Raphael Pumpelly.

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fins; there was beche-de-mer; there were stews and
pates; there were roots of the waterlily; but it would
take too long to enumerate all the dishes spread before
us, each of which one was expected to taste. Great as
is the variety of articles of food in the Chinese cuisine,
some things which in other countries are considered most
essential are missed by the traveler, and of these none
more than butter, bread, and milk. There is a kind of
bread which is cooked by steam, and there are flour-
cakes fried in oil. They are good, but are poor substi-
tutes for good bread. A little milk is sold, and women's
milk is peddled round the cities, mostly for the use of
invalids. Foreigners are shy of patronizing the Chinese


milkmen. There is an old story on the coast that at a
dinner given by a foreigner, the host took a servant to task
for serving no milk for the coffee.

" Boy go catchee milk," said the gentleman. The
servant disappearing, soon returned with the answer:
" No have got."

"What for no have got?"

" That sow have got too muchee piecee chilo (chil-
dren)," replied the boy.



ON returning to Peking, I learned at the American le-
gation that the Government, abandoning the idea of or-
ganizing a steam navy, had decided to send the flotilla
back to England to be sold. This unwelcome news put
an end to my hopes of being able to study the coal fields
of the more distant parts of the Empire.

My winter had thus far been spent profitably. I had
gathered a large amount of data bearing on the geology of
northern China, to supplement my observations made in
the central part of the Empire. These data showed that
the geology of this large region, in the structure and
direction of its mountain ranges and in the abundance of
coal, resembled that of our Appalachian system. Be-
tween these sections remained a great gap. It seemed
evident that a bed of limestone several thousand feet
thick underlay all of that large part of China, and came
to the surface in the folds that formed the mountain

A journey made in the beginning of winter to the
Great Wall and the confines of Tartary had only served
to excite in me a wish to penetrate further into that mys-
terious and then almost unknown region which occupies
the great tableland of Central Asia. My wish was, first
to travel as far west as possible upon the plateau, in
order to gain some knowledge of the nature of the coun-
try, and of the character and habits of the people; and



then, after getting a traveling knowledge of the language,
to try to reach the Pamirs and the plains and valleys
which, lying between the Celestial Mountains and Him-
alaya, were then supposed to have been in the dawn of
human antiquity the cradle-land of our race, though this
is now a disputed question.

My preparations for the long journey were made, and
I was waiting for the expected monthly mail to arrive.
This came and I was to start early the next morning.
During a walk on the wall with St. John to take a last
look at the beautiful bronze astronomical instruments of
the Jesuit fathers of the sixteenth century, I had severe
pains. After dinner Dr. Lockhart came in and sat
down beside me.

" You're not well," he said. Then raising the hair
from my forehead:

" You won't start to-morrow ; you have smallpox."

Mrs. Burlingame had given me a small building with
two rooms, on the great court of the legation. Here I
lay for weeks between life and death. During two weeks
I had a peculiar delirium, peculiar in that I would have
intervals of consciousness in which, for a few minutes, I
remembered clearly the visions I had seen. Of those
awful visions some are still distinct in memory. In one
I was fleeing around the world before a band of villains.
Once I overheard their talk, and learned that they wanted
to kill me by running long needles through my ears into
the brain. Then I was to be exhibited in Madame Tus-
saud's wax collection of great criminals. Just as the
awful climax in these visions approached, I knew that if
I could only open an eye far enough to see the top of
my bedpost I would be all right.

In the wildest of all these visions the one that
haunted me I was on a horse and chased by mounted


Indians along the crest of a jagged mountain range.
In mad flight, springing from peak to peak across valleys
and gorges, I looked back on a thousand Apaches racing
in single file. Yelling, hair streaming behind, flourish-
ing lances, that file of painted devils, sailing through the
air, was pressing me close, returning my pistol shots with
showers of arrows. At last a chasm too broad to span !
Midway we fell, my horse and I ; down we went whirling
downward. I looked up; the Apaches, too, were whirl-
ing downward. I looked down; from far below there
arose the roar of a mighty torrent dashing over rocks. In-
stant death was there unless I could screw an eye open
and see the bedpost.

