KALGAN, Sixth Month 12, 1928. — As I crossed the street this morning, in search of new shoe laces, an earnest young orator attracted my attention. He spoke from a perch on the then stationary barrow of a traveling kitchen, while the huckster cook sold hot boiled sweet potatoes and cabbage soup. ' Ni men t’ing wo yi hua, ni mên i ting ch’ih fan, ni mên i ting shui chao jê’ — and so on in the patois which is fairly translated to our tongue: ‘If you listen to my words you will always have food to eat and you will always sleep warm. Outside barbarians have taken advantage of Chinese philosophical nature ever since they pushed a rough way into our flower-perfumed land. They eat our food. They warm themselves with our coal. They continuously threaten us with big guns. We number many millions. If we rouse ourselves we can drive them beyond our borders. Our revolution is not complete while they continue to be fester sores in our fair land.’
Seven little boys with school bags strapped to their backs, who tarried by the barrow although the hour was ten o’clock, applauded lustily; under cover of their noise a ricksha runner stopped nibbling his potato and solicited trade of me.
‘You all know how the Russians pretended to be our friends and, when taken to our stomach, gnawed our bowels. Even those of you who have forgotten the “Twenty-one Demands” are forcibly reminded by Tsinan that Japan is a vulture waiting for an auspicious moment to feast on our flesh. The Germans, the French, the British, and the Americans are all more sly than the fox. They illuminate silver words on bamboo paper. They send sweet-voiced ambassadors to our farthest inland villages to coax us to obey a God who commands us to love our neighbors more than ourselves. I have read their histories. I have traveled one year, passing through all these countries. Not one of them practises this weakening policy. Not one of them has dared give it a trial. Their words to us are vile hypocrisy.’
I moved away, and from a distance made survey of his audience. Two elderly ladies with bound feet, who held each other by the hand — one in the silks of gentility, the other garbed in the blue cotton of a serving woman. A postman. Three ricksha runners. A bright-faced lad with a basket of parcels, in papers marked with the name of a medicinal dispensary — evidently en route with deliveries. A beggar woman whose child tugged at her withered breast. Four girls wearing the knitted slippers of missiontrained maids. Five actors on stilts, gayly dressed and painted — the sort who play from courtyard to courtyard all over China. The schoolboys, now joined by two more, making nine. And a hot-bath vendor who had set down his two wooden tubs and squatted to attention with the bamboo carrying stick resting on his bare shoulder.
After a vain hunt through several streets I accosted a soldier and, explaining that I was a stranger, asked if he knew where I could get shoe laces. He answered politely, ‘I’m a stranger, too, as my contingent came in yesterday, but I noticed a shop. I’ll walk along and show you.’
Soldier and merchant kindly assisted me to make my purchase. The merchant’s boy brought a stool for me to sit on, and asked me to take my shoes off so he could put in the new laces. The front of the shop was slid back. We could see another orator standing in a ricksha and hear him giving a talk similar to the one I gave attention to earlier.
‘These propagandists do not attract as large crowds as formerly,’ said the soldier. ‘The populace is tired of talk. They want performance.’
‘We need peace to do our work.’ The merchant was cautious.
‘I understand. I come of farmers. Seventeen years ago I was recruited, by a returned-from-abroad graduate, to help the revolution. Since I left my home fields I have seen trade and tillage so disturbed that our country trembles on the brink of ruin. Traveling in the van of war, I have watched power wielded by military force and considered the unhealthy growth of a generation bereft of the heritage which gave all children, no matter how born, veneration for learning and opportunity to rise to government office by scholarship only. I have sat as guard in an education congress where a new learning patterned after the West, which is to sharpen the wits of our young, was arranged. I was detailed to help build a schoolhouse. The schoolhouse has stood empty while the newfashion teachers quarrel for wages like common laborers, and while politicians play with the minds of our children as if they were Mah Jongg ivories.
Unless we have peace to produce crops from our soil and to think with our minds, we shall perish.’
