taken by M. Ladygensky's " explicit

guarantee .” At the time this was given , China's pledge was

sufficient, because it was then believed that China would have

been a valuable ally in case war had resulted from the breaking of

the promise . But China is now known to be virtually worthless

* The Tsungli Yamên to Sir J. Walsham , Peking, October 31 , 1886. China,

No. 1 (1887 ) , p . 38 .


as a fighting force, yet we have only her word that Russia pro

mised , years before the Trans- Siberian Railway was sanctioned,

that she “ would not occupy Korean territory under any circum

stances whatsoever.” And the word of China, on such a matter at

such aa moment, is not worth to-day the paper on which it was

written . Such, then , is the position of Russia in this question ;

China has been brushed aside ; Korea will doubtless be left

independent under a more or less defined Japanese protection ;

and Japan is left face to face with a problematical future.






PA N has at length come into her inheritance.. Kossuth is

reported to have said that the two most wonderful men in

the world were Prince Bismarck and the Emperor of Japan.

From one of these the wonder has somewhat abated of late, but

the country of the other has finally imposed itself upon the some

what unwilling recognition of the West. The “ child of the world's

old age ”" has proved to be its most remarkable offspring. Until

to -day, however, the world has not taken Japan quite seriously,

in spite of the thousands of travellers who have visited her and

the hundreds of volumes that have been written about her.

But now that she has been seen sword in hand , sweeping

the Chinese hordes out of Korea and Manchuria, driving the

Chinese ships off the sea, and capturing their principal fortress

in the course of a morning, and at the same time concluding

a treaty with Great Britain on equal terms, Japan stands no

longer in need of the encomiums and the prophecies of her

friends. Her leap from feudalism to modernity is without

parallel, but everybody appreciates it now. In a quarter of

a century she has sprung from an Oriental despotism, hating

foreigners above all else, and differing only from other Oriental

despotisms by the fact that the ruling influence among her

people was one of the strictest, loftiest, and most punctilious

codes of honour that man has ever devised, to a nation whose

army and navy may meet those of contemporary Europe on

equal terms ; whose laws will bear comparison with any in


376 JAPAN .

existence ; whose manufactures are driving western producers

from the field ; whose art-work has created a new standard of

taste abroad ; whose education has produced a band of experts

second to none—it was a Japanese physician who first dis

covered the bacillus of the bubonic plague in Hongkong ; whose

colonising strength suggests more than one alteration of the

map of Asia ; whose official statistics, for truthfulness and

elaboration, leave those of many western countries far behind

her last Budget covers 1,438 printed pages ; whose people are

simply thirsting for fresh fields to conquer, and scorn the mere

idea of failure. All this, however, has become a commonplace

of information, and so far as I am concerned, I have written

about it in so much detail elsewhere, * that here I propose

only to touch upon two or three aspects of Japanese life which

characterise her more intimately to-day than ever before.

The first aspect under which the world must now regard

Japan with respectful interest is that of a first -class Power.

Four years ago I wrote that the Japanese army was virtually a

European force, and that it might be counted upon to make a

desperate fight against any enemy in the world. To-day there

is no longer any need to dwell upon the armed strength of Japan,

since war—the supreme test of paper and parade -ground dis

positions — has tried it. The Japanese army and navy bave proved

themselves more than equal to the physical estimate that their

admirers had formed of them . As rapidly as Germany when

Von Moltke telegraphed “ Krieg mobil,” the army was ready.

Force after force was despatched with a secrecy, a simplicity,

a celerity and a completeness that few European nations

could equal ; the reserves came to the colours with a

mechanical precision ; and this time literally not a gaiter

button, in Marshal Lebauf's famous phrase, was lacking

from their equipment. Every European expert has been enthu

siastic in his praise of the perfection of Japanese methods, the

* In my book entitled “ The Real Japan : Studies in Japanese Manners, Morals,

Administration and Politics,” London . T. Fisher Unwin , fourth edition, 1894.


discipline of Japanese men, and the scientific tactics of Japanese

officers ; while the succession of brilliant victories tells its own

tale of the primal virtue of courage. Of this the vernacular

papers have been full of stories, one of which I will quote as

typical of the Japanese people. At the battle of Söng -hwan a

bugler named Genjiro stood beside Captain Matsuzaki, when a

bullet struck him in the chest. Though knowing he was

seriously wounded, he continued to blow until breath failed him

and he fell dead where he had stood. The so -called " Christian

Patriotic Relief Corps ” of his native village of Funaomura

collected a few presents to send to his family — who were people

in the humblest circumstances with a letter of consolation ;

the headman collected the people of the village, the gifts were

presented by the local member of Parliament, and in reply

Genjiro's father spoke as follows : — “ It is the lot of all men to


die. My son had to die some time. Instead of falling asleep

in a corner of this miserable hovel, unmourned save by a few

relatives, he has fallen on the field of honour and received the

praise of a multitude of his superiors . Hence his mother and

I cannot look upon this as a mournful occasion . We rejoice

that our son has been loyal to Japan, even to the point of

shedding his blood in defence of her honour."

The Japanese army consists to-day of the Imperial Guard, and

six Divisions with headquarters in the principal districts of the

country. These average about 10,000 men each, and to each is

allotted a First and Second Reserve. According to the latest

statistics, the total strength is as follows :

With the First Second

Colours. Reserve. Reserve .

Imperial Guard 6,530 8,610 5,507

First Division ( Tokyo) 10,068 15,549 19,870

Second Division ( Sendai ) 8,892 16,428 20,002

Third Division (Nagoya) ... 9,011 13,912 15,897

Fourth Division (Osaka ). 9,157 14,876 15,595

Fifth Division ( Hiroshima ) 8,882 13,462 17,077

Sixth Division (Kumamoto ) 9,885 14,870 16,039

Total 62,425 97,707 109,987—270,119

378 JAPAN.

The actual fighting force of Japan , therefore, without taking

into account the large numbers of less-trained levies she could

raise in dire extremity, amounts to at least 250,000 men . It is

sufficient to add that a force of this strength, armed , drilled,

equipped , and led as the Japanese army is, renders Japan the

leading Power of Asia so far as operations on land are concerned.

Japan might well have raised and perfected this force without

having developed the moral qualities which are as essential as

mere strength to the proper conception of a Great Power.

That she realises the imperative need of these-apart from

the tributes that have been paid to her troops for their

admirable behaviour, and the consideration with which they

have treated the people among whom they have been quartered,

-a single example may suffice to show. Soon after the de

claration of war the following proclamation was made to the

Japanese army by Count Oyama, the Minister for War, who

subsequently took command of the Second Army, and so success

fully attacked Port Arthur :

Belligerent operations being properly confined to the military and naval forces

actually engaged, and there being no reason whatever for enmity between indi

viduals because their countries are at war, the common principles of humanity

dictate that succour and rescue should be extended even to those of the enemy's

forces who are disabled either by wounds or disease. In obedience to these

principles, civilised nations in time of peace enter into conventions to mutually

assist disabled persons in time of war without distinction of friend or foe. This

humane union is called the Geneva Convention, or more commonly the Red Cross

Association. Japan became a party to it in June , 1886, and her soldiers hare

already been instructed that they are bound to treat with kindness and helpfulness

such of their enemies as may be disabled by wounds or disease. China not having

joined any such Convention , it is possible that her soldiers, ignorant of these

enlightened principles, may subject diseased or wounded Japanese to merciless

treatment. Against such contingencies the Japanese troops must be on their

guard . But at the same time they must never forget that however cruel and

vindictive the foe may show himself, he must nevertheless be treated in accordance

with the acknowledged rules of civilisation ; his disabled must be succoured and

his captured kindly and considerately protected .

It is not alone to those disabled by wounds or sickness that merciful and gentle

treatment should be extended . Similar treatment is also due to those who offer

no resistance to our arms. Even the body of a dead enemy should be treated with

respect. We cannot too much admire the course pursued by a certain Western

country which in handing over an enemy's general complied with all the rites and


ceremonies suitable to the rank of the captive. Japanese soldiers should always

bear in mind the gracious benevolence of their august Sovereign and should not be

more anxious to display courage than charity. They have now an opportunity to

afford practical proof of the value they attach to these principles.

(Signed ) OYAMA IWAO , Count ,

Minister of State for War.

September 22nd, 27th year of Meiji.

It is perhaps not too much to say that in the history of warfare

no army has ever been sent to the front with a more admirable

exhortation . For the sake of contrast, it may be recalled that

at this time Chinese Viceroys were offering and paying rewards

for the heads and hands of Japanese soldiers , and that Chinese

officers, as an eyewitness has testified, were claiming and

receiving them . It was rumoured that one of the conditions of

peace to be insisted upon by Japan was that the Chinese

officials who had been guilty of this barbarity should be handed

over to them for execution . The rumour was denied , but, for

my own part, I am sorry it was not true, since one lesson

of this kind would have taught China more civilisation than she

has learned during the last thousand years .

The Japanese people have exhibited the greatest patriotism

and enthusiasm for this war, and if their own newspapers may

be trusted, chiefly because its result was to be the carrying of

Japanese enlightenment into the darkest country of Asia. An

enormous sum was subscribed in a few weeks and voluntarily

presented to the Government. When a loan of 50,000,000 dols.

was asked for, 77,000,000 were promptly offered . Not for one

moment has the slightest doubt of the result of the war been

felt. Certain foreigners, says the Japan Mail, were expressing

surprise at the quiet manner in which the announcement of the

victory of the Yalu was received in Tokyo. “ The reply was


eminently characteristic of the Japanese. But this is only

what we knew would happen ; it was a matter of course ; why

should there be any unusual display or demonstration if the

victory of our arms was positively assured from the outset ? ' ”

Yet the one point upon which the Japanese might well have felt

380 JAPAN .

considerable anxiety was the question of their equality with the

Chinese at sea, especially as the great fight, when it came, was

bound to be to a large extent one of cruisers against ironclads.

One other point only calls for comment in this connection .