The pistol shots were real. One morning my China-
man-nurse was missing. His successor too disappeared.
Dr. Lockhart met him the same day, and asked why he
had left me.

'* Me no likee that Mellican man," he said ; " he try
shoot me."

He told Dr. Lockhart that I had a pistol and a big
knife under my mattress. These were found. The re-
volver was nearly empty, the balls were in the walls.

In the last of these nightmares Commodore Porter had
come to Peking with his ship, and had come with all his
retinue to call on the Minister. Only the middies stayed
outside. They thought it would be nice to haze me. So
they hung me over a line and began to skin me alive.
How well I still remember the horror of it, and the ap-
pearance of my body without the skin.

Before they had finished, while my natural covering
still hung attached at the feet, Dr. Lockhart frightened
the middies away.

" Fm glad to find you looking so much better," he said


I opened an eye. The doctor was really there.

" Oh, doctor," I said, " how can you joke, how can I
be better with my skin gone ? "

" Wake up," he said. " You've been dreaming, but
you're going to get well."

Then came many weeks of convalescence. The doctor
kept me in strict quarantine. No mother could have been
kinder than Mrs. Burlingame in seeing that everything
was done for me.

During the several weeks of getting well the quaran-
tine gave me undisturbed time for correlating my ob-
servations in China, and for studying the great volume
of transcripts from the Chinese literature work that I
had expected to defer till my return to America.

My friends greeted me daily through the closed win-

At last the doctor and Mr. and Mrs. Burlingame and
some friends came to release me.

Sir Frederick Bruce invited me to go with him to the
British legation.

While the great portal was opening for us all to enter,
Sir Frederick said:

" We know how much you miss your mouflon, so I have
found a companion ready for further adventures," and
entering the court he led me to where a large eagle stood
chained on a perch.

The huge bird made a vicious lunge, and spread his
great wings. I don't remember how I eluded acceptance
of the gift, or what became of the eagle. The mouflon's
eccentricities among mirrors faded before the possibilities
latent in that beak and in those grasping claws.

I was now ready to start on my delayed expedition to
the West.


I WAS fortunate in finding in Dr. Pogojeff, of the
Russian legation, a companion for the journey. On the
morning of the 5th of April we left the northwestern
gate of the city. Nearly the whole of our first day's
journey lay over the road by which I had begun my trip
to the coal fields.

Long before we reached the mountains we could see
the dark line of the defile which leads to the Nari-kau pass,
and the watch-towers and fortresses and walls, winding
from plain to peak, which formed the innermost defenses
of this important approach to the capital. In the evening
we reached Nan-kau, our first resting-place, thirty miles
from Peking. The next morning, leaving the plain, we
entered the narrow valley winding for several miles
through a desolate gorge, inclosed by high walls and
yellow cliffs of limestone.

After traversing about two-thirds of the pass, the way
leaves the valley. Here ascending by a difficult road
through a desolate region of barren and shattered masses
of granite, cleft to their base by gloomy chasms, we
reached the summit and stood in full view of the inner
branch of the Great Wall of China. This was built
about 200 B. c., as a barrier against the hordes of Tartar

The importance of this position led to its being well
defended. The wall is from twenty to thirty feet high,



built here of hewn rock, parapeted, well paved on the
top, and defended by towers at regular intervals of a
few hundred feet. This structure, here almost as per-
fect as when it was raised two thousand years ago, winds
along the mountain crest, climbing every peak, descending
steep declivities, and supported at the edge of precipices
on bold masses of masonry. Look where one will, its
crenulated parapet and gray towers are visible in lines
which apparently double and redouble on each other,
now standing out against the sky on the peaks above us,
or again winding along the lower spurs, and across the
valley beneath our feet. Only the parapet is of brick.
Wherever the wall ascends the mountain side, its top is
built in steps to aid the ascent of soldiers. Many of the
towers are several stories high, and are provided with
loopholes and arched windows.

