Great China


6. Lecture VI: Some Chinese Manners And Customs

A foreigner arriving for the first time in China will be especially struck by three points to which he is not accustomed at home.

The people will consist almost entirely of men; they will all wear their hair plaited in queues; and they will all be exactly alike.

The seclusion of women causes the traveller least surprise of the three, being a custom much more rigorously enforced in other Oriental countries; and directly he gets accustomed to the uniform absence of beard and moustache, he soon finds out that the Chinese people are not one whit more alike facially than his own countrymen of the West.

A Chinaman cannot wear a beard before he is forty, unless he happens to have a married son. He also shaves the whole head with the exception of a round patch at the back, from which the much-prized queue is grown.

There are some strange misconceptions as to the origin and meaning of the queue, more perhaps on the other side of the Atlantic, where we are not so accustomed to Chinamen as you are in America. Some associate the queue with religion, and gravely state that without it no Chinaman could be hauled into Paradise. Others know that queues have only been worn by the Chinese for about two hundred and fifty years, and that they were imposed as a badge of conquest by the Manchu-Tartars, the present rulers of China. Previous to 1644 the Chinese clothed their bodies and dressed their hair in the style of the modern Japanese,-of course I mean those Japanese who still wear what is wrongly known as "the beautiful native dress of Japan,"-wrongly, because as a matter of fact the Japanese borrowed their dress, as well as their literature, philosophy, and early lessons in art, from China. The Japanese dress is the dress of the Ming period in China, 1368-1644.

It remains still to be seen whence and wherefore the Manchu-Tartars obtained this strange fashion of the queue.

The Tartars may be said to have depended almost for their very existence upon the horse; and in old pictures the Tartar is often seen lying curled up asleep with his horse, illustrating the mutual affection and dependence between master and beast. Out of sheer gratitude and respect for his noble ally, the man took upon himself the form of the animal, growing a queue in imitation of the horse's tail.

Unsupported by any other evidence, this somewhat grotesque theory would fall to the ground. But there is other evidence, of a rather striking character, which, taken in conjunction with what has been said, seems to me to settle the matter.

Official coats, as seen in China at the present day, are made with very peculiar sleeves, shaped like a horse's leg, and ending in what is an unmistakable hoof, completely covering the hand. These are actually known to the Chinese as "horse-shoe sleeves"; and, encased therein, a Chinaman's arms certainly look very much like a horse's forelegs. The tail completes the picture.

When the Tartars conquered China two hundred and fifty years ago, there was at first a strenuous fight against the queue, and it has been said that the turbans still worn by the Southern Chinese were originally adopted as a means of concealing the hateful Manchu badge. Nowadays every Chinaman looks upon his queue as an integral and honourable part of himself. If he cannot grow one, he must have recourse to art, for he could not appear tailless, either in this world or the next.

False queues are to be seen hanging in the streets for sale. They are usually worn by burglars, and come off in your hand when you think you have caught your man. Prisoners are often led to, and from, gaol by their queues, sometimes three or four being tied together in a gang.

False hair is not confined entirely to the masculine queue. Chinese ladies often use it as a kind of chignon; and it is an historical fact that a famous Empress, who set aside the Emperor and ruled China with an Elizabethan hand from A.D. 684 to 705, used to present herself in the Council Chamber, before her astonished ministers, fortified by an artificial beard.

Dyeing the hair, too, has been practised in China certainly from the Christian era, if not earlier, chiefly by men whose hair and beards begin to grow grey too soon. One of the proudest titles of the Chinese, carrying them back as it does to prehistoric times, is that of the Black-haired People, also a title, perhaps a mere coincidence, of the ancient Accadians. In spite, however, of the universality of black hair in both men and women, there are exceptions to the rule, and I myself have seen a Chinese albino, with the usual light-coloured hair and pink eyes.

The Rev. Dr. Arthur Smith, an American missionary, has long been known for his keen insight into the workings of the Chinese mind. In his last book, China in Convulsion, under the head of "Protestant Missions," he makes the following important statement,-important not only to those who intend to take part in missionary work, but also to the official, to the explorer, and to the merchant:-

"It would be unfair," he says, "not to point out that when a large body of Occidentals, imperfectly acquainted with the Chinese language, etiquette, modes of thought, and intellectual presuppositions, begins on a large and universal scale the preaching of an uncompromising system of morals and doctrines like Christianity, there must be much which, unconsciously to themselves, rouses Chinese prejudices."

