Little, a skilled linguist, worked as a merchant in China for over fifty years and opened up the Upper Yangtze area to steam-powered commerce. He was well known for his intrepid travels into territories not yet explored by Westerners, and his record of this journey was originally published as a series of letters to the North China Herald.
Across Yunnan was completed and edited by Little's wife after his death in The book includes a detailed map of the area and several photographs. Through Tonking to Hongkong; Index. Customer Reviews Average Review. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview Published posthumously in , Archibald Little's memoir of his journey across the Yunnan Province in Southwest China was one of the first comprehensive accounts of the region to be published in English.
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Annales Cambriae. Williams was an important member of the 'old literary clerics', a group of nineteenth-century clergymen who promoted Welsh language and culture. He has iron and coal mines, with a railway seventeen miles long from the mines to the river, and specially constructed river-steamers and special hoisting machinery at the river-banks.
Money he has poured out like water; he is probably the only important official in China who will leave office a poor man. A linguist of unusual ability, who publishes in The Daily News translations from Heine in English verse, Kaw is gifted with a rare command over the resources of English. He is a Master of Arts of the University of Edinburgh. Yet, strange paradox, notwithstanding that he had the privilege of being trained in the most pious and earnest community in the United [Pg 5] Kingdom, under the lights of the United Presbyterian Kirk, Free Kirk, Episcopalian Church, and The Kirk, not to mention a large and varied assortment of Dissenting Churches of more or less dubious orthodoxy, he is openly hostile to the introduction of Christianity into China.
And nowhere in China is the opposition to the introduction of Christianity more intense than in the Yangtse valley. In this intensity many thoughtful missionaries see the greater hope of the ultimate conversion of this portion of China; opposition they say is a better aid to missionary success than mere apathy. During the time I was in China, I met large numbers of missionaries of all classes, in many cities from Peking to Canton, and they unanimously expressed satisfaction at the progress they are making in China. Expressed succinctly, their harvest may be described as amounting to a fraction more than two Chinamen per missionary per annum.
If, however, the paid ordained and unordained native helpers be added to the number of missionaries, you find that the aggregate body converts nine-tenths of a Chinaman per worker per annum; but the missionaries deprecate their work being judged by statistics. Hankow itself swarms with missionaries, "who are unhappily divided into so many sects, that even a foreigner is bewildered by their number, let alone the heathen to whom they are accredited. The China Inland Mission has its chief central distributing station at Hankow, and here also are the headquarters of a Scandinavian Mission, of a Danish Mission, and of an unattached mission, most of the members of which are also Danish.
Where there are so many missions, of so many different sects, and holding such widely divergent views, it is, I suppose, inevitable that each mission should look with some disfavour upon the work done by its neighbours, should have some doubts as to the expediency of their methods, and some reasonable misgivings as to the genuineness of their conversions. The Chinese "Rice Christians," those spurious Christians who become converted in return for being provided with rice, are just those who profit by these differences of opinion, and who, with timely lapses from grace, are said to succeed in being converted in turn by all the missions from the Augustins to the Quakers.
Every visitor to Hankow and to all other open ports, who is a supporter of missionary effort, is pleased to find that his preconceived notions as to the hardships and discomforts of the open port missionary in China are entirely false. Comfort and pleasures of life are there as great as in any other country. Among the most comfortable residences in Hankow are the quarters of the missionaries; and it is but right that the missionaries should be separated as far as possible from all discomfort—missionaries who are sacrificing all for China, and who are prepared to undergo any reasonable hardship to bring enlightenment to this land of darkness.
I called at the headquarters of the Spanish mission of Padres Agustinos and smoked a cigarette with two of the Padres, and exchanged reminiscences of Valladolid and Barcelona. And I can well conceive, having seen the extreme dirtiness of the mission premises, how little the Spaniard has to alter his ways in order to make them conform to the more ancient civilisation of the Chinese.
In Hankow there is a large foreign concession with a handsome embankment lined by large buildings. There is a rise and fall in the river between summer and winter levels of nearly sixty feet. In the summer the river laps the edge of the embankment and may overflow into the concession; in the winter, broad steps lead down to the edge of the water which, even when shrunk into its bed, is still more than half a mile in width.
Our handsome consulate is at one end of the embankment; at the other there is a remarkable municipal building which was designed by a former City constable, who was, I hope, more expert with the handcuffs than he was with the pencil. Our interests in Hankow are protected by Mr. Pelham Warren, the Consul, [Pg 9] one of the ablest men in the Service. I registered at the Consulate as a British subject and obtained a Chinese passport in terms of the Treaty of Tientsin for the four provinces Hupeh, Szechuen, Kweichow, and Yunnan, available for one year from the date of issue.
I had no servant. An English-speaking "boy," hearing that I was in need of one, came to me to recommend "his number one flend," who, he assured me, spoke English "all the same Englishman. He was not abashed, but turned away wrath by saying to me, through an interpreter, "It is true that I cannot speak the foreign language, but the foreign gentleman is so clever that in one month he will speak Chinese beautifully.
At Hankow I embarked on the China Merchants' steamer Kweili , the only triple-screw steamer on the River, and four days later, on February 21st, I landed at Ichang, the most inland port on the Yangtse yet reached by steam. Ichang is an open port; it is the scene of the anti-foreign riot of September 2nd, , when the foreign settlement was pillaged and burnt by the mob, aided by soldiers of the Chentai Loh-Ta-Jen, the head military official in charge at Ichang, "who gave the outbreak the benefit of his connivance.
