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Title: As A Chinaman Saw Us - Passages from his Letters to a Friend at Home
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Made when the Anglo-Saxon people were living in caves]




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Printed in the United States of America


Since the publication in 1832 of that classic of cynicism, The Domestic
Manners of the Americans, by Mrs. Trollope, perhaps nothing has appeared
that is more caustic or amusing in its treatment of America and the
Americans than the following passages from the letters of a cultivated
and educated Chinaman. The selections have been made from a series of
letters covering a decade spent in America, and were addressed to a
friend in China who had seen few foreigners. The writer was graduated
from a well-known college, after he had attended an English school, and
later took special studies at a German university. Americans have been
informed of the impressions they make on the French, English, and other
people, but doubtless this is the first unreserved and weighty
expression of opinion on a multiplicity of American topics by a Chinaman
of cultivation and grasp of mind.

It will be difficult for the average American to conceive it possible
that a cultivated Chinaman, of all persons, should have been honestly
amused at our civilization; that he should have considered what Mrs.
Trollope called "our great experiment" in republics a failure, and our
institutions, fashions, literary methods, customs and manners, sports
and pastimes as legitimate fields for wit and unrepressed jollity. Yet
in the unbosoming of this cultivated "heathen" we see our fads and
foibles held up as strange gods, and must confess some of them to be
grotesque when seen in this yellow light.

It is doubtless true that the masses of Americans do not take the
Chinaman seriously, and an interesting feature of this correspondence is
the attitude of the Chinaman on this very point and his clever satire on
our assumption of perfection and superiority over a nation, the habits
of which have been fixed and settled for many centuries. The writer's
experiences in society, his acquaintance with American women of fashion
and their husbands, all ingeniously set forth, have the hall-mark of
actual novelty, while his loyalty to the traditions of his country and
his egotism, even after the Americanizing process had exercised its
influence over him for years, add to the interest of the recital.

In revising the correspondence and rearranging it under general heads,
the editor has preserved the salient features of it, with but little
essential change and practically in its original shape. If the reader
misses the peculiar idioms, or the pigeon-English that is usually placed
in the mouth of the Chinaman of the novel or story, he or she should
remember that the writer of the letters, while a "heathen Chinee," was
an educated gentleman in the American sense of the term. This fact
should always be kept in mind because, as the author remarks, to many
Americans whom he met, it was "incomprehensible that a Chinaman can be
educated, refined, and cultivated according to their own standards."

With pardonable pride he tells how, on one occasion, when a woman in New
York told him she knew her ancestral line as far back as 1200 A. D., he
replied that he himself had "a tree without a break for thirty-two
hundred years." He was sure she did not believe him, but he found her
"indeed!" delightful. The author's name has been withheld for personal
reasons that will be sufficiently obvious to those who read the letters.
The period during which he wrote them is embraced in the ten years from
1892 to 1902.

                                         HENRY PEARSON GRATTON.

     May 10th, 1904.


CHAPTER                                                 PAGE

    I. THE AMERICAN, WHO HE IS                             1

   II. THE AMERICAN MAN                                   16

  III. AMERICAN CUSTOMS                                   40

   IV. THE AMERICAN WOMAN                                 63

    V. THE SUPERSTITIONS OF THE AMERICAN                  92

   VI. THE AMERICAN PRESS                                 99

  VII. THE AMERICAN DOCTOR                               106

 VIII. PECULIARITIES AND MANNERISMS                      118

   IX. LIFE IN WASHINGTON                                131

    X. THE AMERICAN IN LITERATURE                        164

   XI. THE POLITICAL BOSS                                185

  XII. EDUCATION IN AMERICA                              200

 XIII. THE ARMY AND NAVY                                 212

  XIV. ART IN AMERICA                                    229

   XV. THE DARK SIDE OF REPUBLICANISM                    237

  XVI. SPORTS AND PASTIMES                               261

 XVII. THE CHINAMAN IN AMERICA                           279





Many of the great powers believe themselves to be passing through an
evolutionary period leading to civic and national perfection. America,
or the United States, has already reached this state; it is complete and
finished. I have this from the Americans themselves, so there can be no
question about it; hence it requires no little temerity to discuss, let
alone criticize, them.

Yet I am going to ask you to behold the American as he is, as I honestly
found him--great, small, good, bad, self-glorious, egotistical,
intellectual, supercilious, ignorant, superstitious, vain, and
bombastic. In truth, so very remarkable, so contradictory, so
incongruous have I found the American that I hesitate. Shall I give you
a satire; shall I devote myself to eulogy; shall I tear what they call
the "whitewash" aside and expose them to the winds of excoriation; or
shall I devote myself to an introspective, analytical _divertissement_?
But I do not wish to educate you on the Americans, but to entertain, to
make you laugh by the recital of comical truths; so without system I am
going to tell you of these Americans as I found them, day by day, month
by month, officially, socially; in their homes, in politics, trade,
sorrow, despair, and in their pleasures.

You will remember when the Evil Spirit is asked by the modest Spirit of
Good to indicate his possessions he tucks the earth under one arm,
drops the sun into one pocket, the moon into another, and the stars into
the folds of his garment. In a word, to use the saying of my friends, he
"claims everything in sight"; and this is certainly a characteristic of
the American: he is all-perspective, he claims to have all the virtues,
and in his ancestry embraces the entire world. At a dinner at the ----
in Washington during the egg stage of my experience I sat next to a
charming lady; and having been told that it was a custom of the French
to compliment women, I remarked that her cheeks bloomed like our poppy
of the Orient. She laughed, and responded, "Yes, I get that from my
English grandfather." "But your eyes are like black pearls," I
continued, seeing that I was on what a general on my right called the
"right trail." "I got them from my Italian grandmother," she replied.
"And your hair?" I pressed. "Must be Irish," was the answer, "for my
paternal grandmother was Irish and her husband Scotch." It is true that
this charmingly beautiful and composite goddess (at least she would have
been one had she not been naked like a geisha at a men's dinner) was the
product of a dozen nations, and a typical American.

The original Americans appear to have been English, despite the fact
that the Spaniards discovered the country, though a high official, a
Yankee whom I met at a reception, told me that this was untrue. His
ancestor had discovered North America, and I believe he had written a
book to prove it. (_En passant_, all Americans write books; those who
have not, fully intend to write one.) I listened complacently, then
said, "My dear ----, if I am not mistaken the Chinese discovered
America." I recalled the fact to his mind that the northwestern Eskimos
and the Indians were essentially Asiatic in type; and it is true that he
had never heard of the ethnologic map at his National Museum, which
shows the location of Chinese junks blown to American shores within a
period of three hundred years. I explained that junks had been blown
over to America for the last _three thousand_ years, and that in my
country there were many records of voyages to the Western land, ages
before 1492.

You see I soon began to be Americanized and to claim things. China
discovered America and gave her the compass as well as gunpowder. The
first Americans were in the nature of emigrants; men and women who did
not succeed well in their own country and so sought new fields, just as
people are doing to-day. They came over in a ship called the
"Mayflower," and were remarkably prolific, as I have met thousands who
hail from this stock. At one time England sent her criminals to
Virginia--one of the United States--and many of the refuse of the home
country were sent to other parts of America in the early days. Younger
sons of good families were also sent over for various reasons. Women of
all classes were sent by the ship-load, and sold for wives. I reminded a
lady of this, who was lamenting the fact that in China some women are
sold for wives. She was absolutely ignorant of this well-known fact in
American history, and forgot the selling of black women. Among the men
were many representatives of old and noble families; but the bulk, I
judge from their colonial histories, were people of low degree. Very
soon other countries began to ship people to America. Italy, Germany,
Russia, Norway, Sweden, and other lands were drawn upon for constantly
increasing numbers as years went by. All tumbled into the American
hopper. Imagine a coffee-grinder into which have been thrown Greek,
Roman, Jew, Gentile, and all the rest, and then let what they call Uncle
Sam--a heroic, paternal, and comical figure, representing the
government--turn the handle and grind out the American who is neither
Jew, Gentile, Greek, Roman, Russe, or Swede, but a new product, _sui
generis_, and mostly Methodist.

This process has never ceased for an hour. America has been from 1492 to
the present time, in the language of the American "press," the
"dumping-ground" of the nations of the world, the real open door; yet
this grinding assimilation has gone on. It is, perhaps, due to the
climate, perhaps the water, or the air; but the product of these people
born on the soil is described by no other word than American. It may be
Irish-American, very offensive; Dutch-American, very strenuous, like the
Vice-President;[1] Jewish-American, very commercial; Italian-American,
very dirty and reeking with garlic; but it is American, totally unlike
its progenitor, a something into which is blown a tremendous energy,
that is very wearisome, a bombast which is the sum of that of all
nations, and a conceit like that possessed by ---- alone. You see it is
incurable, also offensive--at least to the Oriental mind. Yet I grant
you the American is great; I have it from him and from her; it must be

You have the spectacle here of the nations of the world pouring a
stream, that is not pactolean, and not perfumed with the gums of Araby,
flowing in and peopling the country. In time they had grievances more
fancied than real, yet grievances. They rose against the home
government, threw off the English yoke, and became a republic with a
division into States, which I will write of when I tell you of the
American politician. This was the first trust--what they call a
merger--but it occurred in politics. They have killed off a fair
percentage of the actual owners of the soil, the Indians, swindling them
out of the balance, and driving them back to a sort of ever-changing
dead-line. Without delay they assumed the form of a dominant nation, and
announced themselves the greatest nation on the earth.

Immigration was resumed, and all nations again sent their refuse
population to America. I have facts showing that for years English
poorhouses and hospitals were emptied of their inmates and shipped to
America. It was a distinct policy of the anti-home-rule party in Ireland
to encourage the poor Irish to go to America; and now when there are
more Irish in America than in Ireland the fate of Ireland is assured.
Yet the American air takes the fight out of the Irishman, the rose from
his cheek, and makes a natural-born politician out of him. America still
continued to receive immigrants, and not satisfied with the natural flow
of the human current, began to import African slaves to a country
founded for the benefit of those who desired an asylum where they could
enjoy religious and political freedom. The Africans were sold in the
cotton belt, their existence virtually creating two distinct political
parties. America long remained a dumping-ground for nearly all the
nations of the world having an excess of population. Great navigation
companies were built up, to a large extent, on this trade. They sent
agents to every foreign country, issued pamphlets in every European
language, and uncounted thousands were brought over--the scum of the
earth in many instances. There was no restriction to immigration until
the Chinese were barred out. After accepting the outlaws of every
European state, the poor of all lands, they shut the door on our
"coolie" countrymen.

In this way, briefly, America has grown to her present population of
80,000,000. The remarkable growth and assimilation is still going on--a
menace to the world, but in a constantly decreasing ratio, which has
become so marked that the leading Americans, the class which corresponds
to our scholars, are aghast at the singular conditions which exist.
Non-assimilation shows itself in labor riots, in the murder of two
Presidents--Garfield and Lincoln--in socialistic outbreaks in every
quarter, and in signal outbreaks in various sections, at lynchings, and
other unlawful performances. I am attempting to give you an idea of the
constituents of America to-day; but so interesting is the subject, so
prolific in its warnings and possibilities, that I find myself

To glance at conditions at the present time, about 600,000 aliens are
coming to America yearly. What is the result? I was invited to meet a
distinguished German visiting in New York last month, and at the dinner
a young lady who sat by my side said to me, "I wish I could puzzle him."
"Why?" I asked, in amazement. "Oh," was her reply, "he looks so cram
full of knowledge; I would like to take him down." "Ah," I said. "Ask
him which is the third largest German city in the world. It is New
York; he will never guess it." She did so, and I assure you he was
"puzzled," and would scarcely believe it until a well-known man assured
him it was true. There are more Germans in Chicago than in Leipsic,
Cologne, Dresden, Munich, or a dozen small towns joined in one. Half of
the Chicago Germans speak their own tongue. This city is the third
Swedish city of the world in population. It is the fourth Polish city
and the second Bohemian city. I was informed by a professor in the
University of Chicago that, in that strange city, the number of people
who speak the language of the Bohemians equaled the combined inhabitants
of Richmond, Atlanta, Portland, and Nashville--all large cities. "What
do you think of it?" I asked. "We are up against it," was the reply. I
can not explain this retort so that you would understand it, but it had
great significance. The professor, a distinguished philologist, was
worried, and he looked it. A lady who was a club woman--and by this I do
not mean that she was armed with a club, but merely a member of clubs or
societies for educational advancement and social aggrandizement--said it
was merely his digestion.

I learned from my friend, the dyspeptic professor, that over forty
dialects are spoken in Chicago. About one-half only of the total
population speak or understand English. There are 500,000 Germans,
125,000 Poles, 100,000 Swedes, 90,000 Bohemians, 50,000 Yiddish, 25,000
Dutch, 25,000 Italians, 15,000 French, 10,000 Irish, 10,000 Servians,
10,000 Lutherans, 7,000 Russians, and 5,000 Hungarians in Chicago. You
will be surprised to learn that numbers do not count. The 500,000
Germans are not the dominating power, nor are the 100,000 Swedes. The
10,000 Irish are said absolutely to control the political situation. You
will ask if I believe that this monster foreign element can be reduced
to a homogeneous unit. I reply, yes. Fifty years from to-day they will
all be Americans, and a majority will, doubtless, show you their family
tree, tracing their ancestry back to the Mayflower.


[1] This passage was written just before the assassination of President



Hash--and I do not mean by this word a corruption of hasheesh--is a term
indicating in America a food formed of more than one article chopped and
cooked together. I was told by a very witty and charming lady that hash
was a synonym for _E pluribus unum_ (one from many), the motto of the
Government, but I did not find it on the American arms. This was an
American "dinner joke," of which more anon; nevertheless, hash
represents the American people of to-day. The millions of all nations,
which have swarmed here since 1492, may be represented by this
delectable dish, which, after all, has a certain homogeneity. Englishmen
are at once recognized here, and so are Chinamen. You would never
mistake one of our people for a Japanese; an Italian you would know
across the way; but an American not always in America. He may be a
Swede, a German, or a Canadian; he is not an American until he opens his
mouth. Then there is no mistake as to what he is. He has a nasal tone
that is purely American.

All the old cities, as Boston, New York, Richmond, and Philadelphia,
have certain nasal peculiarities or variants. The Bostonian affects the
English. The New Englander, especially in the north, has a comical
twang, which you can produce by holding the nose tightly and attempting
to speak. When he says _down_ it sounds like _daoun_. It is impossible
for him not to overvowel his words, and nothing is more amusing than to
hear the true Yankee countryman talk. The Philadelphian is quite as
marked in tone and enunciation. A well-educated Philadelphian will say
where is _me_ wife for _my_. I have also been asked by a Philadelphian,
"Where are you going at?" It would be impossible to mistake the
intonation of a Philadelphian, even though you met him in the wilds of
Manchuria in the depths of night.

Among the most charming and delightfully cultured people I met in
America were Philadelphians of old families. The New Yorker is more
cosmopolitan, while the Southern men, to a certain extent, have caught
the inflection of the negro, who is the nurse in the South for all white
children. The Americans are taught that the principal and chief end of
man is to make a fortune and get married; but to accomplish this it is
necessary first to "sow wild oats," become familiar with the vices of
drink, smoking, and other forms of dissipation, a sort of test of
endurance possibly, such as is found among many native races; yet one
scarcely expects to find it among the latest and highest exponents of
perfection in the human race.

The American pretends to be democratic; scoffs at England and other
European lands, but at heart he is an aristocrat. His tastes are only
limited by his means, and not always then. Any American, especially a
politician, will tell you that there is but one class--the people, and
that all are born equal. In point of fact, there are as many classes as
there are grades of pronounced individuality, and all are very unequal,
as every one knows. They are included in a general way in three classes:
the upper class (the refined and cultivated); the middle class
(represented by the retail shop-keepers); and last, the rest. The cream
of society will be found in all the cities to be among the professional
men, clergymen, presidents of colleges, long-rich wholesale merchants,
judges, authors, etc.