The following maxim comes from Confucius:-

"If you visit a foreign State, ask what the prohibitions are; if you go into a strange neighbourhood, enquire what the manners and customs are." Certainly it is altogether desirable that a foreigner going to China, whether in an official capacity, or as merchant, missionary, or traveller, should have some acquaintance with the ordinary rules and ceremonial of Chinese social life. Such knowledge will often go far to smooth away Chinese prejudices against the barbarian, and on occasions might conceivably aid in averting a catastrophe.

It is true that Lao Tzŭ said, "Ceremonies are but the veneer of loyalty and good faith." His words, however, have not prevailed against the teaching of Confucius, who was an ardent believer in the value of ceremonial. One of the latter's disciples wished, as a humanitarian, to abolish the sacrifice of a sheep upon the first day of every month; but Confucius rebuked him, saying, "My son, you love the sheep; I love the ceremony."

When, during his last visit to England, Li Hung-chang made remarks about Mr. Chamberlain's eyeglass, he was considered by many to be wanting in common politeness. But from the Chinese point of view it was Mr. Chamberlain who was offending-quite unwittingly, of course-against an important canon of good taste. It is a distinct breach of Chinese etiquette to wear spectacles while speaking to an equal. The Chinese invariably remove their glasses when conversing; for what reason I have never been able to discover. One thing is quite certain: they do not like being looked at through a medium of glass or crystal, and it costs the foreigner nothing to fall in with their harmless prejudice.

Chinese street etiquette is also quite different from our own, a fact usually ignored by blustering foreigners, who march through a Chinese town as if the place belonged to them, and not infrequently complain that coolies and others will not "get out of their way." Now there is a graduated scale of Chinese street rights in this particular respect, to which, as being recognised by the Chinese themselves, it would be advisable for foreigners to pay some attention. In England it has been successfully maintained that the roadway belongs to all equally, foot-passengers, equestrians, and carriage-passengers alike. Not so in China; the ordinary foot-passenger is bound to "get out of the way" of the lowest coolie who is carrying a load; that same coolie must make way, even at great inconvenience to himself, for a sedan-chair; an empty chair yields the way to a chair with somebody inside; a chair, inasmuch as being more manageable, gets out of the way of a horse; and horse, chair, coolie, and foot-passenger, all clear the road for a wedding or other procession, or for the retinue of a mandarin.

At the same time a Chinaman may stop his cart or barrow, or dump down his load, just where-ever he pleases, and other persons have to make the best of what is left of the road. I have even seen a theatrical stage built right across a street, completely blocking it, so that all traffic had to be diverted from its regular course. There are no municipal regulations and no police in China, so that the people have to arrange things among themselves; and, considering the difficulties inherent in such an absence of government, it may fairly be said that they succeed remarkably well.

When two friends meet in the street, either may put up his fan and screen his face; whereupon the other will pass by without a sign of recognition. The meaning is simply, "Too busy to stop for a chat," and the custom, open and above-board as it is, compares favourably perhaps with the "Not at home" of Western civilisation.

I do not know of any Chinese humorist who ever, as in the old story, shouted out to a visitor, "I am not at home." Confucius himself certainly came very near to doing so. It is on record that when an unwelcome visitor came to call, the sage sent out to say that he was too ill to receive guests, at the same time seizing his harpsichord and singing to it from an open window, in order to expose the hollowness of his own plea.

Any one on horseback, or riding in a sedan-chair, who happens to meet a friend walking, must dismount before venturing to salute him. However to obviate the constant inconvenience of so doing, the foot-passenger is in duty bound to screen his face as above; and thus, by a fiction which deceives nobody, much unnecessary trouble is saved.

When two mandarins of equal rank find themselves face to face in their sedan-chairs, those attendants among their retinues who carry the enormous wooden fans rush forward and insert these between the passing chairs, so that their masters may be presumed not to see each other and consequently not be obliged to get out.

No subordinate can ever meet a higher mandarin in this way; the former must turn down some by-street immediately on hearing the approaching gong of his superior officer. A mandarin's rank can be told by the number of consecutive strokes on the gong, ranging from thirteen for a viceroy to seven for a magistrate.