European writers, knowing in most cases little of the extreme

strictness of Japanese military organisation, have frequently

said that both the Japanese and Chinese accounts of what had

happened must be received with equal scepticism until supported

by independent testimony. The correspondents at Shanghai

who have been responsible for an almost unbroken succession of

misstatements concerning the war - have constantly made this

assertion. It is so baseless as to be ridiculous. Not in one

single instance has the official report by the responsible Japa

nese commander been shown to deviate by a hair's breadth

from the exact truth so far as he could possibly know it

All Japanese statistics, as I have said, are compiled with

more than German detail and scrupulousness ; every Japanese

soldier wears a metal disc slung round his neck for purposes

of identification ; and the most precise detail of every action

either has been published or will be when the history of the war

comes to be written. A friend at the centre of affairs in Japan

wrote to me upon this point as follows : — “ It has always to be

remembered , in judging between Chinese and Japanese accounts,

that the former emanate from private and irresponsible sources,

the latter from official ones. The salient features of every fight

are reported by the Japanese Admiral or General in command,

and the report is published by the Government. Any wilful

perversions of facts would involve a court-martial for the officer,

and would bring the political house about the Government's ears.”

The second aspect under which the progress of Japan is of

great interest to western nations, is that of a rival in manu

factures . This is a far more serious question, especially to

Great Britain, than is yet generally understood. The truth is

that our manufacturers are actually being driven out of many

markets of the East by the Japanese, and that the most com


petent observers prophesy the rapid development of this process.

The circumstances under which the war almost produced a

commercial crisis in Japan , bear striking testimony to the

growth of Japanese manufacturing interests. In 1893, there

were about a quarter of a million cotton spindles in Japan ; this

year there are over half a million. On July 6th , the Osaka

branch of the Bank of Japan had 6,000,000 dols. advanced for

the purchase of raw cotton ; when the war came, however, the

banks withdrew a good deal of their credit, and the cotton

spinning companies found themselves threatened with ruin at a

moment when their trade afforded the most legitimate justifica

tion for extension . Under these circumstances a panic was only

averted by the promise of the Government to give assistance.

In 1875 , there was no cotton-spinning in Japan, as in that year

the first European machines, of small capacity , were introduced .

The following table, compiled by a Japanese economist, shows

the rate of progress since then, with the inevitable corresponding

decline of imports from Great Britain and India :

National Production Foreign Imports

in Japanese lbs. in English lbs.

1888 ... 956,804 47,439,639

1889 20,952,687 42,810,912

1890 32,217,456 31,908,302

1891 45,306,444 17,337,600

1892 64,046,925 .. 24,308,491

And new companies are being formed in Japan even at this

moment, with a total capital of over 2,500,000 dols .

The skill and intelligence of the Japanese at all handicrafts is

a matter of common knowledge ; and considering at the same

time the low rate of its remuneration, Japanese labour is beyond

all comparison the cheapest in the world . In Miiki wages

averaged last year , according to the British Consul's report,

17:37 sen (about 5d. ) a day per man , and 7.85 sen per woman ;

at Kurume, 15.05 sen per man , and 9.95 sen per woman ; at

Kagoshima 15.35 sen per man , and 5:57 sen per woman . At

the last-mentioned place the day averaged 103 hours, while at

382 JAPAN .

Miiki and Kurume the spindles were working 23 hours and 24

hours a day throughout the year, excepting holidays. At

Osaka, the chief Japanese manufacturing centre, men earned

from 6d . to 2s. 4d. a day, and women from 1 d . to 5d.; girls,

eight or nine years old, worked 12 hours a day for 3d . Many of

the mills run for 24 hours a day, in two shifts of 12 hours each,

with a total allowance of forty minutes for meals. Moreover,

the Diet is about to press the Government to remove or greatly

modify the import and export duties upon cotton , which will

probably be done, and the manufacture thus receive a very

stimulating bonus. It is not only in cotton , however, that the

Japanese are competing favourably with western nations. A

“ Japan Watch Company," of Yokohama, is about to commence

the manufacture of watches on a large scale ; it has procared

the finest watch -making machinery from America, and bas

erected engines of one hundred horse power to run it. This is

an enterprise for which Japanese labour is peculiarly adapted,

and with the inexhaustible market of the East to supply, the

promoters are probably not too sanguine in anticipating a great

success . In match -making, again, the Japanese manufacturers

have driven all competitors out of the East. “ There is no

doubt,” says Mr. J. H. Gubbins, Secretary of the British

Legation in Tokyo, “ that so far as the Eastern market is con

cerned, no country can any longer compete with Japan in this

particular industry.” Five million gross went last year to

Hongkong alone. Already Japan is manufacturing the rolling

stock for the Korean railway to be built. In every Consular

and Customs Report the same story of Japanese competition is

told. Japanese cotton goods have got as far as the Straits, and

her clocks have already beaten even the countrymen of Sam

Slick in that market . Fifteen hundred dozen undershirts came

to Singapore in one recent consignment. From Macao Mr.

Brennan writes : - “ The articles from Japan at present con

sist of curios, cotton cloths, blankets, flannels, hosiery, soaps,

lamps, tea-kettles, matches, hats, umbrellas, Gladstone bags,


silks, and such like. To give an idea of the cheapness, I may

say that umbrellas of European pattern cost 30 cents to 1 dol.

(11d . to 2s. 2d.), and cotton crapes 1 dol . to 1 dol . 20 cents a

piece of 20 yards, that is 28. 2d. to 2s. 7d. These are of fine

texture and nice appearance, so that they are much appreciated

by Chinese and Europeans, and worn as dresses and shirts.

Indeed, the competition of Japanese goods is sure to become

keener in course of time. " At Tamsui , Japanese towelling

has taken the place of former importations, and the import of

Japanese cottons in 1893 was 20 per cent. greater than in 1892.

The export of matting from Japan in 1893 was double that of

1892. At Niuchuang, Japanese flannel, blankets, brass buttons,

lamps, umbrellas, pictures and mirrors, are becoming important

items. At Ningpo, hundreds of band - gins of Japanese make

have been imported . The following report concerning the

Korean market is worth quoting at length :

" It may not be out of place to remark here that while the bulk of the Piece

Goods and Metals sold in Fusan are of European origin , principally British , the

fact should not be overlooked that Japan , by carefully studying arising needs, and

supplying articles suitable to the tastes and means of Koreans and her Fusan

colonists, is able to compete, more successfully each year, with almost all the goods

of European manufacture. In no place, perhaps, is this rapidly growing competi

tion more patent than in Fusan, where can be seen in the shops of the Settlement

imitations of nearly all the Western goods and wares named in our Returns, from

Piece Goods downwards. Besides these , there are Foreign - style suits, underclothing

and hose, felt and straw hats, household furniture and culinary utensils, carpets,

glassware, chinaware, lamps and fittings, soaps, scents, tinned provisions ( tish,

meat, and vegetables), wines and beer, farming implements, &c. , mostly made in

Osaka and selling at prices very much cheaper than those of Western manufacture.

Whether Europe's persistent adherence to the gold standard is solely responsible or

not for this state of affairs is a question well worthy of consideration ; but certainly

the rate of exchange seems to have a great deal to do with it . Another question

presents itself : Is it not highly probable that, at no distant date, Japan - with better

machinery, added to the advantages she already possesses in cheap labour, and the

( to her) favourable exchange now ruling -will run European manufactures entirely

off the Eastern markets ? " *

Finally , I may take from the last report of Mr. Troup, the

British Consul at Yokohama, the striking statement that, “ to


say the least, the trade in imports seems likely to suffer great

Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs. Mr. Hunt's Report for Fusan , 1893.

384 JAPAN .

restrictions, and, in the case of articles which come into competi

tion with home Japanese manufactures, probable extinction ."

Between 1873 and 1892, the imports of Japan only rose from

26,000,000 dols . to 74,000,000 dols. , while her exports increased

from 20,000,000 dols. to 91,000,000 dols . In view of all these

facts, and the improbability of any legislation in the direction of

bi-metallism coming to the rescue of the British manufacturer, we

cannot find much comfort in the fact that the percentage of the

total foreign trade of Japan for 1892 was 35 per cent. for the

British Empire , against 27 per cent. for the United States, 14

per cent. for France, 12 per cent. for China, and 4 per cent. for

Germany. It is only too clear that in the future Japan is certain

to be as keen a competitor in the peaceful arts of commerce as

she might possibly be a dangerous enemy in the “ trampled

lanes of war. "

The greatest ambition of Japan has been realised. She has

always wanted to whip China, but far more, of late years, has

she desired to be recognised by European Powers as on a level

with themselves. Till this happened , she has felt that all she

did was admired as one admires the precocity of a child ; that

her achievements were regarded as clever imitations ; that the

praise lavished upon her was a species of charity. And she was

quite right. It had never occurred to the statesmen of Europe

that Japan possessed, behind all her cleverness and her genius,

a spirit of true originality, a creative power, in the great things

of life - politics, administration , morals, science, and art ; nor

that the failure on their part to see this was the great thorn in

the side of Japan . It must be borne in mind, in order to esti

mate this feeling, that while on the one hand Japan had an army

which was not much inferior to any army in the world of its

size, a navy small but first-rate in quality , a growing system of

manufactures which threatened the predominance of western

competitors, a development of scientific knowledge that was the

surprise of all who understood it, and a po.itical system of which

the least that could be said was that it was based on the best


models, she was at the same time unable to exercise the least

jurisdiction over the criminal foreigner in her midst, that her

Customs system was dictated to her by foreign treaties, and

that before she could make any change in these treaties she

must procure the consent, not only of the really great Powers,

but also of Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Denmark,

Holland, Sweden, Hawaii, and Peru. Many of Japan's friends

-quorum pars minima fui - had urged her to “ denounce ” the

treaties — to give formal notice that after aa certaiu date she would

no longer recognise their validity. This would have been strictly

within her rights, for the American diplomatist who had dictated

the words of the first modern treaty of a foreign Power with

Japan had expressed his regret that words he had inserted as

giving to Japan the concession of revising her own treaties, had

been distorted by other Powers into the claim of a right on their

part to interfere in this. And it would have been well within her

ability, too, for it was known that several of the great Treaty

Powers would not have dreamed of fighting for their treaties ,

and that in their absence the others would not have found it con

venient to do so. But Japan adhered to the slower though less

risky processes of negociation. The result was that the condi

tions of 1866 remained those of 1894. The Japan of feudalism

was to Europe the Japan of modern times , Some two thousand

five hundred strangers dwelt within her borders, and in order

that the personal and commercial privileges of these might be

safeguarded, Japan had no power over her own tariff and was

compelled to tax her agricultural class excessively to provide a

revenue ; she had no jurisdiction over a single foreigner ; she was

unable to tax the foreigners who prospered by her trade ; and

while she had spent five million dollars in lighting and buoying

her coasts she could not make foreign ships pay either light, ton

nage, or harbour dues. Yet by treaty she was entitled to shake

off these trammels. Is it surprising that when the Japanese

people gradually awoke to a realisation of this fact, and the

further one that foreigners were deliberately delaying any reform


386 JAPAN .

in her interests, an anti-foreign spirit grew up and manifested

itself in offensive ways ?