The distinctions in society are so singular that it is almost impossible
for a foreigner to understand them. There are persons who make it a life
study to prepare books and papers on the subject, and whose opinions are
readily accepted; yet such a person might not be accepted in the best
society. What constitutes American society and its divisions is a
mystery. In a general sense a retail merchant, a man who sold shoes or
clothes, a tailor, would under no circumstances find a place in the
first social circles; yet if these same tradesmen should change to
wholesalers and give up selling one article at a time, they would become
eligible to the best society. They do not always get in, however. At a
dinner my neighbor, an attractive matron, was much dismayed by my
asking if she knew a certain Mr. ----, a well-known grocer. "I believe
our supplies (groceries) come from him," was her chilly reply. "But," I
ventured, "he is now a wholesaler." "Indeed!" said madam; "I had not
heard of it." The point, very inconceivable to you, perhaps, was that
the grocer, whether wholesale or retail, was not readily accepted; yet
the man in the wholesale business in drugs, books, wine, stores, fruit,
or almost anything else, had the _entrée_, if he was a gentleman. The
druggist, the hardware man, the furniture dealer, the grocer, the
retailer would constitute a class by themselves, though of course there
are other subtle divisions completely beyond my comprehension.

At some of the homes of the first people I would meet a president of a
university, an author of note, an Episcopal bishop, a general of the
regular army (preferably a graduate of the West Point Academy), several
retired merchants of the highest standing, bankers, lawyers, a judge or
two of the Supreme Bench, an admiral of good family and connections. I
have good reason to think that a Methodist bishop would not be present
at such a meeting unless he was a remarkable man. There were always a
dozen men of well-known lineage; men who knew their family history as
far back as their great-grandparents, and whose ancestors were
associated with the history of the country and its development. The men
were all in business or the professions. They went to their offices at
nine or ten o'clock and remained until twelve; lunched at their clubs or
at a restaurant, returned at one, and many remained until six before
going to their homes. The work is intense. A dominating factor or
characteristic in the American man is his pursuit of the dollar. That he
secures it is manifest from the miles of beautiful residences, the show
of costly equipages and plate, the unlimited range of "stores" or shops
one sees in large cities. The millionaire is a very ordinary individual
in America; it is only the billionaire who now really attracts
attention. The wealth and splendors of the homes, the magnificent _tout
ensemble_ of these establishments, suggests the possibility of
degeneracy, an appearance of demoralization; but I am assured that this
is not apparent in very wealthy families.

It is not to be understood that wealth always gives social position in
America. By reading the American papers you might believe that this is
all that is necessary. Some wealth is of course requisite to enable a
family to hold its own, to give the social retort courteous, to live
according to the mode of others; yet mere wealth will not buy the
_entrée_ to the very best society, even in villages. Culture,
refinement, education, and, most important, _savoir faire_, constitute
the "open sesame." I know a billionaire, at least this is his
reputation, who has no standing merely because he is vulgar--that is,
ill-bred. I have met another man, a great financier, who would give a
million to have the _entrée_ to the very best houses. Instances could be
cited without end.

Such men and women generally have their standing in Europe; in a word,
go abroad for the position they can not secure at home. A family now
allied to one of the proudest families in Europe had absolutely no
position in America previous to the alliance, and doubtless would not
now be taken up by some. You will understand that I am speaking now of
the most exclusive American society, formed of families who have age,
historical associations, breeding, education, great-grandparents, and
always have had "manners." There are other social sets which pass as
representative society, into which all the ill-mannered _nouveau riche_
can climb by the golden stairs; but this is not real society. The
richest man in America, Rockefeller, quoted at over a billion, is a
religious worker, and his indulgences consist in gifts to universities.
Another billionaire, Mr. Carnegie, gives his millions to found
libraries. Mr. Morgan, the millionaire banker, attends church
conventions as an antipodal diversion. There is no conspicuous
millionaire before the American public who has earned a reputation for
extreme profligacy.

There is a leisure class, the sons of wealthy men, who devote their time
to hunting and other sports; but in the recent war this class surged to
the front as private soldiers and fought the country's battles. I admire
the American gentleman of the select society class I have described. He
is modest, intelligent, learned in the best sense, magnanimous, a type
of chivalry, bold, vigorous, charming as a host, and the soul of honor.
It is a regret that this is not the dominating and best-known class in
America, but it is not; and the alien, the stranger coming without
letters of introduction, would fall into other hands. A man might live a
lifetime in Philadelphia or Boston and never meet these people, unless
he had been introduced by some one who was of the same class in some
other city. Such strange social customs make strange bedfellows. Thus,
if you came to America to-day and had letters to the Vice-President, you
would, without doubt, if properly accredited, see the very best
society. If, on the other hand, you had letters to the President at his
home in the State of Ohio you would doubtless meet an entirely different
class, eminently respectable, yet not the same. It would be impossible
to ignore the inference from this. The Vice-President is in society (the
best); the President is not. Where else could this hold? Nowhere but in

The Americans affect to scorn caste and sect, yet no nation has more of
them. Sets or classes, even among men, are found in all towns where
there is any display of wealth. The best society of a small town
consists of its bank presidents, its clergymen, its physicians, its
authors, its lawyers. No matter how educated the grocer may be, he will
not be received, nor the retail shoe dealer, though the shoe
manufacturer, the dealer in many shoes, may be the virtual leader, at
least among the men. Each town will have its clubs, the members ranging
according to their class; and while it seems a paradox, it is true that
this classification is mainly based upon the refinement, culture, and
family of the man. A well-known man once engaged me in conversation with
a view to finding out some facts regarding our social customs, and I
learned from him that a dentist in America would scarcely be received in
the best society. He argued, that to a man of refinement and culture,
such a profession, which included the cleaning of teeth, would be
impossible; consequently, you would not be likely to find a really
cultivated man who was a dentist. On the same grounds an undertaker
would not be admitted to the first society.

With us a gentleman is born; with Americans it is possible to create
one, though rarely. An American gentleman is described as a product of
two generations of college men who have always had association with
gentlemen and the advantages of family standing. Political elevation can
not affect a man's status as a gentleman. I heard a lady of unquestioned
position say that she admired President McKinley, but regretted that he
was not a gentleman. She meant that he was not an aristocrat, and did
not possess the _savoir faire_, or the family associations, that
completely round out the American or English gentleman. I asked this
lady to indicate the gentlemen Presidents of the country. There were
very few that I recall. There were Washington, Harrison, Adams, and
Arthur. Doubtless there were others, which have escaped me. Lincoln, the
strongest American type, she did not consider in the gentlemen class,
and General Grant, the nation's especial pride, did not fulfil her
ideas of what a gentleman should be.

You will perceive, then, that what some American people consider a
gentleman and what its most exclusive society accepts for one, comprise
two entirely different personages. I found this emphasized especially in
the old society of Washington, which takes its traditions from
Washington's time or even the pre-Revolutionary period. For such society
a self-made man was impossible. Such are the remarkable, indeed
astounding, ramifications of the social system of a people who cry to
heaven of their democracy. "Americans are all equal--this is one of the
gems in our diadem." This epigram I heard drop from the lips of a
senator who was the recognized aristocrat of the chamber; yet a man of
peculiar social reserve, who would have nothing to do with the other
"equals." In a word, all the talk of equality is an absurd figure of
speech. America is at heart as much an aristocracy as England, and the
social divisions are much the same under the surface.

You will understand that social rules and customs are all laid down and
exacted by women and from women. From them I obtained all my
information. No American gentleman would talk (to me at least) on the
subject. Ask one of them if there is an American aristocracy, and he
will pass over the question in an engaging manner, and tell you that his
government is based on the principle of perfect equality--one of the
most transparent farces to be found in this interesting country. I have
outlined to you what I conceived to be the best society in each city,
and in the various sections of the country. In morality and probity I
believe them to stand very high; lapses there may be, but the general
tone is good. The women are charming and refined; the men chivalrous,
brave, well-poised, and highly educated. Unfortunately, the Americans
who compose this "set" are numerically weak. They are not represented to
the extent of being a dominating body, and oddly enough, the common
people, the shopkeepers, the people in the retail trades, do not
understand them as leaders from the fact that they are so completely
aloof that they never meet them. A sort of inner "holy of holies" is the
real aristocracy of America. What goes for society among the people, the
mob, and the press is the set (and a set means a faction, a clique)
known as the Four Hundred, so named because it was supposed to represent
the "blue blood" of New York ten years ago in its perfection. This Four
Hundred has its prototype in all cities, and in some cities is known as
the "fast set." In New York it is made up often of the descendants of
old families, the heads of whom in many instances were retail traders
within one hundred and fifty years ago; but the modern wealthy
representatives endeavor to forget this or skip over it. It is, however,
constantly kept alive by what is termed the "yellow press," which
delights in picturing the ancestor of one family as a pedler and an
itinerant trader, and the head of another family as a vegetable vender,
and so on, literally venting its spleen upon them.

In my studies in American sociology I asked many questions, and obtained
the most piquant replies from women. One lady, a leader in New York in
what I have termed the exclusive set, informed me with a laugh that the
ancestor of a well-known family of to-day, one which cuts a commanding
figure in society, was an ordinary laborer in the employ of her
grandfather. "Yet you receive them?" I suggested. The reply was a shrug
of charming shoulders, which, translated, meant that great wealth had
here enabled them to "bore" into the exclusive circle. I found that even
among these people, the _crême de la crême_ in the eyes of the people,
there were inner circles, and these were not on intimate terms with the
others. Here I met a member of the Washington and Lee family, a
descendant of Bishop Provoost, the first Episcopal bishop of New York,
and friend of Washington and Hamilton. This latter family is notable for
an ancestry running back to the massacre of St. Bartholomew and even
beyond. I astonished its charming descendant, who very delicately
informed me that she knew her ancestry as far back as 1200 A. D., when I
told her that I had my "family tree," as they call it, without a break
for thirty-two hundred years. I am confident she did not believe me, but
her "Indeed!" was delightful. In fact, I assure you I have lost my heart
to these American women. I met representatives of the Adams, Dana,
Madison, Lee, and other families identified with American history in a
most honorable way.

The continuity of the Four Hundred idea as a logical system was broken
by the quality of some of its members. Compared to the society I have
previously mentioned it was as chaff. There was a total lack of
intellectuality. Degeneracy marked some of their acts; divorce blackened
their records, and shameless affairs marked them. In this "set," and
particularly its imitators throughout the United States, the divorce
rate is appalling. Men leave their wives and obtain a divorce for no
other reason than that a woman falls in love with another woman's
husband. On a yacht we will say there is some scandal. A divorce ensues,
and afterward the parties are remarried. Or we will say a wife succumbs
to the blandishments of another man. The conjugal arrangements are
rearranged, so that, as a very merry New York club man told me, "It is
difficult to tell where you are at." In a word, the morale of the men of
this set is low, their standard high, but not always lived up to. I
believe that I am not doing the American of the middle class wrong and
the ultra-fashionable class an injustice in saying that it is as a class

Americans make great parade of their churches. Spires rise like the
pikes of an army in every town, yet the morality of the men is low.
There are in this land 600,000 prostitutes--ruined women. But this is
not due entirely to the Four Hundred, whose irregularities appear to be
confined to inroads upon their own set. Nearly all these men are club
men; two-thirds are in business as brokers, bankers, or professional
men; and there is a large percentage of men of leisure and vast wealth.
They affect English methods, and are, as a rule, not highly intelligent,
but _blasé_, often effeminate, an interesting spectacle to the student,
showing that the downfall of the American Republic would come sooner
than that of Rome if the "fast set" were a dominating force, which it is

In the great middle class of the American men I find much to admire;
half educated, despite their boasted school system, they put up, to
quote one of them, "a splendid bluff" of respectability and morality,
yet their statistics give the lie to it. Their divorces are phenomenal,
and they are obtained on the slightest cause. If a man or woman becomes
weary of the other they are divorced on the ground of incompatibility of

A lady, a descendant of one of the oldest families, desired to marry her
friend's husband. He charged his wife with various vague acts, one of
which, according to the press, was that she did not wear "corsets"--a
sort of steel frame which the American women wear to compress the waist.
This was not accepted by the learned judge, and the wife then left her
husband and went away on a six or eight months' visit. This enabled the
husband to put in a claim of desertion, and the decree of divorce was
granted. A quicker method is to pretend to throw the breakfast dishes at
your wife, who makes a charge of "extreme incompatibility," and a
divorce is at once obtained. Certain Territories bank on their divorce
laws, and the mismated have but to go there and live a few months to
obtain a separation on almost any claim. Many of the most distinguished
statesmen have been charged with certain moral lapses in the heat of
political fights, which, in almost every instance, are ignored by the
victims, their silence being significant to some, illogical to others;
yet the fact remains that the press goes to the greatest extremes. No
family secret is considered sacred to the American politician in the
heat of a campaign; to win, he would sacrifice the husband, father,
mother, and children of his enemy. So remarkable is the rage for divorce
that many of the great religious denominations have taken up arms
against it. Catholics forbid it. Episcopalians resent it by ostracism if
the cause is trivial, and a "separation" is denounced in the pulpit.



The American is an interesting, though not always pleasant, study. His
perfect equipoise, his independence, his assumption that he is the best
product of the best soil in the world, comes first as a shock; but when
you find this but one of the many national characteristics it merely
amuses you. One of the extraordinary features of the American is his
attitude toward the Chinese, who are taken on sufferance. The lower
classes absolutely can conceive of no difference between me and the
"coolie." As an example, a boy on the street accosts me with "Hi, John,
you washee, washee?" Even a representative in Congress insisted on
calling me "John." On protesting to another man, he laughed, and said,
"Oh, the man don't know any better." "But," I replied, "if he does not
know any better how is it he is a lawmaker in your lower house?" "I give
it up," was his answer, and he ordered what they term a "high-ball."
After we had tried several, he laughed and asked, "Shall we consider the
matter a closed incident?" Many diplomatic, social, and political
questions are often settled with a "high-ball."

It is inconceivable to the average American that there can be an
educated Chinese gentleman, a man of real refinement. They know us by
the Cantonese laundrymen, the class which ranks with their lowest
classes. At dinners and receptions I was asked the most atrocious
questions by men and women. One charming young girl, who I was informed
was the relative of a Cabinet officer, asked me if I would not sometime
put up my "pig-tail," as she wished to photograph me. Another asked if
it was really true that we privately considered all Americans as "white
devils." All had an inordinate curiosity to know my "point of view";
what I thought of them, how their customs differed from my own. Of
course, replies were manifestly impossible. At a dinner a young man,
who, I learned, was a sort of professional diner-out, remarked to a
lady: "None of the American girls will have me for a husband; do you not
think that if I should go to China some pretty Chinese girl would have
me?" This was said before all the company. Every one was silent, waiting
for the response. Looking up, she replied, with charming _naïveté_, "No,
I do not think so," which produced much laughter. Now you would have
thought the young man would have been slightly discomfited, but not at
all; he laughed heartily, and plumed himself upon the fact that he had
succeeded in bringing out a reply.

American men have a variety of costumes for as many occasions. They have
one for the morning, which is called a sack-coat, that is, tailless, and
is of mixed colors. With this they wear a low hat, an abomination called
the derby. After twelve o'clock the frock-coat is used, having long
tails reaching to the knees. Senators often wear this costume in the
morning--why I could not learn, though I imagine they think it is more
dignified than the sack. With the afternoon suit goes a high silk hat,
called a "plug" by the lower classes, who never wear them. After dark
two suits of black are worn: one a sack, being informal, the other with
tails, very formal. They also have a suit for the bath--a robe--and a
sleeping-costume, like a huge bag, with sleeves and neck-hole. This is
the night-shirt, and formerly a "nightcap" was used by some. There is
also a hat to go with the evening costume--a high hat, which crushes in.
You may sit on it without injury to yourself or hat. I know this by a
harrowing experience.

