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W. G. (Walter Gore) Marshall.

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Niagara, we cannot help associating it with the " Rising Sun
Stove Polish," which, we are told, is the " best in the world."
We have seen the beautiful Hudson River, too, mixed up
with seltzer aperients and gargling oils. Chicago we have
found the most extensively daubed ; Omaha and the little
settlements we passed on the Plains, are daubed in a similar
manner. Thus the country is completely surfeited and gorged
with this common, inelegant mode of advertising, a means
employed and so universally, too which I have not seen
in any other country I have visited. Now the road to the
Cliff House is just one instance out of a million of what
I mean, for here, for some miles, one finds a splendid and
judicious assortment of notices repeatedly daubed in white
paint on the palings by the side of the public way, and now
and then on such a conspicuous location as is afforded by the
blank wall of a house, as one drives along towards the coast
in order to have a look at the seals. The most interesting
piece of information that arrests the attention of the stranger
as he approaches the seals, is, " VINEGAR BlTTERS IS ALL
THE GO FOR LOVE ! " (This mixture is sold in bottles of
various sizes.) Other white-paint notices are as follows :
" ONE WORD TO THE WISE BUY CONDENSED EGGS ; "



The Golden City. 285

"CONDENSED EGGS IS BETTER THAN FRESH ;""CURE
YOUR PAINS AND LAMENESS WITH PRATT'S ABOLITION

OIL;" "BUY THE HOWE AND YOU'LL B HAPPY ;" "CHEW
JACKSON'S BEST PLUG ; " " SAY, HAVE YOU SEEN THE
GREAT CROCKER ? " " TRY ONE BOTTLE OF YOSEMITE
BITTERS ; " " YOSEMITE BITTERS GOOD FOR BELLY AKE ; "
" YOSEMITE BITTERS NEVER FAILS ; " " YOSEMITE BITTERS
WILL DO YOU GOOD ; " " PACIFIC STOMACH BlTTERS THE
FINEST IN THE WORLD;" "PACIFIC STOMACH BlTTERS
BEATS THEM ALL, TRY 'EM," etc., Another white-paint
notice frequently seen in and about San Francisco is,
" IF YOU FEEL VERY BAD AND WANT MONEY GO TO
UNCLE HARRIS." But perhaps the most extraordinary
advertisements occur on the Oakland pier, though the
like is repeated over and over again in the streets of
that city, and all about the surrounding country as well.
One is continually reminded that there is in the world such a
person as one Van Shaack, who, hailing from "708 to 7 1 6,
Kearney-street, S.F.," endeavours to impress on you the
varied character of his merchandise, as also that he is in
urgent need of your patronage and support. He blows his
trumpet in white paint after the following remarkable fashion :

C. P. VAN SHAACK & Co.

VAN SHAACK & Co. SELL KLOSE..

VAN SHAACK & Co. SELL HAATS.

VAN SHAACK & Co. SELL TOYS.

VAN SHAACK & Co. SELL JEWELRY AND NOTIONS.

VAN SHAACK & Co. SELL WHITE SHIRTS.

VAN SHAACK & Co. CUT CORNS.

VAN SHAACK & Co. CURE BUNIONS.

VAN SHAACK & Co. ARE BULLY.

.VAN SHAACK & Co. DONT TEACH SCHOOL.

VAN SHAACK & Co. DONT YOU FORGET IT.

VAN SHAACK & Co. ARE NOT QUACKS..

VAN SHAACK & Co. DONT BELONG TO THE RING.

VAN SHAACK & Co. DONT KEEP HOTELS.

VAN SHAACK & Co. DONT PRACTISE LAW.

VAN SHAACK & Co. DARNED CHEAP.

VAN SHAACK & Co. WONT CHEAT YOU.

VAN SHAACK & Co. WANT YOU BAD.

IF YOU WANT ANY MONEY GO TO VAN SHAACK & Co.

YE GODS ! WHAT BARGAINS AT VAN SHAACK & Co.'s.



286 Through America.



CHAPTER XIV.

A NIGHT IN CHINATOWN.

Preparing for Chinatown Settng out for the quarters A walk down
Montgomery-street An anti-Chinese demonstration A troublesome
problem "The Chinese must go" We arrive in Chinatown Novel
street scene Popular Chinese restaurant Choice articles of food
A ceremonious little grocer Buying shoes Very tight fit A China-
man's signature Visit to a joss-house Popular Chinese gods
Examining a Chinaboy's head The " Royal China" Theatre A
Chinese opera Music of the past An acrobatic performance "All
aboard " for an opium-den Double guard A disreputable locality
Inside an opium-den Very close quarters How to smoke opium We
turn opium smokers The way John Chinaman smokes himself to sleep
Saving expense A man of delicate birth - u Old Johnny " counts up.