In 1882 Count Inouye proposed that Japan should be opened

to foreign trade, in return for the abolition of Consular jurisdic

tion, and that foreign judges should sit in a majority with

Japanese judges when foreigners were tried by her new codes.

This was rejected by the Powers, Great Britain leading the oppo

sition. In 1884 it was proposed to Japan that she should have

a limited jurisdiction over foreigners in return for the opening of

a few more “ accessible ports " to trade. Her reply was of course

that she desired to have complete jurisdiction and was prepared

to open her whole country. In 1886 a Conference of the sixteen

Treaty Powers was held with Japan, and after a year's discussion,

it was solemnly proposed to Japan that she should set up an array

of highly- paid foreign judges, with a staff of foreign interpreters

to render the evidence and their judgments from half a dozen

foreign languages into Japanese and back, and that for fifteen

years to come every change of every Japanese code should be

“ communicated ” to every one of the sixteen Powers - to Bel

gium, to Denmark , to Portugal , to Hawaii, to Peru ! -- for its

approval. So anxious was Count Inouye to get the great ques

tion settled that he even accepted these terms, but the moment

they were understood in Japan a storm of public indignation

sprang up and drove him from office. He was succeeded by

Count Okuma, who approached the sixteen Powers separately

and proposed that the revised Codes should be promulgated in

English for two years before the abolition of Consular jurisdic

tion, and that foreign judges should sit in a majority in all cases

affecting foreigners. In return he would throw open Japan to

foreign residence and trade . To these proposals the United

States, Germany, Russia and France agreed. Great Britain,

unfortunately, still hung back . Again Japanese public opinion

manifested the greatest hostility, and the natural demand was

made that the question should be left for the decision of the

Diet, which was just about to assemble for the first time. The


Cabinet resigned in a body, and a fanatic lay in wait for Count

Okuma at the gate of the Foreign Office, threw a dynamite bomb

at him, shattering one of his legs, and then and there cut his

own throat and fell dead. It has been told me by a foreigner

who was engaged at the Foreign Office on that day that public

opinion was so charged with anger that everybody was expecting

something dreadful to happen, and when the explosion was

heard all present knew in a moment what it must be. Viscount

Aoki succeeded Count Okuma as Minister for Foreign Affairs,

and made new tentatives towards settling the Treaty Revision

Question , but in vain . An anti- foreign feeling had now taken

deep root, and the watch ward of all parties was, “ A treaty on

terms of absolute equality. ” And that is what has taken place .

Viscount Aoki has been more fortunate as Ambassador than as

Foreign Minister, and he has concluded with Great Britain a

treaty which gives to Japan everything that she desires.

Treaties with the United States, Germany, France, and Russia

will of course follow immediately. Japan acquires her com

plete judicial autonomy after a period of at least five years,

when the treaty takes effect, and it remains in force for a period

of twelve years. A revised tariff would go into operation a

month after the exchange of ratifications, except for the “ most

favoured nation " clause in the Japanese treaties with other

Powers ; she will not, therefore, be able to avail herself of this

until she has concluded similar treaties with them .

On the expiration of the treaty-that is to say, seventeen

years from the present time--Japan comes into possession of

her complete tariff autonomy also. During the next five years

Japan agrees to issue passports, available for twelve months, to

all accredited British subjects ; and by the treaty the whole of

Japan is thrown open to British trade, travel, and residence,

and British subjects are placed in every respect on a par with

Japanese, with certain exceptions. On the one hand, they are

exempted from compulsory military service, and from any

pecuniary burden in connection with it ; and on the other,

$88 JAPAN .

they are not allowed to own land or to engage in the coast

ing trade, except between certain specified ports. Every

thing except land they may own in the interior, but that

they can only acquire by lease, and according to the Japanese

laws and customs these leases will probably be for thirty and

fifty years . The prohibition of land-owning by foreigners

will be seen when looked at from the point of view of the

Japanese to be a reasonable measure of self-protection . If

wealthy foreigners were allowed to acquire by purchase vast

tracts of land in Japan it is easy to see how serious political

and other difficulties might arise. Japanese capitalists could

not enter into competition with the capitalists of Europe.

By this treaty for the first time Japanese subjects are

accorded in Great Britain the same rights and privileges as

British subjects; this has hitherto been a matter of courtesy, and

not of right. The Japanese Codes, as is well known, have been

drawn up by European experts and are equal, theoretically, to

any criminal and civil codes in the world ; and during the five

years which must elapse before foreigners come under their

operation the Japanese judges will bave a further considerable

experience in the administration of them . Considering, more

over, that it is the very legitimate ambition of the Japanese so

to act in all public matters as to be above the criticism of

western nations, there is no reason to fear that any miscarriage

of justice towards foreigners will ensue. Should the arrange

ment, however, prove unsatisfactory in any way, it must be

remembered that the British Government were repeatedly

offered by Japan terms of treaty revision which included

foreign judges upon the Japanese Bench when the interests of

foreigners were concerned , and that having refused these terms

they have now accepted the present much less advantageous

ones . So far as Great Britain is concerned it is the story of the

Sibylline books : we have paid more in the end for less than we

were offered at the beginning. But there can be no doubt what

ever of the absolute justice of this treaty, and it should be a


matter of pride to us, no less than of satisfaction at the ex

pediency of the act, that we have been the first nation to recog

nise the just claims of Japan to be regarded as a civilised

country . Our hesitation to do so for many years produced

much hard feeling against us, but this is now replaced by a

feeling of grateful appreciation that we have at last led the way

where other nations must inevitably follow . Thus Japan enters

- first of all eastern countries-into the charmed circle of the

civilised Powers, and the dearest wish of her heart is at length


The Japan of to-morrow has nothing to fear except from

herself. There are certain signs of threatening dangers, how

ever, which students of her history and critics of her institutions

cannot overlook. The first of these springs from her very success

in rivalling western nations in their manufacturing industries.

While we have succeeded , after many struggles, in mitigating

the horrors of the old factory system , and are still occupied in

devising fresh safeguards for the future, Japan is complacently

allowing identical evils to grow up in her midst. It is time

for her to realise that even though her army and navy

become the most powerful in the world, the title of “ civilised ”

cannot properly apply to her so long as young children work

twelve hours a day in her factories. The character of her

people, to which is due in the last analysis every success that

she has achieved , has sprung from the free development of

individual character, and it is seriously threatened by the rapid

growth of great manufacturing industries, which tend, when

unrestricted , to reduce the individual man to a mere cog in the

mechanism, and which eat up the lives of women and children.

Upon this point I may be permitted to repeat what I have said

before. When Japan rings with the rattle of machinery ; when

the railway has become a feature of her scenery ; when the boiler

chimney has defaced her choicest spots as the paper-makers have

already obliterated the delights of Oji ; when the traditions of

yashiki and shizoku alike are all finally engulfed in the barrack

390 JAPAN .

room ; when her art reckons its output by the thousand dozen ;

when the power in the land is shared between the professional

politician and the plutocrat ; when the peasant hasbeen exchanged

for the " factory hand,” the kimono for the slop-suit, the tea-house

for the music-hall , the geisha for the lion comique, and the daimio

for the beer-peer-Japan will have good cause to doubt whether

she has made a wise bargain . Her greatest triumph will come,

if ever, when she has shown that while adapting and even

improving the western methods of influence and power, she

is able to guard herself from falling into the slough of social

and economical difficulties in which European and American

societies are wallowing, and from which one may almost doubt

whether they will succeed in emerging without leaving civilisa

tion behind them for good .

The second danger lying ahead of Japan may spring from her

own excessive zeal . She has been so marvellously successful

that she may be apt to believe she cannot fail. “ Let him


that thinketh he standeth beware Jest he fall.” If the Japanese

politician becomes enamoured of Utopias and panaceas ; if he

believes that, in the future as in the past, his own country can

do in a decade what it has taken other nations a century to

accomplish ; if he does not realise that the difficulties ahead are

infinitely greater and more trying than those which have been

overcome, he may plunge Japan into a bottomless pit of

troubles. There are still in modern Japan all the elements

for civil explosion, and serious economic and political difficulties

would undoubtedly bring these into action.

Excess of zeal has already brought about a virtual deadlock in

the most vital institution of modern Japan—its Parliamentary

system. This has hardly been in existence four years, yet

during that time it has developed more than one sharp conflict

between the Emperor and the deputies ; the Diet has been

several times prorogued and twice dissolved ; it has expelled its

President ; it is split up into innumerable and almost incom

prehensible factions ; it has been the scene of many unseemly


demonstrations ; and it has formally declared itself in direct

conflict with the provisions of the Constitution of 1889. A

majority of the Diet is bent upon securing the system of party

Cabinets, which rise and fall in accordance with party votes.

This the Constitution expressly avoide. The Japanese Cabinet

is the Government of the Emperor ; nominally he is its head,

but actually he is only its figure-head ; a majority, therefore,

in appealing to him over the heads of the Cabinet, is striking a

blow at the heart of the Constitution. The situation is a very

difficult and even dangerous one, for representative government

almost necessarily involves government by party, yet in the

present fluid state of Japanese political thought, under a party

system there would be no guarantee whatever of stability or

continuity. Nor does Japan as yet seem to have produced any

great party -leaders. Moreover, her politics shows an unfortunate

tendency to violence . There is a class of unemployed rowdies,

called soshi, descendants by practice of the old ronins and corre

sponding roughly to the “ heelers ” of Tammany, who hire

themselves out regularly, especially at election times, to the

highest bidder, for any disreputable purposes, from breaking

up meetings to bludgeoning candidates, or even assassinating

political opponents. When to all this is added the further fact

that the great clan jealousies of ante- Restoration times are still

smouldering, and that Satsuma and Choshiu live in harmony

chiefly because they divide political power between them , it will

be seen that in her new -found politics, too, Japan may find

many a danger to her national welfare. For myself I believe

that when these dangers loom a little nearer and in their true

proportions, the Japanese people will have wisdom and sobriety

enough to avoid them, but no foreign friend of Japan should

fail to sound a note of grave alarm .

Of all excessive zeal, however, the most dangerous will

be excess of military zeal. There has always been a war

party in Japan, and it has looked for years with eager

pess to a struggle with China. This has now taken place,

392 JAPAN ,

and its results are not likely to be pacific ; on the con

trary, the party of a so-called “ strong foreign policy ” will

be justified in the eyes of all men. And as there is no

longer any eastern Power to fight, the “ strong "” party of the

future can only turn its eyes towards some nation of the West.