Many of the customs of the Americans are strange. Their social life
consists of dinners, receptions, balls, card-parties, teas, and smokers.
At all but the last women are present. At the dinner every one is in
evening dress; the men wear black swallowtail coats, following the
English in every way, low white vest, white starched shirt, white collar
and necktie, and black trousers. If the dinner does not include women
the coat-tails are eliminated, and the vest and necktie are black.
Exactly why this is I do not understand, nor do the Americans. The
dinner is begun with the national drink, the "cocktail"; then follow
oysters on the half-shell, which you eat with an object resembling the
trident carried in the ceremony of Ah Dieu at the Triennial. Each course
of the dinner is accompanied by a different wine, an agreeable but
exhilarating custom. The knife and fork are used, the latter to go into
the mouth, the former not, and here you see a singular ethnologic
feature. Class distinctions may at times be recognized by the knife or
fork. Thus I was informed that you could at once recognize a person of
the gentleman class by his use of the knife and fork. "This is
infallible," said my young lady companion. If he is a commoner, he eats
with his knife; if a gentleman, with his fork. This was a very nice
distinction, and I looked carefully for a knife eater, but never saw

There is a vast amount of ceremony and etiquette about a dinner and
various rules for eating, to break which is a social offense. I heard
that a certain Madam ---- gave lessons in "good form" after the American
fashion, so that one could learn what was expected, and at my first
dinner I regretted that I had not availed myself of the services of the
lady, as at each plate there were nearly a dozen solid silver articles
to be used in the different courses, but I endeavored to escape by
watching my companion and following her example. But here the
impossibility of an American girl resisting a joke caused my downfall.
She at once saw my dilemma, and would take up the wrong implement, and
when I followed suit she dropped it and took another, laughing in her
eyes in a way in which the American girl is a prodigious adept; but
completely deceived by her nearly every time, knowing that she was
amusing herself at my expense, I said nothing. The Americans have a
peculiar term for the mental attitude I had during this trial. I "sawed
wood." The saying was particularly applicable to my situation. My young
companion was most engaging, and presently began to talk of the
superiority of America, her inventions, etc., mentioning the telephone,
printing, and others. "Yes, wonderful," I replied; "but the Chinese had
the telephone ages ago. They invented printing, gunpowder, the mariner's
compass, and it would be difficult," I said, "for you to mention an
object which China has not had for ages." She was amazed that I, a
Chinaman, should "claim everything in sight."

There is a peculiar etiquette relating to every course in a dinner. The
soup is eaten with a bowl-like spoon, and it is the grossest breach to
place this in your mouth, or approach it, endwise. You approach the
side and suck the soup from it. To make a noise would attract attention.
The etiquette of the fish is to eat it with a fork; to use the knife
even to cut the fish would be unpardonable, or to touch it to take out
the bones; the fork alone must be used. The punch course is often an
embarrassment to the previous wines, and is followed by what the French
call the _entrée_. In fact, while the Americans boast that everything
American is the best, French customs are followed at banquets
invariably, this being one of the strange inconsistencies of the
Americans. Their clothes are copied from the English, though they will
claim in the same breath that their tailors are the best in the world.
For wines they claim to be unsurpassed, producing the finest; yet the
wines on their tables are French or bear French labels. Game is
served--a grouse or perhaps a hare, and then a vast roast, possibly
venison, or beef, and there are vegetables, followed by a salad of some
kind. Then comes the dessert--an iced cream, cakes, nuts, raisins,
cheese, and coffee with brandy, and then cigars and vermuth or some
cordial. After such a dinner of three hours a Southern gentleman clapped
me on the back and said, "Great dinner, that; but let's go and get a
drink of something solid," and I saw him take what he termed "two
fingers" of Kentucky Bourbon whisky--a very stiff drink. I often
wondered how the guests could stand so much.

The dinner has no attendant amusement, no dancing, no professional
entertainers, and rarely lasts over two hours. Some houses have stringed
bands concealed behind barriers of flowers playing soft music, but in
the main the dinner is a jollification, a symposium of stories, where
the guests take a turn at telling tales. Story-tellers can not be hired,
and the guest at the proper moment says (after having prepared himself
beforehand), "That reminds me of a story," and he relates what he has
learned with great _éclat_ and applause, as every American will applaud
a good story, even if he has heard it time and again. At one dinner
which I attended in New York story-telling had been going on for some
time when a well-known man came in late. He was received with applause,
and when called on for a speech told exactly the same story, by a
strange coincidence, that had been told by the last speaker. Not a guest
interfered; he was allowed to proceed, and at the end the point was
greeted with a roar of laughter. This appeared to me to be an excellent
quality in the American character. I was informed that these stories,
forming so important a feature of American dinners, are the product
mainly of drummers and certain prominent men; but why men that drum are
more skilful in story inventing I failed to learn. President Lincoln and
a lawyer named Daniel Webster originated a large percentage of the
current stories. It is difficult to understand exactly what the
Americans mean.

The American story is incomprehensible to the average foreigner, but it
is good form to laugh. I will relate several as illustrative of American
wit, and I might add that many of these have been published in books for
the benefit of the diner-out. A Cabinet minister told of a prisoner who
was called to the bar and asked his name. The man had some impediment in
his speech, one of the hundred complaints of the tongue, and began to
hiss, uttering a strange stuttering sound like escaping steam. The
judge listened a few moments, then turning to the guard said, "Officer,
what is this man charged with?" "Soda-water, I think, your honor," was
the reply. This was unintelligible to me until my companion explained
it. You must understand that soda-water is a drink that is charged with
gas and makes a hissing, spluttering noise when opened. Hence when the
judge asked what the prisoner was charged with the policeman, an
Irishman, retorted with a joke, the story-teller disregarding the fact
that it was an impertinence.

A distinguished New York judge told the following: Two tenement
harridans look out of their windows simultaneously. "Good-morning, Mrs.
Moriarity," says one. "Good-morning, Mrs. Gilfillan," says the other,
adding, "not that I care a d----, but just to make conversation." This
was considered wit of the sharpest kind, and was received with applause.
In their stories the Americans spare neither age, sex, nor relatives.
The following was related by a general of the army. He said he took a
friend home to spend the night with him, the guest occupying the best
room. When he came down in the morning he turned to the hostess and
said, "Mrs. ----, that was excellent tooth-powder you placed at my
disposal; can you give me the name of the maker?" The hostess fairly
screamed. "What," she exclaimed, "the powder in the urn?" "Yes," replied
the officer, startled; "was it poison?" "Worse, worse," said she; "you
swallowed Aunt Jane!" Conceive of this wretched taste. The guest had
actually cleaned his teeth with the cremated dust of the general's aunt;
yet he told the story before a dinner assemblage, and it was received
with shouts of laughter.

I did not hear the intellectual conversation at dinner I had expected.
Art, science, literature, were rarely touched upon, although I
invariably met artists, litterateurs, and scientific men at these
dinners. They all talked small talk or "told stories." I was informed
that if I wished to hear the weighty questions of the day discussed I
must go to the women's clubs, or to Madam ----'s Current Topics Society.
The latter is an extraordinary affair, where society women who have no
time to read the news of the day listen to short lectures on the news of
the preceding week, discussed pro and con, giving these women in a
nutshell material for intelligent conversation when they meet senators
and other men at the various receptions before which they wish to make
an agreeable impression.

The American has many clubs, but is not entirely at home in them. He
uses them as places in which to play poker or whist, to dine his men
friends, and in a great measure because it is the "proper thing." At
many a room is set apart for the national game of poker--a fascinating
game to the player who wins. Poker was never mentioned in my presence
that some did not make a joke on a supposed Chinaman named Ah Sin; but
the obscurity of the joke and my lack of knowledge regarding American
literature caused the point to elude me at first, which was true of many
jokes. The Americans are preeminently practical jokers, and the ends to
which they go is beyond belief. I heard of jokes which, if perpetrated
in China, would have resulted in the loss of some one's head. To
illustrate this, in the Spanish-American War the camps at Tampa were
besieged with newspaper reporters, and one from a large journal was
constantly trying to secure secret news by entertaining certain officers
with wine and cigars; so they determined to get rid of his
importunities, and what is known as a "job" in America was "put up" on
him. He was told that Colonel ---- had a detailed map of the forthcoming
battle, and if he could get the officer intoxicated he doubtless could
secure the map. This looked very easy to the correspondent, so the story
goes, and he dropped into the colonel's tent one night with a basket of
wine, and began to celebrate its arrival from some friends. Soon the
colonel pretended to become communicative, and the map was brought out
and finally loaned to the correspondent under the promise that it would
not be used. This was sufficient. The correspondent hied him to his
tent, wrote an article and sent the map to his paper in one of the
large cities, where it was duly published. It proved to be what
dressmakers call a "Butterick pattern," a maze of lines for cutting out
dresses for women. The lines looked like roads, and the practical jokers
had merely added towns and forts and bridges here and there.

The Americans are excellent parents, though small families are general.
The domestic life is charming. The family is denied nothing needed, the
only limit being the purse of the head of the family, so called, the
real head in many cases being the wife, who does not fail to assert
herself if the proper occasion opens. Well-to-do families have every
luxury, and no nation is apparently so well off, so completely supplied
with the necessities of life as the American. One is impressed by their
business sagacity, their cleverness in finance, their complete grasp of
all questions, yet no people are easier gulled or more readily
victimized. An instance will suffice. In making my investigations
regarding methods of managing railroads, I not only obtained information
from the road officials, but questioned the employees whenever it
happened that I was traveling. One day, observing that it was the custom
to "tip" the porters (give money), I asked the conductor what the men
were paid. "Little or nothing," was the reply; "they get from
seventy-five to one hundred dollars a month out of the _passengers_ on a
long run." "But the passengers paid the road for the service?" "Yes, and
they pay the salary of the porter also," said the man. With that in view
the men are poorly paid, and the railroad knows that the people will
make up their salaries, as they do. If you refused you would have no

This rule holds everywhere, in hotels and restaurants. Servants receive
little pay where the patronage is rich, with the understanding that they
will make it up out of the customers. Thus if you go to a hotel you fee
the bell-boy for bringing you a glass of water. If you order one of the
seductive cocktails you fee the man who brings it; you fee the
chambermaid who attends to your room. Infinite are the resources of
these servants who do not receive a fee. You fee the elevator or lift
boy, or he will take the opportunity to jerk you up as though shot out
of a gun. You fee the porter for taking up your trunk, and give a
special fee for unstrapping it. You fee the head waiter, and when you
fee the table waiter he whispers in your ear that a slight fee will be
acceptable to the cook, who will see that the _Count_ or the _Judge_
will be cared for as becomes his station. When you leave, the sidewalk
porter expects a fee; if he does not receive it the door of the carriage
may possibly be slammed on the tail of your coat. Then you pay the
cabman two dollars to carry you to the station, and fee him. Arriving at
the station, he hands you over to a red-hatted porter, who carries your
baggage for a fee. He puts you in charge of the railroad porter, who is
feed at the rate of about fifty cents per diem.

The American submits to this robbery without a murmur; yet he is
sagacious, prudent. I can only explain his gullibility on the ground of
his innate snobbery; he thinks it is the "thing to do," and does it, and
for this reason it is carried to the most merciless lengths. To
illustrate. In the season of 1902, when I was at Newport, Mr. ----, a
conspicuous member of the New York smart set, known as the "Four
Hundred," lost his hat in some way and rode to his home without one.
The ubiquitous reporter saw him, and photographed him, bareheaded, and
his paper, the New York ----, gave a column the following day to a
description of the new fad of going without a hat. Thus the fashion
started, and the amazing spectacle was seen the summer following of men
and women of fashion riding and walking for miles without hats. This is
beyond belief, yet it attracted no attention from the common people, who
perhaps got the cast-off hats. Despite this, the Americans are
hard-fisted, shrewd, and as a nation a match for any in the field of

I can explain it in no way than by assuming that it is due to
overanxiety to do the correct thing. Their own actors satirize them, one
especially taking them off in a jingle which read, "It's English, quite
English, you know." It is said of the men of the "Four Hundred" that
they turn up their trousers when it rains in London, special reports of
the weather being sent to the clubs for the purpose; but I cannot vouch
for this. I have seen the trousers turned up in all weathers, and found
no one who could explain why he did so. What can you make of so
contradictory a people?



The most remarkable feature of America is the women. Divest your mind of
any woman you know in order to prepare yourself to receive my
impressions. To begin with, the American woman ranks with her husband;
indeed, she is his superior in that all men render her homage and
deference. It is accounted a point of chivalry to stand as the defender
of the weaker sex. The American girl is educated with the boys in the
public school, grows up with them, and studies their studies, that she
may be their intellectual equal, and there is a strong party, led by
masculine women, who contend for complete political rights for women.
In some States they vote, and in nearly all may be elected to boards of
various kinds and to minor offices. The Government departments are
filled with women clerks, and all, from the lowest to the highest, are
equal; hence, it is a difficult matter to find a native-born American
who will become a servant. They all aspire to be ladies, and even aliens
become salesladies, cook ladies, laundry ladies. They are on their
dignity, and able to protect it from any point of attack.

The lower classes are particularly uninteresting, for they have no
individuality, and ape the class above them, the result being a cheap,
ludicrous imitation of a lady--an absurd abstraction. The women of the
lower classes who are unmarried work in shops, factories, and
restaurants, often in situations the reverse of sanitary; yet prefer
this to good situations in families as servants, service being beneath
their dignity and tending to disturb the balance of equality. I doubt if
a native-born woman would permit herself to be called a servant; indeed,
all the servants are Irish, Swedes, Norwegians, French, German, or
negroes; the American girls fill the factories and the sweat-shops of
the great cities. When I refer these girls to the lower classes it is
merely to classify them, as morally and intellectually they are
sometimes the equal of the higher classes. The middle-class women or
girls are an attractive type, well educated and often beautiful. You
obtain an idea of them in the great shops and bazaars of the great
cities, where they fill every conceivable position and receive from five
to six dollars per week.

But it is with the higher classes that you will be most interested, and
when I say that the American girl, the product of the first families,
is at once beautiful, refined, cultured, charming physically and
mentally, I have but faintly expressed it; yet the most pronounced
characteristic is their "daring," or temerity. There is no word exactly
to cover it. I frequently met women at dinners. With few exceptions, it
appears impossible for the American girl to take one of our race, an
Oriental, seriously. She can not conceive that he may be a man of
intelligence and education, and I can not better describe her than to
sketch in its detail a dinner to which I was invited by the ---- at
Washington. The invitation was engraved on a small card and read "The
---- and Mrs. ---- request the honor of the presence of the ---- at
dinner on Wednesday at eight o'clock, etc." I immediately sent my valet
with an acceptance and a basket of orchids to the hostess, this being
the mode among the men who are _au fait_.

A week later I went to the dinner, and was taken up to the dressing-room
for men, where I found a dozen or more, all in the conventional evening
dress I have described--now with tails, it being a ladies' affair. In a
corner was a table, and by it stood a negro, also in a dress suit,
identical with that of the others. I was cordially greeted by a guest,
who said, "Let me introduce you to our American minister to Ijiji and
Zanzibar," and he presented me to the tall negro, who was turning out
some bottled "cocktail." I shook hands with him, and he laughed, showing
a set of teeth like an elephant's tusks, and asked me "what I would
have." He was a servant dealing out "appetizers," and this was an
American joke. The perpetrator of this joke was a minor official in the
State Department, yet the entire party apparently considered it a good
joke. Fortunately, I could disguise my real feeling, and I merely relate
the incident to give you an idea of the sense of the proprieties as
entertained by certain Americans. All that winter the story of the
American minister to Zanzibar was told at my expense without doubt.

Having been "fortified," and some of the men took two or three
"cocktails" before they became "tuned up," we went down to the
drawing-room, where I paid my respects to the host and hostess, who
stood at the end of a beautiful room. As I approached the lady greeted
me with a charming smile, extending her gloved hand almost on a direct
line with her face, grasping it firmly, not shaking it, saying, "Very
kind of you, ----. Delighted, I am sure. General"--turning to her
husband--"you know the ----, of course," and the general shook my hand
as he would a pump-handle, and whispered, "Our minister to Zanzibar
treated you all right, eh?" and with a wink indescribable, closing the
right eye for a second, passed me on. The story had got down-stairs
before me. Americans of the official class have, as a rule, an absolute
lack of _savoir faire_ and social refinement; lack them so utterly as to
become comical.