I WILL now proceed to relate a night's experiences in the
Chinese quarter of San Francisco, or " Chinatown," as that
part of the city which is densely populated by the Celestials
is called. It lies within the compass of a comparatively small
number of " blocks," but it is a perfect maze of some of the
dirtiest and narrowest alleys to be found in all Christendom
or heathendom. This used to be the old Spanish quarter, the
aristocratic centre of the Golden City till the Chinese came
trooping in and drove all respectable people away.

As we determined that our visit should include, bes : des
theatres and joss-houses, a peep into the opium-dens, where,
had the authorities caught us, we should have been liable to
be fined a sum of fifty dollars apiece, for not only is a heavy
fine imposed on a Chinaman who is found keeping an opium-
den, but a penalty also attaches to a white man if he is found
entering one, we placed ourselves under the aegis of a
cicerone, whose business it was to conduct strangers over the
quarters ; and at half-past eight o'clock on Friday evening,



A Night in Chinatown. 287

June 14, 1878, we started forth, a party of five, under the
protection of a policeman, to look up the Chinaman in his
den. Besides my fellow-traveller, myself, and the guide, our
party included Dr. Terriberry, of Paterson, New Jersey ; and
a Scotchman who had pushed on to San Francisco after
hunting buffalos on the Kansas prairies.

Proceeding down Montgomery-street from the Palace
Hotel, we had not walked many hundred yards before we had
to pull up in order to allow a procession to pass us. It was
a demonstration of 10,000 workingmen returning from China-
town, after menacing the Celestials by marching through
and parading their quarters. This was a bit of " Kearneyism,"
that is, a mischievous agitation got up at the instigation of
a revolutionary demagogue of the name of Dennis Kearney,
an agitator of the very worst type, the champion and friend (?)
of the working classes of California, and meant the rooting
out of John Chinaman neck-and-crop from the land, because
by fair and honest means he had succeeded in reducing wages ;
because by his industry and frugality, his patience and per-
severance, his skill, his dogged devotion to the performance of
any work to which he applied his hand or his brain, he had
proved his superiority over the Californian workingman ; and
for the bringing about of such a state of things John had been
called everything that was vile, he had become to the
workingman of California an object of the direst calumny
and hatred, whilst in the Golden City he was the butt of
hoodlums, and the subject of oratorical explosions at fre-
quent mass-meetings of its indignant citizens. The Chinese
question is still the great problem affecting western North
America. The Chinese come pouring into the country and
underbid the American labourer for wages. They cheapen
wages, hiring themselves out for next to nothing and why
not ? The presence of the Mongolians cannot but exercise
a powerful influence for good in such an advancing, rapidly
growing State as California, one of the least developed in the
Union, where railways have still to be built, land has to be
reclaimed, 1 labour well-nigh incalculable must be expended

1 There are between two and three million acres of swamp-land in
California waiting to be reclaimed.



288 Through America.

to develope the country as it should be developed, and the
necessary work can be done at a considerably less expense
by the employment of the Chinese than by the utilization
of native labour ; and the community at large, instead of
being the losers, are, on the contrary, the gainers thereby.
But many persons take a different view of the matter.
Indeed there are certain agitators who stump the country
to try and excite general indignation, and to procure legis-
lation against the heathen, against the Chinese first, to get
them turned out of the State, and then against all owners of
real estate, who " must go " likewise, and amongst the fore-
most of these agitators is Mr. Dennis Kearney. " The Chinese
must go," is the war-cry of these agitators. " They poison
the earth, they suck the rbhness, the nourishment out, and
leave the impoverished dust, while they return to China to
jingle their pockets and laugh in their sleeves at us like
Yankee clock-peddlers " says a certain indignant American
writer. Not a cent of the money that the Chinaman acquires
re-circulates in the States, but all goes to China to pay for the
bringing over of more of his countrymen. But to give John
his due, he is adroit, and industrious withal. He shows a
wonderful aptitude for imitation, and he will learn a new
trade and excel in it as quickly as any man to be found in
the country. His morality is not exactly "high-toned;" but
the difference between the Anglo-Saxon and Mongolian
races races which will never assimilate is too distinct for the
morality or otherwise of the Chinaman to make any material
difference. He is rather given to prevarication, and now and
then a fit of kleptomania comes upon him ; but he is peace-
able and law-abiding, and seldom or never is found drunk.
Thousands of the Chinese are employed as indoor servants in
San Francisco alone ; thousands, too, are employed about the
State as labourers in the field. Why then is John told that
he " must go " when his services are accepted and paid for
to his satisfaction ? There are less than 100,000 Chinese in
the United States, so why this terror over such a handful of
Celestials ?