Lest it be thought that I am exaggerating Japanese confidence

and ambition , I will quote the following extraordinary passage

from a recent speech of no less distinguished a person than

Count Okuma himself, ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs :

“ The European Powers are already showing symptoms of decay, and the next

century will see their constitutions shattered and their empires in ruins. Even if

this should not quite happen , their resources will have become exhausted in unsuc

cessful attempts at colonisation. Therefore who is fit to be their proper successors

if not ourselves ? What nation except Germany, France, Russia, Austria, and Italy

can put 200,000 men into the field inside of a month ? As to their finance, there

is no country where the disposal of surplus revenue gives rise to so much political

discussion. As to intellectual power, the Japanese mind is in every way equal to

the European mind. More than this, have not the Japanese opened a way to the

perfection of a discovery in which foreigners have not succeeded even after years of

labour ? Our people astonish even the French, who are the most skilful among

artisans, by the cleverness of their work. It is true the Japanese are small of

stature, but the superiority of the body depends more on its constitution than on

its size. If treaty revision were completed , and Japan completely victorious over

China , we should become one of the chief Powers of the world, and no Power conld

engage in any movement without first consulting us. Japan could then enter into


competition with Europe as the representative of the Oriental races.

One of the best friends Japan has ever had, the man who

knows her better than any other foreigner, has recently written

that Japan stands in great need of a peace party at this moment.

“ Experience has taught us to dread one thing in Japan above

all others - fashion. . . . It may seem premature to speak of

this, but in truth we dread lest war become the fashion in

Japan , so that success, instead of bringing contentment, may

merely fire ambition . A peace party is wanted ; that is to say,

a party prepared to hold the nation back when the time for

halting shall have fairly arrived . " * Captain Brinkley further

points out that the spectacle of the present war is not offered

* The Japan Weekly Mail, August 25 , 1894.


gratis to western Powers, but that each pays for witnessing it

the price of interrupted or crippled trade, and that they “ will not

sit idle if they see Japan fighting merely for lust of fighting or

of conquest. ” Japan, if she is wise, will find in solving the great

problems of peace, chief among which will be the education

of the masses of her people up to the standard of profession and

practice reached by her ruling and educated classes, a sufficient

occupation for all her genius.



WHEN peace is concluded between Japan and China,the

difficulties of the war—to speak in paradox - will begin.

Up to the present time it has been plain sailing for everybody

concerned in the struggle , directly and indirectly, except China,

and her humiliation is a matter which no one except a partisan

of savagery can regret for a moment. The time is rapidly

approaching, however, when Japan must show her hand, and

then she will find herself face to face, across the carcase of her

defeated foe, with all the combined rivalry and mutual jealousies

of the European Powers. That moment will be a momentous

one for all parties , especially for Japan and for ourselves. It is,

of course , a risky matter to prophesy concerning the next six

months , since it is an open secret that no Foreign Office in

Europe has any accurate knowledge of the conditions Japan

will demand . Moreover , there are some aspects of the situation

which cannot yet be even discreetly discussed . But so far as

may be possible , the situation is one which Englishmen , of all

people, should consider carefully beforehand , for upon its develop

ment bang very great issues for themselves .

There exists in Japan, in the minds of the intelligent among

her citizens no less than among her publicists, her soldiers, and

her diplomatists, a sentiment which is seldom mentioned there,

and which , so far as I know, has hardly been hinted at in

Europe . That sentiment is summed up in four words : Asia for

the Asiatics. Herein , I am convinced, lie the germs of the most



momentous events in the relationships of nations since Napoleon

Bonaparte was exiled to St. Helena. To appreciate this, let us

first glance at the situation as a reasonable forecast pictures it.

It is assumed that Japan crushes China and is requested to

table the terms on which she will make peace. These may be,

first, the complete autonomy of Korea under Japanese protec

tion, and with a Japanese force stationed at Wiju ; second, an

indemnity of £50,000,000 ; third, the occupation of Port

Arthur as a strategical guarantee, and possibly the control of

the Chinese Customs Office at Shanghai as a pecuniary guaran

tee, until the above sum is paid ; fourth , the formal recognition

of Japanese rights over the Liuchiu Islands, and the cession of

Formosa. These would constitute a splendid set of conditions

for the victor, and all things considered, they could hardly be

described as extravagant, since with regard to Formosa, the

most contentious point, China informed Japan in 1873 that she

could not be responsible for an attack upon Japanese subjects by

the Formosan people. But would even these conditions wholly

satisfy the people of Japan ? I do not hesitate to say they

would not.

Japan has already fixed her eyes upon the future, and what she

sees there alarms her, as well it may. Japan is aa little country,

with 40,000,000 of people . China is a huge country, with

350,000,000 . China could easily bring 500,000 men of splendid

physique to the colours ; she could engage European or American

officers and teachers to bring them gradually under military

discipline and instruction ; well paid and fairly treated the soldiers

would be as good a mass of Kanonenfutter as need be ; she could

arm them with repeating rifles and quick-firing field -pieces ;

she could buy herself a new fleet and place it under the absolute

control of foreign officers . It is inconceivable that even China,

if she ever escapes from the consequences of this war, should not

have learned her lesson at last. Then in ten or fifteen years'

time she would be a really great Power. During this period

Japan would have been compelled to increase her army and her

396 JAPAN .

navy, and to support a constantly growing burden of military

expenditure ; and at its close the whole struggle would be to

wage over again under conditions infinitely less favourable to

herself. The leading vernacular journals have already declared

frankly that this must not be permitted at any cost. Taking

once more the Japanese point of view , it cannot be asserted that

this is unreasonable. The question then recurs, what does Japan

want ?

This brings us back to the aforesaid undercurrent of national

sentiment in Japan which would express itself, if it spoke at all ,

in the declaration, “ Asia for the Asiatics . " In other words,

I am able to say from positive knowledge that the Government

of Japan has conceived a parallel to the Monroe Doctrine for

the Far East, with herself at its centre. The words of Presi.

dent Monroe, in his famous Message of 1823, in which this

doctrine was first promulgated, express exactly, with the change

of the one word I have italicised, the views of the chief Japanese

statesmen of to-day : “ With the existing colonies or depen

dencies of any European power we have not interfered, and shall

not interfere ; but with the governments which have declared

their independence and maintained it, and whose independence

we have, on great consideration and just principles, acknow

ledged , we could not view an interposition for oppressing them ,

or controlling in any other manner their destiny by any

European power , in any other light than as a manifestation of

an unfriendly disposition toward Japan.” After all , Japan

says — and the assertion is true-Asia is Asia, and between the

Asiatic and the European , however keen may be the commercial

instincts of the latter, or however progressive the temperament

of the former , there is an everlasting gulf. We have found out

-- or we shall do so—in India, that in Mr. Kipling's words,

East is East, and West is West.” We may like Japan and

admire her and trade with her -- and for my part I do not think

it possible to know Japan without both liking and admiring her

greatly ; and Japan may like us and appropriate our knowledge,


and trade with us. But Englishman, American, Frenchman, or

German is one kind of human being, and Japanese is another.

Between them stands, and will stand for ever, the sacred and

ineradicable distinction of race. China has, of course, been dimly

inspired by this knowledge when she has denounced.Japan as a

traitor to Asia, and the Chinese community in Hongkong betrays

the same feeling when it speaks of the “ treachery ” of the most

enlightened Chinaman there because he possesses a double

European education in law and medicine, wears European

clothes, and married a European wife. But the retort of Japan

is that the real traitor is China, because she has been content to

remain the victim of the Occident instead of rousing herself to push

back its advancing waves, if an opportunity should offer. And

Japan is prepared to bring China back to Asiatic allegiance. It

is not yet understood that if Japan's first object during the war

has been to vanquish China, her second has been to avoid any step

which might upset the Chinese dynasty. Had she wished to do

this , nothing could have been easier. She could with almost

a certainty of success have left Port Arthur and Wei -hai-wei

to stew in their own juice, and have marched an expedition

straight to Peking. But putting this supposition aside in defer

ence to the views of some military experts, she could have

despatched emissaries to China — and her soshi class would bave

provided numbers of them — to distribute throughout the

more disaffected provinces placards calling upon the Chinese

people to rise against their alien rulers, and assuring them

that the war was only against the throne and not against

the country ; then, by providing with money and arms tbe

rebels she would thus have created , she could,, almost with

out striking a blow, have brought down the political organisa

tion of China like a house of cards. In that event, however,

China would have been a mere inert mass of members ,

without a head. Japan has no doubt whatever of her ability

to re -organise China.. The Hochi Shimbun, one of the leading

Tokyo journals , recently said : — “ The Chinese are the worst

398 JAPAN .

governed people in the world, and consequently the easiest

to bring under a foreign yoke . Besides, they have no strong

national pride, like that entertained by the French, the German,

the English , or the Japanese . Talleyrand's saying that


' Italy is a mere geographical name ' may be applied to

China with much greater force. The Chinese, under the mild

and civilised rule of Japan , would soon learn that they fare

better thus than under their old masters. That would assuredly

be the case in respect of material prosperity, and an improve

ment in such an important matter would in itself satisfy them . "

And in a later issue the same journal, which is not in the

habit of treating serious matters thoughtlessly, has carried this

consideration to the point of advocating it as a measure of

practical politics. It declares that China is doomed to destruc

tion , if not by Japan , then by Europe. It is, therefore, a ques

tion demanding deep thought whether Japan should not take

possession of the big empire in the sequel of the present war.