From Ichang to Chungking—a distance of miles—the river Yangtse, in a great part of its course, is a series of rapids which no steamer has yet attempted to ascend, though it is contended that the difficulties of navigation [Pg 10] would not be insuperable to a specially constructed steamer of elevated horse-power.
Some idea of the speed of the current at this part of the river may be given by the fact that a junk, taking thirty to thirty-five days to do the upward journey, hauled most of the way by gangs of trackers, has been known to do the down-river journey in two days and a half. Believing that I could thus save some days on the journey, I decided to go to Chungking on foot, and engaged a coolie to accompany me. We were to start on the Thursday afternoon; but about midnight on Wednesday I met Dr. Aldridge, of the Customs, who easily persuaded me that by taking the risk of going in a small boat a wupan , and not in an ordinary passenger junk a kwatze , I might, with luck, reach Chungking as soon by water as I could reach Wanhsien at half the distance by land.
The Doctor was a man of surprising energy. He offered to arrange everything for me, and by 6 o'clock in the morning he had engaged a boat, had selected a captain laoban , and a picked crew of four young men, who undertook to land me in Chungking in fifteen days, and had given them all necessary instructions for my journey. All was to be ready for a start the same evening.
During the course of the morning the written agreement was brought me by the laoban, drawn up in Chinese and duly signed, of which a Chinese clerk made me the following translation into English. I transcribe it literally:—. Yang Hsing Chung the laoban hereby contracts to convey Dr. If Chungking is reached in twelve days, Dr. If all goes well and the master does his duty satisfactorily, Dr. The sum of 14, cash is to be advanced to the master before starting; the remainder to be paid on arrival at Chungking. The Chinaman who wrote this in English speaks English better than many Englishmen.
The agreement was brought me in the morning; all the afternoon I was busy, and at 8 p. I embarked from the Customs pontoon. The boat was a wupan five boards , 28 feet long and drawing 8 inches. Its sail was like the wing of a butterfly, with transverse ribs of light bamboo; its stern was shaped "like a swallow's wings at rest. It seemed a frail little craft to face the dangers of the cataracts, but it was manned by as smart a crew of young Chinese as could be found on the river.
It was pitch dark when we paddled into the stream amidst a discharge of crackers. As we passed under the Kweili , men were there to wish me bon voyage , and a revolver was emptied into the darkness to propitiate the river god. We paddled up the bank under the sterns of countless junks, past the walled city, and then, crossing to the other bank, we made fast and waited for the morning to begin our journey.
The lights of the city were down the river; all was quiet; my men were in good heart, and there was no doubt whatever that they would make every effort to fulfil their contract. At daylight we were away again and soon entered the first of the great gorges where the river has cleft its way through the mountains. With a clear and sunny sky, the river flowing smoothly and reflecting deeply the lofty and rugged hills which fall steeply to the water's edge, a light boat, and a model crew, it was a pleasure to lie at ease wrapped in my Chinese pukai and watch the many junks lazily falling down the river, the largest of them "dwarfed by the colossal dimensions of the surrounding scenery to the size of sampans," and the fishing boats, noiseless but for the gentle creaking of the sheers and dip-net, silently working in the still waters under the bank.
At Ping-shan-pa there is an outstation of the Imperial Maritime Customs in charge of a seafaring man who was once a cockatoo farmer in South Australia, and drove the first team of bullocks to the Mount Brown diggings. He lives comfortably in a house-boat moored to the bank.
He is one of the few Englishmen in China married in the English way, as distinct from the Chinese, to a Chinese girl. His wife is one of the prettiest girls that ever came out of Nanking, and talks English delightfully with a musical voice that is pleasant to listen to. I confess that I am one of those who agree with the missionary writer in regarding "the smile of a Chinese woman as inexpressibly charming.
The attractiveness of the Japanese lady has been the theme of many writers, but, speaking as an impartial observer who has been both in Japan and China, I have never been able to come to any other decision than that in every feature the Chinese woman is superior to her Japanese sister. She is head and shoulders above the Japanese; she is more [Pg 14] intellectual, or, rather, she is more capable of intellectual development; she is incomparably more chaste and modest.
She is prettier, sweeter, and more trustworthy than the misshapen cackling little dot with black teeth that we are asked to admire as a Japanese beauty. The traveller in China is early impressed by the contrast between the almost entire freedom from apparent immorality of the Chinese cities, especially of Western China, and the flaunting indecency of the Yoshiwaras of Japan, with "their teeming, seething, busy mass of women, whose virtue is industry and whose industry is vice.
The small feet of the Chinese women, though admired by the Chinese and poetically referred to by them as "three-inch gold lilies," are in our eyes a very unpleasant deformity—but still, even with this deformity, the walk of the Chinese woman is more comely than the gait of the Japanese woman as she shambles ungracefully along with her little bent legs, scraping her wooden-soled slippers along the pavement with a noise that sets your teeth on edge.
It is very important that their feet should be bound short so that they can walk beautifully with mincing steps, swaying gracefully, and thus showing to all that they are persons of respectability. Those who have large feet are either, speaking generally, ladies of easy virtue or slave girls. And, of course, no Christian girl is allowed to have her feet bound. Leaving Ping-shan-pa with a stiff breeze in our favour we slowly stemmed the current.
