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the petty and contemptible pilfering of "Favors,"
which is a feature of every fashionable cotillon
in our country, the more flagrant the more val-
uable the "Favors," is best left unanswered.

China is the more easily the victim of this
political malady in a virulent form because its
capital at Peking is not centrally situated, rail-
ways are few, good roads unknown, the post-
office a negligible quantity; and consequently



JOHN CHINAMAN 395

outside the territory just around Peking the
oflScials of the vast Empire are under little or no
supervision or restraint.

One has only to see something of these vast
stretches of territory without railroads, without
telegraph offices, and with few post-offices to
learn how much we owe to our own railroads
for their efficiency as moral agents. Leaving
out of the count any question of commerce, the
United States to-day would be a great federal
political and moral chaos without its railroads;
and yet I have never heard them alluded to
even as having any ethical value. It is right to
debate these questions whether in a republic or
in China. The value of the debate, however,
depends altogether upon the tone and temper
of the discussion. I believe in insurgency. In-
surgency is the only political or social purgative
of any value in a democracy ; but the insurgent
must be neither a fanatic nor a fakir; he is, alas,
all too often one or the other; and America
has suffered of late from a veritable plague of
left-handed Catos. Therefore, I counsel my
readers to adopt my method. As an observer,
as a traveller, as a student, I know of no instru-
ment of criticism so helpful as sympathy. You
must like a man to get out of him the best he
has to give. Mere denunciation is a weapon of



396 THE \VEST IN THE EAST

the ethical age, of the eocene lemur, and the
calcareous sponge.

If the Chinese cure themselves of this disease
of official peculation it is hard to set a limit to
their national or commercial progress. The
Abbe Hue writes: "The Chinese is born with
this taste for traffic, which grows with his growth
and strengthens with his strength. The first
thing a child looks for is a sapeck; the first use
that he makes of his speech and intelligence is
to learn to articulate the names of coins; when
his little fingers are strong enough to hold the
pencil, it is with making figures that he amuses
himself, and as soon as the tiny creature can
speak and walk he is capable of buying and
selling. The Chinese has a passionate love of
lucre ; he is fond of all kinds of speculations and
stock-jobbing, and his mind, full of finesse and
cunning, takes delight in combining and calcu-
lating the chances of a commercial operation."

The shrewdest comment ever made upon the
methods of our Stock Exchange was made by a
Chinese. Prince Li Hung Chang was escorted
to Wall Street, and in a certain broker's office
he was shown a "ticker" machine rolling off the
prices of stocks. It was expected by his host
that he would be astonished, if not bewildered,
at these financial heart-beats made visible on a



JOHN CHINAIVIAN 397

strip of paper. When asked what he thought of
it, he repHed: "I think I should prefer to play
in a game where I can see the cards shuffled."

A few hours by steamer from Hongkong, upon
the Canton River, brings one to China as we pict-
ure China to ourselves; for Canton contains all
the materials, from pig-tails to puppies, which
supply the Western imagination with its notions
of the Chinese. Canton is surrounded by a wall
six or seven miles in circumference, and is filled,
literally filled, if the eye is to be trusted, with a
population of something under a million. You
settle yourself in a sedan-chair borne by four
coolies, and you are carried swiftly through the
narrrow streets, nowhere more than seven feet
wide, and the noise and the smells and the
traffic and the sights and scenes are so numb-
ing, that one sympathizes with the man who
found himself with so much to do that he went
a-fishing. It is as impossible at first to make
out what this swarm of people are doing as to
disentangle the activities of an ant-hill.

The river itself is thronged with boats upon
which thousands of families live from one
year's end to the other. Some of them even have
small plots of earth on them, in which seeds are
planted, and very few of them lack chickens and
dogs and babies; and a net let down into one



398 THE W^ST IN THE EAST

of those family gondolas would bring up the
strangest and most ill-assorted catch that ever
fisherman landed.

The girl babies must have but a small chance
in this land of infanticide, with a watery grave
so convenient. Who has ever heard the mem-
bers of a family even at home say : yes, we have
a new baby, if that baby is a boy; or neglect to
proclaim: yes, we have a new baby boy! In
China they carry this prepossession in favor of
the male, as they do still to some extent in India
and Japan, to its cruel logical conclusion. In
the Chinese characters or ideographs used for
writing, a woman with a lid on her is the w^ord
for Quiet, while three women together is the
ideograph for Noise. In this swarming life, the
girl who must have a dot when she marries, and
who is incompetent to carry on the worship of
the ancestors, which alone in China is the uni-
versal form of worship prescribed and accepted,
is often looked upon as an inconvenient burden,
and if so widely recognized an authority as the
Rev. Arthur H. Smith is to believed, is often dis-
posed of by murder.

