Herbert A. Giles, M.A., LL.D.

Part 3 out of 3

contains over forty thousand words, not a great number as compared
with European languages which have coined innumerable scientific
terms, but even so, far more than are necessary either for daily life
or for literary purposes. These words are accompanied in each case by
appropriate quotations from the works of every age and of every style,
arranged chronologically, thus anticipating to some extent the
"historical principles" in the still more wonderful English dictionary
by Sir James Murray and others, now going through the press. But the
greatest of all the literary achievements planned by this emperor was
a general encyclopaedia, not indeed on quite such a colossal scale as
that one produced under the Ming dynasty and already described, though
still of respectable dimensions, running as it does in a small-sized
edition to 1,628 octavo volumes of about 200 pages to each. The term
encyclopaedia must not be understood in precisely the same sense as in
Western countries. A Chinese encyclopaedia deals with a given subject
not by providing an up-to-date article written by some living
authority, but by exhibiting extracts from authors of all ages,
arranged chronologically, in which the subject in question is
discussed. The range of topics, however, is such that the above does
not always apply--as, for instance, in the biographical section, which
consists merely of lives of eminent men taken from various sources. In
the great encyclopaedia under consideration, in addition to an
enormous number of lives of men, covering a period of three thousand
years, there are also lives of over twenty-four thousand eminent
women, or nearly as many as all the lives in our own /National
Dictionary of Biography/. An original copy of this marvellous
production, which by the way is fully illustrated, may be seen at the
British Museum; a small-sized edition, more suitable for practical
purposes and printed from movable type, was issued about twenty years

Skipping an emperor under whose reign was initiated that violent
persecution of Roman Catholics which has continued more or less openly
down to the present day, we come to the second of the two monarchs
before mentioned, whose long and beneficent reigns are among the real
glories of the present dynasty.

The Emperor Ch'ien Lung (/Loong/) ascended the throne in 1735, when
twenty-five years of age; and though less than two hundred years ago,
legend has been busy with his person. According to some native
accounts, his hands are said to have reached below his knees; his ears
touched his shoulders; and his eyes could see round behind his head.
This sort of stuff, is should be understood, is not taken from
reliable authorities. It cannot be taken from the dynastic history for
the simple reason that the official history of a dynasty is not
published until the dynasty has come to an end. There is, indeed, a
faithful record kept of all the actions of each reigning emperor in
turn; good and evil are set down alike, without fear or favour, for no
emperor is ever allowed to get a glimpse of the document by which
posterity will judge him. Ch'ien Lung had no cause for anxiety on this
score; whatever record might leap to light, he never could be shamed.
An able ruler, with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and an
indefatigable administrator, he rivals his grandfather's fame as a
sovereign and a patron of letters. His one amiable weakness was a
fondness for poetry; unfortunately, for his own. His output was
enormous so far as number of pieces go; these were always short, and
proportionately trivial. No one ever better illustrated one half of
the cynical Chinese saying: "We love our own compositions, but other
men's wives." He disliked missionaries, and forbade the propagation of
the Christian religion.

After ten years of internal reorganization, his reign became a
succession of wars, almost all of which were brought to a successful
conclusion. His generals led a large army into Nepaul and conquered
the Goorkhas, reaching a point only some sixty miles distant from
British territory. Burma was forced to pay tribute; Chinese supremacy
was established in Tibet; Kuldja and Kashgaria were added to the
empire; and rebellions in Formosa and elsewhere were suppressed. In
fifty years the population was nearly doubled, and the empire on the
whole enjoyed peace and prosperity. In 1750 a Portuguese embassy
reached Peking; and was followed by Lord Macartney's famous mission
and a Dutch mission in 1793. Two years after the venerable emperor had
completed a reign of sixty years, the full Chinese cycle; whereupon he
abdicated in favour of his son, and died in 1799.



A virtue which the Chinese possess in an eminent degree is the rather
rare one of gratitude. A Chinaman never forgets a kind act; and what
is still more important, he never loses the sense of obligation to his
benefactor. Witness to this striking fact has been borne times without
number by European writers, and especially by doctors, who have
naturally enjoyed the best opportunities for conferring favours likely
to make a deep impression. It is unusual for a native to benefit by a
cure at the hands of a foreign doctor, and then to go away and make no
effort to express his gratitude, either by a subscription to a
hospital, a present of silk or tea, or perhaps an elaborate banner
with a golden inscription, in which his benefactor's skill is likened
to that of the great Chinese doctors of antiquity. With all this, the
patient will still think of the doctor, and even speak of him, not
always irreverently, as a foreign devil. A Chinaman once appeared at a
British Consulate, with a present of some kind, which he had brought
from his home a hundred miles away, in obedience to the command of his
dying father, who had formerly been cured of ophthalmia by a foreign
doctor, and who had told him, on his deathbed, "never to forget the
English." Yet this present was addressed in Chinese: "To His
Excellency the Great English Devil, Consul X."