Look at the current side, and you would think we were doing eight knots an hour or more, but look at the shore side, close to which we kept to escape [Pg 15] as far as possible from the current, and you saw how gradually we felt our way along. At a double row of mat sheds filled with huge coils of bamboo rope of all thicknesses, my laoban went ashore to purchase a towline; he took with him cash about two shillings , and returned with a coil yards in length and cash of change.
The rope he brought was made of plaited bamboo, was as thick as the middle finger, and as tough as whalebone. The country was more open and terraced everywhere into gardens. Our progress was most satisfactory. When night came we drew into the bank, and I coiled up in my crib and made myself comfortable. Space was cramped, and I had barely room to stretch my legs. My cabin was 5 feet 6 inches square and 4 feet high, open behind, but with two little doors in front, out of which I could just manage to squeeze myself sideways round the mast.
Coir matting was next the floor boards, then a thick Chinese quilt a pukai , then a Scotch plaid made in Geelong. My pillow was Chinese, and the hardest part of the bed; my portmanteau was beside me and served as a desk; a Chinese candle, more wick than wax, stuck into a turnip, gave me light. This, our first day's journey, brought us to within sound of the worst rapid on the river, the Hsintan, and the roar of the cataract hummed in our ears all night.
Early in the morning we were at the foot of the rapid under the bank on the opposite side of the river from the town of Hsintan. It was an exciting scene. A swirling torrent with a roar like thunder was frothing down the cataract. Above, barriers of rocks athwart the stream stretched like a weir across the river, damming the deep still water behind it. The [Pg 16] shore was strewn with boulders. Groups of trackers were on the bank squatting on the rocks to see the foreign devil and his cockleshell.
Other Chinese were standing where the side-stream is split by the boulders into narrow races, catching fish with great dexterity, dipping them out of the water with scoop-nets. We rested in some smooth water under shelter and put out our towline; three of my boys jumped ashore and laid hold of it; another with his bamboo boat-hook stood on the bow; the laoban was at the tiller; and I was cooped up useless in the well under the awning.
The men started hauling as we pushed out into the sea of waters. The boat quivered, the water leapt at the bow as if it would engulf us; our three men were obviously too few. The boat danced in the rapid. My men on board shrieked excitedly that the towrope was fouling—it had caught in a rock—but their voices could not be heard; our trackers were brought to with a jerk; the hindmost saw the foul and ran back to free it, but he was too late, for the boat had come beam on to the current. Our captain frantically waved to let go, and the next moment we were tossed bodily into the cataract.
The boat heeled gunwale under, and suddenly, but the bowman kept his feet like a Blondin, dropped the boat-hook, and jumped to unlash the halyard; a wave buried the boat nose under and swamped me in my kennel; my heart stopped beating, and, scared out of my wits, I began to strip off my sodden clothes; but before I had half done the sail had been set; both men had miraculously fended the boat from a rock, which, by a moment's hesitation, would have smashed us in bits or buried us in the boiling trough formed by the eddy below it, and, with another desperate effort, we had slid from danger into [Pg 17] smooth water.
Then my men laughed heartily. How it was done I do not know, but I felt keen admiration for the calm dexterity with which it had been done. We baled the water out of the boat, paid out a second towrope—this one from the bow to keep the stern under control, the other being made fast to the mast, and took on board a licensed pilot. Extra trackers, hired for a few cash, laid hold of both towlines, and bodily—the water swelling and foaming under our bows—the boat was hauled against the torrent, and up the ledge of water that stretches across the river.
We were now in smooth water at the entrance to the Mi Tsang Gorge. Two stupendous walls of rock, almost perpendicular, as bold and rugged as the Mediterranean side of the Rock of Gibraltar seem folded one behind the other across the river. It was an eerie feeling to glide over the sunless water shut in by the stupendous sidewalls of rock. At a sandy spit to the west of the gorge we landed and put things in order.
And here I stood and watched the junks disappear down the river one after the other, and I saw the truth of what Hosie had written that, as their masts are always unshipped in the down passage, the junks seem to be "passing with their human freight into eternity. An immensely high declivity with a precipitous face was in front of us, which strained your eyes to look at; yet high up to the summit and to the very edge of the precipice, little farmsteads are dotted, and every yard of land available is under cultivation. My laoban, Enjeh, pointing to this mighty mass, said, " Pin su chiao ;" but whether these words were the name of the place, or were intended to convey to me his sense of its magnificence, or dealt with the question of the precariousness of tenure so far above our heads, I had no means to determine.
My laoban knew twelve words of English, and I twelve words of Chinese, and this was the extent of our common vocabulary; it had to be carefully eked out with signs and gestures. I knew the Chinese for rice, flourcake, tea, egg, chopsticks, opium, bed, by-and-by, how many, charcoal, cabbage, and customs.
My laoban could say in English, or pidgin English, chow, number one, no good, go ashore, sit down, by-and-by, to-morrow, match, lamp, alright, one piecee, and goddam. This last named exotic he had been led to consider as synonymous with "very good. I remember reading in the Sydney Bulletin , that a Chinese cook in Sydney when applying for a situation detailed to the mistress his undeniable qualifications, concluding with the memorable announcement, "My Clistian man mum; my eat beef; my say goddam.