Should China fall a prey to one or more European countries,

Japan's position would be greatly endangered. The Hochi

Shimbun therefore entertains little doubt that it lies in the path

of Japan's mission, as the peace-maintainer of the Orient, to

bring China under the flag of the Rising Sun at the earliest

possible opportunity. And the same confidence on behalf of

Japan has been strikingly expressed in England :

“ Consider what a Japan -governed China would be. Think what the Chinesa

are ; think of their powers of silent endurance under suffering and cruelty , think

of their frugality ; think of their patient perseverance , their slow, dogged persis

tence, their recklessness of life. Fancy this people ruled by a nation of born

organisers, who, half -allied to them , would understand their temperament and their

habits. The Oriental , with his power of retaining health under conditions under

which no European could live, with his savage daring when roused, with his inborn

cunning, lacks only the superior knowledge of civilisation to be the equal of the

European in warfare as well as in industry. In England we do not realise that in a

Japanese dynasty such a civilisation would exist : we have not yet learned to look

upon the Mikado as a civilised monarch , as we look upon the Czar. Yet such he is

undoubtedly. And under him the dreams of the supremacy of the Yellow Race in

Europe, Asia, and even Africa, to which Dr. Pearson and others have given expres.

sion, would be no longer mere nightmares. Instead of speculating as to whether


England or Germany or Russia is to be the next world's ruler, we might have to

learn that Japan was on its way to that position,” *

Upon this Japanese ambition, however, there can be but one

comment : Great Britain and Russia would never permit it. Yet

if the Chinese Humpty-Dumpty fell from his wall nobody but

Japan could put him together again .; no western nation could

attempt the task, even if her rivals would allow her to try. If

the Emperor Kwang -hsü were hurled from his throne either from

within or from without, foreign intervention would take place

on the instant, and that is what Japan desires to avoid above all

things. Hence her unwillingness to strike at Peking, hence

British anxiety, hence the well-meant attempt at mediation, and

hence, too, the powerful British fleet at the present moment in

Chinese waters.

Japanese statesmen are keenly alive to the foregoing con

siderations. What is the alternative in their eyes ? Obviously

and certainly an alliance with a European Power. But with

whom ? Japan has already chosen in her own mind. She fears

Russia ; she distrusts France ; Germany is not powerful enough

at sea to count in this connection, even if her interests were

large enough to justify a strong policy in the Far East . The

ideal in foreign politics of the most enlightened Japanese is

an alliance with Great Britain . In fact, without exaggera

tion and without the slightest discourtesy to Japan it may be

said that her alliance with us is on offer. The commercial interests

of the two countries are identical; we both desire the widest

markets for our manufactures ; cordial friendship reigns between

us because we have shown our trust in Japan by making a

treaty with her upon equal terms. And what Japan needs in

an alliance is power at sea. Upon land in Asia no Asiatic nation

can dream of opposing her ; nor for the matter of that could

any European nation fight her at the present time. But at

sea she is weak, and upon the command of the sea, as we are

• The St. James's Gazette, Oct. 6, 1894.

400 JAPAN.

slowly learning, national safety depends. Great Britain and

Japan allied in the Far East would be irresistible. The one

would command the sea, the other would dominate the land :

the British Fleet would keep communications open, and nothing

could resist the troops of the Emperor. With such a union the

Korean Channel would become a second Dardanelles, and the

Sea of Japan would become the Russian Black Sea of the East.

In return for our alliance Japan would willingly see Great

Britain occupy either Wei-hai-wei or Chusan as her northern

naval base, and Canton as her opportunity of commercial

expansion ; Japan taking Formosa and holding Port Arthur.

As an ally Japan would be faithful, brave, and powerful ; and

the Anglo- Japanese alliance would impose peace and offer

freedom of trade . It would not, like France,, devise every

pitiful fiscal expedient to exclude all manufactures except its

own protected ones, nor handicap sick and suffering foreigners

by a differential hospital tariff.

What are the alternatives to this union of interests ?

They are two. First, Japan will ally herself with France ;

or if not with France then with Russia, France regard

ing the operation with a friendly eye. A Franco - Japanese

alliance would doubtless be received in France with accla

mation , for it would be aimed directly at Great Britain,

and France would get as her share of the bargain the

occupation of the Chinese province of Yunnan , and thus the

dream of Garnier of opening the markets of Southern China

through Tongking would at length be realised. Against France

and Japan combined we should be helpless in the Far East,

except at the cost of a great war upon which no British states

man would embark . And it would not be long before a Franco

Japanese -Chinese Zollverein would close the markets of China

to our goods . That would be an end of our influence and our

trade in a part of the world where, given a modicum of wisdom

and courage, it is our destiny to play a predominant part in the



In the second place, if the alliance were between Japan and

Russia, France would get almost as much for her share, while

the advantages to Russia would be colossal.. As I have

explained in another chapter, it is Russia that Japan has feared

in the past ; indeed, II may go further and at the risk of being

charged with indiscretion add that the plans of Japan for hos

tilities with Russia are as complete · as they were for her

occupation of Korea. For years it has been in the mind of

certain Japanese statesmen to propose to China at the fitting

opportunity an alliance whose ultimate object should be to

drive Russia back from the Far East. The Japanese Staff have

in their possession the most detailed plans for the taking of

Vladivostok and the cutting off of the wedge of Russian territory

which intervenes between Manchuria and the sea . This done,

the Japanese would propose to China that Kirin-ula should be

made into a great fortress, at the termination of a line of rail

way, as a base from which to hold Russia for ever in check.

This, however, would be a pis aller of Japanese politics, and

would be dictated alike by anger at England and by fear for the

future. Russia has long desired to absorb Manchuria, with its

vast potential riches, and to establish herself at Port Arthur.

This is well known to those whose business it is to know such

things, and it explains the willingness of Russia to promise to

take no step in Korea.. This is what Russia would gain by an

alliance with Japan ; France would get something to “ keep her

sweet,” as Orientals say ; crippled China would be a mere corpus

for Japanese trade ; Wei-hai-wei, the native city of Shanghai,

and Formosa would be Japanese ; and with Port Arthur

Russian, and Yunnan French, where would England be ?

These are not dreams. If they seem so, it is because there

has been no rearrangement of the map of Europe on a large

scale for so long that we have lost the habit of considering such

eventualities. The collapse of China, however, lays the Far

East as open to the gambits of international rivalry as a chess


402 JAPAN .

board when the four files face one another for the game. If

they are dreams to-day, any one of them - so far as Japan is

concerned-may be a reality to -morrow ; and since I regard the

situation as one of the utmost gravity for Great Britain, I may

perhaps venture to take one step more, and present as a basis

for the consideration of those who are better informed or upon

whose shoulders the responsibility will rest, my own view of

what the action of England should be.

The Anglo-Russian entente , by which Lord Rosebery has

achieved an undoubted triumph of diplomacy (supposing it to

last), is somewhat of a disappointment to Japan, but it leaves the

way open for a solution of the Far Eastern question in her inte

rests no less than in those of Russia and ourselves . In all the

country north of the southern frontier of China there are virtually

only three great interests : those of Great Britain , Russia, and

Japan. The object, therefore, of any arrangement should be

the combination of these three. In this there should be no

serious difficulty, since, in the first place, the interests of the

three are fortunately not conflicting ; and, second, since the

ends aimed at are to the injury of no other party, a moral

justification is not lacking, and therefore there need be no

hesitation in defying opposition. Let us consider first the

case of Japan. By the terms of an Anglo -Russian - Japanese

understanding she would receive in the first place the virtual

suzerainty of Korea ; second, whatever reasonable indemnity

she chooses to impose upon China ; third, the cession of

Formosa ; fourth , the Chinese navy, which she may capture.

Fifth , there need be no hesitation in allowing her to collect

the Customs at the port of Shanghai until the indemnity is paid.

And finally, she would have the inestimable advantage of being

free from fear of China in the future. Next consider the case

of Russia.. Her share would be the triangle of territory around

which her Siberian Railway is at present planned to run ; this

would then proceed in a straight line from Verkhne Udinsk

or Kiakhta to its terminus on the coast , across a district


probably more capable of development and possessing greater

natural wealth than any other part of the Far East. Second,

she would of course have to be provided with a winter port

at the terminus of her railway, and to this it would be

necessary for Japan to consent. No great concession , however,

would be here involved, since, as I have said elsewhere, it

is utterly out of the question to suppose that when her

railway is finished Russia will stop short at a port frozen for

five months in the year, whatever may be the cost of pro

curing a better. Third, Russia would be freed for ever from the

fear of China along the three thousand miles of her weak and

hardly defensible frontier. Finally, what would be the position

of Great Britain under this arrangement ? First, she would

secure her indispensable northern naval base at Chusan,

Wei-hai-wei, or elsewhere. Second, the vast markets of the

whole of China would be thrown open to the whole world, and

she would have her customary predominance in them. Third ,

she would be allowed to construct a railway from British

Kowloon to Hongkong, and the development of the province of

Kwangtung and the city of Canton would be placed under her

charge. Fourth, the Government of India would be given a

free hand in Thibet. Fifth , all anxieties—and they are many

and heavy - with regard to her future in the Far East would be

happily removed. To an arrangement of this kind the powerful

sympathy of the United States would hardly be wanting.

This is a moment for courageous and far-seeing statesman

ship , a moment to admit frankly the existence of our bitter

enemies, and a moment, therefore, to seek for ourselves inte

rested friends. France in the Far East will always be our

opponent. Whatever we propose at the present time—this is

neither a supposition nor a secret-Germany will oppose. It

is therefore the imperative duty of our statesmen to seek an

alliance elsewhere on fair terms. Moreover, this is our last

opportunity in that part of the world. If not we, then with

absolute certainty it will be others and our enemies who will

404 JAPAN .

profit. Once more, at the risk of wearying the reader, let me

beg him not to forget that we already have the right which

comes to us from possessing beyond all comparison the pre

dominance of trade and foreign population in the Far East,

and that whatever territory comes under our influence we throw

open freely to all the world. The ball of a great opportunity

is at our feet. Aegre offertur, facile amittitur. I am well aware

that at the present moment the ideal of our Foreign Office in

the Far East as elsewhere is the old -fashioned one that has

often served us so well before the maintenance of the status

quo . But a status quo maintained by England and Russia,

with a victorious and foiled Japan outside it, presents to my

mind the aspect of a slumbering volcano.




THEN the present Tsar of Russia visited Siam in 1891 , he

was met outside the bar of the Bangkok River by a large

European-built Siamese man -of-war with heavy guns, and was

conveyed to the Royal Palace in a Siamese State Barge of

Oriental maguificence, a hundred feet long, with eighty gilded

paddles and gorgeous decorations. His amazement, for he

had expected to find a land of jungle and peasant, fitly re

presents not only the ignorance of the world about Siam and

her resources, but also the ease with which the realities of her

condition have always been concealed by the speciousness of

her outward display.

The ordinary traveller will also obtain at the very mouth of

the river his first insight (as he will imagine it to be) into the

reality of Siamese progress from her ancient characteristics of

a tropical jungle and a down-trodden people. For whether you

approach from Singapore or from Hongkong, your first vision

of this land of the paradoxical and the bizarre is a wide river

mouth edged apparently with endless swamp and fringed with

miles of waving and impenetrable attap palms, sending forth

swarms of vigorous mosquitoes to repel the intrusive foreigner.

