George Ernest Morrison.

An Australian in China: being the narrative of a quiet journey across China ... online

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the arsenal, a strange sound to be heard in so far inland a city in
China. The factory is under Chinese management, a fact patent to any
visitor. Its two foremen were trained partly in the arsenal in Nanking
under Dr. Macartney (now Sir Halliday Macartney), and partly in the
splendid Shanghai arsenal under Mr. Cornish. I went to the arsenal, and
was received as usual in the opium-room. There was nothing to conceal,
and I was freely shown everything. The arsenal turns out Krupp guns of
7-1/2 centimetres calibre, but the iron is inferior, and the workmen are
in need of better training. Cartridges are also made here. And in one
room I saw two men finishing with much neatness a pure silver opium-tray
intended for the Fantai (provincial treasurer), but why made in the
arsenal only a Chinaman could tell you. Work in the furnace is done at a
disadvantage owing to the shortness of the furnace chimney, which is
only 25 feet high. All attempts to increase its height are now forbidden
by the authorities. There was agitation in the city when the chimney was
being heightened. Geomancers were consulted, who saw the feeling of the
majority, and therefore gave it as their unprejudiced opinion that, if
the chimney were not stunted, the _fungshui_ (good luck) of the Futai's
yamen (provincial governor), and of that portion of the city under its
protection, would depart for ever. All the machinery of the arsenal is
stamped with the name of Greenwood, Battley and Co., Leeds. Rust and
dirt are everywhere, and the 100 workmen for whom pay is drawn never
number on the rare pay days more than sixty persons, a phenomenon
observed in most establishments in China worked by government. Yet with
a foreigner in charge excellent work could be turned out from the
factory. The buildings are spacious, the grounds are ample.

The powder factory is outside the city, near the north-eastern angle of
the wall, but the powder magazine is on some rising ground inside the
city. No guns are stationed anywhere on the walls, though they may be in
concealment in the turrets; but near the small west gate I saw some
small cannon of ancient casting, built on the model of the guns cast by
the Jesuit missionaries in China two centuries ago, if they were not the
actual originals. They were all marked in relief with a cross and the
device I.H.S. - a motto that you would think none but a Chinaman could
select for a weapon designed to destroy men, yet characteristic of this
country of contradictions. "The Chinese statesman," says Wingrove Cooke,
the famous _Times_ correspondent, "cuts off 10,000 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,
and he deplores the land lost to the cultivator of the soil."

Du Halde tells us that "the first Chinese cannon were cast under the
directions of Père Verbiest in 1682, who blest the cannon, and gave to
each the name of a saint." "A female saint!" says Huc.

Near the arsenal and drill ground there is a large intramural swamp or
reedy lake, the reeds of which have an economic value as wicks for
Chinese candles. Dykes cross the swamp in various directions, and in the
centre there is a well known Taoist Temple, a richly endowed edifice,
with superior gods and censers of great beauty. Where the swamp deepens
into a pond at the margin of the temple, a pretty pavilion has been
built, which is a favourite resort of the Yunnan gentry. The most _chic_
dinner parties in the province are given here. The pond itself swarms
with sacred fish; they are so numerous that when the masses move the
whole pond vibrates. Many merits are gained by feeding the fish, and,
as it happened at the time of my visit that I had no money, I was
constrained to borrow fifteen cash from my chair coolies, with which I
purchased some of the artificial food that women were vending and threw
it to the fish, so that I might add another thousand to the innumerable
merits I have already hoarded in Heaven.