I came back to the courtyard where I am stopping through streets gay with new flags; and on the way fell into step and conversation with a kindly old man, who has the gentle face of a classic scholar and the long black queue of the Ts’ing era. We spoke of the colors of the Kuomintang fluttering from every shop and every courtyard. He commented on the fact that this is the first time since 1911, when a band of revolutionists tore down the Yellow Dragon and hoisted their banner, that one flag has waved over ‘all the peoples within the Wall.’ He fingered the new colors fastened around a button on his long silk gown.
My home was in Kwangtung, the most southern province in China, when this flag was first unfurled. There is a thrill in being here, where the Great Wall runs along the northernmost boundaries, when the flag is first welcomed. The Kuomintang have fought few military battles in their swift northward move. I have listened to their promises spread before their armies, and have seen a generous hospitality greet their entry into town, hamlet, and farm. May the Kuomintang be strong enough to keep faith with these war-exhausted people who so hopefully look to them for a just government.
The Heavenly Gate Village, Sixth Month 16. — The innkeeper’s wife is boiling water for tea, while we wait at a table set under the wide branches of a gnarled tree which she says is nine centuries old. The village rises almost perpendicular above us; the cave dwellings are connected by hewn steps. All the people I have seen appear healthy, despite living in earth burrows.
There is a school at the summit of the cliff from which the aged professor and twenty-six children have come down to look at us. The children each grip a thin paper ‘Extracts from the Chinese Classics’ primer. All have rosy cheeks and plump bodies. The boys are naked. The girls wear pinafores of small squares of cloth. Legend here tells that this village was founded by laborers carried north to toil building the Great Wall, who were too tired when the work was completed to return to their native province.
We finally got away from Kalgan yesterday. We made an early start, but had our possessions examined and taxed at eight customs depots. The first seven used books of regulations concerning export tariff drawn by seven governments that have sat in authority since 1911. When we demurred at this as unjust, an officer explained that it would probably be changed when the new Civil Commissioner arrived from Nanking, but as only the Kuomintang army has taken over the city offices they have to work with what they find. When we called attention to the fact that none of the tariffs agreed with the rate of taxation settled to be collected by the Chinese Customs, he answered brightly, ‘That is all right. You will find them just beyond the gate.’ And we did.
This took until six in the evening. Tired and dirty, we went to the first inn outside the Wall, stabled our mules, dined, and slept. During the evening our single cart grew to be a caravan of eight carts and fifteen pack camels — Chinese merchants who claim companionship with us. We are the first to pass beyond the Wall in many months. This district is reported to be bandit-infested, but they have evidently decided that, if we travel, then travel is safe.
We were on the road at four this morning, with our new friends close behind us uttering sleepy exclamations of surprise concerning our energy. They have stocks of brick tea, dress cottons and silks, thread, needles, incense, spices, chopsticks, bowls, new flags, images of gods, and medicine to barter with the peoples of the plateau for cattle, sheep, wool, hides, potatoes, and grain. Just now a merchant has told the schoolmaster how one flag waves over the Chinese people and sold him the Kuomintang colors to hang over the village.
Beyond Hara Osso in Chahar, Sixth Month 18. — We made the ascent to the plateau soon after we left the cliff people. At the top of the climb stands the Temple of Hanor, and here the Buddhists of our party made offering in gratitude for peace. Since then we have traveled two days without sign of bandits, and have talked often with Chinese farm families who labor with the few poor tools each managed to carry when they fled before the God of War, seeking refuge beyond the Wall. New ones are almost impossible of manufacture in this woodless land.
They treasure seed and multiply it thriftily. The crops cultivated are potatoes, oats, flax, beans, peas, and wheat. Frost still lingers in the ground. The tillers speak longingly of a gentler climate and of the home fields they have left fallow because of the revolution. I have seen no permanent houses. Just crude mud huts explained as ‘shelter until we can go to our own place again.’