The Chinaman may love you, but you are a devil all the same. It is
most natural that he should think so. For generation upon generation
China was almost completely isolated from the rest of the world. The
people of her vast empire grew up under influences unchanged by
contact with other peoples. Their ideals became stereotyped from want
of other ideals to compare with, and possibly modify, their own.
Dignity of deportment and impassivity of demeanour were especially
cultivated by the ruling classes. Then the foreign devil burst upon
the scene--a being as antagonistic to themselves in every way as it is
possible to conceive. We can easily see, from pictures, not intended
to be caricatures, what were the chief features of the foreigner as
viewed by the Chinaman. Red hair and blue eyes, almost without
exception; short and extremely tight clothes; a quick walk and a
mobility of body, involving ungraceful positions either sitting or
standing; and with an additional feature which the artist could not
portray--an unintelligible language resembling the twittering of
birds. Small wonder that little children are terrified at these
strange beings, and rush shrieking into their cottages as the
foreigner passes by. It is perhaps not quite so easy to understand why
the Mongolian pony has such a dread of the foreigner and usually takes
time to get accustomed to the presence of a barbarian; some ponies,
indeed, will never allow themselves to be mounted unless blindfolded.
Then there are the dogs, who rush out and bark, apparently without
rhyme or reason, at every passing foreigner. The Chinese have a saying
that one dog barks at nothing and the rest bark at him; but that will
hardly explain the unfailing attack so familiar to every one who has
rambled through country villages. The solution of this puzzle was
extracted with difficulty from an amiable Chinaman who explained that
what the animals, and indeed his fellow-countrymen as well, could not
help noticing, was the frowzy and very objectionable smell of all
foreigners, which, strangely enough, is the very accusation which
foreigners unanimously bring against the Chinese themselves.

Compare these characteristics with the universal black hair and black
eyes of men and women throughout China, exclusive of a rare occasional
albino; with the long, flowing, loose robes of officials and of the
well-to-do; with their slow and stately walk and their rigid formality
of position, either sitting or standing. To the Chinese, their own
language seems to be the language of the gods; they know they have
possessed it for several thousand years, and they know nothing at all
of the barbarian. Where does he come from? Where can he come from
except from the small islands which fringe the Middle Kingdom, the
world, in fact, bounded by the Four Seas? The books tell us that
"Heaven is round, Earth is square;" and it is impossible to believe
that those books, upon the wisdom of which the Middle Kingdom was
founded, can possibly be wrong. Such was a very natural view for the
Chinaman to take when first brought really face to face with the West;
and such is the view that in spite of modern educational progress is
still very widely held. The people of a country do not unlearn in a
day the long lessons of the past. He was quite a friendly mandarin,
taking a practical view of national dress, who said in conversation:
"I can't think why you foreigners wear your clothes so tight; it must
be very difficult to catch the fleas."

As an offset against the virtue of gratitude must be placed the deep-
seated spirit of revenge which animates all classes. Though not
enumerated among their own list of the Seven passions--joy, anger,
sorrow, fear, love, hatred and desire--it is perhaps the most over-
mastering passion to which the Chinese mind is subject. It is revenge
which prompts the unhappy daughter-in-law to throw herself down a
well, consoled by the thought of the trouble, if not ruin, she is
bringing on her persecutors. Revenge, too, leads a man to commit
suicide on the doorstep of some one who has done him an injury, for he
well knows what it means to be entangled in the net which the law
throws over any one on whose premises a dead body may thus be found.
There was once an absurd case of a Chinese woman, who deliberately
walked into a pond until the water reached up to her knees, and
remained there, alternately putting her lips below the surface, and
threatening in a loud voice to drown herself on the spot, as life had
been made unbearable by the presence of foreign barbarians. In this
instance, had the suicide been carried out, vengeance would have been
wreaked in some way on the foreigner by the injured ghost of the dead

The germ of this spirit of revenge, this desire to get on level terms
with an enemy, as when a life is extracted for a life, can be traced,
strangely enough, to the practice of filial piety and fraternal love,
the very cornerstone of good government and national prosperity. In
the Book of Rites, which forms a part of the Confucian Canon, and
contains rules not only for the performance of ceremonies but also for
the guidance of individual conduct, the following passage occurs:
"With the slayer of his father, a man may not live under the same sky;
against the slayer of his brother, a man must never have to go home to
fetch a weapon; with the slayer of his friend, a man may not live in
the same state." Being now duly admitted among the works which
constitute the Confucian Canon, the above-mentioned Book of Rites
enjoys an authority to which it can hardly lay claim on the ground of
antiquity. It is a compilation made during the first century B.C., and
is based, no doubt, on older existing documents; but as it never
passed under the editorship of either Confucius or Mencius, it would
be unfair to jump to the conclusion that either of these two sages is
in any way responsible for, or would even acquiesce in, a system of
revenge, the only result of which would be an endless chain of
bloodshed and murder. The Chinese are certainly as constant in their
hates as in their friendships. To use a phrase from their own
language, if they love a man, they love him to the life; if they hate
a man they hate him to the death. As we have already noted, the Old
Philosopher urged men to requite evil with good; but Confucius, who
was only a mortal himself, and knew the limitations of mortality,
substituted for an ideal doctrine the more practical injunction to
requite evil with justice. It is to be feared that the Chinese people
fall short in practice even of this lower standard. "Be just to your
enemy" is a common enough maxim; but one for which only a moderate
application can be claimed.