The descent to Cha-tau is extremely rough. This is
an ancient fortress, commanding the northern approach
to the pass; and is surrounded with ruins of massive
towers and arched buildings.

Here we entered upon the first of a series of mountain
plains, fringed with loess terraces.

This remarkable formation, called loess, covers north-
ern China and the southern semiarid border of the Great
Central Asian desert zone.

In northern China, with a thickness of often many hun-
dred feet, this formation covers valleys and basins, and,
rising with sweeping curves, mantles the neighboring
mountains to a height of several thousand feet. Traffic
on roadways, breaking the texture of the earth, prepares
its removal by wind, and the road sinks slowly between
high vertical walls. The whole thickness of the loess
formation is a soil of extremely fine grain, and is charged
from bottom to top with fertilizing salts. The climate is


From Richthofen's China.


too dry to leach these more than is needed to nourish

Loess is the basis of the prosperity of northern China.
Being a self-fertilizing soil, it is inexhaustible.

In the rest of China the yield of the soil is wholly
proportionate to the amount of added fertilizer, and, as
there this comes mainly from the human body, the amount
of human nourishment and amount of population are
mutually proportionate.

Picking our way over the stony plain, we reached the
walled town of Yu-lin. It was already sunset, and we
rode into the courtyard of the first inn we saw. I had
hardly dismounted when I remembered that I had stayed
one night at the same house on a former journey. At
that time the landlord had brought to me his son, a boy
about eight years old, begging that. I would cure him. I
could not make out what was the matter with him, and
should not have known had I been told. In vain I in-
sisted that I knew nothing of medicine. The landlord,
believing all foreigners to be physicians and sorcerers,
still urged that I should cure him. Finding all protesta-
tion useless, I had left some simple pills, with very wise
instructions as to how they should be used. The incident
had entirely passed from my mind, and now recurred
for the first time when I found myself again in the same
inn. " Heaven protect us ! " I thought, " if the child has
by any chance died; for we shall have the whole town
upon us in a mob." I thought the landlord looked very
inhospitable as he showed us to our room at the head of
the court. When he left I had begun to hope that he
had not recognized his former guest. But before long
the sound of many voices was heard, and the clattering
of feet, which showed that the courtyard was filling.

Keeping my revolver near at hand I waited, not with-


out some anxiety, for whatever might be coming. Soon
the door flew open, and a crowd of men and women en-
tered; but, much to my satisfaction, they were preceded
by the very boy in question, led between his father and
mother. The child and his relatives immediately went
down on their knees, and, knocking the ground several
times with their heads, expressed in warm terms their
gratitude to the " honorable and wise physician " who had
performed this wonderful cure.

Now we were besieged in earnest. The fame of the
cure had gone far and wide, and it did not take long to
spread through the pretty large circle of suffering in-
habitants of Yu-lin, the news of the arrival of two doc-
tors. During a good part of the night, and until we left
the next morning, our room was a hospital for the blind
and the halt, the deaf and dumb, consumptives and
epileptics, and many other kinds of suffering humanity.
The doctor could of course do little, and left with fees
in the shape of well-earned blessings.

At a small settlement, the first place we had seen with-
out an inn, we had much difficulty in finding quarters
for the night.

After applying in vain at several places we came to the
most respectable-looking farmhouse, where we were also
refused admission. There being no other way, we deter-
mined to take possession. The farmhouse was sur-
rounded by a large inclosure, with a gatehouse having
several rooms, and in one of these we established our-
selves. Then came the efforts to dislodge us. First ap-
peared the master of the house, who politely informed us
that he had nothing for our horses, that the room was
occupied by others, and that his family was on the verge
of starvation. His well-rounded person and smooth face
added no force to this protest. Then came, successively,


a number of men, who all protested and entreated, and
finally departed with threats to rouse the population of
the village against us.

Things began to look serious; but the worst was to
come. The shrill tones of a troop of women were heard
crossing the court. Headed by the lady of the house,
they burst into the room and filled it not only with their
persons but with invectives. My experience on the
Yangtz' River had taught me that the hardest attack to
resist would be a troop of Chinese women. As our best
and only ally in the fight with the soldiers at Chang-sha
had been the wife of our skipper the woman who had
turned the day in our favor I now concluded that, as
we could not fight women, we should have to give up
our quarters unless we could make the women fight
for us.