But at the true entrance of the river you discover two large

forts, containing the latest developments of harbour defence

big guns, disappearing carriages, and masked batteries. And

this strange contrast, this shock of false relationships, this

mingling of west and east -the one real, interesting, and



408 SIAM ,

living, the other sham , pretentious, and dead—constantly faces

you in Siam .

The bar of the Bangkok River is an exceedingly difficult

obstacle ; the channel itself is so constantly shifting, the

workings of the tide in this narrowing end of the great funnel

of the Gulf of Siam are so perplexingly intricate, and the effects

of the variations of wind upon the tides are so great, that a

very intimate and constant familiarity with the river will alone

enable any vessel to enter. The sagacious Foreign Minister of

the Siamese Government, Prince Devawongse Varoprakar, once

replied to an Englishman who asked why the removal of the bar

was never included among his projects of reform , “ Perhaps for

the same reason that you do not welcome the proposal for a

Channel Tunnel . " The French gunboats, when forcing their

entrance to the Menam in July, 1893, were fully alive to

this difficulty, and though the Siamese Government had cut off

the supply of pilots from foreign men -of -war by proclamation,

they cleverly secured the services of the best of the Bangkok

pilots by making their entrance close upon the heels of a vessel

trading under the French flag. Even at high tide, it is only

possible for ships drawing twelve or thirteen feet to get over the

bar ; the cargoes of the large trading vessels being brought

outside to them in sailing lighters and Chinese junks.

As you pass into the actual river, there gradually comes into

view one of the most striking pictures of this eastern wonder

land—a little island lying midway in the broad expanse of

stream, bearing upon its scanty head a pinnacle of glistening

white, a lofty Buddhist pagoda with attendant cloisters, shrines,

and chapels, with roofs of many-tinted tiles. It is an idyllic

picture, a fitting adytum to the shrine of truest Buddhism

Siam , the land of monasteries, the loyal guardian of the Faith

at its purest, the scene of its return to the more rationalistic,

and, in fact, originally simple elements. On your right, upon

the low -lying eastern bank appears the village of Paknam , " the

mouth of the waters," whose portly governor, Phya Samudh,





.":“ HE









was certainly one of the most remarkable of my many eastern

acquaintances ; the holder of one of the highest ranks of

Siamese nobility and officialdom ; a man of mixed but chiefly

Chinese origin ; at the age of ten boot-black to a British

mariner ; at fifty, confidant, factotum , and counsellor to the

Royal Prince Ministers of Siam ; owner of four wealthy rice

mills ; the official cicerone and entertainer of most foreign

visitors to Siam ; speaking with equal ease and native force,

English, Siamese, Malay, and various dialects of Chinese.

A single railway runs now from Paknam to the capital ,

sixteen miles by land. This line saves some three hours of

time , as against the tortuous windings of the Menam, and

affords a striking panorama of the wide plantations, the rich

gardens, the muddy paddy - fields, and the humble peasant-life

which make up the real Siam that the hasty traveller so seldom

sees behind the shifting scenes of politics and progress in the

capital. But the water-way is the true highway in this land

of canals ; and as the ship breasts the current of the river in

the early morning, you may look upon the awakening of Siamese

daily life in all its primitive simplicity. The yellow-robed priest,

just risen from his early orisons, passes in his slight canoe from

door to door upon the riverside, to gather the daily offerings of

rice and food in the iron alms-bowl of the Buddhist mendicant.

The chattering women, with their large wicker sun - bats, standing

to their oars in gondola fashion , with stalwart strokes urge along

their laden boats of fruit and betel to the floating markets. The

ubiquitous Chinaman paddles his tiny dug-out, filled with much

loved greasy pork. The children play in the water, or swim reck

lessly in the wash of the big “ fire-boat ”. ” The father munches

his early rice and fish on the floor of one of the quaint floating

houses, with pointed roofs of thatch, built upon shaky rafts of

bamboo, that line the banks of the river in endless rows, and

form perhaps the most distinctly characteristic feature of this

novel scene . And the heavy junk -rigged lighters sail down,

with their gesticulating Celestial crews, carrying the cargoes

410 SIAM .

of rice or teak to the traders in the Roads at Ko-si-chang, the

island anchorage and health resort some sixty miles away.

On dropping anchor in mid-stream at this strange town of

Bangkok, one realises at once that it is to trade, and trade

alone, that Siam has owed, and must ever owe, her chance of

figuring among the people of the East. To the silent palm

groves and virgin jungles of 1850, have succeeded to -day the

forest of masts, the towering chimneys, and the humming

godowns " of the pressing British trader. Rice -mills and

saw -mills, docks and ship -yards, stores and banks, houses and

schools, alike display the energy of the Anglo -Saxon, hand in

hand with the industry of the Mongol, forcing new life into

native indolence.

On arriving at the Merchants' Wharf or the Hotel Quay, or

when looking up one's acquaintances in the busy town, one's

first question is, Where is Siam ? where are the Siamese ?

Everywhere are Chinamen, or Malays, or Indians. Do the

Siamese have no part in all this scene of activity and com

merce ? A very small share. In one's wanderings one sees

at first but little of Siam and the Siamese. Indeed the " down

town " farang — the Siamese word for every foreigner — though

full of rumours, gossip, stories, and his own ideas about the

Siamese and their ways, the Palace and its intrigues, the princes

and their policy, knows practically nothing about the real Siam,

almost completely shut off, as he is, from observation of its

primary elements, and misled as to the intricacies of its internal

condition and prospects. That this is indeed the case is never

for a moment lost sight of by the wily Siamese themselves ;

and it is with many a smile that they watch the futile efforts

of the foreign element to follow the workings of the native mind.

But they receive blandly the advice and suggestions of foreign

Consuls, as the latter endeavour to apprehend the apparent

directions of eastern methods in general and of Siamese plans

in particular, from the impossible standpoint of western criti

cism and European aims. And when it is remembered that the


Foreign Legations, the Ministers and Consuls of foreign nations,

are all situated in the midst of this atmosphere of ignorance

and misconception, commonly called “ down town ," and that

with the exception of the French Consular officials (who use

special means for getting information from behind the scenes)

they see nothing whatever of the inside life of Siam , nor ever

gain the confidence of her Princes, it will be easily understood

how difficult it has been for the Foreign Offices of Europe to be

alive to the realities of the situation from time to time, or to

foresee and to forestall the sudden developments, whether of

diplomacy or mere intrigue, that work such effective changes

under an Oriental government

In the solar system of Siam , the Palace is the sun . “ Up

town," when the Palace awakes, everything awakes ; when the

Palace sleeps, everything sleeps - officialdom , politics, work,

duties, pleasures. Whereas, whatever happens in the Palace,

wbatever intrigues take place, whether French threatenings

are being resisted in the Cabinet, British Consuls hoodwinked

in the Foreign Office, or German Concessionaries browbeaten

in the bureau ; though cruelties are being perpetrated in the

gaols, or exactions plotted in the Ministries ; though unspeak

able blunders are committed in the Departments, and the whole

administrative machine seems going to pieces, — “ down town

life and its commerce go on the same. The foreign element

is, in fact, completely outside the real life of Siam, and this

although it is solely due to foreign pressure that Siam has

become what she is, and that the Palace has any policy to

devise or resources to expropriate. To the Palace, therefore,

one must speedily find one's way, to see things as they are, or

in any sense to know Siam. I shifted my quarters to the city

proper within twenty -four hours of my arrival, and for nearly

three months I lived in the very centre of it, within a stone's

throw of the Palace wall. To the opportunity of doing this I

owe whatever intimate knowledge of Siam I possess.

As you drive through the one main street to the city wall you

412 SIAM.

see many of the worst aspects of Siamese town life — the pawn

shops and brothels, the spirit-dens and gambling-houses, the

reeking alleys and the heaps of refuse, the leprous beggars and

the lounging peons. The old wall of a hundred years ago

still surrounds the older city. You pass through it half

way between the foreign quarter and the Palace. Its lofty

gateways, however, are never shut or guarded, and indeed

the gates are almost too rusty to be closed . The Siamese

have little reverence for the antique, and invariably prefer

convenience to sentiment ; so openings are freely cut, battle

ments removed, and towers destroyed, whether for admitting

a road into some prince's property or for erecting electric

installations for the Palace. As soon as you have passed the

gateway and entered the city proper, you begin to realise the

effective presence of the Siamese Government and to feel the

pervading influence of royalty. The broad and well-kept road,

the rows of new-built houses and rapidly-spreading shops, with

the stuccoed walls of palaces and prisons, of barracks and

offices, display the Hausmann-like changes that King Chulalong

korn I. bas effected in the outward appearance of his capital,

during the twenty - five years that have elapsed since first be

wore the crown as a lad of fifteen .

Most of the princes, the two dozen brothers and half -brothers

of the King, who practically control all the executive and ad

ministrative departments of State, inhabit large houses, built

for them, usually at the King's expense, in foreign style. But

the Royal Palace itself has been cleverly contrived by an English

architect in collaboration with Siamese artificers to combine

Oriental picturesqueness and pinnacles with European comfort

and solidity. The lofty and graceful pointed spires of the

Grand Halls of Audience are conspicuous from a long way off ;

and the gleaming tiles of the golden Pagoda and the many

coloured roofs of the Royal Temple within the Palace walls give

a richer effect than anything to be found east of Calcutta.

The arrangement of the Palace and its buildings is an em




‫ه هه ‪-‬‬ ‫ال‬ ‫*ه‬

‫‪47‬‬ ‫*‬ ‫‪3‬‬ ‫***‬


bodiment in brick of the policy of King Chulalongkorn's reign

which has been to draw the power, and consequently the wealth ,

from the hands of the once great nobles and old family digni

taries, and to concentrate it in himself alone ; to delegate it to

members of his own intimate family circle, and to them only,

and this not permanently but provisionally, at his own sovereign

will and changing pleasure. By this means he has attained the

very quintessence of centralisation, and realised in the com

pletest sense a State in which the King is de facto as well as de

jure the sole source and repository of power.