I now joined other groups of officers and officials, there being about
thirty guests, half of whom were ladies. The latter were all in what is
termed full dress. Why "full" I do not know. Here you see one of the
most extraordinary features of American life--the dress of women. The
Americans make claim to being among the most modest, the most religious,
the most proper people in the world, yet the appearance of the ladies
at many public functions is beyond belief. All the women in this house
were beautiful and covered with jewels. They wore gowns in the French
court fashion, with trains a yard or two in length, but the upper part
cut so low that a large portion of the neck and shoulders was exposed. I
was embarrassed beyond expression; such an exhibition in China could
only be made by a certain class. These matrons were of the highest
respectability. This remarkable custom of a strange people, who deluge
China with missionaries from every sect under the sun and at home commit
the grossest solecisms, is universal, and not thought of as improper.
There was not much opportunity for introspective analysis, yet I could
not but believe that such a custom must have its moral effect upon a
nation in the long run.

It was a mystery to me how the upper part of some of the gowns was
supported. In some instances there was no strap over the shoulders, the
upper third of these alabaster torsos and arms being absolutely naked,
save for a band of pearls, diamonds, or other gems, of a size rarely
seen in the Orient; but I learned later that the bone or steel corset,
which molds the form, constituted the support of the gown. I gradually
became habituated to the custom, and did not notice it. My friend ----,
an artist of repute, explained that it all depends on the point of view.
"Our people are essentially artistic," he said. "There is nothing more
beautiful than the divine female contour; the American women realize
this, and sacrifice themselves at the altar of art." Yet the Americans
are such jokers that exactly what my friend had in mind it was difficult
to arrive at.

After being presented to these marvelously arrayed ladies we passed
into the dining-room, where I found myself with one of the most charming
of divinities, a woman famous for her wit and literary success. I have
described the typical dinner, so I need not repeat my words. My
companion held the same extraordinary attitude toward me that all
American women do; amused, half laughing, refusing absolutely to take me
seriously, and probing me with so many absurd questions that I was
forced to ask some very pointed ones, which only succeeded in making her
laugh. The conversation proceeded something as follows: "I am charmed
that I have fallen to your Highness." "Equally charmed," I replied; "but
my rank does not admit the adjective you do me the honor to apply."
"No?" was the answer. "Well, I'll wager you anything that when the
butler pours your wine in the first course he will call you Count, and
in the next Prince. You see, they become exhilarated as the dinner
progresses. But tell me, how many wives have you in China, you look
_very_ wicked?" Imagine this! But I rallied, and replied that I had
none--a statement received with incredulity. Her next question was,
"Have you ever been a highbinder?" Ministers of grace! and this from a
people who profess to know more than any nation on earth! I explained
that a highbinder ranked with a professional murderer in this country,
whereupon she again laughed, and, turning to General ----, in a loud
voice said, "General, I have been calling the ---- a highbinder," at
which the company laughed at my expense. In China, as you know, a guest
or a host would have killed himself rather than commit so gross a
solecism; but this is America.

The second course was oysters served in the shell, and my companion,
assuming that I had never seen an oyster [ignorant that our fathers ate
oysters thousands of years before America was heard of and when the
Anglo-Saxon was living in a cave], in a confidential and engaging
whisper remarked, "This, your 'Highness,' is the only animal we eat
alive." "Why alive?" I asked, looking as innocent as possible; "why not
kill them?" "Oh, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
will not permit it," was her reply. "You see, if they are swallowed
alive they are immediately suffocated, but if you cut them up they
suffer horribly while the soup is being served. How large a one do you
think you can swallow?" Fancy the daring of a young girl to joke with a
man twice her age in this way! I did not undeceive her, and allowed her
to enlighten me on various subjects of contemporaneous interest. "It's
so strange that the Chinese never study mathematics," she next remarked.
"Why, all our public schools demand higher mathematics, and in the
fourth grade you could not find a child but could square the circle."

In this manner this volatile young savage entertained me all through the
dinner, utterly superficial herself, yet possessed of a singular
sharpness and wit, mostly at my expense; yet she was so charming I
forgave her. There is no denying that you become enraged, insulted,
chagrined by these women, who, however, by a look, dispel your
annoyance. I do not understand it. I found that while an author of a
novel she was grossly ignorant of the literature of her own country, yet
she possessed that consummate American froth by which she could
convince the average person that she was brilliant to the point of
scintillation. I fancy that any keen, well-educated woman must have seen
that I was laughing at her, yet so inborn was her belief that a Chinaman
must be an imbecile that she was ever joking at my expense. The last
story she told me illustrates the peculiar fancy for joking these women
possess. I had been describing a storm at Manchester-by-the-Sea and the
splendor of the ocean. "Did you see the tea-leaves?" she asked,
solemnly. "No," I replied. "That is strange," she said. "I fear you are
not very observing. After every storm the tea-leaves still wash up all
along Massachusetts Bay," alluding to the fact that loads of tea on
ships were tossed over by the Americans during the quarrel with England
before the Revolution.

The daring of the American woman impressed me. This same lady asked me
not to remain with the men to smoke but go on the veranda with her,
where _tête-à-tête_ she produced a gold cigarette-case and offered me a
cigarette. This I found not uncommon. American women of the fast sets
drink at the clubs; an insidious drink--the "high-ball"--is a common
one, yet I never saw a woman under the influence of wine or liquor. The
amount of both consumed in America, is amazing. The consumption per head
in the United States for beer alone is ten and a half gallons for each
of the eighty millions. My friend, a prohibitionist, a member of a
political party whose object is to ruin the wine industry of the world,
put it stronger, and, backed by facts, said that if the wine, beer,
whisky, gin, and alcoholic drinks of all kinds and the tea and coffee
drank yearly by the Americans could be collected it would make a lake
two miles square and ten feet deep. The alcoholic drinks alone if
collected would fill a canal one hundred miles long, one hundred feet
wide, and ten feet deep. May their saints propitiate this insatiate

It would amuse you to hear the American women of literary tendency boast
of their schools, yet when educational facilities are considered the
average American is ignorant. They are educated in lines. Thus a girl
graduate will speak French with a good accent, or she will converse in
Milwaukee German. She can prove her statement in conic sections or
algebra, but when it comes to actual knowledge she is deficient. This is
due to the ignorance of the teachers in the public schools and their
lack of inborn culture. No better test of the futility of the American
public-school education can be seen than the average girl product of
the public school of the lower class in a city like Chicago or New York.
Americans affect to despise Chinese methods because the Chinese girl or
boy is not crammed with a thousand thoughts of no relative value. China
has existed thousands of years; her people are happy; happiness and
content are the chief virtues, and if China is ever overthrown it will
be not because, as the Americans put it, she is behind the times, but
because the fever of unrest and the craze for riches has become a
contagion which will react upon her. The development of China is normal,
that of America hysterical. Our growth has been along the line of peace;
that of other nations has been entirely opposed to their own religious
teaching, showing it to be farcical and pure sophistry.

If I should tell you how many American women asked me why Chinese women
bandage their feet you would be amazed; yet every one of these submitted
to and practised a deformity that has seriously affected the growth and
development of the race. I am no iconoclast, but listen to the story of
the American woman who, with one hand, deforms her waist in the most
barbarous fashion, while waving the other in horror at her Chinese
sister with the bound feet. American women change their fashions twice a
year or more. Fashions are in the hands of the middle classes, and the
highest lady in the land is completely at their mercy; to disobey the
mandates of fashion is to become ridiculous. The fashion is set in Paris
and various cities by men and women who have skilled artists to draw
patterns and paint pictures showing the new mode. These are published in
certain papers and issued by millions, republished in America, and no
woman here would have the temerity to ignore them. The laws of the Medes
and Persians are not more inexorable.

It is not a suggestion but an order, a fiat, a command, so we see this
free nation really truckling to or dominated by a class of tradesmen.
The object of the change of style is to create a sale for new goods,
give work for laborers, and enable the producer to reach the pocketbook
of the rich man; but the "fashions" have become so fixed, so thoroughly
a national feature, that they affect rich and poor, and we have the
spectacle of every woman studying these guides and conforming to them
with a servility beyond belief. I once said to a lady, "The Chinese lady
dresses richer than the American, but her styles have been very much the
same for thousands of years," but I believe she doubted it. It would be
futile, indeed impossible, for me to explain the extravagances of
American fashion. Their own press and stage use it as a standard butt.
At the present time tablets or plates of fashion insist upon an outline
which shows the form completely, the antipodes of a Chinese woman; and
this is intensified by some of the women who, when in the street, grasp
the skirt and in an ingenious way wrap it about so that the outline of
the American divinity is sufficiently well defined to startle one. Such
a trick in China could but originate with the demimonde, yet it is taken
up by certain of the Americans who are constantly seeking for variety.
There can be no question but that the middle-class fashion designer
revenges himself upon the _beau monde_. They will not receive him
socially, so he forces them to wear his clothes.

Some years ago women were made to wear "hoops," pictures of which I
have seen in old publications. Imagine, if you can, a bird-cage three
feet high and four feet across, formed of bone of the whale or some
metal. This was worn beneath the dress, expanding it on either side so
that it was difficult to approach a lady. A later order was given to
wear a camel-like "hump" at the base of the vertebral column, which was
called the "bustle"--a contrivance calculated to unnerve the wearer, not
to speak of the looker-on; yet the American woman adopted it, distorted
her body, and aped the gait of the kangaroo, the form being called the
"Grecian bend." This lasted six months or more; first adopted by the
aristocracy, then by the common people, and by the time the latter had
it well in hand the _bon ton_ had cast it aside and were trying
something else.

A close study of this mad dressing shows that there is always a "hump."
At one time it went all around; later appeared only behind, like an
excrescence on a bilbol-tree. At the present time the designer has drawn
his picture showing it as a pendent bag from the "shirtwaist," like the
pouch of the bird pelican. A few years ago the designer, in a delirium,
placed the humps on the tops of the sleeves, then snatched them away and
tipped them upside down. Finally he appeared to go utterly mad with the
desire to humiliate the woman, and created a fashion that entailed
dragging the skirt on the ground from one to two feet.

Did the American woman resent the insult; did she refuse to adopt a
custom not only disgusting but really filthy, one that a Chinese lady
would have died rather than have accepted? By no means; she seized upon
it with the ardor of a child with a new toy, and for a year the
side-paths of the great cities of the country were swept by women's
skirts, clouds of dust following them. The press took up the question,
but without effect; the fashion dragged its nauseating and frightful
course from rich and poor, and I was told by an official that it was
impossible to stop it or to force a glimmer of reason into the minds of
these women. Then they gave it up, and passed a law making it a
statutory offense, with heavy fines, for any one to "expectorate" on the
sidewalk or anywhere else where the saliva could be swept up by the
trains of the women of nearly all classes who followed the fashion. The
American woman, as I have said, looks askance at the footgear of the
Chinese--high, warm, dry, sanitary, yet revels in creations which cramp
the feet and distort the anatomy. The shoes are made of leather,
inflexible, pointed; and to enable them to deceive the men into the
belief that they have high insteps (a sign of good blood here) the women
wear stilt-like heels, which throw the foot forward and elevate the heel
from two to three inches above the ground.

But all this is but a bagatelle to the fashions in deformity which we
find among nearly all American women. There are throughout the country
numbers of large manufactories which make "corsets"--a peculiar waist
and lung compressor, used by nearly every woman in America. These men
are as dogmatic as the designers of the fashion-plates. They also issue
plates or guides showing new changes, and the women, like sheep, adopt
them. The American woman believes that a narrow waist enhances her
beauty, and the corset-maker works upon the national weakness and builds
creations that put to shame and ridicule the bound feet of the
aristocratic Chinese woman. The corset is a lace and ribbon-decorated
armor, made either of steel ribs or whale-bone, which fits the waist and
clings to the hips. It is laced up, and the degree of tightness depends
upon the will or nerve of the wearer. It compresses the heart and lungs,
and wearing it is a most barbarous custom--a telling argument against
the assumption of high intelligence on the part of the Americans, who,
in this respect, rank with the flat-headed Indians of the northwest
American coast, whose heads I have seen in their medical offices side by
side with a diagram showing the abnormal conditions caused by the

A year ago the fiat went forth that the American woman must have wide
hips. Presto! there appeared especially devised machinery, advertised in
all the journals, accomplishing the condition for those whom nature had
not well endowed. Now the dressmaker has decided that they must be
narrow-hipped, and half a million dollars in false hips, rubber pads,
and other properties are cast aside. No extravaganza is too absurd for
these people who are abject slaves to the whimsicalities of the
designer, who is a wag in his way, as has been well shown in a story
told to me. The designers for a famous man dressmaker in Paris had a
habit of taking sketches of the latest creations to their club meetings.
One evening a clever caricaturist took a caricature of a fashion showing
a woman with enormous and outlandish sleeves. It created a laugh. "As
impossible as it is," said the artist, "I will wager a dinner that if I
present it seriously to a certain fashion paper they will take it up."
This is said to be the history of the "big-sleeve" fashion that really
amazed the Americans themselves.

The customs of women here are so at variance with those of China that
they are not readily understood. Our ways are those culled from a
civilization of thousands of years; theirs from one just beginning; yet
they have the temerity to speak of China as effete and behind the times.
In writing, the women affect the English round hand and write across
from left to right, and then beginning at the left of the page again.
They are fond of perfumes, especially the lower classes, and display a
barbaric taste for jewels. It is not uncommon to see the wife of a
wealthy man wear half a million pounds sterling in diamonds or rubies at
the opera. I was told that one lady wore a $5,000 diamond in her garter.
The utterly strange and contradictory customs of these women are best
observed at the beach and bath. In China if a woman is modest she is so
at all times; but this is not true with some Americans, who appear to
have the desire to attract attention, especially that of men, by an
appeal to the beautiful in nature and art; at least this is the
impression the unprejudiced looker-on gains by a sojourn in the great
cities and fashionable resorts. If you happen to be riding horseback, or
walking in the street with a lady, and any accident occurs to her
costume whereby her neck, her leg, or her ankle is exposed, she will be
mortified beyond expression; yet the night previous you might have sat
in the box with her at the opera, when her décolleté gown had made her
the mark for hundreds of lorgnettes. Again, this lady the next morning
might bathe with me at the beach and lie on the sand basking in the sun
like a siren in a costume that would arrest the attention of a St.

Let me describe such a costume: A pair of skin-tight black stockings,
then a pair of tights of black silk and a flimsy black skirt that comes
just to the knee; a black silk waist, armless, and as low in the neck as
the moral law permits, beneath which, to preserve her contour, is a
water-proof corset. Limbs, to expose which an inch on the street were a
crime, are blazoned to the world at Newport, Cape May, Atlantic City,
and other resorts, and often photographed and shown in the papers. To
explain this manifest contradiction would be beyond the powers of an
Oriental, had he the prescience of the immortal Confucius and the
divination of a Mahomet and Hilliel combined.



Among the many topics I have discussed with Americans, our alleged
superstitions, or our belief in so-called dragons, genii, ghosts, etc.,
seem to have made the deepest impression. A charming American woman,
whom I met at the ---- Embassy at dinner, told me with seriousness that
our people may be intelligent, but the fact that in San Francisco and
Los Angeles they at certain times drag through the streets a dragon five
hundred feet long to exorcise the evil spirits, showed that the Chinese
were grossly superstitious. If I had told my companion that she was the
victim of a thousand superstitions, she would have taken it as an
affront, because, according to American usage, it is not proper to
dispute with a lady. The Americans are the most superstitious people in
the world. They will not sit down to a dinner-table when there are
thirteen persons. No hostess would attempt such a thing, the belief
being general that some one of the guests would die within a year. I was
a guest at a dinner-party when a lady suddenly remarked, "We are
thirteen." Several of the guests were evidently much annoyed, and the
hostess, a most pleasing woman, apologized, and replied that she had
invited fourteen, but one guest had failed her. It was apparent that
something must be done, and this was cleverly solved by the hostess
sending for her mother, who joined the party, and the dinner proceeded.
I do not think _all_ the guests believed in this absurd superstition,
but they were _all_ very uncomfortable. I do not believe I met a
society woman in Washington or New York who would walk through a
cemetery or graveyard at midnight alone. I asked several ladies if they
would do this, and all were horrified at the idea, though strongly
denying any belief in ghosts or spirits.