Take the case of a Chinese visitor. He should be received at the front door, and be conducted by the host to a reception-room, the host being careful to see that the visitor is always slightly in advance. The act of sitting down should be simultaneous, so that neither party is standing while the other is seated. If the host wishes to be very attentive, he may take a cup of tea from his servant's hands and himself arrange it for his guest.

Here comes another most important and universal rule: in handing anything to, or receiving anything from, an equal both hands must be used. A servant should hand a cup of tea with both hands, except when serving his master and a guest. Then he takes one cup in each hand, and hands them with the arms crossed. I was told that the crossing was in order to exhibit to each the "heart," i.e. the palm, of the hand, in token of loyalty.

There is a curious custom in connection with the invariable cup of tea served to a visitor on arrival which is often violated by foreigners, to the great amusement of the Chinese. The tea in question, known as guest-tea, is not intended for ordinary drinking purposes, for which wine is usually provided. No sooner does the guest raise the cup of tea to his lips, or even touch it with his hand, than a shout is heard from the servants, which means that the interview is at an end and that the visitor's sedan-chair is to be got ready. Drinking this tea is, in fact, a signal for departure. A host may similarly, without breach of good manners, be the first to drink, and thus delicately notify the guest that he has business engagements elsewhere.

Then again, it is the rule to place the guest at one's left hand, though curiously enough this only dates from the middle of the fourteenth century, previous to which the right hand was the place of honour.

Finally, when the guest takes his leave, it is proper to escort him back to the front door. That, at any rate, is sufficient, though it is not unusual to accompany a guest some part of his return journey. In fact, the Chinese proverb says, "If you escort a man at all, escort him all the way." This, however, is rhetorical rather than practical, somewhat after the style of another well-known Chinese proverb, "If you bow at all, bow low."

A Chinese invitation to dinner differs somewhat from a similar compliment in the West. You will receive a red envelope containing a red card,-red being the colour associated with festivity,-on which it is stated that by noon on a given day the floor will be swept, the wine-cups washed, and your host in waiting to meet your chariot. Later on, a second invitation will arrive, couched in the same terms; and again another on the day of the banquet, asking you to be punctual to the minute. To this you pay no attention, but make preparations to arrive about 4 P.M., previous to which another and more urgent summons may very possibly have been sent. All this is conventional, and the guests assemble at the same hour, to separate about 9 P.M.

Women take no part in Chinese social entertainments except among their own sex. It is not even permissible to enquire after the wife of one's host. Her very existence is ignored. A man will talk with pleasure about his children, especially if his quiver is well stocked with boys.

In this connection I may say that the position of women in China still seems to be very widely misunderstood. Not only that, but a very frightful crime is alleged against the Chinese people as a common practice in everyday life, which, if not actually approved, meets everywhere with toleration.

I allude to the charge of infanticide, confined of course to girls, for it has not often been suggested that Chinese parents do away with such a valuable asset as a boy.

Miss Gordon Cumming, the traveller, in her Wanderings in China, has the following impassioned paragraph in reference to her visit to Ningpo:-

"The delicate fragrance (of the roses and honeysuckle), alas! cannot overpower the appalling odours which here and there assail us, poisoning the freshness of the evening breezes.

"These are wafted from the Baby Towers, two of which we had to pass. These are square towers, with small windows, about twelve feet from the ground, somewhat resembling pigeon-towers; these strange dove-cotes are built to receive the bodies of such babies as die too young to have fully developed souls, and therefore there is no necessity to waste coffins on them, or even to take the trouble of burying them in the bosom of mother earth. So the insignificant little corpse is handed over to a coolie, who, for the sum of forty cash, equal to about five cents, carries it away, ostensibly to throw it into one of these towers; but if he should not choose to go so far, he gets rid of it somehow,-no questions are asked, and there are plenty of prowling dogs ever on the watch seeking what they may devour. To-day several poor uncoffined mites were lying outside the towers, shrouded only in a morsel of old matting-apparently they had been brought by some one who had failed to throw them in at the window ('about twelve feet from the ground'), in which, by the way, one had stuck fast!

"Some of these poor little creatures are brought here alive and left to die, and some of these have been rescued and carried to foundling hospitals. The neighbourhood was so pestiferous that we could only pause a moment to look at 'an institution' which, although so horrible, is so characteristic of this race, who pay such unbounded reverence to the powerful dead who could harm them. Most of the bodies deposited here are those of girl babies who have been intentionally put to death, but older children are often thrown in."