Round the Palace buildings proper, enclosed by lofty walls

and solid gateways guarded by day and closed at night, are

grouped almost all the offices of the various Government

departments. And right in the heart and centre of this

charmed circle of officialdom is the Royal Grand Palace, of

which the audience halls and State apartments form the outer

and only visible portion. The inner portion of the Palace—the

real dwelling-place of his Majesty — is entirely concealed behind

these. It is invisible from any point on the north , south and east,

and entirely shielded on the river side by cleverly arranged walls

and courts which effect their purpose without suggesting their

object. The King is the only man within this seething city of

humanity ; alone-if ever a man were alone- amidst a crowded

population of none but women and children ; a complete female

town with its houses, markets, streets, prisons , and courts .

This city of women is known among the Siamese as Kang Nai,

“ The Inside,” and etiquette even forbids any allusion to it.

Here the King lives his life, and has deliberately elected (for it is

by no means a necessary custom) to spend the greater part

of his time ; his excursions “ outside " amidst life and male

humanity, once frequent and enjoyed, have gradually decreased ,


till in the last five years he has seldom exceeded an hour of

formal audience daily, and during the past twelve months he

has not averaged an hour in a fortnight. This seclusion of the

King, even in its milder form of five or six years ago, must

414 SIAM .

always be borne in mind as helping to explain many of the

strange inconsistencies of Siamese policy, both foreign and

domestic, especially when it is taken in conjunction with the

influence which naturally falls into the hands of the women by

whom his Majesty is perpetually surrounded. But that, in the

now classic phrase, is another story, upon which it is best not

to dwell, though there are volumes to be written about it .

To find picturesque Bangkok, one must look elsewhere than

in the Palace, for there one sees merely the effect of money

spent in the tasteless purchase of European extravagances, so

that the result, though somewhat grand in general effect, only

serves to heighten the squalor and disorder that prevail in every

corner. On ordinary days, when the King is not expected to come

out, and no foreign representatives are to have audience, the

sentries of the Palace Guard usually sit about on rickety chairs

at the grand gateways ; the officials of the Household lie about in

all descriptions of undress in the stone courtyards ; and gigantic

chandeliers of countless German-made duplex lamps burn all

day until they go out from want of oil, in the lack of any regular

hands to perform the simplest household routine — that word so

entirely hateful to the average Siamese.

Every visit that I paid to the Royal Siamese Ministry of

Foreign Affairs was an Oriental object-lesson. A lazy sentry

lolling on an old oil-tin at the outer gate would insolently ask

my errand, and lazily give a reluctant guttural assent to my

doubting ingress. Another sentry, if my visit was late

as it generally was, for the Foreign Minister usually began

his work at eleven o'clock at night - lying asleep within the

entry, would sulkily respond to my shouts of inquiry with a

hardly intelligible reply in colloquial Siamese that the Prince

was in or was out, -yu or mai yu — as might suit his own particular

humour, without any needless reference to the truth of the

matter. As I thus necessarily carried on my own hesitating

researches unheralded into the inner regions, my ears were met

with the snores of attendants lying about the passages, or the


pawns of sleepy clerks kept there the whole night in idleness ;

till at length one might come suddenly upon the Royal Prince

Minister himself, at supper with some favoured gossip, or intent

upon a vigorous and exciting game of chess, an occupation at

which he is facile princeps, as in most of the other games of

skill that his Royal Highness affects, and on which he spends a

very considerable portion of his “ office hours." In the mean

time suitors might wail, and Consuls rave at the needless delays,

the perpetual procrastinations, which often continued from

week to week and even from month to month ; and usually

wearied out, as they were intended to do, the unfortunate

foreigners. Go where one would, and when one would, in this

strange medley of departments, bureaus, and government offices,

every passage and every room was all unswept and littered with

the daily mess, the cast-off cigarettes, the decaying betel-nut,

and all the indescribable débris of the countless hangers-on and

ragged retainers who attend the footsteps of every official. In

not a single office but that of Prince Damrong-a brilliant

exception to the general slovenliness of Siamese ministers in this,

as in many respects — did I observe the slightest desire for neat

ness and order, or even an idea of common cleanliness . One

naturally expects great things, for instance, of the far -famed

White Elephants that live at the gates of the royal palace , to

whom fable and a credulous European public have attributed an

absurd sanctity. But they are in reality in a plight that would

shame the bear-cage of a wandering circus ; tended by slouching

ruffians who lie about in rags and tatters, eking out a scanty

livelihood by weaving baskets, and begging a copper from every

visitor in return for throwing a bunch of seedy grass or rotting

bananas to the swaying beasts which raise their trunks in

anticipation of the much-needed addition to their scanty diet.

Such is the Palace of the wealthy and progressive King of Siam.

When one thinks of the swarms of women and children that

spend their whole lives “ inside ," and the innumerable officials

and hangers-on that throng the “ outside " of this wondrous

416 SIAM .

palace, when one realises that it boasts of no drains except a

simple trench that was dug for surplus rain floods, but which

has unfortunately been made to slope the wrong way and so

collects the flood -water into three - feet pools at the very gateway

itself, while every domestic or sanitary arrangement is con

spicuous by its entire absence, and is supplied, as one's senses

inform one, by nature's means alone,-one begins to wonder


indeed at the prolonged exemption from epidemics that seems

to have favoured the happy-go- lucky Siamese. But on gala

days, and above all when any farang visitor is to be dazzled,

they set to work strenuously, and soon with hasty brooms,

scurrying officials, weary prisoners, half -paid coolies, and many

lashes, a general effect is produced, striking in its mass of

colour, effective in its architectural pose, and brilliant in its

Oriental profusion of “ humanity in procession . "

Back from the busy parts of the city, Bangkok is intersected

by pleasant bye-paths and the winding canals all overhung

with tropical verdure ; so much so that the whole city, when

surveyed from the height of the “ Great Golden Mountain

—an artificial brick pagoda some two hundred feet high

appears, as my photograph shows, to be one mass of trees

dotted with occasional protruding spires. To turn off into

the first side-path and enter the compound of some petty

official, is to penetrate at a step into the patriarchal state.

Around you stand the wooden houses, erect on piles to raise

them above the mud, or even water, which is always present

during the rainy season ; reached by simple ladders, sufficient for

man but impossible for beast. The women are pounding in the

mortars with heavy wooden hammers beneath the floors of the

houses, or winnowing the brown- skinned paddy in great wicker

pans, in the middle of the courtyard . Pariah dogs are prowling

round , snarling and howling over the refuse of many weeks of

primitive Siamese housekeeping. In the centre dwelling sits the

master, full in the open doorway, and whether he is making his

toilet, or eating his dinner, or performing his duties, he is












always surrounded with servants and visitors, wives and

mothers , in unconcerned proximity ; for Siam is a land where

privacy is unknown and a desire for it unfelt. In the adjoining

dwellings, upon the same platforms, are the households of his

various sons and their wives, or more often of his daughters

and their husbands ; for in Siam a young man goes to live

in his mother-in-law's compound without any misgiving.

But it is in the “ Wats " —the temples, or monasteries, as

they should rather be calledthat we discover the really finer

parts of Bangkok. These buildings occupy the best sites, and

afford the most beautiful views of the town. Built for the most

part in the days when roads and carriages were unknown, they

nestle among the trees upon the banks of the innumerable

canals. Amidst shady cloisters, frescoed in brilliant colours

with the fabled incidents of Brahmin polytheism, and glaring

with the hell-pictures of later Buddhist mythology, stands the

Temple itself, lofty, cool , and dim, with threefold or fourfold

roofs and soaring rafters and marble floors, where dreamy

monks recite in impressive sing -song the lengthy formulæ of

their world-old faith, while placid Buddhas tower above them

in endless calm, or stretch their length in huge figures of sixty

or seventy feet of gilded brickwork, through the gloomy

columns .

Around and outside these more sacred precincts stand rows on

rows of little dwellings for the priests, where day by day they

practise their orisons or instruct their pupils, or pursue their

meditations. But it is on festival days, and on the weekly

Sacred Day, the seventh and fifteenth of each moon, that these

Wats become the scene of activity and resound with the

hum of many voices. In Siam, as elsewhere, the active

ministrations of religion seem chiefly sought by the softer sex,

perhaps with more reason than in Europe , since here the men

will work off each his own necessary portion of religion in the

few weeks or months, or occasionally years, that almost every

Siamese man spends in the monastic order, at some period of


418 SIAM


his life. Thus on “Wan Pra " may be seen a crowd of women

with laughing children coming in all simplicity, like mediæral

Christians to the weekly Mass, to gain their humble share of

hard-won “ merit ” by devotion , and if possible to escape the

eternal handicap which Buddhism lays upon their sex.

The only official call that a Siamese makes upon the rites

of the church is at his cremation, the greatest event in his

career . It is a genuinely impressive experience to see the

humble ceremonies of a peasant cremation, to hear the yellow

robed priests intoning with Gregorian sonorousness the office of

the dead over the leaping flames, and to watch them as they

repeat the orisons from hour to hour throughout the night over

the smouldering ashes, with weird cadence, in the strange

rolling accents of the old Pali, till at dawn they make their

mournful search upon the pyre for the charred remnants of frail


The cremation of the rich and great is a different affair

altogether. At the death of a noble, and still more of some

member of the Royal Family, a cremation, which is then held

some months afterwards, becomes a public holiday, a brilliant

gala week with dances and shows and theatres and every form

of national amusement and delight ; and so adds one more to

the wonderful list of high- days and holidays which the ease

loving Siamese contrives to fit into his year. Festivals are

indeed the chief business of Siamese life. I was a spectator

of one specially gorgeous festival in the king's summer palace

up the river at Bang-pa-in. It was a right royal pageant in

honour of the yearly fête of Loi Katong, a sort of Feast of

Lanterns, when every stream and waterway sparkled with the

little lamps and tapers set afloat by the simple worshipper, to

“ make merit," in happy ignorance that he thus perpetuated the

primeval invocation of his Aryan forefathers to the bounty of

the waters which alone can give the rich barvest. In tiny

cockle-shells and stately barges, in fragile emblems and in

towering monsters, the glinting line of lights was borne along,


amidst the blare of trumpets and the shouts of the throng, till

it disappeared into the darkness, and left the light-hearted

Siamese to count up the days to the next of those recurring

holidays .

It is only during the vast preparations for some Palace

function — a gorgeous cremation, the brilliant ceremony of the

“ top -knot cutting " when the Crown Prince comes of age , or

the annual visits to the Wats — that one first perceives that

the indolent Siamese can work , and work with a will, too, to

> >

build up towering erections of bamboo and thatch and tinsel

and gaudy colouring of waving festoons, with an activity and

ingenuity that pass one's comprehension, till one happens upon

the explanation. It is that the great officials and even the

royal princes are themselves directing and urging on with voice

and hand the work of raising these ephemeral shows, which

appeal at once to their keenest sense of pleasure and their

fondest hopes for royal favour. It has been well said that the

Siamese habit is to work at play, and to play at work ; I shall

have something to say upon the latter head later on, but the

subject of cremations offers one of the finest examples of the

former. There is a fine square of open and level greensward just

in front of the Grand Palace, covering some four or five acres .