" Leave this house ! " they said. " You are imperti-
nent, red-haired foreign devils ! " " You turtles' eggs ! "
" You cross between a drake and a toad ! " " What right
have you to come into people's houses when you are not

It was certainly not easy to answer invocations made
with so much earnestness. Opening our bag of silver, I
rolled out the large, rough lumps of the metal, and, dis-
playing them, said through our Chinaman to her who
seemed to be the mistress :

" Madam, we wish to take nothing by force. We want
little, will pay liberally for what we get, and leave in the

The sight of the money had a soothing effect, and
removed us from the suspicion of being lawless charac-
ters. The old woman then in a softer tone informed us
that the room we were in belonged to her son, who was


" What is the matter with him? " I asked.

The answer was given by a bystander, who informed
us that the young man was an idiot, who spent all his
time in wandering about the country gathering pieces of
stones. I carefully shoved the geological specimens
which I had collected that day under a blanket.

Pointing to the doctor I said to the mother : " My
good woman, this gentleman is a physician, and may be
able to help your son."

The effect was immediate. The old woman bounded
from the house, and soon returned, followed by a young
man, a hopeless idiot.

The doctor told the mother that it was a case beyond
his power, and that he could do nothing. He. patted the
"unfortunate" gently on the forehead, and from that
moment the poor fellow insisted upon staying near his
new acquaintance, every minute motioning to the doctor
to put his hand again upon his head. This gentle treat-
ment won the heart of the mother, and through her of
every one in the house. Our horses were stabled, and a
bountiful supper soon appeared.

The next morning we found ourselves besieged by all
the suffering population of the surrounding country.
The quiet farmhouse seemed suddenly transformed into
a temporary dispensary for every form of disease. The
patients were accompanied by friends, and in the tender-
ness and sympathy shown by these I read a phase of the
Chinese character for which foreigners have never given
credit to this phlegmatic race. The doctor did what he
could by confining himself chiefly to diseases of the eye,
for which he had brought remedies.

The people of the house showed their gratitude by
steadily refusing pay, while others overtook us on our


way bringing offerings in the form of oats or hay, which
they forced us to accept.

When, after an absence of six weeks, we returned to
Peking, I felt that the time had come for me to leave
China permanently. Mr. Burlingame and Sir Frederick
Bruce suggested that I might well remain in China and
enter the Customs Service. I might probably have a
salary of $12,000. In one sense the suggestion was
tempting. The Customs Service had been established
under the direction of able Englishmen, and Robert Hart
was then its head. The members were all carefully
selected men, largely from the English universities.
However, I preferred to live my life and career in my
own land.



IT was now the middle of May, and the season was
already advancing beyond the period of comfortable
traveling through the Indian Ocean and Egypt. This
was the route I had chosen, after failing to find a com-
panion for a journey through Siberia. Taking leave of
my many kind friends at Peking, I set out on horseback
for Tung-chau on the Pei-ho. The distance is only about
twelve miles over the granite causeway that connects this
port with the capital; but I lengthened the time of the
ride by lingering at the bridge of Pa-li-kiao, the site of
one of the last battles in 1860, where the Tartar cavalry,
with miserable weapons, made a most desperate resis-
tance against the allied forces.

At Tung-chau I found my baggage already on board
the boat, which had been engaged by my temporary com-
panion, a young missionary.

It may not be uninteresting to the reader to have a
slight sketch of this person, whom, though in no un-
friendly spirit, I must call a religious adventurer. While
yet a boy, feeling himself called upon to become a mis-
sionary, he started without any credentials and without
having been ordained. Enlisting as a marine, he went
with the United States squadron to Japan, and there,
leaving the service, began studying the language. Having



no means of support, he opened a tailor shop, and man-
aged to eke out a subsistence, although, as I know by sad
experience, he was apt to make one leg of a pair of
trousers shorter than the other.