It has often been urged against the Chinese that they have very little
idea of time. A friendly Chinaman will call, and stay on so
persistently that he often outstays his welcome. This infliction is
recognized and felt by the Chinese themselves, who have certain set
forms of words by which they politely escape from a tiresome visitor;
among their vast stores of proverbs they have also provided one which
is much to the point: "Long visits bring short compliments." Also, in
contradiction of the view that time is no value to the Chinaman, there
are many familiar maxims which say, "Make every inch of time your
own!" "Half-an-hour is worth a thousand ounces of silver," etc. An
"inch of time" refers to the sundial, which was known to the Chinese
in the earliest ages, and was the only means they had for measuring
time until the invention or introduction--it is not certain which--of
the more serviceable /clepsydra/, or water-clock, already mentioned.

This consists of several large jars of water, with a tube at the
bottom of each, placed one above another on steps, so that the tube of
an upper jar overhangs the top of a lower jar. The water from the top
jar is made to drip through its tube into the second jar, and so into
a vessel at the bottom, which contains either the floating figure of a
man, or some other kind of index to mark the rise of the water on a
scale divided into periods of two hours each. The day and night were
originally divided by the Chinese into twelve such periods; but now-a-
days watches and clocks are in universal use, and the European
division into twenty-four hours prevails everywhere. Formerly, too,
sticks of incense, to burn for a certain number of hours, as well as
graduated candles, made with the assistance of the water-clock, were
in great demand; these have now quite disappeared as time-recorders.

The Chinese year is a lunar year. When the moon has travelled twelve
times round the earth, the year is completed. This makes it about ten
days short of our solar year; and to bring things right again, an
extra month, that is a thirteenth month, is inserted in every three
years. When foreigners first began to employ servants extensively, the
latter objected to being paid their wages according to the European
system, for they complained that they were thus cheated out of a
month's wages in every third year. An elaborate official almanack is
published annually in Peking, and circulated all over the empire; and
in addition to such information as would naturally be looked for in a
work of the kind, the public are informed what days are lucky, and
what days are unlucky, the right and the wrong days for doing or
abstaining from doing this, that, or the other. The anniversaries of
the death-days of the sovereigns of the ruling dynasty are carefully
noted; for on such days all the government offices are supposed to be
shut. Any foreign official who wishes to see a mandarin for urgent
business will find it possible to do so, but the visitor can only be
admitted through a side-door; the large entrance-gate cannot possibly
be opened under any circumstances whatever.

No notice of the Chinese people, however slight or general in
character, could very well attain its object unless accompanied by
some more detailed account of their etiquette than is to be gathered
from the few references scattered over the preceding pages. Correct
behaviour, whether at court, in the market-place, or in the seclusion
of private life, is regarded as of such extreme importance--and
breaches of propriety in this sense are always so severely frowned
upon--that it behoves the foreigner who would live comfortably and at
peace with his Chinese neighbours, to pick up at least a casual
knowledge of an etiquette which in outward form is so different from
his own, and yet in spirit is so identically the same. A little
judicious attention to these matters will prevent much unnecessary
friction, leading often to a row, and sometimes to a catastrophe.
Chinese philosophers have fully recognized in their writings that
ceremonies and salutations and bowings and scrapings and rules of
precedence and rules of the road are not of any real value when
considered apart from the conditions with which they are usually
associated; at the same time they argue that without such conventional
restraints, nothing but confusion would result. Consequently, a
regular code of etiquette has been produced; but as this deals largely
with court and official ceremonial, and a great part of the remainder
has long since been quietly ignored, it is more to the point to turn
to the unwritten code which governs the masses in their everyday life.

For the foreigner who would mix easily with the Chinese people, it is
above all necessary to understand not only that the street regulations
of Europe do not apply in China; but also that he will there find a
set of regulations which are tacitly agreed upon by the natives, and
which, if examined without prejudice, can only be regarded as based on
common sense. An ordinary foot-passenger, meeting perhaps a coolie
with two buckets of water suspended one at each end of a bamboo pole,
or carrying a bag of rice, weighing one, two, or even three
hundredweight, is bound to move out of the burden-carrier's path,
leaving to him whatever advantages the road may offer. This same
coolie, meeting a sedan chair borne by two or more coolies like
himself, must at once make a similar concession, which is in turn
repeated by the chair-bearers in favour of any one riding a horse. On
similar grounds, an empty sedan-chair must give way to one in which
there is a passenger; and though not exactly on such rational grounds,
it is understood that horse, chair, coolie and foot-passenger all
clear the road for a wedding or other procession, as well as for the
retinue of a mandarin. A servant, too, should stand at the side of the
road to let his master pass. As an exception to the general rule of
common sense which is so very noticeable in all Chinese institutions,
if only one takes the trouble to look for it, it seems to be an
understood thing that a man may not only stand still wherever he
pleases in a Chinese thoroughfare, but may even place his burden or
barrow, as the fancy seizes him, sometimes right in the fairway, from
which point he will coolly look on at the streams of foot-passengers
coming and going, who have to make the best of their way round such
obstructions. It is partly perhaps on this account that friends who go
for a stroll together never walk abreast but always in single file,
shouting out their conversation for all the world to hear; this, too,
even in the country, where a more convenient formation would often,
but not always, be possible. Shopkeepers may occupy the path with
tables exposing their wares, and itinerant stall-keepers do not
hesitate to appropriate a "pitch" wherever trade seems likely to be
brisk. The famous saying that to have freedom we must have order has
not entered deeply into Chinese calculations. Freedom is indeed a
marked feature of Chinese social life; some small sacrifices in the
cause of order would probably enhance rather than diminish the great
privileges now enjoyed.