Upon a pretty wooded hill near the centre of the city is the Confucian
Temple, and on the lower slope of the hill, in an admirable position,
are the quarters of the China Inland Mission, conducted by Mr. and Mrs.
X., assisted by Mr. Graham, who at the time of my visit was absent in
Tali, and by two exceedingly nice young girls, one of whom comes from
Melbourne. The single ladies live in quarters of their own on the edge
of a swamp, and suffer inevitably from malarial fever. Mr. X. "finds the
people very hard to reach," he told me, and his success has only been
relatively cheering. After labouring here nearly six years - the mission
was first opened in 1882 - he has no male converts, though there are two
promising nibblers, who are waiting for the first vacancy to become
adherents. There _was_ a convert, baptised before Mr. X. came here, a
poor manure-coolie, who was employed by the mission as an evangelist in
a small way; but "Satan tempted him, he fell from grace, and had to be
expelled for stealing the children's buttons." It was a sad trial to the
mission. The men refuse to be saved, recalcitrant sinners! but the women
happily are more tractable. Mr. X. has up to date (May, 1894), baptised
his children's nurse girl, the "native helper" of the single ladies, and
his wife's cook. Mr. X. works hard, far too hard. He is of the type that
never can be successful in China. He was converted when nearing middle
age, is narrow and uncompromising in his views, and is as stern as a
Cameronian. It is a farce sending such men to China. At his services
there is never any lack of listeners, who marvel greatly at the new
method of speaking Chinese which this enterprising emissary - in London
he was in the oil trade - is endeavouring to introduce into the province.
Of "tones" instead of the five used by the Chinese, he does not
recognise more than two, and these he uses indifferently. He hopes,
however, to be understood by loud speaking, and he bellows at the placid
coolies like a bull of Bashan.

I paid an early visit to my countrymen at the _Yesu-tang_ (Jesus Hall),
the mission home, as I thought that my medical knowledge might be of
some service. I wished to learn a little about their work, but to my
great sorrow I was no sooner seated than they began plying me with
questions about the welfare of my soul. I am a "poor lost sinner," they
told me. They flung texts at my head, and then sang a terrifying ballad,
by which I learnt for the first time the awful fate that is to be mine.
It is something too dreadful to contemplate. And the cheerful equanimity
with which they announced it to me! I left the _Yesu-tang_ in a cold
sweat, and never returned there.

Missionary work is being pursued in the province with increasing vigour.
Among its population of from five to seven millions, spread over an area
of 107,969 square miles, there are eighteen Protestant missionaries,
nine men and nine ladies (this is the number at present, but the usual
strength is twenty-three). Stations are open at Chaotong (1887),
Tongchuan (1891), Yunnan City (1882), Tali (1881), and Kuhtsing (1889).
The converts number - the work, however, must not be judged by
statistics - two at Chaotong, one at Tongchuan, three at Yunnan City,
three at Tali, and two at Kuhtsing.

That the Chinese are capable of very rapid conversion can be proved by
numberless instances quoted in missionary reports on China. The Rev. S.
F. Woodin (in the _Records_ of the Missionary Conference, 1877, p. 91)
states that he converted a "grossly immoral Chinaman, who had smoked
opium for more than twenty years," simply by saying to him "in a spirit
of earnest love, elder brother Six, as far as I can see, you must
perish; you are Hell's child."

Mr. Stanley P. Smith, B.A., who was formerly stroke of the Cambridge
eight, had been only seven months in China when he performed that
wonderful conversion, so applauded at the Missionary Conference of 1888,
of "a young Chinaman, a learned man, a B.A. of his University," who
heard Mr. Smith speak in the Chinese that can be acquired in seven
months, and "accepted Him there and then." (_Records_ of the Missionary
Conference, 1888, i., 46). Indeed, the earlier the new missionaries in
China begin to preach the more rapid are the conversions they make.

Now, in this province of Yunnan, conversions will have to be infinitely
more rapid before we can say that there is any reasonable hope of the
proximate conversion of the province. The problem is this: In a
population of from five to seven millions of friendly and peaceable
people, eighteen missionaries in eight years (the average time during
which the mission stations have been opened), have converted eleven
Chinese; how long, then, will it take to convert the remainder?

"I believe," said a late member of the House of Commons, who was once
Lord Mayor of London, speaking at the anniversary meeting of the China
Inland Mission in 1884, "I believe God intends to accomplish great
things in China," and, undoubtedly, the opinion of an ex-Lord Mayor on
such a subject is entitled to great weight.