Both here and later I came into contact w^ith
a number of the better-class Chinese, as their
guest or as a fellow-guest. They are much
easier in their manners, more composed and self-



JOHN CHINAJNIAN 399

reliant, more dignified, than either the Indians
or the Japanese. Even a European of standing
and social experience might find it a trying or-
deal to be the only one of his race present, say
at a dinner where all the other guests were Chi-
nese, Japanese, Koreans, and Indians. On one
occasion, at a meal w^here fourteen of us were
present, there was one Chinese, but no one there
was more at his ease, more agreeable, or better
mannered than he; and I should add that he
spoke no English, and had never travelled far
out of his own country. He is the one Oriental,
except a few of the great Indian nobles, who
seems quite unembarrassed, quite sure of his
social and racial position, and who gives no evi-
dence, either by awkward bumptiousness or by
sycophancy, that he is ill at ease.

The traveller who only sees the Chinese in this
swarming human ant-hill at Canton, or in similar
crowded colonies elsewhere, gets little notion of
the superior qualities of the race. Wliile those
who only see the Chinese coolies in the various
Chinatowns of the Western world; who read of
plague and famine and of attacks upon mission-
aries; who have heard of the terrible Taiping
rebellion led by Hung Hsien-Chuen, a Christian
convert, and which was first a religious and then
a political crusade in which twenty million lives



400 THE WEST IN TIIE EAST

were lost; who remember the Boxer trouble,
and its terrors, have as false an idea of China
and the Chinese as the English village laborer
has of America, who believes it to be a land of
conflagrations, railroad accidents, divorces, lynch-
ings and blatant millionaires whose chief exercise
consists in throwing their daughters at British
peers in the hope of bagging their coronets.

For example, it is a universally held belief in
the West that the smells in China are almost
weighable. This is true, because, as here in
Canton, there is no effort at sanitation except in
the European quarter. But the Chinese them-
selves do not smell; on the contrary they smell
us, and find the odor most disagreeable. We
eat strong food, and many of us drink strong
drinks; the Chinese do not. On the hottest
day, in a room filled with Chinese, there is no
disagreeable odor from their persons. No one
with a wholesome and unprejudiced sense of
smell can say as much for us.

It is, I must confess, unpleasant to see in their
markets dogs trussed up and ready to sell, and
cat meat, rat meat, hawks and other unpalata-
ble birds, reptiles and animals and eggs dating
back to a former dynasty, and cakes of fried
grasshoppers offered as food. A Chinese, on the
other hand, might well be shocked at the external



JOHN CHINAMAN 401

decorations of our butcher-shops at Christmas
time, when we express our good-will to men by
devouring a greater variety of animal food, both
wild and tame, than at other times; he might
also suggest, in these days when speculation has
entered the funereal field of cold storage, that
whether eggs or butter or fish or chickens date
from the reign of Taft or Roosevelt or Cleveland,
or from Tai-tsung of the Tang dynasty, who
edited the Chinese classics in two hundred thou-
sand volumes a thousand years ago, is merely a
matter of taste, he himself preferring the Tai-
tsung vintage to a later one.

We have a w^ay of putting our Western moral
and mental machinery inside the Oriental body,
and then of mapping out the probable processes
of development accordingly. There is no surer
way of arriving at false conclusions. Not long
ago I read an article in one of our magazines in
which the writer said: "Within eighteen months
China will have a parliament or a revolution."
This is the typical journalese bosh of those who
are satisfied to make a sensation by turning the
epitaphs of truth into head-lines. The Chinese
never do anything in so short a time as eighteen
months, and they are, moreover, profoundly sus-
picious of those who do. We ourselves just now,
both at Washington and in many of our State



THE WTEST IN THE EAST

legislatures, are spending our time and Ingenuity
in disentangling ourselves from hastily framed
laws. The logical outcome of our law-making
pace will be a code of laws for, and applicable
to, each individual inhabitant, and then Quis
custodiet custodes?