One of us told an old farmer that the Kuomintang have made China a united country. His wife dropped her hoe: ‘We can go back.’ The man’s face was fit with joy: ’If it is true, we can go back. It would be good to return where we were born. But we must wait one cycle of seasons to make certain that the Kuomintang are honest.’ Not three hours after we left this couple we came upon an officer putting six young boys through the rudiments of military drill. A bit farther we stopped to drink at a well and met a distressed father. ‘My son of fourteen has been taken as a soldier. An officer came with a gun. He has an order from a new government called “Nationalist” and “Kuomintang” to recruit two thousand soldiers from the farmers of Chahar. Boys who go to be soldiers learn to take their food without labor and to satisfy their desire of woman without responsibility. When the high ones have no more need of them they automatically become outlaws. Habit makes it impossible for them to work. Often when reverses come to the general he runs away and they are left w ithout money to return home. Necessity makes them bandits. China is now infested with good boys made bandits. My son will be a bandit one day — hunted and feared. He has a right to grow up an industrious selfrespecting man with a wife in a cosy home where children cluster round his knee and the harvest ripens at his door.’
Our merchants did not offer to sell him colors or speak of the new régime in China. They were silent and depressed as we went on.
We had been walking since four. At eleven we halted for food and three hours of rest. I was awakened by a rifle prodding my shoe to look into a rough face and find a number of mounted men gathered around the cart. I had concern for the four thousand silver dollars in the box on which I lay.
The prodder said he was sergeant of fifteen men assigned as escort, but had difficulty in joining us as we traveled so fast — thirty-five miles a day. I disliked the burly guard, and said it was against my belief to accept protection by physical force. He gave me no heed, but shouted that his orders were from a big general in China. The frightened inn people led the horses up and down while the soldiers lounged about waiting for the dinner that must be prepared. They saw a little flock of chickens and said they would eat chicken. Five — all the people had — were cooked for their dinner.
Near Hanga Raba, Sixth Month 19. — When our usual hours of rest were over yesterday we moved on with the merchant caravan crawling close behind us, leaving the ‘escort’ busy with their dinner. Later they joined us and we went through fields from which the people fled at sight of us, and passed close-barred dwellings from which inhabitants were shouted forth to do trembling menial service — draw water for the horses, provide tea, supply eggs, and once sew the buttons on a coat.
About five o’clock the guard rode ahead. At six we found one soldier waiting by the roadside. He pointed to some huts: ‘Yonder is the place where you sleep.’ We answered that our habit was to travel until eight, and went on. At eight we asked and received permission to camp in front of a dwelling on the edge of a settlement. We bought boiling water, potatoes, and eggs, and were having a quiet supper when the soldiers rode in upon us. They were in an ugly temper. We invited them to share our food and camp site, but the sergeant refused and commandeered the best house. Children and old folk were pushed out. Shortly after we heard the squawks of dying chickens. In the night the screams of women.
This morning we were up at four. The soldiers joined us at ten. All day we walked in heavy depression. At six the sergeant asked if we intended to travel until eight. We told him we did. He said that to escort us was beyond the endurance of man and beast. So he bid us farewell.
We pressed on until ten o’clock, as it was moonlight, and are now stopping at a cluster of white felt yurtas, the encampment of relatives of Chactar (a Mongol friend). These are a joking, laughing people. They insist upon feeding us well despite the late hour, and are bringing in containers of fresh milk and cheese. A man has fetched a camel from pasture and will ride tonight to the tents of Sirrengal (another Mongol friend), who they say will be offended if we do not feast with him at noon to-morrow. We expect to reach Chactar’s to-morrow evening, and the King of Sunit’s palace, where I am to spend the summer, two days later. We left, the last Chinese tilled land about an hour ago, so they have flowed out more than a hundred miles beyond the Wall.
Na-men-ol, Ninth Month 8. — A Chinese official, with a mounted guard of ten, rode up the valley this morning and asked for me. After a lengthy exchange of formal compliments, during which time he drank two cups of Swedish chocolate, I discovered that his purpose was to secure political news. I was glad to be able to tell him that I have come from Sunit, in Inner Mongolia, where I am returning shortly, and have not been in China since the Water Lily Moon.
He is but two weeks from Peking. I learned that his native province is Hunan. He has worked for the revolution since before the fall of the Manchus, and is an original member of the Kuomintang. He has a son at Columbia and a ‘modest’ fortune invested in United States securities, but has never been abroad. He confirmed the rumors I have previously heard concerning the breaking of three thousand acres of soil here for the planting of poppies.