In nearly every American city one or more houses may be found haunted by
ghosts, which Americans believe have made the places so disagreeable
that the houses have been in consequence deserted. So well-defined is
the superstition, and so recurrent are the beliefs in ghosts and
spirits, that the best-educated people have found it necessary to
establish a society, called the Society for Psychical Research, in order
to demonstrate that ghosts are not possible. I believe I am not
overstepping the bounds when I say that this vainglorious people, who
claim to have the finest public-school system in the world, are,
considering their advantages, the most superstitious of all the white
races. Out of perhaps thirty men, whom I asked, not one was willing to
say he could pass through a graveyard at night without fear at heart, an
undefined nervous feeling, due to innate superstition. The middle-class
woman who stumbles upstairs considers it to mean that she will not
marry. To break a mirror, or receive as a present a knife, also means
bad luck. Many people wear amulets, safe-guards, and good-luck stones.
Several millions of the Catholic sect wear a charm, which they think
will save them from sudden death. All Catholics believe that some of
their churches own the bones of saints, which have the power to give
them health and other good things. Many Americans wear the seed of the
horse-chestnut, and many others wear lucky coins. Belief in the luck of
the four-leaf clover, instead of that with three leaves, is so strong
that people will spend hours in hunting for one. They are designed into
pins and certain insignia, and used in a hundred other ways.

But more remarkable than all is the old horseshoe superstition. I have
seen beautifully gowned ladies stop their driver, descend from the
carriage, and pick up such a shoe and carry it home, telling me that
they never failed to pick up one, as it brought good luck; yet this lady
laughed at our dragon! In the country, horseshoes are commonly seen over
the doors of stables, and even of houses. These same people once hung
women for witchcraft, and slaughtered women for persisting in certain
religious beliefs. I had the pleasure of meeting a well-known man, who
stated that he had the power of the "evil eye." Innumerable people
believe the paw of an animal called the rabbit to contain sovereign good
luck. They carry it about, and can buy it in shops. Indeed, I could fill
a volume, much less a letter, with the absurd superstitions of these
people who send women to China to convert the "Heathen Chinee," who may
be "peculiar," as Mr. Harte states in his poem; but the Chinaman
certainly has not the marvelous variety of superstitions possessed by
the American, who does not allow cats about rooms where there are
infants, fearing that they will suck the child's breath; who believe
that certain snakes milk cows, and that mermen are possible. I stood in
a tent last summer at Atlantic City--a large seaside resort--and watched
a line of middle-class people passing to see a "Chinese mermaid," of the
kind the Japanese manufacture so cleverly. It was to be seen on the
water. All, so far as I could judge, accepted it as real. So much for
the influence of the American public school, where physiology is taught.



One feature of American life is so peculiar that I fear I can not
present it to you clearly, as there is nothing like it under the sun. I
refer to the newspapers. If such an institution should appear in any
Oriental country, or even in Russia, many heads would fall to the ground
for treason or gross disrespect to the power of the throne. The American
must not only have the news of his neighbor, but the news of the world
every hour in the day, and the newspapers furnish it. In the villages
they appear weekly, in the towns daily, in the great cities hourly, boys
screaming their names, shouting and yelling like demons. Yesterday
beneath the window a boy screamed, "The Empress of China elopes with
her coachman!" I bought the paper, in which a column was devoted to it.
Fancy this in Pekin. Shades of ----! I can not better describe these
papers than to say they have absolute license as to what to print, this
freedom being a principle, but it is grossly abused by blackmailers. The
papers have no respect for man, woman, or child, the President or the
Deity. The most flagrant attacks are made upon private persons. Rarely
is an editor shot or imprisoned. The President may be called vile names,
his appearance may become the butt of ridicule in opposition papers, and
cartoonists, employed at large salaries, draw insulting pictures of him
and his Cabinet. One would think that the way to obtain patronage of a
person would be to praise him, but this would be considered an
orientalism. The real way to secure readers in America is to abuse,
insult, and outrage private feelings, the argument being that people
will buy the journal to see what is said about them. All the American
press is not founded upon this system of virtual blackmail. There are
respectable papers, conservative and honorable; but I believe I am not
overstating it when I say that every large city has at least one paper
where the secrets of a family and its most sacred traditions are treated
as lawful game.

The actual heads of papers have often been men of high standing, as
Horace Greeley, Henry J. Raymond, E. L. Godkin, Henry Watterson, the
late Charles A. Dana, James Gordon Bennett, and William Cullen Bryant.
But in the modern newspaper the man in control is a managing editor,
whose tenure of office depends upon his keeping ahead of all others.
The press, then, with its telegraphic connection with the world, with
its thousands of readers, is a power, and in the hands of a man of small
mind becomes a menace to civilization and easily drifts into blackmail.
This is displayed in a thousand ways, especially in politics. The editor
desires to obtain "influence," the power to secure places for his
favorites, and, if he is slighted, he intimates to the men in power,
"Appoint my candidate or I will attack you." This is a virtual threat.
In this way the editor intimidates the office-holder. I was informed by
a good authority of two journals of standing in America which he knew
were started as "blackmailing sheets"; and certainly the license of the
press is in every way diabolical, a result of the American dogma of free
speech. When one arrives in America he is met with dozens of
representatives of the press, who ask a thousand and one personal and
impertinent questions, which, if one does not answer, one is attacked in
some insidious way. One man I know refused to listen to a very
importunate newspaper man, and was congratulating himself on his escape,
when on the following day an article appeared in the paper giving
several libelous pictures of him, the object being to show that he had
nothing to say because he was mentally deficient. He appealed to the
editor, but was told that his only recourse was to sue. As one walks
down the gangplank of a ship he may become the mark for ten or fifteen
cameras, which photograph him without permission, and whose owners will
"poke fun" at his resistance.

As a news-collecting medium the press of the United States is a
magnificent organization. At breakfast you receive the news of the
whole world--social, diplomatic, criminal, and religious. Meetings of
Congress and stories of private life are alike all served up, fully
illustrated with pictures of the people and events. A corner is devoted
to children, another to women, another to religious Americans, and a
little sermon is preached. Then there are suggestive pictures for the
man about town, recipes for the cook, weather reports for the traveler,
a story for the romancer, perhaps a poem, and an editorial page, where
ideas and theories are promulgated and opinions manufactured on all
subjects, ready made for adoption by the reader, who in many instances
has his thinking done for him. I made a test of this, and asked a number
of men for their opinion on a certain subject, and then guessed the name
of their favorite paper, and in most instances was correct. They all
claimed that they took the paper because it agreed with their political
ideas; but I am confident that the reverse is true, the paper having
insidiously trained them to adopt its view. Here we see where the power
of one man or editor comes in, and worse yet, a nation which acquires
this "newspaper habit," this having some one to think for it by
machinery, as it were, will lose its mental power, its facility in
analysis. I made bold to suggest this to a prominent man, but he merely
laughed. As a whole, the American newspapers are valuable; they are the
real educators of the people, and have a vast influence. For this reason
there should be some restriction imposed on them.



At a dinner at Manchester in the summer I had as my _vis-à-vis_ a
delightful young American, who, among other things, said to me: "It is
astonishing to me that so many of your people live long, considering the
ignorance of your doctors." I assured her that this was merely her point
of view, and that we were well satisfied with our doctors or physicians.
I wished to retaliate by telling my fair companion a story I had heard
the day previous. An American physician operated upon a man and removed
what he called a "cyst," which he displayed with some pride to a doctor
of another school. "Why, man," said the latter, "that isn't a cyst;
it's the man's kidney!"

The Americans have made rapid advances in medicine and surgery, and they
have some extraordinary physicians. From two to four years of study
completes the education of some of the doctors, and hundreds are turned
out every year. Some are of the old and regular school of medicine, but
others are called homeopathic, which means that they give small doses of
the more powerful medicines. Then there are those who practise in both
schools. Indeed, in no other field does ignorance, superstition,
credulity, and lack of real education display itself as among the
American doctors or healers. I believe I could fill a volume by the mere
enumeration of the diabolical and absurd nostrums offered by knaves to
heal men who profess to hold in ridicule the Chinese doctors. I mention
but a few, and when I tell you, as a truth beyond cavil, that the most
extraordinary of these healers, the most impossible, have the largest
following, you can see what I mean by the credulity of the people as a
whole. Christian Science doctors have a following of tens of thousands.
They combine so-called science with religion; leave their God to cure
them at long or short range through the medium of so-called agents. The
head of this faction is an ignorant but clever woman, who has turned the
heads of perhaps thirty-three and a third per cent of the American women
whom she has come in contact with.

Then come the faith curists, who rely upon faith alone. You simply are
to _think_ you will get well. Of course, many die from neglect. As an
illustration of the credulity of the average American, a Christian
Science healer was once treating a sick woman from a distant town, and
finally the patient died. When the bill was presented the husband said,
"You have charged for treatment two weeks after my wife died." It was a
fact that the healer had been treating the woman after she was buried,
the husband having failed to give notice of the death. One would have
expected the "healer" to be thrown into confusion, but far from it; she
merely replied, "I thought I noticed a vacancy."

Next come the musical curists, who listen to thrills of sound, a big
organ being the doctor. Then there is the psychometric doctor, who cures
by spirits. The spirit doctor cures in the same way. The palmist
professes to point out how to avoid the ills of life. Magnetic healers
have hundreds of victims in every city. Their advertisements in the
journals of all sorts are of countless kinds. Some cure at short hand,
some miles distant from the patient. They are equaled in numbers by the
hypnotists, or hypnotic doctors, who profess to throw their patients
into a trance and cure them by suggestion. I heard of one cure in which
the guileless American is made to lie in an open grave; this is called
"the return to nature." Again, patients are cured by being buried in hot
mud or in hot sand. I have seen a salt-water cure, where patients were
made to remain in the ocean ten hours a day. The plain water cure has
thousands of followers, with hospitals and infirmaries, where the
patient is bathed, soaked, filled, washed, and plunged in water and
charged a high amount.

Then there is the vegetarian cure, no meat being eaten; and there are
the meat eaters, who use no vegetables. There are over fifty thousand
_masseurs_ and osteopaths in the country, who cure by baths and
rubbing. You may have a bath of milk, water, electricity, or alcohol, or
a bath of any description under the sun, which is guaranteed to cure any
and all ailments. Perhaps the most extraordinary curists are the color
doctors. They have rooms filled with blue and other colors, in whose
rays the patient victim or the victim patient sits, "like Patience on a
monument." I could not begin to give you an enumeration of the various
kinds of electric cures; they are legion. But the most amazing class
comprises the patent-medicine men, who are usually not doctors at all,
but buy from some one a "cure" and then advertise it, spending in one
instance which I investigated one million dollars a year. Every
advantageous wall, stone, or cliff in America will be posted. You see
the name at every turn, and the gullible Americans bite, chew, and

It is not overstating facts when I say that three-fifths of the people
buy some of these patent nostrums, which the real medical men denounce,
showing that the masses of the people are densely ignorant, the victims
of any faker who may shout his wares loud enough. In China such a thing
would be impossible; the block would stop the practise; but, my dear
----, the Americans assure me China is a thousand years behind the
times, for which let us be devoutly thankful! I have not enumerated a
tenth of the kinds of doctors who prey upon these unfortunate people.
There are companies of them, who guarantee to cure anything, and
skilfully mulct the sick of their last penny. There are retreats for the
unfortunate, farms for deserted infants, and homes for unfortunate
women carried on by villains of both sexes. There are traveling doctors
who go from town to town, who cure "while you wait," and give a circus
while talking and selling their cure; and in nine cases out of ten the
nostrum is an alcoholic drink disguised.

In no land under the sun are there so many ignorant blatant fakers
preying on a people, and in no land do you find so credulous a throng as
in America, yet claiming to represent the cream of the intelligence of
the world; they are so easily led that the most impossible person, if he
be a good talker, can go abroad and by the use of money and audacity
secure a following to drink his salt water, paying a dollar a bottle for
it and sing his praises. Such a doctor can secure the names and pictures
of judges, governors of States, senators, congressmen, prominent men and
women, officers of the volunteer army, artists, actors, singers--in
fact, prominent people of all kinds will provide their pictures and give
testimonials, which are blazonly published. These same people go to
Chinese drug shops and laugh at the "heathen" drugs, and wonder why the
Chinaman is alive. America has a body of physicians and surgeons who are
a credit to the world, modest, conscientious, and with a high sense of
honor, but they are as a dragon's tooth in a multitude to the so-called
"quacks," who take the money of the masses and prey upon them, protected
in many cases by the law. No one profession so demonstrates the abject
credulity of the great mass of Americans as that of medicine.

One other incident may further illustrate the jokes these so-called
doctors play upon the common people. In a country town was a "quack"
doctor, who professed to be a "head examiner," giving people charts
according to their "bumps," a fad which has many followers. "This,
ladies and gentlemen," said the lecturer, holding out a small skull, "is
the skull of Alexander the Great at the age of six. Note the prominent
brow. This [holding up a larger skull] is the same at the age of ten.
This [holding out another] at the age of twenty-one; [then stepping out
to the front of the stage] this is the _complete_ skull of Alexander at
the time of his death." All of which appeared to be accepted in good

Of the best physicians in America one can not say enough in praise. I
was most impressed by their high sense of honor. They have an agreement
which they call their "ethics," by which they will not advertise or call
attention to their learning. Consequently, the lower and ignorant
classes are caught by the blatant chaff of the patent-medicine venders
and the quack doctors. What the word "quack" means in this sense I do
not quite know; literally, it is the cry of the goose. The "regular
doctor" will not take advantage of any medicine he may discover, or any
instrument; all belongs to humanity, and one doctor becomes famous over
another by his success in keeping people from dying. The grateful
patient saved, tells his friends, and so the doctor becomes known. In
all America I never heard of a doctor that acted on the principle which
holds among our doctors, that the best way to cure is to watch the
patient and keep him well, or prevent him from being taken sick. The
Americans, in their conceit, consider Chinese doctors ignorant fakers;
yet, so far as I can learn, the death-rate among the Chinese, city for
city, country for country, is less than among Americans. The Chinese
women are longer lived and less subject to disease. In what is known as
New England, the oldest well-populated section of the country, people
would die out were it not for the constant accession of immigrants. On
the other hand, the Chinese constantly increase, despite a policy of
non-intercourse with foreigners. The Americans have, in a civilization
dating back to 1492, already begun to show signs of decadence, and are
only saved by constant immigration. China has a civilization of
thousands of years, and is increasing in population every day, yet her
doctors and their methods are ridiculed by the Americans. The people
have many sayings here, one of which is, "The proof of the pudding lies
in the eating." It seems applicable to this case.



One finds it difficult to learn the language fluently because of a
peculiar second language called "slang," which is in use even among the
fashionable classes. I despair of conveying any clear idea of it, as we
have no exact equivalent. As near as I can judge, it is first composed
by professional actors on the stage. Some funny remark being constantly
repeated, as a part of a taking song, becomes slang, conveying a certain
meaning, and is at once adopted by the people, especially by a class who
pose as leaders in all towns, but who are not exactly the best, but
charming imitations of the best, we may say. To illustrate this
"jargon," I took a drive with a young lady at Manchester--a seaside
resort. Her father was a man of good family, an official, and she was an
attendant at a fashionable school. The following occurred in the
conversation. Her slang is italicized:

Heathen Chinee: "It is very dull this week, Miss ----."

Young lady, sententiously: "_Bum._"

Heathen Chinee: "I hope it will be less bum soon."

Young lady: "_It's all off with me all right_, if it don't change soon,
_and don't you forget it_!"

Heathen Chinee: "I wish I could do something."

Young lady: "Well, you'll have to _get a move on you_, as I go back to
school to-morrow; then there'll be _something doing_."

Heathen Chinee: "Have you seen ---- lately?"

Young lady: "Yes, and isn't he _a peach_? Ah, he's a _peacharina_, and
_don't you forget it_!"