There was a small village behind us. The villagers strolled down to see the foreigner whom children well in the background called " Yang kweitze " foreign devil. Below on the sand, were the remains of a junk, confiscated for smuggling salt; it had been sawn bodily in two. Salt is a Government monopoly and a junk found smuggling it is confiscated on the spot. Kueichow, on the left bank, is the first walled town we came [Pg 19] to. Here we had infinite difficulty in passing the rapids, and crossed and recrossed the river several times. I sat in the boat stripped and shivering, for shipwreck seemed certain, and I did not wish to be drowned like a rat.
For cool daring I never saw the equal of my boys, and their nicety of judgment was remarkable. Creeping along close to the bank, every moment in danger of having its bottom knocked out, the boat would be worked to the exact point from which the crossing of the river was feasible, balanced for a moment in the stream, then with sail set and a clipping breeze, and my men working like demons with the oars, taking short strokes, and stamping time with their feet, the boat shot into the current. We made for a rock in the centre of the river; we missed it, and my heart was in my mouth as I saw the rapid below us into which we were being drawn, when the boat mysteriously swung half round and glided under the lee of the rock.
One of the boys leapt out with the bow-rope, and the others with scull and boat-hook worked the boat round to the upper edge of the rock, and then, steadying her for the dash across, pushed off again into the swirling current and made like fiends for the bank. Standing on the stern, managing the sheet and tiller, and with his bamboo pole ready, the laoban yelled and stamped in his excitement; there was the roar of the cataract below us, towards which we were fast edging stern on, destruction again threatened us and all seemed over, when in that moment we entered the back-wash and were again in good shelter.
And so it went on, my men with splendid skill doing always the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, with unerring certainty. At Yehtan rapid, which is said to be the worst on the river in the winter, as the Hsintan rapid is in summer, three of [Pg 20] the boys went ashore to haul us up the ledge of water—they were plainly insufficient. While we were hanging on the cataract extra trackers appeared from behind the rocks and offered their services. They could bargain with us at an advantage. It was a case well known to all Chinese "of speaking of the price after the pig has been killed.
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Here, as at other dangerous rapids on the river, an official lifeboat is stationed. It is of broad beam, painted red. The sailors are paid eighty cash 2 d. Wushan Gorge, the "Witches' Gorge," which extends from Kuantukou to Wushan-hsien, a distance of twenty miles, is the longest gorge on the river. Directly facing us as we emerged from the gorge was the walled town of Wushan-hsien. Its guardian pagoda, with its seven stories and its upturned gables, like the rim of an official hat, is down-stream from the city, and thus prevents wealth and prosperity being swept by the current past the city.
Beyond there is a short but steep rapid. Before a strong wind with all sail set we boldly entered it and determined which was the stronger, the wind or the current. But, while we hung in the current calling and whistling for the wind, the wind flagged for a moment; tension being removed, the bow swung into the rocks; but the water was shallow, and in a trice two of the boys had jumped into the water and were holding the boat-sides.
Then poling and pulling we crept up the rapid into smooth water. Never was there any confusion, never a false stroke. To hear my boys jabber in their [Pg 21] unintelligible speech you pictured disorder, and disaster, and wild excitement; to see them act you witnessed such coolness, skill, and daring as you had rarely seen before. My boys were all young. The captain was only twenty, and was a model of physical grace, with a face that will gladden the heart of the Chinese maiden whom he condescends to select to be the mother of his children.
Junks were making slow progress up the river. The towpath is here on the left bank, sixty feet above the present level of the river. Barefooted trackers, often one hundred in a gang, clamber over the rocks "like a pack of hounds in full cry," each with the coupling over his shoulder and all singing in chorus, the junk they are towing often a quarter of a mile astern of them.
When a rapid intervenes they strain like bondmen at the towrope; the line creaks under the enormous tension but holds fast. On board the junk, a drum tattoo is beaten and fire-crackers let off, and a dozen men with long ironshod bamboos sheer the vessel off the rocks as foot by foot it is drawn past the obstruction. Contrast with this toilsome slowness the speed of the junk bound down-stream.
Its mast is shipped; its prodigious bow-sweep projects like a low bowsprit; the after deck is covered as far as midships with arched mat-roof; coils of bamboo rope are hanging under the awning; a score or more of boatmen, standing to their work and singing to keep time, work the yulos, as looking like a modern whaleback the junk races down the rapids. Kweichou-fu, miles from Ichang, is one of the largest cities on the Upper Yangtse.
Just before it is the Feng-hsiang Gorge the "Windbox Gorge" where the mountains have been again cleft in twain to let pass the river; this is the last of the great gorges of the Yangtse. We had left the province of Hupeh. While he was away two Customs officials searched my boat for contraband goods. When he returned, he had to pay a squeeze at the Customs station.
We clawed with our hooked bamboos round the sterns of a hundred Szechuen junks, and were again arrested at a likin boat, and more cash passed from my laoban to the officials in charge. We went on again, when a third time we came face on to a likin-barrier, and a third time my laoban was squeezed. After this we were permitted to continue our journey.
For the rest of the day whenever the laoban caught my eye he raised three fingers and with a rueful shake of the head said "Kweichou haikwan customs no good"; and then he swore, no doubt. My little boat was the smallest on the river. In sailing it could hold its own with all but the long ferry boats or tenders which accompany the larger junks to land the trackers and towline. These boats carry a huge square sail set vertically from sheer legs, and are very fast. But in rowing, poling, and tracking we could beat the river.