The inveterate distinction between the East
and the West is as deeply cut in the racial life
of to-day as ever It was. Even in Japan, it is
apparent beneath the thin lacquer of Occident-
alism; while in China, the educated Chinese
will tell you that his government is far more
stable than that of any European or American
state ; that orderliness Is not more frequently dis-
turbed than in the revolutionary, lynching, war-
ring and strike-producing West; that he has an
ethical code equal to that of the West, and a re-
ligion the mandates of which are observed as
loyally as our own. We write and speak of the
East from a maze of unabashed ignorance; and
they on their part do not trouble to correct or to
contradict us.

That the Chinese are formulating plans to pro-
tect themselves from further commercial aggres-
sion, and from the persistent grabbing of their ter-
ritory by their Christian well-wishers, is true; but
it is done that they may remain more securely
Chinese, not that they may adopt our Western



JOHN CHINAMAN 403

institutions and constitutions, as the glib and
superficial among us are pleased to proclaim.

Those who have no past of tradition, culture
or experience, may be pardoned for assuming
that there is nothing but the present, but only
pardoned because they are ignorant, not because
they are right. They think their own tombs
and temples unsurpassed because they know
nothing of the pyramids and tombs of Egypt;
they think the statues and architecture of our
Western cities unequalled because they have
never heard of Pheidias and Praxiteles, and the
Taj and the Alhambra; they rejoice in modern
dramatists who know not the names of ^schy-
lus and Aristophanes ; they presume to grade all
literature, to whom Pindar and Lucretius are
dim shades; they volunteer short histories, to
whom Herodotus and Thucydides are unknowTi;
and they rate China low who have never met a
Chinese gentleman, never dealt with a Chinese
merchant, never read a line of Chinese literature
or history, and who do not know the name of
Confucius. This is a ragged and unkempt way
of dealing with other peoples, who may have
some reason to scorn what we cherish. ^Mien
one recalls such names and monuments, it be-
comes clear that there is room for the argument
that in certain directions our evolution may look



404 THE WEST IN THE EAST

like deterioration to those who examine us im-
partially from a distance. Galton writes that the
average Athenian was as much superior to the
average European of to-day as we are superior
to the African negro.

We are closely connected with the East, and
we are asking commercial favors of the East;
we are demanding that we may share in loans to
them nowadays, and it is therefore an awkward
time to write and to talk of them with that flip-
pant condescension born of ignorance and inex-
perience. The attitude of our great democra-
cies that everything which is different is therefore
inferior, and fair game for ridicule, is the atti-
tude of the small boy in a village street, who
laughs and jeers at a new figure or a strange
costume. It is sheer intellectual hooliganism,
It is the business of those better informed, and
therefore more sympathetic, to persuade our
great unwieldy mass of ignorant voters that the
wave of mastery and influence from West to
East is now on the wane. The East is rapidly
becoming strong enough to be independent, and
to make terms, instead of having terms dictated,
as from a superior to an inferior.

Mr. Taft, who by his training and experience
at least, and, as I personally believe, by his up-
rightness of character, is as well fitted for the



JOHN CHINAMAN 405

office he holds as any executive we have ever
had, shows how valuable his imperial experi-
ence has been when he points to Peking as the
most difficult post in our diplomatic service; be-
cause it is the foreign post of greatest opportu-
nity, and requiring the most suave, dignified
and competent methods. We want no "new
diplomacy" there, with its bustle and hustle
and its furtive bribery.

The Lord deliver us from the hack politician
in the East, in these difficult days. The man of
that type, who may and does fool the people at
home, will not deceive the Chinese for an instant.
As in India, the British Government must pick
and choose with care its military and civilian
officials, because whatever else they lack the
Indians are unerring in detecting the difference
between the Sahib and the non-Sahib, and giv-
ing him their confidence accordingly ; so in China
there are not only Chinese gentlemen ranking
in probity and courtesy with any in the world,
but there are four million pairs of eyes with an
almost uncanny ability to discriminate between
the shoddy and the genuine in gentlemanliness ;
and we shall measure our influence accurately
and inevitably by the type of men we send there
as our representatives. Our commerce with
China, which has decreased since 1905 from some



406 TPIE ^VEST IN THE EAST

fifty-eight million to about fifteen million dollars,
and our narrowly avoided humiliation in a late
loan transaction, ought to stir us to a realization
of our slovenly assumption that in dealing with
the Chinese we are dealing with barbarians and
inferiors.