"The Gospel," he said, "is making rapid progress in China.... We are
amazed at the great things God hath wrought" (in the conversion of the

Let us examine for a moment an instance of the rapid progress which
excited the amazement of this good man. No missionary body in China is
working with greater energy than the China Inland Mission. Their
missionaries go far afield in their work, and they are, what their
mission intends them to be, pioneer Protestant missionaries in Inland
China. At the present time, the beginning of 1894, the Inland Mission
numbers 611 male and female missionaries. They are assisted by 261 paid
native helpers, and the combined body of 872 Evangelists baptised during
the year just passed (1893) 821 Chinese. These figures, taken from
_China's Millions_, 1894, p. 122, attest a rather lower rate of progress
than the other missions can boast of; but a considerable part of the
inland work, it must be remembered, is the most difficult work of
all - the preaching of the Gospel for the first time in newly-opened


The Viceroy of the two provinces of Yunnan and Kweichow, Wong-wen-shao,
is one of the most enlightened rulers in China. No stranger could fail
to be impressed with his keen intellectual face and courtly grace of
manner. His career has been a distinguished one. Good fortune attended
him even at his birth. He is a native of Hangchow, in Chehkiang, a city
famous in China for its coffins. Every Chinaman will tell you that true
felicity consists in three things: to be born in Peking (under the
shadow of the Son of Heaven); to live in Soochow (where the girls are
prettiest); and to die in Hangchow (where the coffins are grandest).
Twelve years ago he was Governor of the province of Hunan. Called then
to Peking as one of the Ministers of State of the "Tsungli Yamen," or
Foreign Office, he remained there four years, his retirement being then
due to the inexorable law which requires an official to resign office
and go into mourning for three years on the death of one of his parents.
In this case it was his mother. (A Chinese mother suckles her child two
and a half years, and, as the age of the child is dated from a time
anterior by some months to birth, the child is three years old before it
leaves its mother's breast. Three years, therefore, has been defined as
the proper period for mourning.) At the termination of the three years,
Wong was reappointed Governor of Hunan, and a year and a half later, in
May, 1890, he was appointed to his present important satrapy, where he
has the supreme control of a district larger than Spain and Portugal,
and with a population larger than that of Canada and Australia combined.
In May, 1893, he made application to the throne to be allowed to return
to his ancestral home to die, but the privilege was refused him.

Before leaving Yunnan city the Mandarin Li kindly provided me with a
letter of introduction to his friend Brigadier-General Chang-chen Nien,
in Tengyueh. Since it contained a communication between persons of rank,
the envelope was about the size of an ordinary pillow-slip. The General
was presumably of higher rank than the traveller; I had, therefore, in
accordance with Chinese etiquette, to provide myself with a suitable
visiting card of a size appropriate to his importance. Now Chinese
visiting cards differ from ours in differing in size according to the
importance of the person to whom they are to be presented. My ordinary
card is eight inches by three, red in colour - the colour of
happiness - and inscribed in black with the three characters of my
Chinese name. But the card that I was expected to present to the
General was very much larger than this. Folded it was of the same size,
but unfolded it was ten times the size of the other (eight by thirty
inches), and the last page, politely inscribed in Chinese, contained
this humiliating indication of its purport: "Your addlepated nephew
Mo-li-son bows his stupid head, and pays his humble respects to your
exalted Excellency."


I still have this card in my possession; and I should be extremely
reluctant to present it to any official in the Empire of lower rank than
the Emperor.



I sold the mule in Yunnan City, and bought instead a little white pony
at a cost, including saddle, bridle, and bells, of _£3 6s._ In doing
this I reversed the exchange that would have been made by a Chinaman. A
mule is a more aristocratic animal than a pony; it thrives better on a
journey, and is more sure-footed. If a pony, the Chinese tell you, lets
slip one foot, the other three follow; whereas a mule, if three feet
slip from under him, will hold on with the fourth.

My men, who had come with me from Chaotong, were paid off in Yunnan; but
it was pleasant to find all three accept an offer to go on with me to
Talifu. Coolies to do this journey are usually supplied by the coolie
agents for the wage of two _chien_ a day each (_7d._), each man to carry
seventy catties (93lbs.), find himself by the way, and spend thirteen
days on the journey. But no coolies, owing to the increase in the price
of food, were now willing to go for so little. Accordingly I offered my
two coolies three taels each (_9s._), instead of the hong price of _7s.
9d._, and loads of fifty catties instead of seventy catties. I offered
to refund them 100 cash each (_2-1/2d._) a day for every day that they
had been delayed in Yunnan, and, in addition, I promised them a reward
of five mace each (_1s. 6d._) if they would take me to Tali in nine
days, instead of thirteen, the first evening not to count. To Laohwan,
who had no load to carry, but had to attend to me and the pony and pay
away the cash, I made a similar offer. These terms, involving me in an
outlay of _36s._ for hiring three men to go with me on foot 915 li, and
return empty-handed, were considered liberal, and were agreed to at