A few points are of importance in the social etiquette of indoor life,
and should not be lightly ignored by the foreigner, who, on the other
hand, would be wise not to attempt to substitute altogether Chinese
forms and ceremonies for his own. Thus, no Chinaman, and, it may be
added, no European who knows how to behave, fails to rise from his
chair on the entrance of a visitor; and it is further the duty of a
host to see that his visitor is actually seated before he sits down
himself. It is extremely impolite to precede a visitor, as in passing
through a door; and on parting, it is usual to escort him to the front
entrance. He must be placed on the left of the host, this having been
the post of honour for several centuries, previous to which it was the
seat to the right of the host, as with us, to which the visitor was
assigned. At such interviews it would not be correct to allude to
wives, who are no more to be mentioned than were the queen of Spain's

One singular custom in connection with visits, official and otherwise,
ignorance of which has led on many occasions to an awkward moment, is
the service of what is called "guest-tea." At his reception by the
host every visitor is at once supplied with a cup of tea. The servant
brings two cups, one in each hand, and so manages that the cup in his
left hand is set down before the guest, who faces him on his right
hand, while that for his master is carried across and set down in an
exactly opposite sense. The tea-cups are so handed, as it were with
crossed hands, even when the host, as an extra mark of politeness,
receives that intended for his visitor, and himself places it on the
table, in this case being careful to use /both/ hands, it being
considered extremely impolite to offer anything with one hand only
employed. Now comes the point of the "guest-tea," which, as will be
seen, it is quite worth while to remember. Shortly after the beginning
of the interview, an unwary foreigner, as indeed has often been the
case, perhaps because he is thirsty, or because he may think it polite
to take a sip of the fragrant drink which has been so kindly provided
for him, will raise the cup to his lips. Almost instantaneously he
will hear a loud shout outside, and become aware that the scene is
changing rapidly for no very evident reason--only too evident,
however, to the surrounding Chinese servants, who know it to be their
own custom that so soon as a visitor tastes his "guest-tea," it is a
signal that he wishes to leave, and that the interview is at an end.
The noise is simply a bawling summons to get ready his sedan-chair,
and the scurrying of his coolies to be in their places when wanted.
There is another side to this quaint custom, which is often of
inestimable advantage to a busy man. A host, who feels that everything
necessary has been said, and wishes to free himself from further
attendance, may grasp his own cup and invite his guest to drink. The
same results follow, and the guest has no alternative but to rise and
take his leave. In ancient days visitors left their shoes outside the
front door, a custom which is still practised by the Japanese, the
whole of whose civilization--this cannot be too strongly emphasized--
was borrowed originally from China.

It is considered polite to remove spectacles during an interview, or
even when meeting in the street; though as this rather unreasonable
rule has been steadily ignored by foreigners, chiefly, no doubt, from
unacquaintance with it, the Chinese themselves make no attempt to
observe it so far as foreigners are concerned. In like manner, it is
most unbecoming for any "read-book man," no matter how miserably poor
he is, to receive a stranger, or be seen himself abroad, in short
clothes; but this rule, too, is often relaxed in the presence of
foreigners, who wear short clothes themselves. Honest poverty is no
crime in China, nor is it in any way regarded as cause for shame; it
is even more amply redeemed by scholarship than is the case in Western
countries. A man who has gained a degree moves on a different level
from the crowd around him, so profound is the respect shown to
learning. If a foreigner can speak Chinese intelligibly, his character
as a barbarian begins to be perceptibly modified; and if to the knack
of speech he adds a tolerable acquaintance with the sacred characters
which form the written language, he becomes transfigured, as one in
whom the influence of the holy men of old is beginning to prevail over
savagery and ignorance.

It is not without reason that the term "sacred" is applied above to
the written words or characters. The Chinese, recognizing the
extraordinary results which have been brought about, silently and
invisibly, by the operation of written symbols, have gradually come to
invest these symbols with a spirituality arousing a feeling somewhat
akin to worship. A piece of paper on which a single word has once been
written or printed, becomes something other than paper with a black
mark on it. It may not be lightly tossed about, still less trampled
underfoot; it should be reverently destroyed by fire, here again used
as a medium of transmission to the great Beyond; and thus its
spiritual essence will return to those from whom it originally came.
In the streets of a Chinese city, and occasionally along a frequented
highroad, may be seen small ornamental structures into which odd bits
of paper may be thrown and burnt, thus preventing a desecration so
painful to the Chinese mind; and it has often been urged against
foreigners that because they are so careless as to what becomes of
their written and printed paper, the matter contained in foreign
documents and books must obviously be of no great value. It is even
considered criminal to use printed matter for stiffening the covers or
strengthening the folded leaves of books; still more so, to employ it
in the manufacture of soles for boots and shoes, though in such cases
as these the weakness of human nature usually carries the day. Still,
from the point of view of the Taoist faith, the risk is too serious to
be overlooked. In the sixth of the ten Courts of Purgatory, through
one or more of which sinners must pass after death in order to expiate
their crimes on earth, provision is made for those who "scrape the
gilding from the outside of images, take holy names in vain, show no
respect for written paper, throw down dirt and rubbish near pagodas
and temples, have in their possession blasphemous or obscene books and
do not destroy them, obliterate or tear books which teach man to be
good," etc., etc.