Anping was passed—a beautiful country town in a landscape of red hills and rich green pastures, of groves of bamboo and cypress, of pretty little farmhouses with overhanging eaves and picturesque temples in wooded glens. At Chipatzu there are the remains of a remarkable embankment built of huge blocks of dressed stone resting upon a noble brow of natural rock; deep Chinese characters are cut into the stone; but the glory is departed and there are now only a few straggling huts where there was once a large city. The river was now at its lowest and at every point of sand and shingle, meagre bands of gold puddlers were at work washing for gold in cradle rockers.
To judge, however, from the shabbiness of their surroundings there was little fear that their gains would disturb the equilibrium of the world's gold yield. At daylight, on March 1st, we were abreast of the many storied pagoda, whose lofty position, commanding the approach to the city, brings good fortune to the city of Wanhsien. A beautiful country is this—the chocolate soil richly tilled, the sides of the hills dotted with farmhouses in groves of bamboo and cedar, with every variety of green in the fields, shot through with blazing patches of the yellow rape-seed.
The current was swift, the water was shallow where we were tracking, and we were constantly aground in the shingle; but we rounded the point, and Wanhsien was before us. This is the half-way city between Ichang and Chungking. My smart laoban dressed himself in his best to be ready to go ashore with me; he was jubilant at his skill in bringing me so quickly. Then he pointed to other boats that we were passing, and counted on his fingers fifteen, whereby I knew he was demonstrating that, had I gone in any other boat but his, I should have been fifteen days on the way instead of seven.
An immense number of junks of all kinds were moored to the bank, bow on. Many of them were large vessels, with hulls like that of an Aberdeen clipper. Many carry foreign [Pg 25] flags, by which they are exempt from the Chinese likin duties, so capricious in their imposition, and pay instead a general five per cent. From one to the other, with boathooks and paddle, we crept past the outer wings of their balanced rudders till we reached the landing place. On the rocks at the landing a bevy of women were washing, beating their hardy garments with wooden flappers against the stones; but they ceased their work as the foreign devil, in his uncouth garb, stepped ashore in their midst.
Wanhsien is not friendly to foreigners in foreign garb. I did not know this, and went ashore dressed as a European. Never have I received such a spontaneous welcome as I did in this city; never do I wish to receive such another. I landed at the mouth of the small creek which separates the large walled city to the east from the still larger city beyond the walls to the west.
My laoban was with me. We passed through the washerwomen. Boys and ragamuffins hanging about the shipping saw me, and ran towards me, yelling: " Yang kweitze, Yang kweitze " foreign devil, foreign devil. Behind the booths a story-teller had gathered a crowd; in a moment he was alone and the crowd were following me up the hill, yelling and howling with a familiarity most offensive to a sensitive stranger.
My sturdy boy wished me to produce my passport which is the size of an admiral's ensign, but I was not such a fool as to do so for it had to serve me for many months yet. With this taunting noisy crowd I had to walk on as if I enjoyed the demonstration. I stopped once and spoke to the crowd, and, as I knew no Chinese, I told them in gentle English of the very low opinion their conduct led me to form [Pg 26] of the moral relations of their mothers, and the resignation with which it induced me to contemplate the hyperpyretic surroundings of their posthumous existence; and, borrowing the Chinese imprecation, I ventured to express the hope that when their souls return again to earth they may dwell in the bodies of hogs, since they appeared to me the only habitations meet for them.
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But my words were useless. With a smiling face, but rage at my heart, I led the procession up the creek to a stone bridge where large numbers left me, only to have their places taken on the other bank by a still more enthusiastic gathering. I stopped here a moment in the jostling crowd to look up-stream at that singular natural bridge, which an enormous mass of stone has formed across the creek, and I could see the high arched bridge beyond it, which stretches from bank to bank in one noble span, and is so high above the water that junks can pass under it in the summer time when the rains swell this little stream into a broad and navigable river.
Then we climbed the steep bank into the city and entering by a dirty narrow street we emerged into the main thoroughfare, the crowd still following and the shops emptying into the street to see me. We passed the Mohammedan Mosque, the Roman Catholic Mission, the City Temple, to a Chinese house where I was slipped into the court and the door shut, and then into another to find that I was in the home of the China Inland Mission, and that the pigtailed celestial receiving me at the steps was Mr.
Hope Gill. It was my clothes I then learnt that had caused the manifestation in my honour. An hour later, when I came out again into the street, the crowd was waiting still to see me, but it was disappointed to see me now dressed like one of themselves. In the meantime I had [Pg 27] resumed my Chinese dress. Look at his queue, it is false. The mission has been opened six years, and has been fairly successful, or completely unsuccessful, according to the point of view of the inquirer. Hope Gill, the senior member of the mission, is a most earnest good man, who works on in his discouraging task with an enthusiasm and devotion beyond all praise.
A Premillennialist, he preaches without ceasing throughout the city; and his preaching is earnest and indiscriminate. His method has been sarcastically likened by the Chinese, in the words of one of their best-known aphorisms, to the unavailing efforts of a "blind fowl picking at random after worms.
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During the cholera epidemic this brave man never left his post; he never refused a call to attend the sick and dying, and, at the risk of his own, saved many lives. And what is his reward? This work he did, the Chinese say, not from a disinterested love of his fellows, which was his undoubted motive, but to accumulate merit for himself in the invisible world beyond the grave.
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And the Chinaman himself will tell you, says Smith, "that it does not follow that, because he does not exhibit gratitude he does not feel it. When the dumb man swallows a tooth he may not say much about it, but it is all inside. Since its foundation in , the Inland Mission of Wanhsien has been conducted with brave perseverance. There are, unfortunately, no converts, but there are three hopeful "inquirers," whose conversion would be the more speedy the more likely they were to obtain employment afterwards.