Those jammed, seven-foot-wide streets in
Canton, with the coolies swinging by with long
poles weighted with merchandise at each end
of them; those tiny shops filled with furs, em-
broideries, linen, ivory, carved furniture, and
their keepers fingering the abacus^ or counting
over their goods; one shop filled with valuable
ivories and jade and feathers, cunning carvings
and gold ornaments, and beside it another, whose
occupant carries on some primitive handicraft
with the awkward implements of a thousand
years ago ; the dozen shop assistants who tumble
down a narrow stairway into the tiny sales-room
when we enter to look at Mandarin coats, and
who all enter into the bargaining with a zeal that
shows that this is no dull routine, but a combi-
nation of a game and an entertainment, with a
money prize in proportion to the success of the
suave duplicity displayed; in another shop the
astonishing swiftness and deftness and orderli-
ness with which they pull out, and put back,
and fold up the hundreds of pieces of grass-



JOHN CHINAMAN 407

cloth and linen and embroideries shown us; the
temples populated with unknown gods; mort-
uary chapels where polished teak-wood or ma-
hogany coffins, with a stand beside them on
which are placed a light and tea and rice, and
whose occupants wait till the soothsayer has de-
termined upon the fortunate place for burial,
a suspense which lingers according to the wealth
of the family of the deceased; the edible dog
market; the sleepy admiral in his magnificent
silk-lined and gilt-ornamented chair, borne by
six coolies, and escorted by Chinese marines
with old-fashioned muskets over their shoulders ;
the unending, penetrating noise which your
ears seem to breathe like an atmosphere; the
undisturbed and mask-like yellow faces and nar-
row unlighted eyes; the utter indifference to the
lack of privacy, a characteristic of all Orientals,
and one which I often think explains their back-
wardness, for it is impossible to store up ex-
perience, which is the only motive power of real
progress, except by quiet thought; the persist-
ent touters who follow us with beseechings to
visit their shops; the sweating coolies who bear
our chairs, and who feign awful exhaustion after
a particularly long trip, and who laugh and
poke fun at one another when I insist upon
feeling their heart- and pulse-beats, and thus dis-



408 THE WEST IN THE EAST

cover to what extent they are play-acting. All
this is China, but do not be deceived; that wise
old Li Hung Chang was China too; and hun-
dreds more like him who have studied in Eng-
land, Germany, America and Japan are China
too; and unlike too many of us, they have
learned the quintessence of wisdom, that the
cleverest conceal their cleverness.

I do not hesitate to say that if there is to be
amity and fair dealing between us, that the first
step must be taken by us, and that in the di-
rection of correcting false impressions, and of
convincing our own people of their abysmal
ignorance of the real China. The complacent
assumption that China has only to copy us to be
saved, which is practically universal in America,
is a gutter-stage of intellectual enlightenment,
and as dangerous as it is ludicrous. In very
many respects ours is no more a civilization to be
copied than is theirs; and we should never for
a moment forget that the Chinese, high and low,
educated and uneducated, those who have seen
us and those who have not, look upon us as bar-
barians; and hold that many of our social and
political doings are foul blots upon the ethno-
logical map, upon which the races of the world
have traced their progress.



X

JAPAN

THE first edition of the *' Encyclopaedia
Britannica" had this much, and no more,
to say of Japan: *' Japan or Islands
of Japan, are situated between 130 deg. and 144
deg. of E. long., and between 30 deg. and 40 deg.
N. lat." Some twenty-five words sufficed to tell
the world all that anybody cared to know about
Japan. During the last quarter of a century,
Japan has more written words of description to
her credit than any other country in the world.
It is characteristic of the childlike innocence, or
of the duplicity, of the Japanese, that even their
historical ancestry is a gross forgery. During
the last Paris exhibition, and at the last Japan-
British exhibition, one saw and heard a great
deal of Japan's two thousand five hundred years
of history, and of the authentic ancestry of the
Mikado, reaching back not for hundreds but
for thousands of years. This is taught in the
schools of Japan to-day, and told to, and written
for, foreigners by the Japanese themselves.