With regard to this, I will only say that I lived all together for over four years within a mile or so of these Towers, which I frequently passed during the evening walk; and so far from ever seeing "several poor uncoffined mites lying outside the towers, shrouded only in a morsel of old matting," which Miss Gordon Cumming has described, I never even saw one single instance of a tower being put to the purpose for which it was built, viz.: as a burying-place for the dead infants of people too poor to spend money upon a grave. As for living children being thrown in, I think I shall be able to dispose of that statement a little later on. Miss Gordon Cumming did not add that these towers are cleared out at regular intervals by a Chinese charitable society which exists for that purpose, the bodies burnt, and the ashes reverently buried.

Mrs. Bird-Bishop, the traveller, is reported to have stated at a public lecture in 1897, that "one of the most distressing features of Chinese life was the contempt for women. Of eleven Bible-women whom she had seen at a meeting in China, there was not one who had not put an end to at least five girl-babies."

A Jesuit missionary has published a quarto volume, running to more than 270 pages, and containing many illustrations of infanticide, and the judgments of Heaven which always come upon those who commit this crime.

Finally, if you ask of any Chinaman, he will infallibly tell you that infanticide exists to an enormous extent everywhere in China; and as though in corroboration of his words, alongside many a pool in South China may be found a stone tablet bearing an inscription to the effect that "Female children may not be drowned here." This would appear to end the discussion; but it does not.

To begin with, the Chinese are very prone to exaggerate, especially to foreigners, even their vices. They seem to think that some credit may be extracted from anything, provided it is on a sufficiently imposing scale, and I do not at all doubt the fact that eleven Bible-women told Mrs. Bird-Bishop that they had each destroyed five girl-babies. It is just what I should have expected. I remember, when I first went to Amoy, it had been stated in print by a reckless foreigner that crucifixion of a most horrible kind was one of the common punishments of the place. On enquiring from the Chinese writer attached to the Consulate, the man assured me that the story was quite true and that I could easily see for myself. I told him that I was very anxious to do so, and promised him a hundred dollars for the first case he might bring to my notice. Three years later I left Amoy, with the hundred dollars still unclaimed.

Further, those Chinese who have any money to spare are much given to good works, chiefly, I feel bound to add, in view of the recompense their descendants will receive in this world and they themselves in the next; also, because a rich man who does nothing in the way of charity comes to be regarded with disapprobation by his poorer neighbours. Such persons print and circulate gratis all kinds of religious tracts, against gambling, wine-drinking, opium-smoking, infanticide, and so forth; and these are the persons who set up the stone tablets above-mentioned, regardless whether infanticide happens to be practised or not.

Of course infanticide is known in China, just as it is known, too well known, in England and elsewhere. What I hope to be able to show is that infanticide is not more prevalent in China than in the Christian communities of the West.

Let me begin by urging, what no one who has lived in China will deny, that Chinese parents seem to be excessively fond of all their children, male and female. A son is often spoken of playfully as a little dog,-a puppy, in fact; a girl is often spoken of as "a thousand ounces of gold," a jewel, and so forth. Sons are no doubt preferred; but is that feeling peculiar to the Chinese?

A great deal too much has been made of a passage in the Odes, which says that baby-sons should have sceptres to play with, while baby-daughters should have tiles.

The allotment of these toys is not quite so disparaging as it seems. The sceptre is indeed the symbol of rule; but the tile too has an honourable signification, a tile being used in ancient China as a weight for the spindle,-and consequently as a symbol of woman's work in the household.

Then, again, even a girl has a market value. Some will buy and rear them to be servants; others, to be wives for their sons; while native foundling hospitals, endowed by charitable Chinese, will actually pay a small fee for every girl handed over them.

It is also curious to note how recent careful observers have several times stated that they can find no trace of infanticide in their own immediate districts, though they hear that it is extensively practised in some other, generally distant, parts of the country.

After all, it is really a question which can be decided inferentially by statistics.

Every Chinese youth, when he reaches the age of eighteen, has a sacred duty to perform: he must marry. Broadly speaking, every adult Chinaman in the Empire has a wife; well-to-do merchants, mandarins, and others have subordinate wives, two, three, and even four. The Emperor has seventy-two. This being the case, and granting also a widespread destruction of female children, it must follow that girls are born in an overwhelmingly large proportion to boys, utterly unheard-of in any other part of the world.