Young lady (passing a friend): "_Ah, there_! why _so toppy_? _Nay, nay,
Pauline_," this in reply to remarks from a friend; then turning to me,
"Isn't she a _jim dandy_? _Say_, have you any girls in China that can
_top_ her?"

These are only a few of the slang expressions which occur to me. They
are countless and endless. Such a girl in meeting a friend, instead of
saying good-morning, says, "_Ah, there_," which is the slang for this
salutation. If she wished to express a difference of opinion with you
she would say, "_Oh, come off._" This girl would probably outgrow this
if she moved in the very best circle, but the shop-girl of a common type
lives in a whirl of slang; it becomes second nature, while the young men
of all classes seem to use nothing else, and we often see the jargon of
the lowest class used by some of the best people. There has been
compiled a dictionary of slang; books are written on it, and an adept,
say a "rough" or "hoodlum," it is said can carry on a conversation with
nothing else. Thus, "Hi, cully, what's on?" to which comes in answer,
"Hunki dori." All this means that a man has said, "How do you do, how
are you, and what are you doing?" and thus learned in reply that
everything is all right. A number of gentlemen were posing for a lady
before a camera. "Have you finished?" asked one. "Yes, _it's all off_,"
was the reply, "and _a peach_, I think." It is unnecessary to say that
among really refined people this slang is never heard, and would be
considered a gross solecism, which gives me an opportunity to repeat
that the really cultivated Americans, and they are many, are among the
most delightful and charming of people.

They have strange habits, these Americans. The men chew tobacco,
especially in the South, and in Virginia I have seen men spitting five
or six feet, evidently taking pride in their skill in striking a
"cuspidore." In every hotel, office, or public place are
cuspidores--which become targets for these chewers. This is a national
habit, extraordinary in so enlightened a people. So ridiculous has it
made the Americans, so much has been written about it by such visitors
as Charles Dickens, that the State governments have determined to take
up the "spitting" question, and now there is a fine of from $10 to $100
for any one spitting in a car or on a hotel floor. Nearly all the
"up-to-date" towns have passed anti-spitting laws. Up to this time, or
even during my college days in America, this habit made walking on the
sidewalk a most disagreeable function, and the interior of cars was a
horror. Is not this remarkable in a people who claim so much? In the
South certain white men and women chew snuff--a gross habit.

In the North they also have a strange custom, called chewing gum. This
gum is the exudation from certain trees, and is manufactured into plates
and sold in an attractive form, merely to chew like tobacco, and young
and old may be seen chewing with great velocity. The children forget
themselves and chew with great force, their jaws working like those of a
cow chewing her cud, only more rapidly; and to see a party of three or
four chewing frantically is one of the "sights" in America, which
astonishes the Heathen Chinee and convinces him that, in the slang of
the country, "_there are others_" who are peculiar. There are many
manufactories of this stuff, which is harmless, though such constant
chewing can but affect the size of the muscles of the jaw if the theory
of evolution is to be believed; at least there will be no atrophy of
these parts.

In New England, the northeastern portion of the country, this habit
appeared to be more prevalent, and I asked several scientific persons if
they had made any attempt to trace the history of the habit or to find
anything to attribute it to. One learned man told me that he had made a
special study of the habit, and believed that it was merely the modern
expression in human beings of the cud chewing of ruminating mammals, as
cows, goats, etc. In a word, the gum-chewing Americans are trying to
chew their cud as did their ancestors. Any habit like this is seized
upon by manufacturers for their personal profit, and every expedient is
employed to induce people to chew. The gum is mixed with perfumes, and
sold as a breath purifier; others mix it with pepsin, to aid the
digestion; some with something else, which is sold on ships and
excursion-boats as a cure or preventive for seasickness, all of which
finds a large sale among the credulous Americans, who by a clever leader
can be made to take up any fad or habit.

The Americans have a peculiar habit of "treating"; that is, one of a
party will "treat" or buy a certain article and distribute it
gratuitously to one or ten people. A young lady may treat her friends to
gum, ice-cream, soda-water, or to a theater party. A matron may treat
her friends to "high-balls" or cocktails at the club. The man confines
his "treats" to drinks and cigars. Thus five or six Americans may meet
in a club or barroom for the sale of liquors. One says, "Come up and
have something;" or "What will you have, gentlemen; this is on me;" or
in some places the treater says, "Let's liquor," and all step up, the
drinks are dispensed, and the treater pays. You might suppose that he
was deserving of some encomium, but not at all; he expects that the
others will take their turn in treating, or at least this is the
assumption; and if the party is engaged in social conversation each in
turn will "treat," the others taking what they wish to drink or smoke.
There is a code of etiquette regarding the treat. Thus, unless you are
invited, it would be bad form among gentlemen to order wine when invited
to drink unless the "treater" asks you to have wine; he means a drink of
whisky, brandy, or a mixed drink, or you may take soda or a cigar, or
you may refuse. It is a gross solecism to accept a cigar and put it in
your pocket; you should not take it unless you smoke it on the spot.

Drinking to excess is frowned upon by all classes, and a drunkard is
avoided and despised; but the amount an American will drink in a day is
astonishing. A really delightful man told me that he did not drink much,
and this was his daily experience: before breakfast a champagne
cocktail; two or three drinks during the forenoon; a pint of white or
red wine at lunch; two or three cocktails in the afternoon; a cocktail
at dinner, with two glasses of wine; and in the evening at the club
several drinks before bedtime! This man was never drunk, and never
_appeared_ to be under the influence of liquor, yet he was in reality
never actually sober; and he is a type of a large number in the great
cities who constitute what is termed the "man about town."

The Americans are not a wine-drinking people. Whisky, and of a very
excellent quality, is the national drink, while vast quantities of beer
are consumed, though they make the finest red and white wines. All the
grog-shops are licensed by the Government and State--that is, made to
pay a tax; but in the country there is a political party, the
Prohibitionists, who would drive out all wine and liquor. These, working
with the conservative people, often succeed in preventing saloons from
opening in certain towns; but in large cities there are from one to two
saloons to the block in the districts where they are allowed.

Taking everything into consideration, I think the Americans a temperate
people. They organize in a thousand directions to fight drinking and
other vices, and millions of dollars are expended yearly in this
direction. A peculiar quality about the American humor is that they joke
about the most serious things. In fact, drink and drinking afford
thousands of stories, the point of which is often very obscure to an
alien. Here is one, told to illustrate the cleverness of a drinker. He
walked into a bar and ordered a "tin-roof cocktail." The barkeeper was
nonplussed, and asked what a tin-roof cocktail was. "Why, it's on the
house." I leave you to figure it out, but the barkeeper paid the bill.
The ingenuity of the Americans is shown in their mixed drinks. They have
cocktails, high-balls, ponies, straights, fizzes, and many other drinks.
Books are written on the subject. I have seen a book devoted entirely to
cocktails. Certain papers offer prizes for the invention of new drinks.
I have told you that, all in all, America is a temperate country,
especially when its composite character is considered; yet if the nation
has a curse, a great moral drawback, it is the habit of drinking at the
public bar.



One of the best-known American authors has immortalized the Chinaman in
some of his verses. It was some time before I understood the smile which
went around when some one in my presence suggested a game of poker. I
need not repeat the poem, but the essence of it is that the "Heathen
Chinee is peculiar." Doubtless Mr. Harte is right, but the Chinaman and
his ways are not more peculiar to the American than American customs and
contradictions are to the Chinaman. If there is any race on the earth
that is peculiar, it is the "Heathen Yankee," the good-hearted,
ingenuous product of all the nations of the earth--black, red, white,
brown, all but "yellow." Imagine yourself going out to what they call a
"stag" dinner, and having an officer of the ranking of lieutenant shout,
"Hi, John, pass the wine!"

Washington can not be said to be a typical American city. It is the
center of _official_ life, and abounds in statesmen of all grades. I
have attended one of the President's receptions, to which the diplomats
went in a body; then followed the army and navy, General Miles, a
good-looking, soldier-like man, leading the former, and Admiral Dewey
the latter, a fine body of men, all in full uniform, unpretentious, and
quiet compared to similar men in other nations. I passed in line, and
found the President, standing with several persons, the center of a
group. The announcement and presentation were made by an officer in full
uniform, and beyond this there was no formality, indeed, an abundance
of republican simplicity; only the uniforms saved it from the

The President is a man of medium size, thick-set, and inclined to be
fleshy, with an interesting, smooth face, eye clear and glance alert. He
grasped me quickly by the hand, but shook it gingerly, giving the
impression that he was endeavoring to anticipate me, called me by name,
and made a pleasant allusion to ---- of ----. He has a high forehead and
what you would term an intelligent face, but not one you would pick out
as that of a great man; and from a study of his work I should say that
he is of a class of advanced politicians, clever in political intrigue,
quick to grasp the best situation for himself or party; a man of high
moral character, but not a great statesman, only a man with high ideals
and sentiments and the faculty of impressing the masses that he is
great. The really intelligent class regard him as a useful man, and
safe. It is a curious fact that the chief appreciation of President
McKinley, I was informed, came from the masses, who say, "He is so kind
to his wife" (a great invalid); or "He is a model husband." Why there
should be anything remarkable in a man's being kind, attentive, and
loyal to an invalid spouse I could not see. Her influence with him is
said to be remarkable. One day she asked the President to promote a
certain officer, the son of one of the greatest of American generals, to
a very high rank. He did so, despite the fact that, as an officer said,
the army roared with laughter and rage.

The influence of women is an important factor in Washington life. I was
presented to an officer who obtained his commission in the following
manner: Two very attractive ladies in Washington were discussing their
relative influence with the powers that be, when one remarked, "To show
you what I can do, name a man and I will obtain a commission in the army
for him." The other lady named a private soldier, whose stupidity was a
matter of record, and a few days later he became an officer; but the
story leaked out.

President McKinley is a popular President with the masses, but the
aristocrats regard him with indifference. It is a singular fact, but the
Vice-President, Mr. Roosevelt, attracts more attention than the
President. He is a type that is appreciated in America, what they term
in the West a "hustler"; active, wide-awake, intense, "strenuous," all
these terms are applied to him. Said an officer in the field service to
me, "Roosevelt is playing on a ninety-nine-year run of luck; he always
lands on his feet at the right time and place." "What they call a man
of destiny," I suggested. "Yes," he replied; "he is the Yankee Oliver
Cromwell. He can't help 'getting there,' and he has a sturdy, evident
honesty of purpose that carries him through. A team of six horses won't
keep him out of the White House." This is the general opinion regarding
the Vice-President, that while he is not a remarkable statesman, he
already overshadows the President in the eyes of the public. I think the
secret is that he is young and a hero, and what the Americans call an
all-around man; not brilliant in any particular line, but a man of
energy, like our ----.

He looks it. A smooth face, square, determined jaw, with a look about
the eye suggestive that he would ride you down if you stood in the way.
I judge him to be a man of honor, high purpose, as my friend said, of
the Cromwell type, inclined to preach, and who also has what the
Americans call the "get-there" quality. In conversation Vice-President
Roosevelt is hearty and open, a poor diplomat, but a talker who comes to
the point. He says what he thinks, and asks no favor. He acts as though
he wished to clap you on the shoulder and be familiar. It will be
difficult for you to understand that such a man is second in rank in
this great nation. There are no imposing surroundings, no glamor of
attendance, only Roosevelt, strong as a water-ox in a rice-field,
smiling, all on the surface, ready to fight for his friend or his
country. Author, cowboy, stockman, soldier, essayist, historian,
sportsman, clever with the boxing-gloves or saber, hurdle-jumper, crack
revolver and rifle shot, naturalist and aristocrat, such is the
all-around Vice-President of the United States--a man who will make a
strong impression upon the history of the century if he is not shot by

I have it from those who know, that President McKinley would be killed
in less than a week if the guards about the White House were removed. He
never makes a move without guards or detectives, and the secret-service
men surround him as carefully as possible. It would be an easy matter to
kill him. Like all officials, he is accessible to almost any one with an
apparently legitimate object. Two Presidents have been murdered; all are
threatened continually by half-insane people called "cranks," and by the
professional Socialists, mainly foreigners. Both the President and
Vice-President are well-dressed men. President McKinley, when I was
granted an audience, wore a long-tailed black "frock coat" and vest,
light trousers, and patent leather or varnished shoes, and standing
collar. The Vice-President was similarly dressed, but with a "turn-down"
collar. The two men are said to make a "strong team," and it is a
foregone conclusion that the Vice-President will succeed President
McKinley. This is already talked of by the society people at Newport.
"It is a long time," said a lady at Newport, "since we have had a
President who represented an old and distinguished family. The McKinleys
were from the ordinary ranks of life, but eminently respectable, while
Roosevelt is an old and honored name in New York, identified with the
history of the State; in a word, typical of the American aristocracy,
bearing arms by right of heritage."

I have frequently met Admiral Dewey, already so well known in China. He
is a small man, with bright eyes, who already shows the effects of
years. Nothing could illustrate the volatile, uncertain character of the
American than the downfall of the admiral as a popular idol. Here a
"peculiarity" of the American is seen. Carried away by political and
public adulation, the old sailor's new wife, the sister of a prominent
politician, became seized with a desire to make him President. Then the
hero lovers raised a large sum and purchased a house for the admiral;
but the politicians ignored him as a candidate, which was a humiliation,
and the donors of the house demanded their money returned when the
admiral placed the gift in the name of his wife; and so for a while the
entire people turned against the gallant sailor, who was criticized,
jeered at, and ridiculed. All he had accomplished in one of the most
remarkable victories in the history of modern warfare was forgotten in
a moment, to the lasting disgrace of his critics.

One of the interesting places in Washington is the Capitol, perhaps the
most splendid building in any land. Here we see the men whom the
Americans select to make laws for them. The looker-on is impressed with
the singular fact that most of the senators are very wealthy men; and it
is said that they seek the position for the honor and power it confers.
I was told that so many are millionaires that it gave rise to the
suspicion that they bought their way in, and this has been boldly
claimed as to many of them. This may be the treasonable suggestion of
some enemy; but that money plays a part in some elections there is
little doubt. I believe this is so in England, where elections have
often been carried by money.

The American Senate is a dignified body, and I doubt if it have a peer
in the world. The men are elected by the State legislatures, not by the
people at large, a method which makes it easy for an unprincipled
millionaire or his political manager to buy votes sufficient to seat his
patron. The fact that senators are mainly rich does not imply unfitness,
but quite the contrary. Only a genius can become a multi-millionaire in
America, and hence the senators are in the main bright men. When
observing these men and enabled to look into their records, I was
impressed by the fact that, despite the advantages of education, this
wonderful country has produced few really great men, and there is not at
this time a great man on the horizon.

America has no Gladstone, no Salisbury, no Bright. Lincoln, Blaine and
Sumner are names which impress me as approximating greatness; they made
an impression on American history that will be enduring. Then there are
Frye, Reed, Garfield, McKinley, Cleveland, who were little great men,
and following them a distinguished company, as Hanna, Conkling, Hay,
Hayes, and others, who were superior men of affairs. A distinctly great
national figure has not appeared in America since Daniel Webster, Henry
Clay, and Rufus Choate--all men too great to become President. It
appears to be the fate of the republic not to place its greatest men in
the White House, and by this I mean great statesmen. General Grant was a
great man, a heroic figure, but not a statesman. Lincoln is considered a
great man. He is called the "Liberator"; but I can conceive that none
but a very crude mind, inspired by a false sentiment, could have made a
horde of slaves, the most ignorant people on the globe, the political
equals of the American people. A great man in such a crisis would have
resisted popular clamor and have refused them suffrage until they had
been prepared to receive it by at least some education. Americans are
prone to call their great politicians statesmen. Blaine, Reed, Conkling,
Harrison were types of statesmen; Hanna, Quay, and others are

The Lower House was a disappointment to me. There are too many ordinary
men there. They do not look great, and at the present time there is not
a really great man in the Lower House. There are too many cheap lawyers
and third-rate politicians there. Good business men are required, but
such men can not afford to take the position. I heard a great captain of
industry, who had been before Congress with a committee, say that he
never saw "so many asses together in all his life"; but this was an
extreme view. The House may not compare intellectually with the House of
Commons, but it contains many bright men. A fool could hardly get in,
though the labor unions have placed some vicious representatives there.
The lack of manners distressed a lady acquaintance of mine, who, in a
burst of indignation at seeing a congressman sitting with his feet on
his desk, said that there was not a man in Congress who had any social
position in Washington or at home, which, let us trust, is not true.