I repeated for him a part of the Kuomintang platform. He smoothly assured me that the anti-opium planks would be kept, as the ‘outsiders’ like them; but that this is waste land lying beyond the Wall, and the Central Government cannot be censored for what happens here. He asked me to consider that the establishment of a new government, combined with the building of a new capitol, is expensive, and revenue difficult to raise in loosely controlled, tax-drained China. He can see nothing wrong in this because, so long as the appetite exists, opium will enter China, and it would be ‘folly to let the “outsiders” make the profit.’
According to my visitor, Chiang Kai-shih did not receive as big an ovation in North China as was expected. He explained that the northerners are slow to enthusiasm, and they do not yet know him. ‘They admired the charm of his wife while they accepted him as the hero of the hour, but the attitude was one of waiting to see what he could do in civil government.
‘Yen is in the first seat at Peking, his name is good with the populace; but the Kuomintang do not forget that he sided against them until Feng Yuhsiang menaced his Shansi flank, and most of his appointments to local offices have been so far countermanded by the central authority at Nanking. He has expressed desire to return to the governorship of Shansi, relinquishing big office, but it would then fall to Feng Yu-hsiang, and the majority of the party are not willing to let this happen.
‘Despite the widely published papers from the Russian Consulate connecting Feng with the Soviet, his tall coolie-cloth-clad figure was the most popular with the crowds at the takingover ceremonies. His blunt speech, frugality, and severe discipline with his troops make a strong appeal to overtaxed and sorely looted citizens.
‘In tea houses, several times, I heard repeated the story of how Feng, when forced by military reverses to evacuate Kalgan, entrained all his soldiers at the station; then ordered the box cars locked and made the men from one car at a time file out and be searched on the platform. Each one with the smallest article of loot hidden in his uniform was shot.’
I also heard this story in Kalgan from a carefully spoken American woman whose home overlooks the platform where hundreds of bodies lay when Feng’s train moved on carrying those soldiers who had obeyed his command against looting.
My visitor told me of the tragic death of Chang Tso-lin and that his son, now in power in the ‘Three Eastern Provinces outside the Wall,’ has agreed to accept a commission under the Kuomintang which makes all the Chinese people one united nation.
Kalgan, Ninth Month 25. — The return through Chahar has awed me anew with wonder at the power inherent in the Chinese people. Still suffering from physical ailments contracted during the weary trek from their home places, housed in airless hovels, and sadly short-rationed, they have worked with clumsy hand tools, sown poor seed, and produced an amazing harvest. Flail-threshed straw has made mounds like giant castles. There has been one flurry of snow, and people are busily burying tons of potatoes in underground pits before the cold ruins them. Around each mud hut are heaps of golden wheat, mountains of red corn, bushels of clean yellow oats, great quantities of dried peas and black beans. People say that import into China has been made impossible to any extent because of the taxes; but they are well prepared for the long northern winter. They have traded with the Mongols and have meat and plenty of sheepskins for coats, as well as felt to line their huts.
But here in Kalgan native faces are apathetic and voices answer queries in dull monotones: ‘Taxes are our father and our mother.’ ‘Food will rot outside the Wall while we die for a grain of wheat.’ ‘Many centuries the God of Prosperity dwelt with us, but we displeased him by revolution and now he has gone away.’ ‘Fortune tellers are abolished, but no answer is given as to what the blind shall eat.’ ‘Caravans may not enter our gates until they pay high tariffs, but no means are provided by which citizens can pay high prices; so the caravans turn northward to Russia, where concessions tempt them to trade.’ ‘At first we attempted to start new industries, but it is useless, because as soon as the Kuomintang observe activity they conclude we have money and kill our work with further taxation.’ ‘We were asked to welcome a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” but we have no consideration in this autocracy.’ ‘Money is continuously taken from us by orders from Nanking; the collectors speak of national improvement. We are not bats; we see roads in ill repair, broken bridges, and unemployment, but no signs of improvements anywhere in our town.’
The group of ‘civil servants’ sent from Nanking to regulate affairs at Kalgan are attractive people. The one with a degree from the Sorbonne has a pretty French wife. They all talk seriously of the wonderful future before China, and they are only a little disappointed at being sent so far inland; each has studied abroad with the idea of returning to serve China, and they make the best of a dull town with their music, their books, and tennis when the weather permits.