Are, then, Chinese women the down-trodden, degraded creatures we used to imagine Moslem women to be?

I think this question must be answered in the negative. The young Chinese woman in a well-to-do establishment is indeed secluded, in the sense that her circle is limited to the family and to mends of the same sex.

From time immemorial it has been the rule in China that men and women should not pass things to one another,-for fear their hands might touch. A local Pharisee tried to entangle the great Mencius in his speech, asking him if a man who saw his sister-in-law drowning might venture to pull her out. "A man," replied the philosopher, "who failed to do so, would be no better than a wolf."

The Chinese lady may go out to pay calls, and even visit temples for religious purposes, unveiled, veils for women having been abolished in the first years of the seventh century of our era. Only brides wear them now.

Girls are finally separated from boys at seven or eight years of age, when the latter go to school.

Some say that Chinese girls receive no education. If so, what is the explanation of the large educational literature provided expressly for girls?

One Chinese authoress, who wrote a work on the education of women, complains that women can never expect more than ten years for their education, i.e. the years between childhood and marriage.

The fact is that among the literary classes girls often receive a fair education, as witness the mass of poetry published by Chinese women. One of the Dynastic Histories was partly written by a woman. Her brother, who was engaged on it, died, and she completed his work.

About the year 235 A.D., women were actually admitted to official life, and some of them rose to important government posts. By the eighth century, however, all trace of this system had disappeared.

The women of the poorer classes are not educated at all; nor indeed are the men. Both sexes have to work as burden-carriers and field labourers; and of course in such cases the restrictions mentioned above cannot be rigorously enforced.

Women of the shopkeeper class often display great aptitude for business, and render invaluable assistance to their husbands. As in France, they usually keep the cash-box.

A mandarin's seal of office is his most important possession. If he loses it, he may lose his post. Without the seal, nothing can be done; with it, everything. Extraordinary precautions are taken when transmitting new seals from Peking to the provinces. Every official seal is made with four small feet projecting from the four corners of its face, making it look like a small table. Of these, the maker breaks off one when he hands the seal over to the Board. Before forwarding to the Viceroy of the province, another foot is removed by the Board. A third is similarly disposed of by the Viceroy, and the last by the official for whose use it is intended. This is to prevent its employment by any other than the person authorised. The seal is then handed over to the mandarin's wife, in whose charge it always remains, she alone having the power to produce it, or withhold it, as required.

A Chinese woman shares the titles accorded to her husband. When the latter is promoted, the title of the wife is correspondingly advanced. She also shares all posthumous honours, and her spirit, equally with her husband's, is soothed by the ceremonies of ancestral worship.

"Ancestral worship" is a phrase of ominous import, suggesting as it does the famous dispute which began to rage early in the eighteenth century and is still raging to-day.

In every Chinese house stand small wooden tablets, bearing the names of deceased parents, grandparents, and earlier ancestors. Plates of meat and cups of wine are on certain occasions set before these tablets, in the belief that the spirits of the dead occupy the tablets and enjoy the offerings. The latter are afterward eaten by the family; but pious Chinese assert that the flavour of the food and wine has been abstracted. Similar offerings are made once a year at the tombs where the family ancestors lie buried.

The question now arises, Are these offerings set forth in the same spirit which prompts us to place flowers on graves, adorn statues, and hold memorial services?

If so, a Chinese convert to Christianity may well be permitted to embody these old observances with the ceremonial of his new faith.

Or do these observances really constitute worship? i.e. are the offerings made with a view to propitiate the spirits of the dead, and obtain from them increase of worldly prosperity and happiness?

In the latter case, ministers of the Christian faith would of course be justified in refusing to blend ancestral worship with the teachings of Christianity.

It would no doubt be very desirable to bring about a compromise, and discover some modus vivendi for the Chinese convert, other than that of throwing over Confucianism with all its influence for good, and of severing all family and social ties, and beginning life again as an outcast in his own country; but I feel bound to say that in my opinion these ancestral observances can only be regarded, strictly speaking, as worship and as nothing else.

To return to the Chinese woman. She enjoys some privileges not shared by men. She is exempt from the punishment of the bamboo, and, as a party to a case, is always more or less a source of anxiety to the presiding magistrate. No Chinaman will enter into a dispute with a woman if he can help it,-not from any chivalrous feeling, but from a conviction that he will surely be worsted in the end.

