d. 1894 Terrien de Lacouperie.

The children of China. Written for the children of England online

. (page 4 of 18)
Online Libraryd. 1894 Terrien de LacouperieThe children of China. Written for the children of England → online text (page 4 of 18)
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showing that the Manchus have conquered them, but very few
of them allow their pigtails to be seen. Many of them never comb
their hair at all ; some of them make it into about twenty plaits
instead of one, and all tlie plaits are matted together with grease
and dirt ; then they are twisted into a knob on the front of the
head, and a long, narrow strip of calico is bound round tlieir heads
and round the knob, to keep it in its place.

The Lolos who are pretty well off, keep themselves clean,
but the poor are very dirty, especially the men. The Lolo
language is quite different to the Chinese, but a great many
Lolos can speak Chinese as well as their own language.

The Lolo women wear dresses with frills round the bottom,
much more like English dresses than Chinese, and they are very


fond of jewels ; the men adorn themselves with ear-rings made
of beads threaded on cotton. In warm weather their clothes are
made of cotton, in winter of felt. They are very good-tempered
and cheerful, though their houses are not at all nice, being very
low and smoky. Their chief employment is rearing cows, sheep,
and horses, and cultivating wheat, oats, maize, beans, and potatoes.

The Hakka are another tribe who live near Canton, but Fpeak
a language that the Canton people cannot understand. They
are very poor but industrious. When they first came into Kwaug-
tung they used to till the waste lands, and w^ere hired as servants
by the people who were there before them ; but they have gradually
increased in numbers and strength, till now they possess some
of the finest disti'icts in the province.

The race who lived in Kwang-tung before these other tribes
came are called the Punti. They are much more polished than-
the tribes who have come since, but they are very deceitful and
cannot be trusted at alL They are ver}' proud of being such
an old race, and of their language, which they say is tlie oldest
form of Chinese, the same that was spoken in the time of the
Emperor Yu.

The Hoklo are a tribe who live in Fukien, and speak a
dialect which none of the tribes near them understand at all ;
they live chiefly on the coast and along the sides of the rivers ;
they are very fierce and unmanageable. In looks they are more
like the Chinese than any of the other tribes I have told you of;
their skin is nearly the same colour, being of a fair yellowish
tint ; they are like the Chinese too in having brown ej^es, not
quite straight, and in their hair, which is coarse, glossy, and
straight. The Hakka and the Punti have much darker skins.

All these small tribes get to be more and more like the
Chinese in their character ; wherever Chinamen are found, these
small races copy them in their manners and customs and religion.

In the Island of Hainan (Which province does that belong

ITS POPULATIONy^^^^^ _%;^ 49

to ? ) is a tribe called the Li. They live in

the mountains of Hainan, while the Chinese live in the plains.
Yeiy little is known about them ; they seem to be something
like the mountain races that live in the north-west of India.

The Miau Teibes,

or Miautsi, as tliey are often called, must have a long piece of
this chapter to themselves, because there are so many of them —
seventy-two different tribes. They are scattered over the moun-
tains in the provinces of Kwang-tung, Kiang-si, and Kwei-chau.
They speak several different dialects and have different customs,
different governments, and different ways of dressing. Their
language is not the least like Chinese, but is something like
Burmese. Where is Burmah ? ( ).

The Miautsi are quite ready to live at peace with the people
in the valleys, so long as they are left alone ; but if anyone wants
to come into their mountains they fight very hard to keep them
out. For a long time the Chinese treated them very badly, so
they came dowm fi'om the mountains in great bodies and burnt
many of the Chinese cities, wasting all the country as they went.
Then the Chinese fought against them, and partly conquered
them, and carried away boat-loads of their men, women, and
children, and sold them for slaves. Some of the tribes were made
to wear the Chinese dress and to shave their heads, but some of
them have not done this, and have not been conquered by the

Those who do not wear the Chinese dress have loose garments
of cotton or linen. Some of them are called the black Miautsi,
because they wear clothes all of a dark colour ; their women
wear a tight-fitting black jacket, very much like an English lady
might wear, over a short skirt \NTth many folds ; a long strip of
dark calico is bound round their ankles and another long piece



round their heads, besides pieces of embroidery round their elbows
^aud wrists. Some of the tribes have a narrow^ stripe of red on the
dark calico ; others have a white band on the edge of the skirt
and a kind of ornamental purse in the front of the waist. Their
clothes are either made by themselves, or got from the people
who live in the plains in return for metals or grain.