Tientsin, Ninth Month 20. — I traveled last night from Kalgan to Fengtai on a train which consisted of a rusty engine with one lung and six cars. Trains run only occasionally now because most of the rolling stock was taken away to the Three Eastern Provinces in the Water Lily Moon. The station master sold tickets for third class only, but so many people bought that we were sorely crowded. Still, everyone was considerate of others, and we managed. Four of the cars were without seats and had matting roofs; two had four long planks running lengthwise and wooden roofs. I had a place for the young girl I was asked to fetch down and myself on one of the planks, next to a nice matronly woman and her husband.
When we had left the station the matron broke the conversational ice by the usual formal query as to when I had last dined, which we followed by the Chinese custom of exchange of age, birthplace, and religion. The husband then asked if I knew Mr. Hoover. When I answered that I had never met him, the Chinese man said that he had come to know him at Kalgan before the railway was built and knew that America was fortunate in having opportunity to elect him chief of the country. ‘He is an honest man with sound judgment who will manage well anything he undertakes. He was young when he made calculation as to whether a railroad between Peking and Kalgan would pay, but he had canny sense. He set men, unknown to each other, at different places to count the caravans that passed and notice the goods they carried. Then he tallied their reports. Others built the road, as the interests he represented were not given the concession, but it was his collected data on which we Chinese founded our faith, and our money has returned good interest, despite dishonest management and molestation by the warring military factions, until recently. It will do so again as soon as we have rolling stock.’
I asked about Chinese railway conditions now that the country is a unit, and he answered that the reorganization of the roads now built is very difficult. ‘And until they are reorganized it is little use to talk about building more. Chang Hsueh-liang has become a Nationalist, but he won’t give up engines or cars until there has been a practical settlement of division of freight revenues; he particularly stresses the matter of the millions of dollars paid every year by the Kailan Mining Company, a part of which he believes belongs rightfully to the Three Eastern Provinces.
‘According to railway records, when the Fengticn armies withdrew beyond the Wall they took approximately four hundred engines, four hundred passenger cars, and live thousand, five hundred goods wagons belonging to the Peking-Kalgan, Tientsin-Pukow, Peking-Hankow, and Peking-Suiyuan roads. In addition there should be 225 engines, 355 passenger coaches, and 4400 freight wagons running on the line between Peking and Mukden, but that line has not yet been reopened. The combined lines under Nationalist control now have only 20engines, 24 passenger cars, and 230 goods wagons; adding what the Fengtien hold, the total is not the sum of the railway property. General Pai Chung-hsi and other Nationalist generals are detaining the difference. Shareholders are losing their dividends and produce is rotting for transport, while this valuable railway equipment, much of which is not yet paid for, is deteriorating in senseless inactivity.’
We came to Feng-tai about nine in the morning, and I got off to wait for a train to Tientsin. Two coolies divided my meagre luggage and came along with me to the station, where I had to buy a railway ticket. I noticed a tall heavy-set Chinese man coming along, but gave him no thought, as I was concerned about getting to Tientsin. The man at the ticket window sold me a first-class ticket, but said he did not know when the next train would come. ‘ Perhaps this morning, perhaps this evening, and perhaps not until to-morrow — it depends upon cars and engines.’
I had my roll put down by the track and sat down to read, when the heavyset Chinese spoke to me in the rough tongue used to address persons of the lowest rank: ‘If you do not give me five dollars I will have you arrested.’ I said that I did not have five dollars and that the few coppers in my hand, which I needed to pay a man to put my roll on the train, were all I had left after purchasing my ticket. He walked away. I read until a policeman touched me on the shoulder.
‘This man says you have stolen his purse and wants me to take you along to the magistrate.’ The policeman’s eyes were a soft brown and not unkind. After considerable conversation, in which the gathered crowd took part, I was acquitted of the crime of theft and the ruffian sentenced to apologize. This he did, prefacing his apology with the phrase, ‘I thought by the color of your face and hair that you were one of those without rights in China, a Russian or a German.’ For this the policeman admonished him, saying that all Chinese should remember that those peoples who no longer had the right of court trial under the laws of their home countries had been promised justice in Chinese courts. At this the crowd laughed gavly and the ruffian slunk away.