As I came from the White House some days ago I met a delegation of
native Indians going in, a sad sight. In Indian affairs occurs a page of
national history which the Americans are not proud of. In less than four
hundred years they have almost literally been wiped from the face of the
earth; the whites have waged a war of extermination, and the pitiful
remnant now left is fast disappearing. In no land has the survival of
the fittest found a more remarkable illustration. But the Indians are
having their revenge. The Americans long ago brought over Africans as
slaves; then, as the result of a war of words and war of fact, suddenly
released them all, and, at one fell move, in obedience to the hysterical
cries of their people, gave these ignorant semisavages and slaves the
same political rights as themselves.

Imagine the condition of things! The most ignorant and debased of races
suddenly receives rights and privileges and is made the equal of
American citizens. So strange a move was never seen or heard of
elsewhere, and the result has been relations more than strained and
always increasing between the whites and the blacks in the South. As
voters the negroes secure many positions in the South above their old
masters. I have seen a negro[2] sitting in the Vice-President's chair in
the United States Senate; while white Southern senators were pacing the
outer corridors in rage and disgust. There are generally one or more
black men in Congress, and they are given a few offices as a sop. With
one hand the Americans place millions of them on a plane with themselves
as free and independent citizens, and with the other refuse them the
privileges of such citizenship. They may enter the army as privates, but
any attempt to make them officers is a failure--white officers will not
associate with them. It is impossible for a negro to graduate from the
Naval Academy, though he has the right to do so. I was told that white
sailors would shoot him if placed over them. Several negroes have been
appointed as students, but none as yet have been able to pass the
examination. Here we see the strange and contradictory nature of the
Americans. The white master of the South had the black woman nurse his
children. Thousands of mulattoes in the country show that the whites
took advantage of the women in other ways, marriage between blacks and
whites being prohibited. When it comes to according the blacks
recognition as social equals, the people North and South resent even the
thought. The negro woman may provide the sustenance of life for the
white baby, but I venture to say that any Southern man, or Northern one
for that matter, would rather see his daughter die than be married to a
negro. So strong is this feeling that I believe in the extreme South if
a negro persisted in his addresses to a white woman he would be shot,
and no jury or judge could be found to convict the white man.

In the North the negro has certain rights. He can ride in the
street-cars, go to the theater, enter restaurants, but I doubt if large
hotels would entertain him. In the South every train has its separate
cars for negroes; every station its waiting-room for them; even on the
street-cars they are divided off by a wire rail or screen, and sit
beneath a sign, which advertises this free, independent, but black
American voter as being not fit to sit by the side of his political
brother. This causes a bitter feeling, and the time is coming when the
blacks will revolt. Already criminal attacks upon white women are not
uncommon, and a virtual reign of terror exists in some portions of the
South, where it is said that white women are never left unprotected; and
the negro, if he attacks a white woman, is almost invariably burned
alive, with the horrible ghastly features that attend an Indian
scalping. The crowd carry off bits of skin, hair, finger-nails, and rope
as trophies. In fact, these "burnings" are the most extraordinary
features in this "enlightened" country. The papers denounce them and
compare the people to ghouls; yet these same people accuse the Chinese
of being cruel, barbarous, insensible to cruelty, and "pagans." It is
true we have pirates and criminals, but the horrible features of the
lynchings in America during the last ten years I believe have no
counterpart in the history of China in the last five hundred.

In Washington the servants are blacks; irresponsible, childlike, aping
the vanities of the white people. They are "niggers"; the mulattoes, the
illegitimate offspring of whites, form another and totally distinct
class of colored society, and are the aristocracy. Rarely will a mulatto
girl marry a black man, and _vice versa_. They have their clubs and
their functions, their professional men, including lawyers and doctors,
as have the white people. They present a strange and singular feature.
Despised by their fathers, half-sisters, and brothers, denied any social
recognition, hating their black ancestry, they are socially "between the
devil and the deep sea." The negro question constitutes the gravest one
now before the American people. He is increasing rapidly, but in the
years since the civil war no pure-blooded negro has given evidence of
brilliant attainments. Frederick Douglas, Senator Bruce, and Booker T.
Washington rank with many white Americans in authorship, diplomacy, and
scholarship; but Douglas and Bruce were mulattoes, and Booker
Washington's father was an unknown white man. These men are held in high
esteem, but the social line has been drawn against them, though Douglas
married a white woman.

Balls are a feature of life in Washington. The women appear in full
dress, which means that the arms and neck are exposed, and the men wear
evening dress. The dances are mostly "round." The man takes a lady to
the ball, and when he dances seizes her in an embrace which would be
considered highly improper under ordinary circumstances, but the
etiquette of the dance makes it permissible. He places his right arm
around her waist, takes her left hand in his, holds her close to him,
and both begin to move around to the special music designed for this
peculiar motion, which may be a "waltz," or a "two-step," or a "gallop,"
or a "schottische," all being different and having different music or
time, or there may be various kinds of music for each. At times the
music is varied, being a gliding, scooping, swooping slide,
indescribable. When the dancers feel the approach of giddiness they
reverse the whirl or move backward.

Many Washington men have become famous as dancers, and quite outshadow
war heroes. All the officers of the army and navy are taught these
dances at the Military and Naval Academies, it being a national policy
to be agreeable to ladies; at least this must be so, as the men never
dance together. To see several hundred people whirling about, as I have
seen them at the inaugural of the President, is one of the most
remarkable scenes to be observed in America. The man in Washington who
can not dance is a "wallflower"--that is, he never leaves the wall.
There is a professional champion who has danced eight out of
twenty-four hours without stopping. A yearly convention of
dancing-school professors is held. These men, with much dignity, meet in
various cities and discuss various dances, how to grasp the partner, and
other important questions. Some time ago the question was whether the
"gent" should hold a handkerchief in the hand he pressed upon the back
of the lady, a professor having testified before the convention that he
had seen the imprint of a man's hand on the white dress of a lady. The
acumen displayed at these conventions is profound and impressive. Here
you observe a singular fact. The good dancer may be an officer of high
social standing, but the dancing-teacher, even though he be famous as
such, is _persona non grata_, so far as society is concerned. A
professional dancer, fighter, wrestler, cook, musician, and a hundred
more are not acceptable in society except in the strict line of their
profession; but a professional civil or naval engineer, an organist, an
artist, a decorator (household), and an architect are received by the
elect in Washington.

I have alluded to the craze for joking among young ladies in society. At
a dinner a reigning beauty, and daughter of ----, who sat next to me,
talked with me on dancing. She told me all about it, and, pointing to a
tall, distinguished-looking man near by, said that he had received his
degree of D. D. (Doctor of Dancing) from Harvard University, and was
extremely proud of it; and, furthermore, it would please him to have me
mention it. I did not enlighten the young lady, and allowed her to
continue, that I might enjoy her animation and superb "nerve" (this is
the American slang word for her attitude). The gentleman was her uncle,
a doctor of divinity, who was constitutionally opposed to dancing; and I
learned later that he had a cork leg. Such are some of the pitfalls in
Washington set for the pagan Oriental by charming Americans.

Dancing parties, in fact, all functions, are seized upon by young men
and women who anticipate marriage as especially favorable occasions for
"courtship." The parents apparently have absolutely nothing to do with
the affair, this being a free country. The girl "falls in love" with
some one, and the courtship begins. In the lower classes the girl is
said to be "keeping company" with so and so, or he is "her steady
company." In higher circles the admirer is "devoted to the lady." This
lasts for a year, perhaps longer, the man monopolizing the young lady's
time, calling so many times a week, as the case may be, the familiarity
between the two increasing until they finally exchange kisses--a
popular greeting in America. About now they become affianced or
"engaged," and the man is supposed to ask the consent of the parents. In
France the latter is supposed to give a _dot_; in America it is not
thought of. In time the wedding occurs, amid much ceremony, the bride's
parents bearing all the expense; the groom is relieving them of a future
expense, and is naturally not burdened. The married young people then go
upon a "honeymoon," the month succeeding the wedding, and this is long
or brief, according to the wealth of the parties. When they return they
usually live by themselves, the bride resenting any advice or espionage
from her husband's mother, who is the mother-in-law, a relation as much
joked about in America as revered in China.

Sometimes the "engaged" couple do not marry. The man perhaps in his
long courtship discovers traits that weary him, and he breaks off the
match. If he is wealthy the average American girl may sue him for
damages, for laceration of the affections. One woman in the State of New
York sued for the value of over two thousand kisses her "steady company"
had taken during a number of years' courtship, and was awarded three
thousand dollars. The journal from which I took this made an estimate
that the kisses had cost the man one dollar and a half each! Sometimes
the girl breaks the engagement, and if presents have been given she
returns them, the man rarely suing; but I have seen record of a case
where the girl refused to return the presents, and the man sued for
them; but no jury could be found to decide in his favor. A distinguished
physician has written a book on falling in love. It is recognized as a
contagious disease; men and women often die of it, and commit the most
extraordinary acts when under its influence. I have observed it, and,
all things considered, it has no advantages over the Chinese method of
attaining the marriage state. The wisdom of some older person is
certainly better than what the American would call the "snap judgment"
of two young people carried away by passion. One might find the chief
cause of divorce in America to lie in this strange custom.

I was invited by a famous wag last week to meet a man who could claim
that he was the father of fifty-three children and several hundred
grandchildren. I fully expected to see the _Gaikwar of Baroda_, or some
such celebrity, but found a tall, ministerial, typical American, with
long beard, whom ---- introduced to me as a Mormon bishop, who, he
said, had a virtual _congé d'élire_ in the Church, at the same time
referring to me as a Chinese Mormon with "fifty wives." I endeavored to
protest, but ---- explained to the bishop that I was merely modest. The
Mormons are a sect who believe in polygamy. Each man has as many wives
as he can support, and the population increases rapidly where they
settle. The ludicrous feature of Mormonism is that the Government has
failed to stop it, though it has legislated against it; but it is well
known that the Mormon allows nothing to interfere with his
"revelations," which are on "tap" in Utah.

I was much amused at the bishop's remarks. He said that if the American
politicians who were endeavoring to kill them off would marry their
actual concubines, and _all_ Americans would do the same, the United
States would have a Mormon majority the next day. The bishop had the
frailties and moral lapses of prominent people in all lands at his
fingers' ends, and his claim was that the whole civilized world was
practising polygamy, but doing it illegally, and the Mormons were the
only ones who had the honor to legitimatize it. The joke was on ----,
who was literally bottled up by the flow of facts from the bishop, who
referred to me to substantiate him, which I pretended to do, in order
totally to crush ----, who had tried to make me a party to his joke. The
bishop, who invited me to call upon him in Utah, said that he hoped some
time to be a United States senator, though he supposed the women of the
East could create public sentiment sufficient to defeat him.

I once stopped over in Utah and visited the great Mormon Temple, and I
must say that the Mormon women are far below the average in
intelligence, that is, if personal appearances count. I understand they
are recruited from the lowest and most ignorant classes in Europe, where
there are thousands of women who would rather have a fifth of a husband
than work in the field. In the language of American slang, I imagine the
Americans are "up against it," as the country avowedly offers an asylum
for all seeking religious liberty, and the Mormons claim polygamy as a
divine revelation and a part of their doctrine.

The bishop, I believe, was not a bishop, but a proselyting elder, or
something of the kind. The man who introduced me to him was a type
peculiar to America, a so-called "good fellow." People called him by his
first name, and he returned the favor. The second time I met him he
called me Count, and upon my replying that I was not a count he said,
"Well, you look it, anyway," and he has always called me Count. He knows
every one, and every one knows him--a good-hearted man, a spendthrift,
yet a power in politics; a _remarkable_ poker player, a friend worth
knowing, the kind of man you like to meet, and there are many such in
this country.


[2] Probably Senator Bruce.



I have been a guest at the annual dinner of the ----, one of the leading
literary associations in America, and later at a "reception" at the
house of ----, where I met some of the most charming men and delightful
women, possessed of manners that marked the person of culture and the
_savoir faire_ that I have seen so little of among other "sets" of
well-known public people. But what think you of an author of note who
knew absolutely nothing of the literature of our country? There were
Italians, French, and Swedes at the dinner, who were called upon to
respond to toasts on the literature of their country; but was I called
upon? No, indeed. I doubt if in all that _entourage_ there was more than
one or two who were familiar with the splendid literature of China and
its antiquity.

But to come to the "shock." My immediate companion was a lady with just
a _soupçon_ of the masculine, who, I was told, was a distinguished
novelist, which means that her book had sold to the limit of 30,000
copies. After a toast and speech in which the literature of Norway and
Sweden had been extolled, this charming lady turned to me and said, "It
is too bad, ----, that you have no literature in China; you miss so much
that is enjoyed by other nations." This was too much, and I broke one of
the American rules of chivalry--I became disputatious with a lady and
slightly cynical; and when I wish to be cynical I always quote Mr.
Harte, which usually "brings down the house." To hear a Chinese heathen
quote the "Heathen Chinee" is supposed to be very funny.

I said, "My dear madam, I am surprised that you do not know that China
has the finest and oldest literature known in the history of the world.
I assure you, my ancestors were writing books when the Anglo-Saxon was
living in caves."[3] She was astonished and somewhat dismayed, but was
not cast down--the clever American woman never is. I told her of our
classics, of our wonderful Book of Changes, written by my ancestor Wan
Wang in 1150 B. C. I told her of his philosophy. I compared his idea of
the creation to that in the Bible. I explained the loss of many rare
Chinese books by the piratical order of destruction by Emperor Che
Hwang-ti, calling attention to the fact that the burning of the famous
library of Alexandria was a parallel. I asked her if it were possible
that she had never heard of the _Odes of Confucius_, or his _Book of
History_, which was supposed to have been destroyed, but which was found
in the walls of his home one hundred and forty years before Christ, and
so saved to become a part of the literature of China.

Finally she said, "I have studied literature, but that of China was not
included." "Your history," I continued, "begins in 1492; our written
history begins in the twenty-third century before Christ, and the years
down to 720 B. C. are particularly well covered, while our legends run
back for thousands of years." But my companion had never heard of the
_Shoo-King_. It was so with the _Chun Tsew_[4] of Confucius and the
_Four Books_--_Ta-h[ue]-[uo]_,[5] _Chung-yung_,[6] _Lun-yu_,[7]
_M[ua]ng-tsze_.[8] She had never heard of them. I told her of the
invention of paper by the Marquis Tsae several centuries before Christ,
and she laughingly replied that she supposed that I would claim next
that the Chinese had libraries like those Mr. Carnegie is founding. I
was delighted to assure her that her assumption was correct, and drew a
little picture of a well-known Chinese library, founded two thousand
years ago, the Han Library, with its 3,123 classics, its 2,706 works on
philosophy, its 2,528 books on mathematics, its 790 works on war, its
868 books on medicine, 1,318 on poetry, not to speak of thousands of

I could not but wonder as I talked, where were the Americans and their
literature when our fathers were reading these books two thousand years
ago! Even the English people were wild savages, living in caves and
huts, when our people were printing books and encyclopedias of
knowledge. I dwelt upon our poetry, the National Airs, Greater Eulogies,
dating back several thousand years. I told her of the splendors of our
great versifier, _Le-Tai-Pih_; and I might have said that many American
poets, like Walt Whitman, had doubtless read the translations to their
advantage. I had the pleasure at least of commanding this lady's
attention, and I believe she was the first American who deigned to take
a Chinaman seriously. The facts of our literature are available, but
only scholars make a study of it, and so far as I could learn not a word
of Chinese literature is ever taught in American schools, though in the
great universities there are facilities, and the best educated people
are familiar with our history.