Some of the Miautsi live in tents made of the boughs of trees,
others in mud huts. Their dwellings are generally hidden away
among trees, in places where it is very difficult to get to them.
In this they are very different to the Chinese, who like to live
as close as possible to the road-side. They cultivate the ground
in a very rough way.

Their only religious worship is a sacrifice of an ox, or a tiger,
or a dog ; sometimes offered up to the founder of their race, some-
times sacrificed in the hope that they w^ill as a reward escape
sickness and death, and sometimes to persuade the gods who
manage the weather to send them the kind they want. Most
of them do not worship images, but they know nothing of the
true God, and have never heard of the Lord Jesus ; those who
have copied the Chinese dress and habits have also copied the
religion of the Chinese.

The Miautsi are healthier and more active than the Chinese,
very likely because they have nothing to do with opium. The
Chinese always speak against the Miautsi, calling them dog-
men and wolf-men, and have made strangers think worse of
them than they deserve. They are very shy, and do not mix
with the Chinese more than they can help. Only a few of them
can speak Chinese at all, and even tliey do not know many words.
They have no written language, so they cannot have any books,
until some of the missionaries make a language for them and
write the books. Both the men and w^omen work very hard
and mix with each other ; a Miau woman does not go out of the
room if a male visitor comes in, as a Chinese woman does.



Veiy, very few of tlie i^oor ^liaiitsi have ever had the oppor-
tunity of hearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are no
missionaries living amongst them, and though a few who are
at work among the Chinese have been to see them, they could
do but very little for them, as they did not know their language,
and so could only speak to them through someone who knew
Chinese and the Miau language too; and as there is no wiitten
language, they could not even give them Bibles and tracts ;
they could only pity them and pray for them, and ijou can do
that, can't you ? Ask God to send someone to teach them, and
to make some one loving enough and clever enough to make
a language for them, and to get some parts at least of the Bible
put into it.


HERE are a great many cities in Cliiua — 14G0, not
reckoning towns — as you would guess from its being
so large and so old.

All tlie principal cities and towns are surrounded
by high walls, made of blue bricks, which make them
look very strange to English people. These walls
are from twenty to sixty feet high, with several gates in them
for 23eople to go in and out of the town ; they are very strong too,
and so thick that in time of war the troops move about on the top
without any fear of their falling off. The gates of towns are shut
every night soon after it gets dark. At the end of every principal
street there is a strong barrier of timber, which is shut at the same
time, to keep people from going in and out ; no one is allowed to
pass unless he can give a very good reason for it.

Sometimes there are houses built on the walls. What woman
do we read of in the Bible who lived in a house on a city wall ?
( ).. Most likely these walls were built long ago, to

keep out enemies, but now you will often find quite a little town
outside the w^alls, and wide pieces of ground inside them, where
nobody is living. There are about 8,000 miles of wall altogether
in China.

After the Manchus had conquered China, every large city
had a little Manchu army sent to keep it, and a separate part of the
city was appointed for them to live in. In many places these parts



passed agaiu into the liauds of the Chinese, in others tlie Manchus
still keep them.

As canals and rivers are so much used, you will expect to hear
that there are a great many bridges, and so there are ; some of
them have shops all along both sides, with only a narrow foot-path
down the middle for people to walk on.