On the death of any child or near relative of the reigning or

previous monarch, this ground is covered with an immense

erection of buildings, which occupy often five or six months

and tens of thousands of hands in building, and are on view

during perhaps five or six days of the ceremony, and in actual

use only during the five or six hours of the burning. They are

then entirely demolished within a few days, and the whole

process is begun over again with entirely new material at the

next royal death . The expense involved each time is almost

incredible. If we include the accompanying lavish distribution

of presents, both of Siamese money and of goods ordered

from Europe by hundreds of cases, it sometimes amounts

to as much as fifteen thousand catties—say, £75,000. And

420 SIAM .

this in a country where the peasant is taxed nearly fifty

per cent. on every article of necessity ; where official salaries

are generally in arrear ; while defence, education, public works,

and other reforms, are always starved on the plea of lack of

revenue .

But to see a Royal Siamese Ceremony at its best, one must

witness the pageants connected with the varied innumerable

sacrosanct events in the life of the Heir Apparent himself, or

indeed of any other of the full Celestial princes — Chow Fah, as

they are called-i.e. , those sons of the King whose mothers are

of royal blood. There is first the giving of presents to the

royal parents at his birth—a list of the money value of each,

with the donor's name, being carefully registered as a guide for

future royal favours . Then there is the top-knot cutting at the

age of twelve, followed by his entrance into the noviciate of the

Buddhist monastic order at thirteen, and into the full priesthood

at twenty -one; besides the minor fêtes at marriages or the

bestowals of higher ranks and titles ; and above all, the final

festival of his cremation . Every one of these events is the

occasion for immense processions and gorgeous pageants, entailing

a complete cessation of all Government business for a week or

ten days at least, and its confusion and delay for a much longer

period before and after. To crown all, there is the expense


involved in the dresses , the lavish largesses, and the almsgiving,

besides the heavy penalty of the forced and unpaid labour of

most of the unfortunate workmen employed. So that each one


of the little “ sons of heaven ” —whose number is now rising

seven, as the present King began his family rather early in life

( at thirteen he was the father of two children) -has been

estimated to cost his faithful and long -suffering country from

ninety to a hundred thousand pounds in festivals alone. Nobles

and princes , by the way, pay nothing towards taxes. I should

add that any lack of the necessary total sum is made up

through “ loyal contributions," consisting of “ voluntary

abatements of the monthly salaries of the officials, since it is











an absolute necessity that the full requirements be forthcoming

for these royal and national amusements.

In a people so averse to work of any kind, one would expect

to find but few popular amusements, and those not of the

nature of violent exercise. And this is the case. There are

practically but two forms of amusement throughout the whole

of Siam-gambling and the theatre. The former is the great

national passion ; every large town has its nightly lottery of

incredible proportions. The possession of the Bangkok Lottery

license brings a great fortune in about five years , and the

Government draws one of its largest revenues from this source .

Gambling-houses, and their natural concomitants and next- door

neighbours the pawn-shops, are as numerous in Bangkok as

public-houses in London, and fifty times as pernicious in their

effect on the people ; and this deadly national trait can but

increase so long as a native government prefers to use it as a

source of profit rather than to check it as a national curse .

Of theatres and theatre- going a volume might be written. To

an ordinary Siamese it is the height of happiness to sit jammed

in a dense crowd on the floor, from seven p.m. to two a.m. ,

watching the same play-or rather portion of a play, for it is a

matter of several such nights in succession before the drama is

completed. The plays are usually adaptations from old Hindu

mythology ; the plot and every incident of it are familiar to all

in the audience—the more so, the better. The attraction con

sists in the manner of its presentment, the long-drawn tension


of the " love " episodes, the realism of the dénoûments, the

gorgeousness of the dresses, and the minute skill of the nume

rous dances. The actors, with the exception of a few clowns,

are all young girls. They are subjected to stringent training

from the age of four years, and in their prime at seventeen and

eighteen years of age are a possession of immense money value

to their “ owners , " in spite of the much - vaunted but unenforced

slavery reforms of the present reign. The dances are entirely

posture-dances, great pleasure being taken in the abnormal

422 SIAM .

bending-back of elbows, wrists, ankles, and finger-joints, which

is carried to an extent that would be impossible to even a

“ double -jointed " European . The dances are accompanied by

loud music from the orchestra, assisted sometimes by the hard

voices of a chorus of some twenty old women, and heightened in

the impassioned moments by the voices of the danseuses tbem

selves. I was permitted to take the accompanying photograph

of two of the leading prime donne of Bangkok, in a company

belonging to a most distinguished nobleman , a personal friend

of the King, whose theatrical performances are always the

most popular feature of all the great national and other

holidays, the spectators numbering many hundreds at a time.

There is nothing to pay at a Siamese theatre, for the owner is

recouped by special donations from wealthy patrons, propor

tionate to the popularity and success of the performances, while

the “ company, " like most other native employees in this

strange land, alike in palace and cottage, are not wage - earners

but house-chattels, that is , domestic slaves.

The fascinating subject of Siamese ceremonies, which, as I

have said, comprise three- fourths of the whole interest of life

to a Bangkok Siamese, has led me away from my description of

Bangkok itself. Its plan as a town, however, is so simple that

a few words will suffice. It is situated at about twelve miles

distance from the sea in a direct line, sixteen by rail, and some

thirty by water, and lies right on the banks of the really fine

river which has called it into being, to wit, the Menam Chow

Phya. Menam, " the mother of waters ," is the generic name

for all rivers , and “ Chow Phya " is the highest title of nobility,

the Lord Duke, as it were. The city itself possesses a lengthy

official name, couched as are all Siamese titles in the ancient

Pali language of the Buddhist Scriptures, the first portion of it

meaning " the City of the Great White Angels.” Grandiloquent

titles, by the way, are a strong point in Siam both for places

and for officials, an arrangement which one might almost

regard as a striking instance of compensation, since the


importance of the places is usually particularly small, and the

duties of the nobles are chiefly conspicuous by their absence. I

make this explanation in passing, because otherwise the

seventeen -syllabled name of the Palace cook, and the even

longer one of the King's barber, might possibly mislead an

innocent foreigner into ascribing a wholly fictitious excellence to

the cuisine of the one or the dexterity of the other.

The city is practically confined to the left bank of the river ;

the portion on the right bank which fifty years ago was the

centre of power and activity as the abode of the great Regent

and his immense and once influential family , has now fallen

into complete decay, and is purposely left in neglect, as it might

otherwise recall a strong régime that is gone, and suggest some

unwelcome and uneasy memories of things that the present

reigning House may well wish buried in the past.

There is one main road some five or six miles long in excellent

condition in its upper portion (that is, where it may have to

face the criticism of Majesty itself), which runs parallel with

the river and leads from “ down town " right up to and through

the city proper. The streets of Bangkok will agreeably astonish

the visitor from Canton or Peking by their width , their condition,

and comparative cleanliness ; while the excellent state of the

many cross-roads also in the city, such at least as are near the

Palace, speak well for the efforts made by the Government

during the past ten years in this direction . These owe their

existence to the energy of the various European employees of

the Siamese Public Works Department. There is, of course , the

typical Eastern conglomeration of filth and humanity in hovels

and alleys and fetid bazaars ; but to see it one must deliberately

seek it and leave the ordinary roads of traffic, for it is practically

confined to the one long gruesome stretch of Chinese bazaars

and native dens of various sorts, of evil odours and still worse

repute, known as Sampeng. But even this plague -centre has

now been cut into and ventilated by several wide transverse

roads, in consequence of the fortunate recurrence recently of

424 SIAM .

some fires which destroyed hundreds of the close-packed

shanties .

Along the whole length of the main road runs a well -kept

electric tramway, invariably filled to overflowing with chattering

passengers of every description, and paying to its lucky share

holders the respectable dividend of thirty- four per cent . per

annum . It was started some five years ago, and was in a sense

the precursor of a great wave of native speculation. The fortu

nate Concessionary was a Dane named M. de Richelieu, who

has been for many years in the more or less confidential service

of the King of Siam. The tramway was so great a success

pecuniarily that it served as an admirable object-lesson in

the elementary principles of the investment of money to this

simple people, who had previously hoarded their moneys in bags,

or invested it in nothing better than slaves for the household or

buffaloes for the farm. This gave the first start to an eagerness

amongst all the natives to put their money to reproductive uses,

which fact explains, amongst other things, the uprising of the

rows upon rows of fairly good and neat-looking brick houses

that line the main roads of Bangkok, almost from end to end.

The Legations and all the principal residences of Bangkok

nave their landings on the river front, while the more fortunate

ones possess in addition a good entrance on the main road.

This is also true of the Grand Palace, of which the Royal

Landing is one of the most conspicuous and peculiar features

on the river, fronted as it is with meagre battlements and

mangy guard-houses and enormous refuse-heaps, but backed by

the beautiful spires and glittering pinnacles I have already de

scribed. Directly opposite the Palace landing, on the west side

of the river, is the Naval Arsenal , the one decently-kept and

good-looking government department of Siam — the outcome

also of the efforts of the Danish Commodore de Richelieu. Here

are the headquarters of a large department of marines, which

may be said to monopolise all that can be credited to the account

of discipline and order in the government departments of Siam.









‫‪ASTOR‬‬ ‫‪LA‬‬

‫‪II‬‬ ‫دعا ماده دودلی‬



As an arsenal, its equipment can hardly be called excessive ; to

us it might even seem a trifle inadequate, since its chief “ pro

perties " (no other word is so suitable) are a few turning-lathes,

a blacksmith's shop, some Chinese boiler-makers and fitters ,

some native carpenters, with a few half-paid coolies and ragged

prisoners in chains. I must not omit to mention the cartridge

making machinery without materials, the gun-fittings without

guns, and the cannons without projectiles. The arsenal does

indeed possess one large European-built dry-dock, made two or

three years ago, which, after remaining for years unfinished, so

long as it had been required only for ordinary government pur

poses, was at last completed hurriedly so soon as it became

necessary ” (in the Palace sense) for the special purpose of

accommodating the King's own new yacht. This latter is a vessel

of tw