They argue in this way; they say, to quote the words used by the Rev. Mason at the Shanghai Missionary Conference of , "if the foreign teacher will take care of our bodies, we will do him the favour to seek the salvation of our souls. Mateer, "that everyone who enters any sect should live by it When a Chinaman becomes a Christian he expects to live by his Christianity.
One of the three inquirers was shown me; he was described as the most advanced of the three in knowledge of the doctrine. Now I do not wish to write unkindly, but I am compelled to say that this man was a poor, wretched, ragged coolie, who sells the commonest gritty cakes in a rickety [Pg 29] stall round the corner from the mission, who can neither read nor write, and belongs to a very humble order of blunted intelligence.
The poor fellow is the father of a little girl of three, an only child, who is both deaf and dumb. And there is the fear that his fondness for the little one tempts him to give hope to the missionaries that in him they are to see the first fruit of their toil, the first in the district to be saved by their teaching, while he nurses a vague hope that, when the foreign teachers regard him as adequately converted, they may be willing to restore speech and hearing to his poor little offspring.
It is a scant harvest. After a Chinese dinner the missionary and I went for a walk into the country. In the main street we met a troop of beggars, each with a bowl of rice and garbage and a long stick, with a few tattered rags hanging round his loins—they were the poorest poor I had ever seen.
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They were the beggars of the city, who had just received their midday meal at the "Wanhsien Ragged Homes. Wanhsien is a very rich city, with wealthy merchants and great salt hongs. The landed gentry and the great junk owners have their town houses here. The money distributed by the townspeople in private charity is unusually great even for a Chinese city. Its most public-spirited citizen is Ch'en, one of the merchant princes of China whose transactions are confined exclusively to the products of his own country. Starting life with an income of one hundred taels, bequeathed him by his father, Ch'en has now agents all over the empire, and mercantile dealings which are believed to yield him a clear annual income [Pg 30] of a quarter of a million taels.
His probity is a by-word; his benefactions have enriched the province. That cutting in the face of the cliff in the Feng-hsiang Gorge near Kweichou-fu, where a pathway for trackers has been hewn out of the solid rock, was done at his expense, and is said to have cost one hundred thousand taels. Not only by his benefactions has Ch'en laid up for himself merit in heaven, but he has already had his reward in this world. His son presented himself for the M. Everyone in China knows that success in this examination is dependent upon the favour of Wunchang-te-keun, the god of literature Taoist "who from generation to generation hath sent his miraculous influence down upon earth", and, as the god had seen with approbation the good works done by the father, he gave success to the son.
When the son returned home after his good fortune, he was met beyond the walls and escorted into the city with royal honours; his success was a triumph for the city which gave him birth. A short walk and we were out of the city, following a flagged path with flights of steps winding up the hill through levelled terraces rich with every kind of cereal, and with abundance of poppy. Splendid views of one of the richest agricultural regions in the world are here unfolded.
Away down in the valley is the palatial family mansion of Pien, one of the wealthiest yeomen in the province. Beyond you see the commencement of the high road, a paved causeway eight feet wide, which extends for hundreds of miles to Chentu, the capital of the province, and takes rank as the finest work of its kind in the empire.
On every hill-top is a fort. That bolder than the rest commanding the city at a distance of five [Pg 31] miles, is on the "Hill of Heavenly Birth. But, whether thirty or two hundred and fifty years old, the fort is now one in name only, and is at present occupied by a garrison of peaceful peasantry. Chinamen that we met asked us politely "if we had eaten our rice," and "whither were we going. But when with equal politeness we asked the wayfarer where he was going, he jerked his chin towards the horizon and said, "a long way.
We called at the residence of a rich young Chinese, who had lately received it in his inheritance, together with acres of farmland, which, we were told, yield him an annual income of 70, taels. In the absence of the master, who was away in the country reading with his tutor for the Hanlin degree, we were received by the caretakers, who showed us the handsome guest chambers, the splendid gilded tablet, the large courts, and garden rockeries.
A handsome residence is this, solidly built of wood and masonry, and with the trellis work carved with much elaboration. It was late when we returned to the mission, and after dark when I went on board my little wupan.
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My boys had not been idle. They had bought new provisions of excellent quality, and had made the boat much more comfortable. The three kind missionaries came down to wish me Godspeed. Brave men! We crossed the river and anchored above the city, ready against an early start in the morning. The day after leaving Wanhsien was the first time that we required any assistance on our journey from another junk; it was cheerfully given.
Our towrope had chafed through, and we were in a difficulty, attempting to pass a bad rapid among the rocks, when a large junk was hauled bodily past us, and, seeing our plight, hooked on to us and towed us with them out of danger. On this night we anchored under the Sentinel Rock Shih-pao-chai , perhaps the most remarkable landmark on the river.
From two hundred to three hundred feet high, and sixty feet wide at the base, it is a detached rock, cleft vertically from a former cliff. A nine-storied pagoda has been inset into the south-eastern face, and temple buildings crown the summit. It was surprising how well my men lived on board the boat.
They had three good meals a day, always with rice and abundance of vegetables, and frequently with a little pork. Cooking was done while we were under way; for the purpose we had two little earthenware stoves, two pans, and a kettle. All along the river cabbages and turnips are abundant and cheap. Bumboats, laden to the rail, waylay the boats en route , and offer an armful of fresh vegetables for the equivalent in copper cash of three-eighths of a penny.