Finally a train, with one first-class carriage, came along. The car seats were all taken, so I sat in the corridor on my luggage and continued my book until the train steward brought me a folding chair and a cup of fragrant Chinese tea, which he presented with fine courtesy, saying, ‘The gift, of a humble friend for one who appears tired.’
I explained that I had not slept. Before we finished talking the door of a compartment opened. I turned at an exclamation of surprise and saw Mai-da with a little baby in her arms. The steward got another folding chair for her and a third for her mother, who also came from the compartment. ‘ You have been away a time! The babe is two months old.’ She handed me the soft sweet bundle. ‘Our compartment — the whole car for that matter — is crowded with tourists; mother and I are the only Chinese who got first-class tickets. They closed the window at Peking when the numbers for the scats were sold, and somehow the Westerners got first advantage. We have n’t had a person to talk to and we do not like being looked at as if we were queer objects of interest..’
The mother broke in: ‘We are all moving to Mukden. Life is impossible in Tientsin — taxes, taxes, taxes. Chang Hsueh-liang is offering frank inducement for people to move to the Eastern Provinces. The men went up two weeks ago and investigated conditions, and have telegraphed for us to come. We have been staying with Ming-lei in Peking. We have rented our Tientsin house to an officer in the American marines, as there is security in having Westerners live in it.’
So I had to bid them farewell at Tientsin and promise to go to Mukden to visit them sometime, as they went on to Taku to take boat north and then train from Dairen. At Tientsin station there was the worst mob rush I have ever encountered. Foreigners
— Westerners, my own compatriots, people who hold responsible offices in China and whom one invites to dinner
— rushed the first-class car before it stood still in mad terror lest they fail to enter. Two Western boats were sailing from Taku that afternoon — people feared to miss them. I have traveled many, many times with Chinese people crowded in seatless cars, but I have never experienced anything so awful as that mob. It was impossible to go out by the doors; requests to let one pass were unheeded by the surging mass whose one thought was to get in. Men used physical force — I saw one woman use a pin between her fingers. The railway guards were swept off their feet. I went out of the window on the off side from the platform, jumping on to my luggage, which I had thrown out first.
It is the rule in China that one gives up the railway ticket at the exit to the station. My little purse and my ticket were gone. I showed the ticket collector my empty pockets. He answered, ‘You are fortunate to get out yourself. How we Chinese have learned to despise you Westerners! One day we will keep you in your places with the bayonet — we are forced to militarism because you are hairy barbarians.’
Trembling with shame, I got a taxi and went home.
Tientsin, Tenth Month 12. — Calls, calls, and then more calls, as the whole personnel of the government has changed in my absence. These Kuomintang officials are mostly Western educated. The wives are smart, with bobbed hair and the trim neat-fitting Han costume. They chatter English, French, and German at parties as glibly as Westerners, are better read than I in modern literature, and play bridge more skillfully than Mali Jongg.
Hortense Casey had Princess Pu Tung (aunt to the ex-Manchu Empress) and myself to tea this afternoon. The Princess is in mourning, as are all the Manchus, because of the desecration of the Eastern tombs. (When one goes to see the ex-Empress one must kotow before an altar put up in sympathy with the shame the Ts’ing ancestors have suffered.) The Princess looks tired and worn, but she sent word that, although she is not going out at all, she would like to have tea ‘quietly in a garden.’ All the Manchus have had a trying time scuttling from Peking to Tientsin — scarcely knowing what to do and fearing what might happen to them when the Kuomintang came into power. They do not forget the terror of the time when Feng Yuhsiang took over Peking. The young ex-Empress is quite ill — the doctors say illness brought on by worry. The vernacular press constantly harasses the Manchus by printing rumors that there is brewing a coup by which they will remount the throne — when really they want only to liv e in peace. Princess Pu Tung said to-day, ‘There seems no place on earth for us now — yet we want only good for China.’
She is sweet-spirited and lovely, as are all the Manchu women I have been privileged to know.
Tientsin, Tenth Month 26. — I have just seen the modern primers for Chinese children. Babes are to learn to read platitudes about character formation no longer. Instead they form their syllables into expressions of China’s wrongs — wrongs committed against her by ‘outsiders.’