409



410 THE \VEST IN TIIE EAST

A Mr. Hitomi, a Japanese, writes for the
French public: "La Longue duree de I'Empire
du Soleil Levant est une des choses les plus mer-
veilleuses de ce monde. Quand il vit la lumiere
tous les pays Europeens d'aujourd'hui dormaient
encore dans les entrailles du chaos. C'est 333
ans avant la conquete des Indes par Alexandre
le Grand et 612 ans avant la victoire de Cesar
sur Pompee que Jimmu, premier empereur du
Japon, pla9a le berceau de I'Empire parmi les
fleurs odoriferantes des plaines du Yamato."
As a bouquet of artificial rhetorical flowers this
has seldom been equalled. As a matter of fact
the first date in Japanese history which is trust-
worthy is A. D. 461. Fable and fact do not be-
gin to separate until that date.

As late as 1892 one professor of history at the
University of Tokio was dismissed for writing
critically of the early mikados ; as a result we find
in a successor's, Mr. Haja's, "Lectures on Ja-
pan" the following: "Some of the odes preserved
in the Kojiki and Nihongi were composed by the
gods, some by Jimmu Tennu and other ancient
Mikados, and one by a monkey ! " Mr. Chamber-
lain, in "Things Japanese," writes: "The so-
called historical part is as devoid as the other of
all contemporary evidence. It is contradicted by
the more trustworthy, because contemporary,



JAPAN 411

Chinese and Korean records, and — to turn from
negative to positive testimony — can be proved
in some particulars to rest on actual forgery.
For instance, the fictitious nature of the calen-
dars employed to calculate the early dates for
about thirteen centuries (from B. C. 660 onward)
has not altogether escaped the notice even of the
Japanese themselves, and has been clearly ex-
posed for European readers by that careful in-
vestigator, the late Mr. William Bramsen, who
says, when discussing them in the Introduction
to his 'Japanese Chi'onological Tables': 'It is
hardly too severe to style this one of the greatest
literary frauds ever perpetrated.' "

The story of the ancient civilization of Japan
is as much a fable as the story of the Golden
Fleece, or Ariadne. That this mythology is
taught in Japanese schools, and written down
for the European as history, is due to the ex-
treme sensitiveness and colossal conceit of the
Japanese, and also because the w^orship c^ the
Imperial Ancestry is made a national religion
amongst the mass of the people. Once the
small knot of feudal nobles, who still govern
Japan, lose the influence of the worshipped
Mikado, whom they always call upon in the last
resort to drive home their legislative enactments
among the people, the political troubles of Japan



412 THE W^ST IN THE EAST

will begin in earnest. They know him to be a
puppet king, but they realize that so long as the
present feeling of the people toward him lasts,
his sanction is practically the sanction of omnipo-
tence. No wonder it is criminal to criticise, or
even to discuss, the subject of his ancestry.
Once the superstitious awe in which the Japan-
ese Emperor is held by the people disappears,
Japan will be like a study-table covered with
papers, in a breeze, when the paper-weights
have been taken away.

The most interesting date in the history of
Japan to the American is 1853, when Commo-
dore Perry appeared and demanded, and in 1854
succeeded in obtaining, certain treaty rights
granted also shortly after to England, France,
and Russia. Japan at that time was governed
by a feudal noble of the house of Tokugawa.
The founder of this dynasty was a soldier, Hide-
yoshi by name, who conquered Korea, and
dreamed even of conquering China in the last
years of the sixteenth century. His favorite
lieutenant Tokugawa lewasu turned against
Hideyoshi's son, defeated him in battle, consoli-
dated his own power, and for two hundred and
fifty years, or till Commodore Perry appeared,
this family ruled Japan, the Emperor living in
retirement but treated with respect by the



JAPAN 413

powerful Shoguns, the Daimyos or barons, and
their men-at-arms the Samurai.

The nation which can survive two hundred
and fifty years of peace is either negligent or neg-
ligible. Japan was both negligent and negli-
gible. The great nobles and their followers
had softened and shrunk both in power and
ability. The jealousies, dissatisfactions and ri-
valries came to life when the barbarians' ships
appeared in the harbor of Yeddo. The Shogun
was shuffling and hesitating, torn between fear
of the barbarian intruder, and of his enemies
athome if he treated with him. Rivals of the
house of Tokugawa combined against them.
Instead of the clan patriotism they saw that they



Online LibraryPrice CollierThe West in the East from an American point of view → online text (page 22 of 29)