There are very few public gardens or parks to be seen in
China. The Chinese say such things are only fit for learned
people, so they make gardens for themselves but not for the public.
We do not say that in England, do we ? Instead of that, w^e nia,ke
public gardens or parks in nearly|^all our large toAvns, where the
people who have been w^orking hard all day can go and walk in the
evening, and I don't think they would "say they do not care for such

In Pekin and Nankin there are some very wide streets ; the
chief streets in Pekin are one hundred feet wdde, but in most
of the cities and towns the streets are very narrow. The houses
have very broad eaves, so that those on one side of the road
nearly touch those on the other side, and a Chinese city seen from
a little distance looks like a huge mass of houses and nothing

People who want to see the skj^, and get a breath of fresh air,
go on to the tops of the houses, which are generally ornamented
wdth rows of flow^ers in pots, and have an ornamental railing all
round them. On the roofs there are also a great many jars filled
with water to be ready in case of a fire, for as the houses are made
chiefly of wood, and are so very close together, there often is a tire.
Every now and then in a Chinese street there is a high stone wall
between two houses ; this is called a fire-w^all, and is put there so
that if a house should catch fire, all the other houses would not be
burnt too, as the wall would keep the fire from spreading.

The houses in Chinese cities are nearly all of the same height,
except that here and there there is a temple or a government



house, a little liiglier than the rest, and in the southern provinces
there are a great many pawnhrokers' shops, which are built with
high square towers. In most cities there are large pieces of tilled
land, which might be used for building, and then the other parts
would not be so crowded; but the Chinese like to squeeze into as
little room and live as close together as they possibly can, they
think it more sociable and better for trade.


Chinese streets are not only very narrow, but very dirty; the
hardest-working scavengers are the dogs and pigs, who run about
and find what they can to eat. There are very bad drains too, and
therefore very bad smells, which cannot always get out, as the
streets are sometimes shut in by matting at the top, to keep out
the hot sun ; it is partly for this purpose that they are made so
narrow. In spite of this, however, Chinese merchants and trades-
people are generally healthy and live long.


Horses are very seldom used for carrying things in Chinese
towns ; if they were, the streets would have to be wider to make
room for them to pass each other. Most of the carrying is done
by men called coolies. If the load is light, 02ie coolie will carry
it ; he has a bamboo stick on his shoulder, and half the goods
are hung at each end, just as yon have seen a milkman carry
his tw^o pails of milk. If the load is a heavy one, then there
will be two coolies, with a stick between them, and the burden
fastened to the middle of it. These coolies trot along all the way
as fast as they can go, shouting as they run for people to get
out of the way, so a Chinese street is sometimes rather noisy.

In Pekin and other towns in the north of China there are
carts drawn by horses, mules, and donkeys, and sometimes loads
are carried by dromedaries.

People as w^ell as things are carried by coolies. The carriages
have a long shaft at each side, which rests on the shoulders of the
men. Most people are only allowed tw^o coolies to carry them,
but mandarins may have four or sometimes eight, while the
emperor is carried by sixteen, eight behind and eight in front.

The streets are generally paved with long stones, which are
always dirty, as there are no proper drains, but only a rude,
covered gutter in the largest streets. In some cities and towns
there are rows of jars sunk by the side of the streets, each w-itli
a wooden shed over it, open towards the road, in wdiich people
may put their rubbish ; wdien one of these is full, the scavenger
comes and empties it ; if there is a canal near, he puts the
contents of the jars into a boat and sends it into the country for

The names of the streets are not written on the houses as
they are in England, but on gates at each end.

The shops have a ground-floor and an upper story. The
upper story is where the people live, the ground floor is all taken
up with ih.Q shop itself, which has no windows, but is quite open


in front. The shops are separated from each other by brick walls ;
at the foot of the walls, close to the pavement, are little niches, in
which are placed offerings to the god of the trade, whatever it may
be, that is carried on there ; for every trade has a god of its own.
On these walls are also placed sign-boards, painted in brilliant
colours, generally red, yellow, or blue, containing not tlie name of
the man who lives there, but the name of the shop, such as " The
House of Eternal Happiness." Then there will be a great many
smaller boards, containing lists of the things sold in the shop.