In this, the sixth Court, presided over, like all the others, by a
judge, and furnished with all the necessary means and appliances for
carrying out the sentences, there are sixteen different wards where
different punishments are applied according to the gravity of the
offence. The wicked shade may be sentenced to kneel for long periods
on iron shot, or to be placed up to the neck in filth, or pounded till
the blood runs out, or to have the mouth forced open with iron pincers
and filled with needles, or to be bitten by rats, or nipped by locusts
while in a net of thorns, or have the heart scratched, or be chopped
in two at the waist, or have the skin of the body torn off and rolled
up into spills for lighting pipes, etc. Similar punishments are
awarded for other crimes; and these are to be seen depicted on the
walls of the municipal temple, to be found in every large city, and
appropriately named the Chamber of Horrors. It is doubtful if such
ghastly representations of what is to be expected in the next world
have really any deterrent effect upon even the most illiterate of the
masses; certainly not so long as health is present and things are
generally going well. "The devil a monk" will any Chinaman be when the
conditions of life are satisfactory to him.

As has already been stated, his temperament is not a religious one;
and even the seductions and threats of Buddhism leave him to a great
extent unmoved. He is perhaps chiefly influenced by the Buddhist
menace of rebirth, possibly as a woman, or worse still as an animal.
Belief in such a contingency may act as a mild deterrent under a
variety of circumstances; it certainly tends to soften his treatment
of domestic animals. Not only because he may some day become one
himself, but also because among the mules or donkeys which he has to
coerce through long spells of exhausting toil, he may be unwittingly
belabouring some friend or acquaintance, or even a member of his own
particular family. This belief in rebirth is greatly strengthened by a
large number of recorded instances of persons who could recall events
which had happened in their own previous state of existence, and whose
statements were capable of verification. Occasionally, people would
accurately describe places and buildings which they could not have
visited, while many would entertain a dim consciousness of scenes,
sights and sounds, which seemed to belong to some other than the
present life. There is a record of one man who could remember having
been a horse, and who vividly recalled the pain he had suffered when
riders dug their knees hard into his sides. This, too, in spite of the
administration in Purgatory of a cup of forgetfulness, specially
designed to prevent in those about to reborn any remembrance of life
during a previous birth.

After all, the most awful punishment inflicted in Purgatory upon
sinners is one which, being purely mental, may not appeal so
powerfully to the masses as the coarse tortures mentioned above. In
the fifth Court, the souls of the wicked are taken to a terrace from
which they can hear and see what goes on in their old homes after
their own deaths. "They see their last wishes disregarded, and their
instructions disobeyed. The property they scraped together with so
much trouble is dissipated and gone. The husband thinks of taking
another wife; the widow meditates second nuptials. Strangers are in
possession of the old estate; there is nothing to divide amongst the
children. Debts long since paid are brought again for settlement, and
the survivors are called upon to acknowledge false claims upon the
departed. Debts owed are lost for want of evidence, with endless
recriminations, abuse, and general confusion, all of which falls upon
the three families--father's, mother's, and wife's--connected with the
deceased. These in their anger speak ill of him that is gone. He sees
his children become corrupt, and friends fall away. Some, perhaps, may
stroke the coffin and let fall a tear, departing quickly with a cold
smile. Worse than that, the wife sees her husband tortured in gaol;
the husband sees his wife a victim to some horrible disease, lands
gone, houses destroyed by flood or fire, and everything in an
unutterable plight--the reward of former sins."

Confucius declined absolutely to discuss the supernatural in any form
or shape, his one object being to improve human conduct in this life,
without attempting to probe that state from which man is divided by
death. At the same time, he was no scoffer; for although he declared
that "the study of the supernatural is injurious indeed," and somewhat
cynically bade his followers "show respect to spiritual beings, but
keep them at a distance," yet in another passage we read: "He who
offends against God has no one to whom he can pray." Again, when he
was seriously ill, a disciple asked if he might offer up prayer.
Confucius demurred to this, pointing out that he himself had been
praying for a considerable period; meaning thereby that his life had
been one long prayer.



There is a very common statement made by persons who have lived in
China--among the people, but not of them--and the more superficial the
acquaintance, the more emphatically is the statement made, that the
ordinary Chinaman, be he prince or peasant, offers to the Western
observer an insoluble puzzle in every department of his life. He is,
in fact, a standing enigma; a human being, it may be granted, but one
who can no more be classed than his unique monosyllabic language,
which still stands isolated and alone.

This estimate is largely based upon some exceedingly false inferences.
It seems to be argued that because, in a great many matters, the
Chinaman takes a diametrically opposite view to our own, he must
necessarily be a very eccentric fellow; but as these are mostly
matters of convention, the argument is just as valid against us as
against him. "Strange people, those foreigners," he may say, and
actually does say; "they make their compass point north instead of
south. They take off their hats in company instead of keeping them on.
They mount a horse on its left instead of on its right side. They
begin dinner with soup instead of dessert, and end it with dessert
instead of soup. They drink their wine cold instead of hot. Their
books all open at the wrong end, and the lines in a page are
horizontal instead of vertical. They put their guests on the right
instead of on the left, though it is true that we did that until
several hundred years ago. Their music, too, is so funny, it is more
like noise; and as for their singing, it is only very loud talking.
Then their women are so immodest; striding about in ball-rooms with
very little on, and embracing strange men in a whirligig which they
call dancing, but very unlike the dignified movements which our male
dancers exhibit in the Confucian temple. Their men and women shake
hands, though know from our sacred Book of Rites that men and women
should not even pass things from one to another, for fear their hands
should touch. Then, again, all foreigners, sometimes the women also,
carry sticks, which can only be for beating innocent people; and their
so-called mandarins and others ride races and row boats, instead of
having coolies to do these things for them. They are strange people
indeed; very clever at cunning, mechanical devices, such as fire-
ships, fire-carriages, and air-cars; but extremely ferocious and
almost entirely uncivilized."