If she becomes a widow, a Chinese woman is not supposed to marry again, though in practice she very often does so. A widow who remains unmarried for thirty years may be recommended to the Throne for some mark of favour, such as an honorary tablet, or an ornamental archway, to be put up near her home. It is essential, however, that her widowhood should have begun before she was thirty years of age.

Remarriage is viewed by many widows with horror. In my own family I once employed a nurse-herself one of seven sisters-who was a widow, and who had also lost half the little finger of her left hand. The connecting link between these two details is not so apparent to us as it might be to the Chinese. After her husband's death the widow decided that she would never marry again, and in order to seal irrevocably her vow, she seized a meat-chopper and lopped off half her finger on the spot. The finger-top was placed in her husband's coffin, and the lid was closed.

This woman, who was a Christian, and the widow of a native preacher, had large, i.e. unbound, feet. Nevertheless, she bound the feet of her only daughter, because, as she explained, it is so difficult to get a girl married unless she has small feet.

Here we have the real obstacle to the abolition of this horrible custom, which vast numbers of intelligent Chinese would be only too glad to get rid of, if fashion did not stand in the way.

There has been in existence now for some years a well-meaning association, known as the Natural Foot Society, supported by both Chinese and foreigners, with the avowed object of putting an end to the practice of foot-binding. We hear favourable accounts of its progress; but until there is something like a national movement, it will not do to be too sanguine.

We must remember that in 1664 one of China's wisest and greatest Emperors, in the plenitude of his power issued an Imperial edict forbidding parents in future to bind the feet of their girls. Four years later the edict was withdrawn.

The Emperor was K'ang Hsi, whose name you have already heard in connection with the standard dictionary of the Chinese language and other works brought out under his patronage. A Tartar himself, unaccustomed to the sight of Tartar women struggling in such fetters, he had no sympathy with the custom; but against the Chinese people, banded together to safeguard their liberty of action in a purely domestic matter, he was quite unable to prevail.

Within the last few weeks another edict has gone forth, directed against the practice of foot-binding. Let us hope it will have a better fate.

Many years ago the prefect of T'ai-wan Fu said to me, in the course of an informal conversation after a friendly dinner, "Do you foreigners fear the inner ones?"-and on my asking what was meant, he told me that a great many Chinese stood in absolute awe of their wives. "He does," added the prefect, pointing to the district magistrate, a rather truculent-looking individual, who was at the dinner-party; and the other guests went into a roar of laughter.

The general statement by the prefect is borne out by the fact that the "henpecked husband" is constantly held up to ridicule in humorous literature, which would be quite impossible if there were no foundation of fact.

I have translated one of these stories, trivial enough in itself, but, like the proverbial straw, well adapted for showing which way the wind blows. Here it is:-

Ten henpecked husbands agreed to form themselves into a society for resisting the oppression of their wives. At the first meeting they were sitting talking over their pipes, when suddenly the ten wives, who had got wind of the movement, appeared on the scene.

There was a general stampede, and nine of the husbands incontinently bolted through another door, only one remaining unmoved to face the music. The ladies merely smiled contemptuously at the success of their raid, and went away.

The nine husbands them all agreed that the bold tenth man, who had not run away, should be at once appointed their president; but on coming to offer him the post, they found that he had died of fright!

To judge by the following story, the Chinese woman's patience is sometimes put to a severe test.

A scholar of old was so absent-minded, that on one occasion, when he was changing houses, he forgot to take his wife. This was reported to Confucius as a most unworthy act. "Nay," replied the Master, "it is indeed bad to forget one's wife; but 'tis worse to forget one's self!"

Points of this kind are, no doubt, trivial, as I have said above, and may be regarded by many even as flippant; but the fact is that a successful study of the Chinese people cannot possibly be confined to their classics and higher literature, and to the problem of their origin and subsequent development where we now find them. It must embrace the lesser, not to say meaner, details of their everyday life, if we are ever to pierce the mystery which still to a great extent surrounds them.

In this sense an Italian student of Chinese, Baron Vitale, has gone so far as to put together and publish a collection of Chinese nursery rhymes, from which it is not difficult to infer that Chinese babies are very much as other babies are in other parts of the world.

And it has always seemed to me that the Chinese baby's father and mother, so far as the ordinary springs of action go, are very much of a pattern with the rest of mankind.