In the markets there is a great deal of cheating. For instance,
if a man has some fish to sell, and waits all the morning without
anyone buying it, he will stuff something down its throat to make
it weigh more ; or if he has a fish which is flabby, and not good
enough to tempt anyone to buy it, he will put a reed down its
throat and blow till the fish looks and feels like a good one.
But the Chinese do not very often cheat each other ; they keep it
generally for foreigners, and think it is quite fair to get all they
can out of them. I am sorry to say the reason they give is, that
foreigners have done them a great deal of harm, and there is a
good deal of truth in this.

In the grandest doctors' shops there are generally to be seen
some tablets, given to the doctor by patients whom he has cured,
saying how very clever he is. The rest of the things in these shops
will be very funny, but I will tell you about them when we come
to talk about medicine and doctors.

A great deal of the business in China is done by people who,
instead of having shops of their own, wander about from place
to place and sell as they go. Men of all sorts of trades do this^
fruiterers, pastry-cooks, blacksmiths, tinkers, shoemakers, and
even bankers, chemists, and booksellers.

The best streets are those in which the bankers, silk-merchants,
and tea-merchants do their business. The inside rooms are very
high because there is no upper story, as these are only the business



liouses, where nobody lives. The rooms next the street, the
offices, are floored with stone or red tiles ; after going through
them, you come to courts and warehouses, where the packing
is done if it is a merchant's house ; the Chinese are very good

You would wonder very much where the bankers and
merchants live, and you would find it very difficult to discover
their homes, for each gentleman's house has such a high wall
round it, that it cannot be seen at all, unless it is from the top
of a hill, for Chinese gentlemen like to shut themselves in where
nobody can see them. A Chinese lady rarely sees anything or
anybody outside this high wall ; what there is inside you will
know by-aud-bye.



HERE are so many of tliem that in some parts of the
country, if yon were to walk to the top of a hill, you
would be able to count fifty or sixty.

On the Ta Hiong tableland there are four hundred
villages, each inhabited by one clan. Some of these
clans are made up of two hundred or three hundred
families, all having the same surname. How confusing it must be!
Fancy, if you lived in a village where there were three hundred
people all named Johnson ! You will be glad to know that there
are some missionaries at work on this tableland.

Most of the village cottages are made of bamboo and mud;
only the walls of the temples and the house of the head man of
the village are made of brick. The framew^ork of the huts is made
of thick stems of bamboo, either twisted together or tied with
hemp, as this is found cheaper and stronger than doing it with
nails. The w^alls are made next, of small branches or thin lathes
of bamboo, fastened together and fixed to the frame-work, and
then a coating of mud is put over this. In the northern provinces
the wood of pine and the stems of millet are used, as bamboos are
not so plentiful there as in the south.

The wind and rain are kept out of the huts by thatching the
roofs and walls with rice straw or bamboo leaves, wliich you
remember are waterproof.

Nearly all the working men and women of China live in these


liuts. The villagers are very kind to oue aDother, and always
ready to welcome strangers and do anything they can for them,
so missionaries can generally do as much work among villagers
as they have time and strength for. The country people of China
are just the same to-day as they were three thousand years ago ;
helieving just the same as their ancestors did then, and living just
the same as they did too. They look upon the head man of the
village as their father, and are always willing to do as he tells
them. The Manchus found this out, so instead of sending
Manchu rulers to look after the people in the villages, they left
it to these head men to keep them in order ; the Manchu governor
of one city often has a thousand villages under him, each with
its own head man.

The villagers are always happy and contented, unless there
is a Hood or a famine. All village men more than seventy years
old are called elders; they may invite themselves to any feast
that is going on in their village, and are always treated witli the
greatest respect.

The village women work in the fields when they are young,
and give advice to the younger ones when they get old.