Such would be a not exaggerated picture of the mental attitude of the
Chinaman towards his enigma, the foreigner. From the Chinaman's
imperturbable countenance the foreigner seeks in vain for some
indications of a common humanity within; and simply because he has not
the wit to see it, argues that it is not there. But there it is all
the time. The principles of general morality, and especially of duty
towards one's neighbour, the restrictions of law, and even the
conventionalities of social life, upon all of which the Chinaman is
more or less nourished from his youth upwards, remain, when accidental
differences have been brushed away, upon a bed-rock of ground common
to both East and West; and it is difficult to see how such teachings
could possibly turn out a race of men so utterly in contrast with the
foreigner as the Chinese are usually supposed to be. It is certain
that anything like a full and sincere observance of the Chinese rules
of life would result in a community of human beings far ahead of the
"pure men" dreamt of in the philosophy of the Taoists.

As has already been either stated or suggested, the Chinese seem to be
actuated by precisely the same motives which actuate other peoples.
They delight in the possession of wealth and fame, while fully alive
to the transitory nature of both. They long even more for posterity,
that the ancestral line may be carried on unbroken. They find their
chief pleasures in family life, and in the society of friends, of
books, of mountains, of flowers, of pictures, and of objects dear to
the collector and the connoisseur. Though a nation of what the Scotch
would call "sober eaters," they love the banquet hour, and to a
certain extent verify their own saying that "Man's heart is next door
to his stomach." In centuries past a drunken nation, some two to three
hundred years ago they began to come under the influence of opium, and
the abuse of alcohol dropped to a minimum. Opium smoking, less harmful
a great deal than opium eating, took the place of drink, and became
the national vice; but the extent of its injury to the people has been
much exaggerated, and is not to be compared with that of alcohol in
the West. It is now, in consequence of recent legislation, likely to
disappear, on which result there could be nothing but the warmest
congratulations to offer, but for the fact that something else, more
insidious and deadly still, is rapidly taking its place. For a time,
it was thought that alcohol might recover its sway, and it is still
quite probable that human cravings for stimulant of some kind will
find a partial relief in that direction. The present enemy, however,
and one that demands serious and immediate attention, is morphia,
which is being largely imported into China in the shape of a variety
of preparations suitable to the public demand. A passage from opium to
morphia would be worse, if possible, than from the frying-pan into the

The question has often been asked, but has never found a satisfactory
answer, why and how it is that Chinese civilization has persisted
through so many centuries, while other civilizations, with equal if
not superior claims to permanency, have been broken up and have
disappeared from the sites on which they formerly flourished. Egypt
may be able to boast of a high level of culture at a remoter date than
we can reach through the medium of Chinese records, for all we can
honestly claim is that the Chinese were a remarkably civilized nation
a thousand years before Christ. That was some time before Greek
civilization can be said to have begun; yet the Chinese nation is with
us still, and but for contact with the Western barbarian, would be
leading very much the same life that it led so many centuries ago.

Some would have us believe that the bond which has held the people
together is the written language, which is common to the whole Empire,
and which all can read in the same sense, though the pronunciation of
words varies in different provinces as much as that of words in
English, French, or German. Others have suggested that to the
teachings of Confucius, which have outlived the competition of Taoism,
Buddhism and other faiths, China is indebted for the tie which has
knitted men's hearts together, and enabled them to defy any process of
disintegration. There is possibly some truth in all such theories; but
these are incomplete unless a considerable share of the credit is
allowed to the spirit of personal freedom which seems to breathe
through all Chinese institutions, and to unite the people in
resistance to every form of oppression. The Chinese have always
believed in the divine right of kings; on the other hand, their kings
must bear themselves as kings, and live up to their responsibilities
as well as to the rights they claim. Otherwise, the obligation is at
an end, and their subjects will have none of them. Good government
exists in Chinese eyes only when the country is prosperous, free from
war, pestilence and famine. Misgovernment is a sure sign that God has
withdrawn His mandate from the emperor, who is no longer fit to rule.
It then remains to replace the emperor by one who is more worthy of
Divine favour, and this usually means the final overthrow of the

The Chinese assert their right to put an evil ruler to death, and it
is not high treason, or criminal in any way, to proclaim this
principle in public. It is plainly stated by the philosopher Mencius,
whose writings form a portion of the Confucian Canon, and are taught
in the ordinary course to every Chinese youth. One of the feudal
rulers was speaking to Mencius about a wicked emperor of eight hundred
years back, who had been attacked by a patriot hero, and who had
perished in the flames of his palace. "May then a subject," he asked,
"put his sovereign to death?" To which Mencius replied that any one
who did violence to man's natural charity of heart, or failed
altogether in his duty towards his neighbour, was nothing more than an
unprincipled ruffian; and he insinuated that it had been such a
ruffian, in fact, not an emperor in the true sense of the term, who
had perished in the case they were discussing. Another and most
important point to be remembered in any attempt to discover the real
secret of China's prolonged existence as a nation, also points in the
direction of democracy and freedom. The highest positions in the state
have always been open, through the medium of competitive examinations,
to the humblest peasant in the empire. It is solely a question of
natural ability coupled with an intellectual training; and of the
latter, it has already been shown that there is no lack at the
disposal of even the poorest. China, then, according to a high
authority, has always been at the highest rung of the democratic
ladder; for it was no less a person than Napoleon who said:
"Reasonable democracy will never aspire to anything more than
obtaining an equal power of elevation for all."