But to return. The procession we met was a most orderly
one, considering the circumstances. Many of the working-



A Night in Chinatown. 289

men were singing a plaintive sort of melody, which sounded
more like a psalm-tune than war against the Chinese. They
carried a number of flags and banners, whereon John appeared
in effigy in a variety of ingenious portraitures. They also
had a quantity of Hibernian green ribbon bound about their
hats and coats. We forced our way through the crowd,
crossed over into Kearney-street and continued our walk to-
wards Chinatown.

Traversing several cross-streets, we soon reached the
quarters of the Chinese. We had come to Jackson-street^
one of the " fashionable " thoroughfares of Chinatown, and
here the scene was completely changed. A moment before
we were walking amid a fine blaze of gas-light : now we
found ourselves in comparative darkness, the only relief from
the general gloom being a murky kind of light afforded by
grotesquely-designed, coloured lanterns depending outside
balconied houses. The road was well-nigh impassable, such
crowds of people were thronging it a silent, voiceless con-
course of expressionless, moonfaced Celestials ; all men, not a
single woman among them ; all Chinese, for not a white
man was to be seen. "I reckon," said our guide, "you'll not
see ten white men to-night, till you leave Chinatown and
go home to your hotel ;" and he reckoned not inaccurately.
Pigtailed John was here in his glory there was no one else
but pigtailed John. Every individual we met wore the caudal
appendage, and in every case it was allowed to drop down
the back and legs, for when the Chinaman is not en-
gaged in manual labour he carries his hair in this manner,
but it is coiled around the back of the head when it would
be likely to interfere with the movements of the wearer. All
the men might have been women, for aught we could tell,
for the countenances of the two sexes are very much alike,
and the habiliments of both are very similar. But our con-
ductor positively assured us that there were none of the fair
sex in Jackson-street to-night.

The houses in Jackson-street were all built of wood, and
many of them had balconies, and from the balconies we
found coloured Chinese lanterns depending ; and curious
devices, such as gold-gilt and red paper dragons and " flying "

U



290 Through America.

serpents, and countless other extraordinary designs, were
pasted about the buildings, and incomprehensible Chinese
characters met the eye wherever it turned. Some of the
shops were lit up inside with lanterns, others with gas, and
business seemed to be carried on actively in every one we
went into. Tuck Wo kept a provision store, a kind of grocery,
with balconies around. Yven Hong was a jack-of-all-trades.
He kept clothes, candles, sweetmeats, tobacco, etc. Choy
Yan Low kept a restaurant, a three-storied, balconied corner
house, with " high-toned " supper-rooms upstairs, well lighted
with lanterns, crowded with Celestials both inside and outside
upon the balconies eating, drinking, and smoking. We
went in and sought out the proprietor, Mr. Low. This China-
man is the Gunter of Chinatown, and his restaurant the
popular resort of pigtailed Epicureans. Having mounted a
stairway, we found ourselves in a long, low, narrow room, at
one end of which was a counter supporting a variety of
eatables, which were presided over by a stout, pigtailed old
man, who was smoking a long clay pipe and was bare-footed
and bare-legged. Several small tables were distributed about
the room, and at these were seated about twenty Chinamen,
likewise pigtailed and barelegged, who smoked their long
clay pipes or were engaged in eating and drinking, or both.
The stout old gentleman afore-mentioned came forward
upon our appearance, and introduced himself as Ah (i.e. Mr.)
Chung. He was not the proprietor of the restaurant, as
we took him at first to be ; but he was Mr. Low's head man.
Mr. Chung introduced himself in the most perfect and graceful
manner possible. First he took his pipe out of his mouth and
spat on the floor. Then he went through an elaborate scries
of bows and scrapes, bending his body into a variety of forms,
bringing his right arm across his chest and his head almost
down to his knees, in respectful obeisance ; and then he
asked us if we would take some tea, or anything at all to
eat, and he also made a motion with his pipe towards his
guests who were eating at the tables, signifying that we
should do the same ; but we politely declined. These
Chinamen were eating garlic and greens, rice, gizzards, dried
shrimps, dried sharks (unsalted), "ham tan" or dried ducks