The afternoon, then, of the 19th April saw us again _en route_, bound to
the west to Talifu, the most famous city in western China, the
headquarters of the Mohammedan "Sultan" during the great rebellion of

By the courtesy of the Mandarin Li, two men were detailed to "sung"
me - to accompany me, that is - and take the responsibility for my safe
delivery at the next hsien. One was a "wen," a chairen, or yamen runner;
the other was a "wu," a soldier, with a sightless right eye, who was
dressed in the ragged vestiges of a uniform that reflected both the
poverty of his environment and, inversely, the richness of his
commanding officer. For in China the officer enriches himself by the
twofold expedient of drawing pay for soldiers who have no existence,
except in his statement of claim, and by diverting the pay of his
soldiers who do exist from their pockets into his own.

[Illustration: THE GIANT OF YUNNAN.]

As I was leaving, a colossal Chinaman, sent by the Fantai to speed the
foreign gentleman on his way, strode into the court. He was dressed in
military jacket and official hat and foxtails. He was the Yunnan giant,
Chang Yan Miun, a kindly-featured monster, whom it is a pity to see
buried in China when he might be holding _levées_ of thousands in a
Western side-show. For the information of those in search of novelties,
I may say that the giant is thirty years of age, a native of Tongchuan,
born of parents of ordinary stature; he is 7ft. 1in. in his bare feet,
and weighs, when in condition, 27st. 6lb. With that ingenious
arrangement for increasing height known to all showmen, this giant might
be worth investing in as a possible successor to his unrivalled
namesake. There is surely money in it. Chang's present earnings are
rather less than _7s._ a month, without board and lodging; he is
unmarried, and has no incumbrance; and he is slightly taller and much
more massively built than a well-known American giant whom I once had
permission to measure, who has been shown half over the world as the
"tallest man on earth," his height being attested as "7ft. 11in. in his
stockings' soles," and who commands the salary of an English admiral.

We made only a short march the first evening, but after that we
travelled by long stages. The country was very pretty, open glades with
clumps of pine, and here and there a magnificent sacred tree like the
banyan, under whose far-reaching branches small villages are often half
concealed. Despite the fertility of the country, poverty and starvation
met us at every step; the poor were lingering miserably through the
year. Goitre, too, was increasing in frequency. It was rarely that a
group gathered to see us some of whose members were not suffering from
this horrible deformity. And everywhere in the pretty country were signs
of the ruthless devastation of religious war. That was a war of
extermination. "A storm of universal fire blasted every field, consumed
every house, destroyed every temple."

Crumbling walls are at long distances from the towns they used to guard;
there are pastures and waste lands where there were streets of
buildings; walls of houses have returned whence they came to the mother
earth; others are roofless. In the open country, far from habitation,
the traveller comes across groups of bare walls with foundations still
uncovered, and dismantled arches, and broken images in the long grass,
that were formerly yamens and temples in the midst of thriving
communities. Yet there are signs of a renaissance; many new houses are
being built along the main road; walls are being repaired, and bridges
reconstructed. When an exodus takes place from Szechuen to this
province, there is little reason why Yunnan should not become one of the
richest provinces in China. It has every advantage of climate, great
fertility of soil, and immense mineral resources hardly yet developed.
It needs population. It needs the population that dwelt in the province
before the rebellion involved the death of millions. It can absorb an
immense proportion of the surplus population of China. During, and
subsequent to, the Taiping rebellion the province of Szechuen increased
by 45,000,000 in forty years (1842-82); given the necessity, there seems
no reason why the population of Yunnan should not increase in an almost
equal proportion.

On the 22nd we passed Lu-feng-hsien, another ruined town. The finest
stone bridge I have seen in Western China, and one that would arrest
attention in any country in the world, is at this town. It crosses the
wide bed of a stream that in winter is insignificant, but which grows in
volume in the rains of summer to a broad and powerful river. It is a
bridge of seven beautiful arches; it is 12 yards broad and 150 yards
long, of perfect simplicity and symmetry, with massive piers, all built
of dressed masonry and destined to survive the lapse of centuries.
Triumphal archways with memorial tablets and pedestals of carved lions
are befitting portals to a really noble work.