In order to enforce their rights by the simplest and most bloodless
means, the Chinese have steadily cultivated the art of combining
together, and have thus armed themselves with an immaterial, invisible
weapon which simply paralyses the aggressor, and ultimately leaves
them masters of the field. The extraordinary part of a Chinese boycott
or strike is the absolute fidelity by which it is observed. If the
boatmen or chair-coolies at any place strike, they all strike; there
are no blacklegs. If the butchers refuse to sell, they all refuse,
entirely confident in each other's loyalty. Foreign merchants who have
offended the Chinese guilds by some course of action not approved by
those powerful bodies, have often found to their cost that such
conduct will not be tolerated for a moment, and that their only course
is to withdraw, sometimes at considerable loss, from the untenable
position they had taken up. The other side of the medal is equally
instructive. Some years ago, the foreign tea-merchants at a large
port, in order to curb excessive charges, decided to hoist the Chinese
tea-men, or sellers of tea, with their own petard. They organized a
strict combination against the tea-men, whose tea no colleague was to
buy until, by what seemed to be a natural order of events, the tea-men
had been brought to their knees. The tea-men, however, remained firm,
their countenances impassive as ever. Before long, the tea-merchants
discovered that some of their number had broken faith, and were doing
a roaring business for their own account, on the terms originally
insisted on by the tea-men.

There is no longer any doubt that China is now in the early stages of
serious and important changes. Her old systems of education and
examination are to be greatly modified, if not entirely remodelled.
The distinctive Chinese dress is to be shorn of two of its most
distinguishing features--the /queue/ of the man and the small feet of
the woman. The coinage is to be brought more into line with commercial
requirements. The administration of the law is to be so improved that
an honest demand may be made--as Japan made it some years back--for
the abolition of extra-territoriality, a treaty obligation under which
China gives up all jurisdiction over resident foreigners, and agrees
that they shall be subject, civilly and criminally alike, only to
their own authorities. The old patriarchal form of government,
autocratic in name but democratic in reality, which has stood the
Chinese people in such good stead for an unbroken period of nearly
twenty-two centuries, is also to change with the changes of the hour,
in the hope that a new era will be inaugurated, worthy to rank with
the best days of a glorious past.

And here perhaps it may be convenient if a slight outline is given of
the course marked out for the future. China is to have a
"constitution" after the fashion of most foreign nations; and her
people, whose sole weapon of defence and resistance, albeit one of
deadly efficiency, has hitherto been combination of the masses against
the officials set over them, are soon to enjoy the rights of
representative government. By an Imperial decree, issued late in 1907,
this principle was established; and by a further decree, issued in
1908, it was ordered that at the end of a year provincial assemblies,
to deliberate on matters of local government, were to be convened in
all the provinces and certain other portions of the empire, as a first
step towards the end in view. Membership of these assemblies was to be
gained by election, coupled with a small property qualification; and
the number of members in each assembly was to be in proportion to the
number of electors in each area, which works out roughly at about one
thousand electors to each representative. In the following year a
census was to be taken, provincial budgets were to be drawn up, and a
new criminal code was to be promulgated, on the strength of which new
courts of justice were to be opened by the end of the third year. By
1917, there was to be a National Assembly or Parliament, consisting of
an Upper and Lower House, and a prime minister was to be appointed.

On the 14th of October 1909 these provincial assemblies met for the
first time. The National Assembly was actually opened on the 3rd of
October 1910; and in response to public feeling, an edict was issued a
month later ordering the full constitution to be granted within three
years from date. It is really a single chamber, which contains the
elements of two. It is composed of about one hundred members,
appointed by the Throne and drawn from certain privileged classes,
including thirty-two high officials and ten distinguished scholars,
together with the same number of delegates from the provinces. Those
who obtain seats are to serve for three years, and to have their
expenses defrayed by the state. It is a consultative and not an
executive body; its function is to discuss such subjects as taxation,
the issue of an annual budget, the amendment of the law, etc., all of
which subjects are to be approved by the emperor before being
submitted to this assembly, and also to deal with questions sent up
for decision from the provincial assemblies. Similarly, any resolution
to be proposed must be backed by at least thirty members, and on being
duly passed by a majority, must then be embodied in a memorial to the
Throne. For passing and submitting resolutions which may be classed
under various headings as objectionable, the assembly can at once be
dissolved by Imperial edict.

There are, so far, no distinct parties in the National Assembly, that
is, as regards the places occupied in the House. Men of various shades
of opinion, Radicals, Liberals and Conservatives, are all mixed up
together. The first two benches are set aside for representatives of
the nobility, with precedence from the left of the president round to
his right. Then come officials, scholars and leading merchants on the
next two benches. Behind them, again, on four rows of benches, are the
delegates from the provincial assemblies. There is thus a kind of
House of Lords in front, with a House of Commons, the representatives
of the nation, at the back. The leanings of the former class, as might
be supposed, are mostly of a conservative tendency, while the
sympathies of the latter are rather with progressive ideas; at the
same time, there will be found among the Lords a certain sprinkling of
Radicals, and among the Commons not a few whose views are of an
antiquated, not to say reactionary, type.