A Night in Chinatown. 291

eggs, etc. There seemed to be a scarcity of knives and forks,
for nearly every Chinaman ate his meal by the aid of two little
pieces of stick, called " chopsticks," though we noticed a few
who adopted the fashion of our first parents before knives and
forks were invented, and simply used their fingers. An in-
describable odour filled the room, one that was particularly
objectionable. When we came to take leave of Mr. Chung,
he presented each of us with a card, upon which was printed
in English, " CHOY YATM LOW, FIRST CLASS RESTAURANT

AND DINING SALOON, SOUTH EAST COR. JACKSON STREET,
UP STAIRS, ENTRANCE ON WASHINGTON ALLEY, MEALS
IN FIRST CLASS STYLE, FURNISHED AT ALL HOURS."
We asked Mr. Chung to write his name in Chinese on the
back of his card, which he did. As we were leaving, he
said, " Willee comee see me again ? " I fear we answered
him rather evasively.

It was now eleven o'clock time to be thinking of going
to the theatre, but not time enough yet for visiting an opium-
den. There are two theatres in Chinatown, one of them nearly
opposite Mr. Low's restaurant. So we crossed over the
street, intending at once to see the play. We found, how-
ever, that the doors of the theatre were closed, and would not
be opened for half an hour at least. This was owing to the
alarm caused by the recent parade of the 10,000 workingmen,
which seemed to have quite scared the Celestials. So we
turned into a shop to buy caps and shoes. It was a grocer's
store that we entered, No. 636, Jackson-street, kept by one Sun
Kee, wholesale and retail dealer in tea, sugar, rice, dry goods,
and Chinese provisions ; also in ladies' and gentlemen's shoes,
ready-made clothes, candles, confectionery of all kinds,
opium, pipes, and tobacco. The premises were lighted
by means of fanciful coloured oil-lanterns, though gas was
also employed. Mr. Sun Kee was smoking a clay pipe
behind his counter, bending down and making up his ac-
counts for the day. Judging by the neat little performance
he went through directly he caught sight of us entering his
establishment, he divined, I suppose, that we were come
to make purchases, he was evidently pleased at the prospect
of such a windfall, for he quickly doffed his " wide-awake,"

U 2



29 2 Through America.

came forth from his retreat, and commenced bowing and
scraping, backing all the while, keeping his head down and
his legs and body in continual motion ; and then he most
graciously extended his little yellow hand, and gave us a
gentle squeeze all round. He spoke " pigeon English," as all
Chinamen do, so that he was hardly understood. 2 We told
him what we wanted or I should rather say I did ; and
he thereupon fetched down from a drawer a pair of the well-
known cork-soled shoes for my inspection. Now a China-
man's foot besides being peculiarly round is also peculiarly
small, so that I knew there would be a difficulty in getting a
pair to fit. The first shoe he gave me to try on measured
scarcely half the length of my boot. I said to John, " Bring
me a larger pair." John did so, but with no better result.
" I must have a larger pair still," I said. John therefore
looked me out another pair. But when I came to try this on
it was still impossible to get my foot in it was scarcely
larger than the other pair. " Bring me the largest pair
you've got," I exclaimed, getting somewhat impatient. After
a good deal of searching about, Mr. Kee found me a pair
that certainly did seem somewhat larger than the other three,
and had all the appearance of being likely to fit. I tried to
get my foot in, I squeezed away with all my might, and at
last succeeded in forcing an entrance; but to walk about
with the shoe on was quite out of the question. I asked for

2 " Choy Awah is a young Chinaman, and a Sunday-school scholar at
Washington. Choy Awah recently set himself to work at the English
language, and succeeded admirably. He wrote out the parable which is
to be found in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, and this is wh.it he
made of it :

" ' The kingdom like ten girls ; never marry ; they bring some lanterns ;
come out till some new married man come that way. Have got five wise
and five foolish. Five hold lanterns with no oil. Smart five all have oil
inside. The new married man come late ; they sleep. By-and-by they all
say, " New married man, come." All go out to him. Five makey nice
lanterns. Five foolish say, ** You give my oil ; lamp no oil, you give me
some." The smart say, " I no give you ; I not enough ; you go market
buy." Foolish go market to buy. The new married man come. All
come in to dinner. Shut the door. By-and-by the foolish come and say,
" Boss, boss, open door." He say, " I no key you ; you no my. Must
be smart, no understand the day."' " Detroit Free Press.



A Night in Chinatown. 293

a still larger pair, but John laughed in my face, and told
me that it was the largest he had ever seen, and that there
was not a larger pair in Chinatown. The men's shoes were
small enough, in all conscience ; but the ladies' ! Such tiny
little bits of things, so narrow, so heavy, so very like boats
in their shape, without any soles fashioned, too, for feet
fully developed, I had really never imagined till Mr. Kee
showed me a pair. They fully illustrated the riddle, Why
is wit like a Chinese lady's foot ? Because brevity is the sole
of it.