The vernacular press is filled with the stories of terrible famine in Shantung. Manchuria has offered to donate 300,000 bushels of grain to alleviate the suffering; and I have learned that the emigrants who poured through Tientsin en route to the Eastern Provinces from Shantung have been sending back to relatives, by money order in oneand two-dollar amounts at a time, an average of one hundred thousand dollars a week. The papers comment that Chinese people do not neglect to share the earnings with their relatives when they go from home, and that millions of dollars enter the country every year from Chinese who have sought peace to work in other lands because they could not find it here. They mention fortunes made in California, the Malay States, London, and the Philippines by citizens who would have toiled in their own land had conditions been favorable, and who will flock home as soon as the Kuomintang adjust conditions, ‘because they have been the financial backbone of the revolution.’
Tientsin, Eleventh Month 20. — An order has been issued that all temples must be registered and prepared for use as lecture halls, while all nuns and monks must consider entering some industry, as the ‘Ruomintang abolish all superstition and worship of idols.’
I went to the station to see a friend off to Peking, and in the car an agitator was exhorting citizens to listen to him so that they would all have food: ‘The only thing to do is to drive the Westerners out of our land.’
There is a feeling of uncertainty in the air — murmurs at teas and dinners and on the part, of street hucksters that Yen Hsi-shan is tired of trying to fill the office at Peking, and is quietly preparing to return to Shansi.
The Anti-Japanese Association have inspectors examining all Japanese goods, which they confiscate from Chinese merchants if found in their possession, imposing additional heavy fines. At first the merchants held out against the boycott, but they have had to give in, and complain that they are suffering heavily. Many places have gone bankrupt, and give as excuse the boycott, combined with excessive taxes.
A biweekly train now runs from Mukden. Letters from there say that the ‘young General’ runs the government with the same fine sportsmanship with which he plays golf or tennis. He has under his authority a territory almost twice as large as Germany and as big as France and Italy combined. A country rich in minerals, well wooded, and from which the Shantung emigrants, with the wisdom of centuries of farming, are bringing forth enormous crops. Business is encouraged and taxes are reasonable. My friends have found hundreds of miles of motor roads, and motor machinery used for all sorts of farm work as well as in factories.
They report that there are no Kuomintang slogans hung over government buildings, but that the bookshops are well stocked with Dr. Sun Yat-scn’s books and that the Three Eastern Provinces do not intend to remain wedded to the provinces below the Wall. Chang is only twenty-eight years of age, and he has surrounded himself with young assistants who work industriously.
He has given $5,000,000 of his inherited fortune for primary-school education and also founded an academy of classical learning, where students of unusual intellectual powers can do research in the old literature of China. Modern literary talent is also encouraged, and every inducement is provided for poor artists to work and to publish their work. Scholars are made to stick at their tasks instead of celebrating holidays and hectoring the government.
Tientsin, Twelfth Month 4. — Winter is really upon us, and many people die daily both in Tientsin and in Peking, as well as in the surrounding country, of cold and starvation. The Kailan Mining Administration have donated fifteen thousand tons of coal, and soup kitchens have been opened.
Of course only the poor are poor. One sups, dines, and plays with Chinese who have luxurious homes, more than one motor car each, gorgeous jewels, and wraps of sable and ermine.
The students in Peking have fought a hand battle, using tables and chairs as weapons, with the police, who were forbidden to strike back. A lawless group have camped in the University and refuse to attend classes or move out so that new students can be admitted, because the Kuomintang have ordered the school name changed from Peking National University to Peiping University.
Sir James Jamieson invited us to St. Andrew’s ball on the thirtieth of last month. Sir Miles and Lady Lampson came down from Peking at his invitation, although they had to travel all one day down — since the train was shunted and sidetracked for hours en route — and start back immediately next morning, as Sir Miles is busy with preparations to go to Nanking. It was a lovely ball. We had such fun doing the reels and the Caledonians.
The Hai-ho Conservancy have finally got money to improve the river so that boats may come up again next year. The Chinese told the foreigners that they wanted to manage the business themselves, but they finally asked for help because the banks would not lend them anything unless a responsible Westerner signed the note. A Chinese told me, ‘Our own Chinese banks said, “Millions if the money is handled entirely by the Englishmen on your staff — not one cent otherwise.” So after months of trial we had to give in.’