With the above scheme the Chinese people are given to understand quite
clearly that while their advice in matters concerning the
administration of government will be warmly welcomed, all legislative
power will remain, as heretofore, confined to the emperor alone. At
the first blush, this seems like giving with one hand and taking away
with the other; and so perhaps it would work out in more than one
nation of the West. But those who know the Chinese at home know that
when they offer political advice they mean it to be taken. The great
democracy of China, living in the greatest republic the world has ever
seen, would never tolerate any paltering with national liberties in
the present or in the future, any more than has been the case in the
past. Those who sit in the seats of authority at the capital are far
too well acquainted with the temper of their countrymen to believe for
a moment that, where such vital interests are concerned, there can be
anything contemplated save steady and satisfactory progress towards
the goal proposed. If the ruling Manchus seize the opportunity now
offered them, then, in spite of simmering sedition here and there over
the empire, they may succeed in continuing a line which in its early
days had a glorious record of achievement, to the great advantage of
the Chinese nation. If, on the other hand, they neglect this chance,
there may result one of those frightful upheavals from which the
empire has so often suffered. China will pass again through the
melting-pot, to emerge once more, as on all previous occasions,
purified and strengthened by the process.


1. /The Chinese Classics/, by James Legge, D.D., late Professor of
Chinese at Oxford.

A translation of the whole of the Confucian Canon, comprising the Four
Books in which are given the discourses of Confucius and Mencius, the
Book of History, the Odes, the Annals of Confucius' native State, the
Book of Rites, and the Book of Changes.

2. /The Ancient History of China/, by F. Hirth, Ph.D., Professor of
Chinese at Columbia University, New York.

A sketch of Chinese history from fabulous ages down to 221 B.C.,
containing a good deal of information of an antiquarian character, and
altogether placing in its most attractive light what must necessarily
be rather a dull period for the general reader.

3. /China/, by E. H. Parker, Professor of Chinese at Victoria
University, Manchester.

A general account of China, chiefly valuable for commercial and
statistical information, sketch-maps of ancient trade-routes, etc.

4. /A Chinese Biographical Dictionary/, by H. A. Giles, LL.D.,
Professor of Chinese at the University of Cambridge.

This work contains 2579 short lives of Chinese Emperors, statesmen,
generals, scholars, priests, and other classes, including some women,
from the earliest times down to the present day, arranged

5. /A Comprehensive Geography of the Chinese Empire/, by L. Richard.

This work is rightly named "comprehensive," for it contains a great
deal of information which cannot be strictly classed as geographical,
all of which, however, is of considerable value to the student.

6. /Descriptive Sociology (Chinese)/, by E. T. C. Werner, H.B.M.
Consul at Foochow.

A volume of the series initiated by Herbert Spenger. It consists of a
large number of sociological facts grouped and arranged in
chronological order, and is of course purely a work of reference.

7. /A History of Chinese Literature/, by H. A. Giles.

Notes on two or three hundred writers of history, philosophy,
biography, travel, poetry, plays, fiction, etc., with a large number
of translated extracts grouped under the above headings and arranged
in chronological order.

8. /Chinese Poetry in English Verse/, by H. A. Giles.

Rhymed translations of nearly two hundred short poems from the
earliest ages down to the present times.

9. /An Introduction to the History of Chinese Pictorial Art/, by H.
A. Giles.

Notes on the lives and works of over three hundred painters of all
ages, chiefly translated from the writings of Chinese art-critics,
with sixteen reproductions of famous Chinese pictures.

10. /Scraps from a Collector's Note-book/, by F. Hirth.

Chiefly devoted to notes on painters of the present dynasty, 1644-
1905, with twenty-one reproductions of famous pictures, forming a
complementary supplement to No. 9.

11. /Religions of Ancient China/, by H. A. Giles.

A short account of the early worship of one God, followed by brief
notices of Taoism, Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, Mahommedanism,
and other less well-known faiths which have been introduced at various
dates into China.

12. /Chinese Characteristics/, by the Rev. Arthur Smith, D.D.

A humorous but at the same time serious examination into the modes of
thought and springs of action which peculiarly distinguish the Chinese

13. /Village Life in China/, by the Rev. Arthur Smith.

The scope of this work is sufficiently indicated by its title.

14. /China under the Empress Dowager/, by J. O. Bland, and E.

An interesting account of Chinese Court Life between 1860 and 1908,
with important sidelights on the Boxer troubles and the Siege of the
Legations in 1900.

15. /The Imperial History of China/, by Rev. J. Macgowan.

A short and compact work on a subject which has not been successfully

16. /Indiscreet Letters from Peking/, by B. Putnam Weale.

Though too outspoken to meet with general approbation, this work is
considered by many to give the most faithful account of the Siege of
the Legations, as seen by an independent witness.

17. /Buddhism as a Religion/, by H. Hackmann, Lic. Theol.

A very useful volume, translated from the German, showing the various
developments of Buddhism in different parts of the world.

18. /Chuang Tzu/, by H. A. Giles.

A complete translation of the writings of the leading Taoist
philosopher, who flourished in the fourth and third centuries B.C.


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