Before leaving, we asked Mr. Kee for his card, which he
gave us with the greatest pleasure. Like Mr. Chung, he gave
one to each of us, and wrote, or rather painted, his name on
the back. This he did in an instant. He took up a small
paint-brush, held it vertically between his fingers, and, as
quickly as I could write my own signature, with a few rapid
twists and turns of the brush he produced a pile of four little
squares lying one on the top of the other, each square con-
taining such a confused collection of strokes and cress-strokes,
that we were quite surprised how John could ever have
accomplished his signature and such an intricate .one,
too so cleverly, as it seemed, and in so short a time. We
one and all thanked John for painting his name, and with-
drew.

We then entered a few more shops, notably a jeweller's,
where we watched John hard at work, late as it was,
fashioning gold rings. Then, before returning to the
theatre, we went into a joss-house, or Chinese temple
of worship, a description of which I v/ill now attempt
to give.

The temple we were taken to was situated " on " Dupont-
street, or rather off that thoroughfare, for we had to grope
our way along a dark narrow passage which led out of it,
then pass into a small square full of Celestials living in
dirty higgledy-piggledy, apple-pie fashion ; and then we had
to ascend the outside of a house by several rickety flights
of stairs, to a room on the third story. This joss-house was
dedicated to Kwan Tai, the god of war, and consisted of two
rooms, one a little larger than the other, both of them devoted



294 Through America.

to the worship of the Chinaman's popular gods. The door
was fortunately open, and we entered ; but we became im-
mediately sensible of such an abominable odour that we were
almost compelled to beat a hasty retreat. However, we
aroused the keeper, who was sound asleep inside, in a corner
near the doorway ; and he lit a few lanterns for us, which
threw a pale glimmer on the objects around. It was a singu-
lar, tawdry arrangement that we looked upon, a gaudy
spectacle, grotesque in the extreme. Red and gold paper
dragons, and ingeniously devised, hideous-looking birds and
beasts, were pasted about the apartment, covering walls and
ceiling. At one end of the room were the images of three
of the more important deities, placed in separate little recesses
or alcoves, and before each god a small red oil-lamp was de-
pending, which, although burning, emitted little or no light.
In the centre was the figure of Kwan Tai himself a most
hideous and frightful object. He had a face as red and
shiny as a billiard ball. He wore an immense black beard
reaching down below the waist ; peacock's feathers stuck out
from his head, and he was robed in scarlet and gold. The
expression of his countenance was terrific. The Chinese
hold this particular deity in the greatest reverence and
esteem, and claim a correlative feeling of regard on the
part of the deity himself. " Chinaman he likee him heap
muchee," says John, " and he likee Chinaman heap muchee
too." At the feet of Kwan Tai were placed three little cups
of tea, in case he should get thirsty and want to take a
drink. On the right of this deity was a figure of the
god of finance ; on his left was the god of pills the
medicine god, whose name is Wah Tah. He held a pill
in his left hand. The walls of this room were decorated
with battle-axes, spears, and shields, all brought over fiom
China. There was a bell and a drum suspended just
inside the doorway. These are used for wakening up the
gods when they get sleepy, and do not properly respond to
the invocations of the worshippers. Besides the gods already
mentioned, there was, in this room, a figure of Ham Nai
Hung Shing Tai, the god of fire. The colour of his com-
plexion did not belie his name. In the centre of the room



A Night in Chinatown. 295

was a very interesting and valuable curiosity, namely a large
iron-framed glass cabinet, covered over with wire, containing
hundreds of grotesque little gold-gilt, carved wooden figures
representing Chinese men of mark, such as great historical
personages, heroes, warriors, etc., from the earliest ages down
to recent times. Many of the figures represented mythology
as well. The Chinese attach the utmost importance and
value to this collection. It had been brought hither from
Pekin. Passing into the other or smaller room we found the
images of three more deities, similarly posed in separate
alcoves. First there was the Woman Warrior. She was red-
faced, and looked very masculine. She had been given one
cup of tea. On her left was a small figure of the Tiger
Slayer, with a small tiger looking fierce by his side. On the
right of the Woman Warrior was the Great Religious Woman,
or Goddess of Mercy. She had been given three cups of tea.
There was the image of a baby let into her forehead. In a
corner of the room was a figure of the Bad Joss, or Wicked



Online LibraryW. G. (Walter Gore) MarshallThrough America, or, Nine months in the United States → online text (page 26 of 41)