Other boats peddle firewood, cut short and bound in little bundles, and sticks of charcoal. Coal is everywhere abundant, and there are excellent briquettes for sale, made of a mixture of clay and coal-dust. All day long now for the rest of our voyage we sailed through a beautiful country. From the hill tops to the water's edge the hillsides are levelled into a succession of terraces; there are cereals and the universal poppy, pretty hamlets, and thriving little villages; a river half a mile wide thronged with [Pg 33] every kind of river craft, and back in the distance snow-clad mountains.
There are bamboo sheds at every point, with coils of bamboo towrope, mats, and baskets, and huge Szechuen hats as wide as an umbrella. On the morning of March 5th I was awakened by loud screaming and yelling ahead of us. I squeezed out of my cabin, and saw a huge junk looming down upon us. In an awkward rapid its towline had parted, and the huge structure tumbling uncontrolled in the water, was bearing down on us, broadside on.
It seemed as if we should be crushed against the rocks, and we must have been, but for the marvellous skill with which the sailors on the junk, just at the critical time, swung their vessel out of danger. They were yelling with discord, but worked together as one man. In the afternoon we were at Feng-tu-hsien, a flourishing river port, one of the principal outlets of the opium traffic of the Upper Yangtse. Next day we were at Fuchou, the other opium port, whose trade in opium is greater still than that of Feng-tu-hsien.
It is at the junction of a large tributary—the Kung-t'-an-ho, which is navigable for large vessels for more than two hundred miles. Large numbers of the Fuchou junks were moored here, which differ in construction from all other junks on the river Yangtse in having their great sterns twisted or wrung a quarter round to starboard, and in being steered by an immense stern sweep, and not by the balanced rudder of an ordinary junk.
The following day, after a long day's work, we moored beyond the town of Chang-show-hsien. Here I paid the laoban cash, whereupon he paid his men something on account, and then blandly suggested a game of cards. He was fast winning back his money, when I intervened and bade [Pg 34] them turn in, as I wished to make an early start in the morning. The river seemed to get broader, deeper, and more rapid as we ascended; the trackers, on the contrary, became thinner, narrower, and more decrepit.
On March 8th, our fourteenth day out, disaster nearly overtook us when within a day's sail of our destination. Next day we reached Chungking safely, having done by some days the fastest journey on record up the Yangtse rapids. My captain and his young crew had finished the journey within the time agreed upon. After passing through the gorge known as Tung-lo-hsia ten miles from Chungking, the laoban tried to attract my attention, calling me from my crib and pointing with his chin up the river repeating "Haikwan one piecee," which I interpreted to mean that there was an outpost of the customs here in charge of one white man; and this proved to be the case.
The customs kuatze or houseboat was moored to the left bank; the Imperial Customs flag floated gaily over an animated collection of native craft. We drew alongside the junk and an Englishman appeared at the window. I gave him my card. He looked at it and said, "When I was last in Victoria I used to follow with much interest a curious walk across Australia, from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Melbourne done by a namesake.
Any relation? The same man! I'm delighted to see you. Like myself he had formerly been a student of Melbourne University, but I was many years his senior. What was his experience of the University I forgot to inquire, but mine I remember vividly enough; for it was not happy. In the examination for the Second-year Medicine, hoping the more to impress the Professors, I entered my name for honours—and they rejected me in the preliminary pass.
It seems that in the examination in Materia Medica, I had among other trifling lapses prescribed a dose of Oleum Crotonis of "one half to two drachms carefully increased. When a deputation from my family waited upon the examiner to ascertain the cause of my misadventure, the only satisfaction we got was the obliging assurance "that you might as well let a mad dog loose in Collins Street" as allow me to become a doctor.
And then the examiner produced my prescription. But I thought I saw a faint chance of escape. I pointed a nervous finger to the two words "carefully increased," and pleaded that that indication of caution ought to save me. It was a severe blow to the University, but the University survived it. My countryman had been five years in China in the customs service, that marvellous organisation which is more impartially [Pg 37] open to all the world than any other service in the world.
The Australian had been ten months at Chungking. His up-river journey occupied thirty-eight days, and was attended with one moving incident. In the Hsintan rapid the towline parted, and his junk was smashed to pieces by the rocks, and all that he possessed destroyed. It was in this rapid that my boat narrowly escaped disaster, but there was this difference in our experiences, that at the time of his accident the river was sixty feet higher than on the occasion of mine.
Tang-chia-to, the customs out-station, is ten miles by river from Chungking, but not more than four miles by land. So I sent the boat on, and in the afternoon walked over to the city. A customs coolie came with me to show me the way. My friend accompanied me to the river crossing, walking with me through fields of poppy and sugarcane, and open beds of tobacco. At the river side he left me to return to his solitary home, while I crossed the river in a sampan, and then set out over the hills to Chungking. It was more than ever noticeable, the poor hungry wretchedness of the river coolies.
For three days past all the trackers I had seen were the most wretched in physique of any I had met in China. Phthisis and malaria prevail among them; their work is terribly arduous; they suffer greatly from exposure; they appear to be starving in the midst of abundance.