One reason why the Chinaman remains a mystery to so many is due, no doubt, to the vast amount of nonsense which is published about him.

First of all, China is a very large country, and from want of proper means of communication for many centuries, there has been nothing like extensive intercourse between North, South, East, West, and Central. Of course the officials visit all parts of the Empire, as they are transferred from post to post; but the bulk of the people never get far beyond the range of their own district city.

The consequence is that as regards manners and customs, while retaining an indelible national imprint, the Chinese people have drifted apart into separate local communities; so that what is true of one part of the country is by no means necessarily true of another.

The Chinese themselves say that manners, which they think are due to climatic influences, change every thirty miles; customs, which they attribute to local idiosyncrasies, change every three hundred miles.

Now, a globe-trotter goes to Canton, and as one of the sights of that huge collection of human beings, he is taken to shops,-there used to be three,-where the flesh of dogs, fed for the purpose, is sold as food.

He comes home, and writes a book, and says that the Chinese people live on dogs' flesh.

When I was a boy, I thought that every Frenchman had a frog for breakfast. Each statement would be about equally true. In the north of China, dogs' flesh is unknown; and even in the south, during all my years in China I never succeeded in finding any Chinaman who either could, or would, admit that he had actually tasted it.

Take the random statement that any rich man condemned to death can procure a substitute by payment of so much. So long as we believe stuff of that kind, so long will the Chinese remain a mystery for us, it being difficult to deduce true conclusions from false premises.

As a matter of fact, that is, so far as my own observations go, the Chinese people value life every whit as highly as we do, and a substitute of the kind would be quite unprocurable under ordinary circumstances. It is thinkable that some poor wretch, himself under sentence of death, might be substituted with the connivance of the officials, to hoodwink foreigners; but even then the difficulties would be so great as to render the scheme almost impracticable.

For in China everything leaks out. There is none of that secrecy necessary to conceal and carry out such a plot.

At any rate, the uncertainty which gathers around many of these points emphasises the necessity of more and more accurate scholarship in Chinese, and more and more accurate information on the people of China and their ways.

How the latter article is supplied to us in England, you may judge from some extracts which I have recently taken from respectable daily and weekly newspapers.

For instance, "China has only one hundred physicians to a population of four hundred millions."

To me it is inconceivable how such rubbish can be printed, especially when it is quite easy to find out that there is no medical diploma in China, and that any man who chooses is free to set up as a doctor.

By a pleasant fiction, he charges no fees; a fixed sum, however, is paid to him for each visit, as "horse-money,"-I need hardly add, in advance.

There are, as with us, many successful, and consequently fashionable, doctors whose "horse-money" runs well into double figures. Their success must be due more to good luck and strictly innocent prescriptions than to any guidance they can find in the extensive medical literature of China.

All together, medicine is a somewhat risky profession, as failure to cure is occasionally resented by surviving relatives.

There is a story of a doctor who had mismanaged a case, and was seized by the patient's family and tied up. In the night he managed to free himself, and escaped by swimming across a river. When he got home, he found his son, who had just begun to study medicine, and he said to him, "Don't be in a hurry with your books; the first and most important thing is to learn to swim!"

Here is another newspaper gem: "In China, the land of opposites, the dials of the clocks are made to turn round, while the hands stand still."

Personally, I never noticed this arrangement.

Again: "Some of the tops with which the Chinese amuse themselves are as large as barrels. It takes three men to spin one, and it gives off a sound that may be heard several hundred yards away."

"The Chinese National Anthem is so long that it takes half a day to sing it."

"Chinese women devote very little superfluous time to hair-dressing. Their tresses are arranged once a month, and they sleep with their heads in boxes."

What we want in place of all this is a serious and systematic examination of the manners and customs, and modes of thought, of the Chinese people.

Their long line of Dynastic Histories must be explored and their literature ransacked by students who have got through the early years of drudgery inseparable from the peculiar nature of the written language, and who are prepared to devote themselves, not, as we do now, to a general knowledge of the whole, but to a thorough acquaintance with some particular branch.

The immediate advantages of such a course, as I must point out once more, for the last time, to commerce and to diplomatic relations will be incalculable. And they will be shared in by the student of history, philosophy, and religion, who will then for the first time be able to assign to China her proper place in the family of nations.

The founder of this Chinese Chair has placed these advantages within the grasp of Columbia University. (End)