Failing in his attempt to convert the Japanese, he be-
came a merchant and failed again, owing a large amount,
in an attempt to overstock the China market with lumber.
Determined again to become a missionary, in a new field,
he went to Shanghai, and failing there to get a passport
for the interior, proceeded to Peking.

During this time he had learned a little Chinese, and
had determined to spread the gospel in the most inac-
cessible provinces of the West. He had obtained his
passport, and was now on his way to Tien-tsin, the start-
ing point of his journey. He complained bitterly that
he had been snubbed by all the missionaries at Peking,
who had even refused to allow him to pray in their
evening meetings. On our boat journey, whether asleep
or awake, he talked constantly, and always in Scriptural
quotations, denouncing the missionaries as " sons of
Belial," or complaining of his money losses, or yet calling
down vengeance upon the Chinese if they should hesitate
to receive his " glad tidings joyfully."

A monomaniac, he was about to undertake entirely
alone one of the most difficult journeys on the globe, and
was going undisguised through regions where, at the
time, even the Catholic missionaries could hardly pene-
trate when disguised and always surrounded by their
converts. I left him at Tien-tsin, after giving him my
camp outfit, confidently expecting that he would never
again be heard from.

" I am going to spread the Word of God in every de-
partment of every province of China," he said.

Several years later he came to see me in America.


When I showed surprise at his having come safely
through his proposed journey, he exclaimed:

"I have done the work. I have been beaten and
bruised and cut; I have been left for dead; but I have
left the Word of God in nearly every department of al-
most every province in that heathen land. And now if
they don't accept it, there isn't any reason why they
shouldn't be eternally damned ! "

His method of spreading the " Word " was to leave a
leaf of the Bible in each place!

His career was remarkable. Starting with a cartload
of Bibles, he traveled across Chi-li and Shan-si to the
Yellow River. Here, coming upon the line of engage-
ment between the Imperialist troops and the Mohamme-
dan rebels, he was arrested by the former, and sent in a
boat down the river to the seacoast. Not daunted by this
rebuff, he started from Canton with another load of
Bibles, and traveling through the southern provinces of
China penetrated into the almost inaccessible region of
Yun-nan, where he barely escaped death in several at-
tacks of banditti.

The last time that I heard of him, he was circulating
petitions through the United States for the pardon of
Jefferson Davis.

The monotony of the voyage to Shanghai was relieved
by one of my many narrow escapes. I was the only pas-
senger. One evening as I sat smoking with the captain
he leaned forward saying : '* I smell smoke." I pointed
to a cigarette burning among some paper in a spittoon.
After a short time the captain exclaimed : " There is
fire," and rushed to his room which opened from the
saloon. And there was fire! In the rolling of the ship
a towel swinging back and forth had caught on fire from
a lamp. The fire had spread to the curtains around the


bed and from there to the many rolls of charts on the
racks under the ceiling. All were ablaze and no time to
call for help.

The captain tore down the slender racks, covered the
charts with blankets and stamped on them. I threw
water on burning woodwork, and trod the fire out of the
remnants of curtains. It was a close shave. What was
left of trousers between us didn't count; our skin would
heal; but the ship was saved.

When I arrived at Shanghai my friend, Mr. Thomas
Walsh, offered to make the journey homeward with me
through Tartary and Siberia in the early autumn, a prop-
osition which I eagerly accepted, as it was already late
for the journey via India. Therefore I accepted his in-
vitation to pass the summer of 1864 at the house of his
brother, Mr. John G. Walsh, in Nagasaki.

Unfortunately, Japan was at this time shaken from
north to south by its internal and foreign troubles, rend-
ering it impossible for me to travel. But under the hos-
pitable roof of my host the summer passed away pleas-
antly. Its quiet was broken only by the news of distant
battles, and the rumors of threatened attacks upon the
foreign settlements.

The political troubles rendering it impossible for Mr.
Walsh to leave his affairs, the time of our departure was

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Online LibraryRaphael PumpellyTravels and adventures of Raphael Pumpelly : mining engineer, geologist, archaeologist and explorer → online text (page 17 of 23)