Tientsin, Twelfth Month 18. —We have finished packing, ready to start to Shanghai by sea to-morrow — a rough journey in winter; but Japanese soldiers at Tsinan prevent trains from running on the Tientsin-Pukow-Shanghai line which made the journey short before last May. Mou, who has been helping me to pack, grumbles continuously about the situation; he has asked me whether in any civil war in any country there has been an incident as precedent for it.
The vernacular press this past week has been rich in items about Feng Yuhsiang. They have to do both with his personal life and with the ‘revolutionary’ régime in his province — Honan. He has remonstrated repeatedly against extravagance in the government at Nanking and the absence of proper vouchers for the $9,000,000 budgeted for expense each month. He has called attention to the luxurious habits of men and women who claim to have the best interest of China at heart, and he has been shocked by the behavior of school children. He has opened a cafeteria for soldiers and set an example by dining there on simple fare.
In Kaifeng the chairman of the provincial affairs of his province, Teng Chih-hsi, has followed his chief’s example of simplicity by twice inviting the ricksha runners to supper and eating with them. Free schools are announced as open at all the magistrates’ offices in Honan — fifty in the capital city alone. There is an information bureau for peasants in front of the Provisional Court, and a special court session once a week for people with a grievance against the government.
All official documents in Honan must be written in simple language so that the people can perfectly understand their meaning. Any official who acts superior to a citizen is liable to capital punishment. The people are exhorted to frugality and sober industry — officials must set the example. Officials must rise at six, do physical drill to keep fit from six-thirty to seven, attend an educational meeting from seven to eight, and work steadily in their offices until eight in the evening, except for the meal recesses at ten and at four. In the time from eight until the curfew at ten they may attend to personal affairs, but they are advised to use the hours in self-improvement. Posters urge the people to follow similar programmes.
Feng Yu-hsiang sets an example for all Honanese by dressing always in homespun cotton. Other officials must all wear Honan cotton, and cut their hair short in the same manner as their chief; and they may not give dinner parties or make any expensive show of weddings or funerals. By Feng’s personal order graft is punished by death — to-day the papers report two such cases: Fu Yi-pi, a tax collector, who falsified his accounts fifty dollars; and Tiao Hsin-teh, of an antiopium bureau, who accepted a bribe of seven.
The people have been bidden to ‘wash superstition from their hearts.’ It is unlawful to worship idols or to count the days by the old calendar, ‘which tends to muddy the minds of the citizens who plant or reap by it.’ The temples have been turned into lecture halls, and all nuns and monks must enter some productive industry. Every seventh day last month meetings of instruction were convened for the people. They were attended by monster audiences, and had as their subjects home sanitation, foot binding, tree planting, locusts, and flies. Three modern villages have been founded, where citizens are instructed in the art of communal living.
Lui the Younger has made me a present of several paper notes on which the Exchange Bank of China promises to pay bearer silver; but the bank barred its doors here and in Peking yesterday against the crowds who wait in pathetic stupor for their cash. The fall of this bank has so far only precipitated the tumble of one other — the Sino-Scandinavian. The Exchange bank managers give the Japanese boycott as their excuse and further amplify it by the statement that the government owes them fourteen millions. They have wired to the Minister of Finance, Mr. T. V. Soong, for aid. They complain that local Chinese depositors have withdrawn three millions of dollars in the last few days because of alarm over political conditions, which money they say has been shifted to Dairen.
There has been a continuous procession of four-abreast laborers carrying sacks of flour along the street, not far from my house, ever since I came home in September. This morning I spoke about it to the policeman on point duty where they cross the road. He said the flour is all from Canada and America and is assurance that the rich in North China will eat bread this winter; but it is too high-priced for the laboring people. He explained that thousands of people will surely die in the towns this winter because internal taxes have prevented the farmers from moving their grain to the mills to be ground.
‘All China is united under one flag which waves for government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We are all studying the book of our leader, Sun Yat-sen, but it takes time to put ideals into practical use. We shall work our way to the right path eventually.’
And he turned to direct traffic, which had directed itself while he talked.