On the 23rd we reached the important city of Chuhsing-fu, a walled city,
still half-in-ruins, that was long occupied by the Mohammedans, and
suffered terrible reprisals on its recapture by the Imperialists. For
four days we had travelled at an average rate of one hundred and five li
(thirty-five miles) a day. I must, however, note that these distances as
estimated by Mr. Jensen, the constructor of the telegraph line, do not
agree with the distances in Mr. Baber's itinerary. The Chinese distances
in li agree in both estimates; but, whereas Mr. Jensen allows three li
for a mile, Mr. Baber allows four and a-half, a wide difference indeed.
For convenience sake I have made use of the telegraph figures, but Mr.
Baber was so scrupulously accurate in all that he wrote that I have no
doubt the telegraph distances are over-estimated.

We were again in a district almost exclusively devoted to the poppy; the
valley-plains sparkled with poppy flowers of a multiplicity of tints.
The days were pleasant, and the sun shone brightly; every plant was in
flower; doves cooed in the trees, and the bushes in blossom were bright
with butterflies. Lanes led between hedges of wild roses white with
flower, and, wherever a creek trickled across the plain, its
willow-lined borders were blue with forget-me-nots. And everywhere a
peaceful people, who never spoke a word to the foreigner that was not

On the evening of the 24th, at a ruined town thirty li from Luho, we
received our first check. It was at a walled town, with gateways and a
pagoda that gave some indication of its former prosperity, prettily
situated among the trees on the confines of a plain of remarkable
fertility. Near sundown we passed down the one long street, all battered
and dismantled, which is all that is left of the old town. News of the
foreigner quickly spread, and the people gathered into the street to
see me - no reception could be more flattering. We did not wait, but,
pushing on, we passed out by the west gate and hastened on across the
plain. But I noticed that Laohwan kept looking back at the impoverished
town, shaking his head and stuttering "_pu-pu-pu-pu-hao! pu-pu-pu-hao!_"
(bad! bad!) We had thus gone half a mile or so, when we were arrested by
cries behind us, and our last chairen was seen running, panting, after
us. We waited for him; he was absurdly excited, and could hardly speak.
He made an address to me, speaking with great energy and gesticulation;
but what was its purport, _Dios sabe_. When he had finished, not to be
outdone in politeness, I thanked him in English for the kindly phrases
in which he had spoken to me, assured him of my continued sympathy, and
undertook to say that, if ever he came to Geelong, he would find there a
house at his disposition, and a friend who would be ever ready to do him
a service. He seemed completely mystified, and began to speak again,
more excitedly than before. It was getting late, and a crowd was
collecting, so I checked him by waving my left hand before my face and
bawling at him with all my voice: "_Putung_, you stupid ass, _putung_ (I
don't understand)! Can't you see I don't understand a word you say, you
benighted heathen you? _Putung_, man, _putung_! Advance Australia, _dzo_
(go)!" And, swinging open my umbrella, I walked on. His excitement
increased - we must go back to the town; he seized me by the wrists, and
urged me to go back. We had a slight discussion; his feet gave from
under him and he fell down, and I was going on cheerfully when he burst
out crying. This I interpreted to mean that he would get into trouble if
I did not return, so, of course, I turned back at once, for the tears
of a Chinaman are sadly affecting. Back, then, we were taken to an
excellent inn in the main street, where a respectful _levée_ of the
townsfolk had assembled to welcome me. A polite official called upon me,
to whom I showed, with simulated indignation, my official card and my
Chinese passport, and I hinted to him in English that this interference
with my rights as a traveller from England, protected by the favour of
the Emperor, would - let him mark my word - be made an international
question. While saying this, I inadvertently left on my box, so that all
might see it, the letter of introduction to the Brigadier-General in
Tengyueh, which was calculated to give the natives an indication of the
class of Chinese who had the privilege to be admitted to my friendship.
The official was very polite and apologetic. I freely forgave him, and

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Online LibraryGeorge Ernest MorrisonAn Australian in China: being the narrative of a quiet journey across China ... → online text (page 13 of 21)