My coolie showed well by contrast with the trackers; he was sleek and well fed. A "chop dollar," as he would be termed down south, for his face [Pg 38] was punched or chopped with the small-pox, he swung along the paved pathway and up and down the endless stone steps in a way that made me breathless to follow. We passed a few straggling houses and wayside shrines and tombstones. All the dogs in the district recognised that I was a stranger, and yelped consumedly, like the wolfish mongrels that they are. From a hill we obtained a misty view of the City of Chungking, surrounded on two sides by river and covering a broad expanse of hill and highland.
I was taken to the customs pontoon on the south bank of the river, and then up the steep bank by many steps to the basement of an old temple where the two customs officers have their pleasant dwelling. I was kindly received, and stayed the night. We were an immense height above the water; the great city was across the broad expanse of river, here more than seven hundred yards in width. Away down below us, moored close to the bank, and guarded by three Chinese armed junks or gunboats, was the customs hulk, where the searching is done, and where the three officers of the outdoor staff have their offices.
There is at present but little smuggling, because there are no Chinese officials. Smuggling may be expected to begin in earnest as soon as Chinese officials are introduced to prevent it. Chinese searchers do best who use their eyes not to see—best for themselves, that is. The gunboats guarding this Haikwan Station have a nominal complement of eighty men, and an actual complement of twenty-four; to avoid, however, unnecessary explanation, pay is drawn by the commanding officer, not for the actual twenty-four, but for the nominal eighty. My two companions in the temple were tidewaiters in the Customs.
There are many storied lives locked away among [Pg 39] the tidewaiters in China. Down the river there is a tidewaiter who was formerly professor of French in the Imperial University of St. Petersburg; and here in Chungking, filling the same humble post, is the godson of a marquis and the nephew of an earl, a brave soldier whose father is a major-general and his mother an earl's daughter, and who is first cousin to that enlightened nobleman and legislator the Earl of C.
Few men so young have had so many and varied experiences as this sturdy Briton. He has humped his swag in Australia, has earned fifteen shillings a day there as a blackleg protected by police picquets on a New South Wales coal mine. He was at Harrow under Dr. Butler, and at Corpus Christi, Cambridge.
He has been in the Dublin Fusiliers, and a lieutenant in Weatherby's Horse, enlisted in the 5th Lancers, and rose from private to staff-sergeant, and ten months later would have had his commission. He served with distinction in the Soudan and Zululand, and has three medals with four clasps. He was at Tel-el-kebir; saw Burnaby go forth to meet a coveted death at Abu-klea, and was present at Abu-Kru when Sir Herbert Stewart received his death-wound.
Leaving the army, C. Chungking is an open port, which is not an open port. By the treaty of Tientsin it is included in the clause which states that any foreign steamer going to it, a closed port, shall [Pg 40] be confiscated. Yet by the Chefoo Convention, Chungking is to become an open port as soon as the first foreign steamer shall reach there.
Nanxi River (Yunnan)
This reminds one of the conflicting instructions once issued by a certain government in reference to the building of a new gaol. The instructions were explicit:—. In Chungking the Commissioner of Customs is Dr. Hirth, whose Chinese house is on the highest part of Chungking in front of a temple, which, dimly seen through the mist, is the crowning feature of the city. A distinguished sinologue is the doctor, one of the finest Chinese scholars in the Empire, author of "China and the Roman Orient," "Ancient Porcelain," and an elaborate "Textbook of Documentary Chinese," which is in the hands of most of the Customs staff in China, for whose assistance it was specially written.
Hirth is a German who has been many years in China. He holds the third button, the transparent blue button, the third rank in the nine degrees by which Chinese Mandarins are distinguished. Their missionaries dwell with great comfort in the only foreign-built houses in the city in a large compound with an ample garden.
Their Mission hospital is a well-equipped Anglo-Chinese building attached to the city wall, and overlooking from its lofty elevation the Little River, and the walled city beyond it. The wards of the hospital are comfortable and well lit; the [Pg 41] floors are varnished; the beds are provided with spring mattresses; indeed, in the comfort of the hospital the Chinese find its chief discomfort.
A separate compartment has been walled off for the treatment of opium-smokers who desire by forced restraint to break off the habit. Three opium-smokers were in durance at the time of my visit; they were happy and contented and well nourished, and none but the trained eye of an expert, who saw what he wished to see, could have guessed that they were addicted to the use of a drug which has been described in exaggerated terms as "more deadly to the Chinese than war, famine, and pestilence combined.
Smith, "Chinese Characteristics," p. Not long ago three men were admitted into the hospital suffering, on their own confession, from the opium habit. They freely expressed the desire of their hearts to be cured, and were received with welcome and placed in confinement. Every effort was made to wean them from the habit which, they alleged, had "seized them in a death grip.
But one night the desire to return to the drug became irresistible, and, strangely, the desire attacked all three men at the same time on the same night; and they escaped together. Sadly enough there was in this case marked evidence of the demoralising influence of opium, for when they escaped they took with them everything portable that they could lay their hands on. It was a sad trial. Excellent medical work is done in the hospital. From the first annual report just published by the surgeon in charge, an M. Medical Work.
Tsang Taotai, of Kuei-Iang-fu, was an eye witness to several operations, as well as being operated upon for Internal Piles" the last words in large capitals. Evangelistic Work. Wei, in the hospital for suppurating glands of the neck, became greatly interested in the truth while there, left a believer, and attends Sunday service regular sic , walking from a distant part of the city each Sunday. We regard her as very hopeful, and she is reported by the Chinese as being very warm-hearted.