In the south of China there are often quarrels between
different village clans, and sometimes even wars. If an}^ prisoners
are taken, they are treated very cruelly; sometimes their wrists
and ankles are bound together, and then the rope by which they
are tied is tossed over a high branch, and the prisoner is dragged
up and down. If a man belonging to one tribe is killed by a man
of another tribe, the friends of the dead man will watch for the
murderer; and when they have caught him they will avenge the
death of their friend by cutting and tormenting his enemy, but
refusing to kill him. They know nothing of a religion which
tells us to love our enemies and to do good to those that hate us
( ). and they have never heard of Him who " when He

suffered, threatened not " ( ), and gave His life for those


who were His enemies, praying for tbem with His last breath
( ). You know all about that, but have you begun yet to

follow the example of Jesus, by being kind to those who are unkind
to you, and doing all you can to help tbose who hurt you ? Not
unless you have made friends wdth the Lord Jesus, I am sure, for
it is only when He lives in our hearts that w^e are able to imitate

A warfare between two tribes will often be carried on for
months together without a real battle. Sometimes the men of
other villages will try to make peace, but it generally happens
that, instead of doing this, those who meant to be peacemakers
join in the quarrel, by taking one side or another. When at last
the tribes go to war, they do not generally fight themselves, but
each side hires a number of men, who make it their business to
take up these village quarrels and fight them out. If there are
no village contests going on, these men spend their time in going
from one village to another robbing the peoj^le ; the government
does not interfere, unless one of the villages does not pay its taxes,
and even then it seldom makes w^ar upon these fighting robbers,
but bribes them not to interfere with the tax-gathering ; for
it sometimes happens, that instead of robbing the villagers, the
thieves wait till the taxes have all been paid, and then rob
the collector, so saving themselves a good deal of time and




,OST Eiiglisli people who have visited China, and traded
with the Chinese, give them a very bad character,
much worse than they deserve. 1 expect the reason of
this is partly that most English people only see the
Chinese who live at the ports and large towns, who are
certainly not the nicest specimens, and partly because
they judge of the Chinese by the w^ay in which they treat fJiem,
which is hardly fair ; because, as I have told you already, a China-
man w^ould not think of treating one of his own countrymen as
he w^ould treat a foreigner. I think your opinion will be the same
as mine, that, taken altogether, the Chinese are as good as you
could expect people to be, who know nothing of the true Grod
and of the Lord Jesus Christ ; and in some things they are better
than many of tliose who have the true religion in their heads, but
not in their hearts, aud who have never learned to practise it in
their lives.

To foreigners the Chinese are often very haughty and insolent;
the reason of this is, that they are so much more civilized than all
the nations round them, that they have learned to think them-
selves better than anyone else. They are always looking out for
opportunities to cheat foreigners, though if they find that the
foreigners are too sharp for them, they are not at all' angry, but
only amused.

A Chinese boatman was once taking a missionary somewhere,


and wlien tliey came to tlieir journey's end, he asked eight
shilhngs for his fare, instead of a penny farthing, which was the
proper sum. The missionary was sure this was not right, and
refused to pay so much, saying that the other passengers had only
paid a penny farthing, and he did not see why he should pay more,
as he was no heavier than they were. The boatman thought he
was going to be very clever, and answered, " No, perhaps not,
but you are taller than the rest ; you take up more room over-
head." But the missionary was a sharp man too, and said, " That
is true, but the air overhead does not belong to you, so why should
I pay you for it ? " Then all the passengers, who were Chinese,
began to laugh, and said "the foreign child" understood reason,
and the boatman, seeing he was getting the worst of it, made it
up by saying he would take twopence halfpenny this time, and a
penny farthing every other time the missionary wanted him.

The Chinese have many good qualities ; they are gentle and
peaceable, obedient to their rulers, very industrious, and always
respectful to old people. But they have bad qualities too; you can
never tell how far they mean what they say, for they are just as
ready to tell lies as to speak the truth ; they are jealous, and apt
to think the worst of people, rather than the best, never trusting
anyone very much, foreigners least of all. They are among the
best-tempered people in the world, nearly always cheerful, however
poor and hard-worked they may be, and are never ashamed of
being poor, as English people sometimes are. The two things
most respected in China are high position, if a man has gained it

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Online Libraryd. 1894 Terrien de LacouperieThe children of China. Written for the children of England → online text (page 4 of 18)