The American authors, especially novelists, who constitute the majority
of authors, are by no means all well educated. Many appear to have a
faculty of "story-telling," which enables them to produce something that
will sell; but that all American authors, and this will surprise you,
are included among the great scholars, is far from true. Some, yes many,
are deplorably ignorant in the sense of broad learning, and I believe
this is a universal, national fault. If one thing Chinese more than
another is ridiculed in America it is our drama. I met a famous
"play-writer" at the ---- dinner, who thought it a huge joke. I heard
that his income was $30,000 per annum from plays alone; yet he had never
heard of our "Hundred Plays of the Yuen Dynasty," which rests in one of
his own city libraries not a mile distant, and he laughed
good-naturedly when I remarked that the modern stage obtained its
initiative in China.

A listener did me the honor to question my statement that Voltaire's
"_L'Orphelin de la Chine_" was taken from the _Orphan of Chaou_ of this
collection, which I thought every one knew. All the authors whom I met
seemed surprised to learn that I was familiar with their literature and
could not compare it synthetically with that of other nations, and even
more so when I said that all well-educated Chinamen endeavored to
familiarize themselves with the literature of other countries.

I continually gain the impression that the Americans "size us up," as
they say, and "lump" us with the "coolie." We are "heathen Chinee," and
it is incomprehensible that we should know anything. I am talking now
of the half-educated people as I have met them. Here and there I meet
men and women of the highest culture and knowledge, and this class has
no peer in the world. If I were to live in America I should wish to
consort with her real scholars, culled from the best society of New
York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, and other cities. In
a word, the aristocracy of America is her educated class, the education
that comes from association year after year with other cultivated
people. I understand there is more of it in Boston and Philadelphia than
anywhere; but you find it in all towns and cities. This I grant is the
real American, who, in time--several thousand years perhaps--as in our
own case, will demonstrate the wonderful possibilities of the human race
in the West.

I would like to tell you something about the books of the literary men
and women I have met, but you will be more interested in the things I
have seen and the mannerisms of the people. I was told by a
distinguished writer that America had failed to produce any really great
authors--I mean to compare with other nations--and I agreed with him,
although appreciating what she has done. There is no one to compare with
the great minds of England--Scott, Dickens, Thackeray. There is no
American poet to compare with Tennyson, Milton, and a dozen others in
England, France, Italy, and Germany; indeed, America is far behind in
this respect, yet in the making of books there is nothing to compare
with it. Every American, apparently, aspires to become an author, and I
really think it would be difficult to find a citizen of the republic who
had not been a contributor to some publication at some time, or had not
written a book. The output of books is extraordinary, and covers every
field; but the class is not in all cases such as one might expect. The
people are omnivorous readers, and "stories," "novels," are ground out
by the ton; but I doubt if a book has been produced since the time of
Hawthorne that will really live as a great classic.

The American authors are mainly collected in New York, where the great
publishing houses are located, and are a fine representative class of
men and women, of whom I have met a number, such as Howells, the author
and editor, and Mark Twain, the latter the most brilliant litterateur in
the United States. This will be discovered when he dies and is safe
beyond receiving all possible benefits from such recognition. Many men
in America make reputations as humorists, and find it impossible to
divest their more serious writings from this "taint," if so it may be
called. They are not taken seriously when they seriously desire it; a
fact I fully appreciate, as I am taken as a joke, my "pigtail," my
"shoes," my "clothes," my way of speaking, all being objects of joking.

The literary men have several clubs in New York, where they can be
found, and many have marked peculiarities, which are interesting to a
foreigner. Several artists affect a peculiar style of dress to advertise
their wares. One, it is said, lived in a tree at Washington. It is not
so much with the authors as with the methods of making books that I
think you will be interested. I met a rising young author at a dinner in
Washington who confided to me that the "book business" was really ruined
in America by reason of the mad craze of nearly all Americans to become
writers. He said that he as an editor had been offered money to publish
a novel by a society woman who desired to pose as an authoress. This
author said that there were in America a dozen or more of the finest and
most honorable publishing houses in the world, but there were many more
in the various cities which virtually preyed upon this "literary
disease" of the people. No country in the world, said my acquaintance,
produces so many books every year as America; so many, in fact, that the
shops groan with them and the forests of America threaten to give out,
and the supply virtually clogs and ruins the market. So crazy are the
people to be authors and see themselves in print that they will go to
any length to accomplish authorship.

He cited a case of a carpenter, a man of no education, who was seized
with the desire to write a book, which he did. It was sent to all the
leading publishers, and promptly returned; then he began the rounds of
the second-class houses, of which there are legion. One of the latter
wrote him that they published on the "cooperative" plan, and would pay
_half_ the expenses of publishing if he would pay the other half. Of
course _his_ share paid for the entire edition and gave the clever
"cooperative" publisher a profit, whether the edition sold or not. And
my informant said that at least twenty firms were publishing books for
such authors, and encouraging people to produce manuscripts that were so
much "dead wood" in the real literary field. He later sent me the
prospectus of several such houses which would take any manuscript, if
the author would pay for the publishing, revise it and send it forth. I
was assured that thousands of books are produced yearly by these houses,
who are really "printers," who advertise in various ways and encourage
would-be authors, the idea being to get their money, a species of
literary "graft," according to my literary informant, who assured me I
must not confuse such parasites with the large publishers of America,
who will not produce a book unless their skilled readers consider it a
credit to them and to the country, a high standard which I believe is

Perhaps the most interesting phase of literature in America is found in
the weekly and monthly magazines, of which there is no end. Every sport
has its "organ," every great trade, every society, every religion; even
the missionaries sent to China have their organs, in which is reported
their success in saving _us_ and divorcing us from our ancient beliefs.
The great literary magazines number perhaps a dozen, with a few in the
front rank, such as the Century, Harper's, Scribner's, The Atlantic,
Cosmopolitan, McClure's, Dial, North American Review, Popular Science
Monthly, Bookman, Critic, and Nation. Such magazines I conceive to be
the universities of the people, the great educators in art, literature,
science, etc. Nothing escapes them. They are timely, beautiful, exact,
thorough, scientific, the reflex of the best and most artistic minds in
America; and many are so cheap as to be within the reach of the poor. It
is interesting to know that most of these magazines are sources of
wealth, the money coming from the advertisements, published as a feature
in the front and back. These notices are in bulk often more than the
literary portion, and the rate charged, I was told, from $100 to $1,000
per page for a single printing.

The skill with which appeals are made to the weaknesses of readers is
well shown in some of the minor publications not exactly within the same
class as the literary magazines. One that is devoted to women is a most
clever appeal to the idiosyncrasies of the sex: There are articles on
cooking, dinners, luncheons, how to set tables, table manners, etiquette
(one would think they had read Confucius), how to dress for these
functions; and, in fact, every occupation in life possible to a woman is
dealt with by an extraordinary editor who is a man. Whenever I was joked
with about our men acting on the stage as women, I retorted by quoting
Mr. ----, the male editor of the female ----, who is either a consummate
actor or a remarkably composite creature, to so thoroughly anticipate
his audience. The mother, the widow, the orphan, the young maiden, the
"old maid," are all taken into the confidence of this editor, who in
his editorials has what are termed "heart to heart" talks.

I send you a copy of this paper, which is very clever and very
successful, and a good illustration of the American magazine that, while
claiming to be literature, is a mechanical production, "machine made" in
every sense. One can imagine the introspective editor entering all the
foibles and weaknesses of women in a book and in cold blood forming a
department to appeal to each. I was informed that the editors of such
publications were "not in business for their health," but for money; and
their energies are all expended on projects to hold present readers and
obtain others. The more readers the more they can charge the
"advertiser" in the back or side pages, who here illustrate their deadly
corsets, their new dye for the hair, their beauty doctors, freckle
eradicators, powders for the toilet, bustles, and the thousand and one
things which shrewd dealers are anxious to have women take up.

The children also have their journals or "magazines." One in New York
deals with fairies and genii, on the ground that it is good for the
imagination. Another, published in Boston, denounces the fairy-story
idea, and gives the children stories by great generals, princes of the
blood, captains of industry, admirals, etc.; briefly, the name of the
writer, not the literary quality of the tale, is the important feature.
There are papers for babes, boys, girls, the sick and the well.

The most conspicuous literary names before the people are Howells,
Twain, and Harte, though one hears of scores of novelists, who, I
believe, will be forgotten in a decade or so. As I have said
previously, I am always joked with about the "Heathen Chinee." I have
really learned to play "poker," but I seldom if ever sit down to a game
that some one does not joke with me about "Ah Sin." Such is the American
idea of the proprieties and their sense of humor; yet I finally have
come to be so good an American that I can laugh also, for I am confident
the jokers mean it all in the best of feeling.

There are in America a class of litterateurs who are rarely heard of by
the masses, but to my mind they are among the greatest and most advanced
Americans. They are the astronomers, geologists, zoologists,
ornithologists, and others, authors of papers and articles in the
Government Reports of priceless value. These writers appear to me, an
outsider, to be the real safety-valves, the real backbone of the
literary productions of the day. With them science is but a synonym of
truth; they fling all superstition and ignorance to the winds, and
should be better known. Such names as Edison, Cope, Marsh, Hall, Young,
Field, Baird, Agassiz, and fifty more might be mentioned, all authors
whose books will give them undying fame, men who have devoted a lifetime
to research and the accumulation of knowledge; yet the author of the
last novel, "My Mule from New Jersey," will, for the day, have more
vogue among the people than any of these. But such is fame, at least in
America, where erudition is not appreciated as it is in "pagan" China.


[3] As a frontispiece to this volume, the cover design used on one of
these old Chinese books is shown.

[4] Spring and Autumn Annals.

[5] Great Learning.

[6] Confucian Analects.

[7] Doctrine of the Mean.

[8] Works of Mencius.



At an assembly-room in New York I met a famous American political
"boss." Many governors in China do not have the same power and
influence. I had letters to him from Senators ---- and ----. I expected
to meet a man of the highest culture, but what was my surprise to see a
huge, overgrown, uneducated Irishman, gross in every particular, who
used the local "slang" so fiercely that I had difficulty in
understanding him. He had been a police officer, and I understand was a
"grafter," but that may have been a report of his enemies, as he
commanded attention at the time of the election.

This man had a fund of humor, which was displayed in his clapping me on
the back and calling me "John," introducing me to a dozen or so of as
hard-looking men in the garb of gentlemen as I have ever seen. I heard
them described later as "ward beetles," and they looked it, whatever it
meant. The "Boss" appeared much interested in me; said he had heard I
was no "slouch," and knew I must have a "pull" or I would not be where I
am. He wished to know how we run elections on "the Ho-Hang-Ho." When I
told him that a candidate for a governmental office never obtained it
until he passed one of three very difficult literary examinations in our
nine classics, and that there were thousands competing for the office,
he was "paralyzed"--that is, he said he was, and volunteered the
information that "he would not be 'in it' in China." I thought so
myself, but did not say so.

I told him that the politicians in China were the greatest scholars;
that the policy of the Government was to make all offices competitive,
as we thus secured the brightest, smartest, and most gifted men for
officials. "Smart h----!" retorted the "Boss." "Why, we've got smart
men. Look at our school-teachers. Them guys[9] is crammed with guff,[10]
and passing examinations all the time; but there ain't one in a thousand
that's got sense enough to run a tamale[11] convention. The State
governor would get left here if all the boys that wanted office had to
pass an examination. We've got something like it here," he said, "that
blank Civil Service, that keeps many a natural-born genius out of
office; but it don't 'cut ice with me.' I'm the whole thing in the

Despite his rough exterior, ---- was a good-hearted fellow, as they
say, no rougher than his constituents, and I was with him several days
during a local election with a view to studying American politics. Much
of the time was spent in the saloons of the district where the "Boss"
held out, and where I was introduced as a "white Chinee," or as a "white
Chink," and "my friend." I wish I had kept a list of the drinks the
"Boss" took and the cigars he smoked _per diem_. Perhaps it is as well I
did not; you would not believe me. I was always "John" to this crowd,
that was made up of laboring people in the main, of whom Irish and
Germans predominated. The "Boss" was what they called a "bulldozer." If
a man differed with him he tried to talk or drink him down; if it was an
enemy and he became too disputatious, he would knock him out with his
fist. In this way he had acquired a reputation as a "slugger," that
counted for much in such an assemblage, and he confided to me one
evening that it was the easiest way to "stop talk," and that if he "laid
down," the opposition would walk off with all his "people." He was
"Boss" because he was the boss slugger, the best executive, the best
drinker and smoker, the best "persuader," and the best public speaker in
his ward. So you see he had a variety of talents. In China I can imagine
such a man being beheaded as a pirate in a few weeks; this would be as
good an excuse as any; yet men like this have grown and developed into
respectable persons in New York and other cities.

"For ways that are dark and tricks that are vain, the Heathen Chinee is
peculiar," but I doubt if he is more so than the political system of the
United States, where every man is supposed to be free, but where a few
men in each town own everything and everybody politically. The American
thinks he is free, but he has in reality no more freedom than the
Englishman; in fact, I am inclined to think that the latter is the
freest of them all, and I doubt if too much freedom is good for man.
Politics in America is a profession, a trade, a science, a perfect
system by which one or two men run or control millions. Politics means
the attainment of political power and influence, which mean office. Some
men are in politics for the love of power, some for spoils ("graft" they
call it in slang), and some for the high offices. In America there are
two large parties, the Republican and the Democratic. Then there are the
Labor, Prohibition (non-drinking), and various other parties, which, in
the language of politics, "cut no ice." The real issues of a party are
often lost sight of. The Republicans may be said to favor a high
tariff; the Democrats a low tariff or free trade; and when there is not
sufficient to amuse the people in these, then other reasons for being a
Democrat or a Republican are raised, and a platform is issued. Lately
the Democrats have espoused "free silver," and the Republicans have
"buried" them. The Democrats are now trying to invent some new
"platform"; but the Republicans appear to have included about all the
desirable things in their platform, and hence they win.

In a small town one or two men are known as "bosses." They control the
situation at the primaries; they manage to get elected and keep before
the people. Generally they are natural leaders, and fill some office.
When the senator comes to town they "escort" him about and advise him as
to the votes he may expect. Sometimes the ward man is the postmaster,
sometimes a national congressman, again a State senator; but he is
always in evidence, and before the people, a good speaker and talker and
the "boss." Every town has its Republican and Democratic "boss," always
striving to increase the vote, always striving for something. The larger
the city, the larger the "boss," until we come to a city like New York,
where we find, or did find, Boss Tweed, who absolutely controlled the
political situation for years.

This means that he was in politics, and manipulated all the offices in
order to steal for himself and his friends; this is of public record. He
was overthrown or exposed by the citizens, but was followed by others,
who manipulated the affairs of the city for money. Offices were sold;
any one who had a position either bought it or paid a percentage for it.
Gambling-dens and other "resorts" paid large sums to "sub-bosses," who
become rich, and if the full history of some of the "bosses" of New
York, Philadelphia, Chicago, or any great American city could be
exposed, it would show a state of affairs that would display the
American politician in a dark light. Repeatedly the machinations of the
politicians have been exposed, yet they doubtless go on in some form.
And this is true to some extent of the Government. The honor of no
President has been impugned; they are men of integrity, but the enormous
appointing power which they have is a mere form; they do not and could
not appoint many men. The little "boss" in some town desires a position.
He has been a spy for the congressman or senator for years, and now
aspires to office. He obtains the influence of the senator and the
congressman, and is supported by a petition of his friends, and the
President names him for the office, taking the senator for his sponsor.
If the man becomes a grafter or thief, the President is attacked by the

In a large city like New York each ward will have its "boss," who will
report to a supreme "boss," and by this system, often pernicious, the
latter acquires absolute control of the situation. He names the
candidates for office, or most of them, and is all powerful. I have met
a number of "bosses," and all, it happened, were Irish; indeed, the
Irish dominate American politics. One, a leader of Tammany in New York,
was a most preposterous person, well dressed, but not a gentleman from
any standpoint; ignorant so far as education goes, yet supremely sharp
in politics. Such a man could not have led a fire brigade in China, yet
he was the leader of thousands, and controlled Democratic New York for
years. He never held office, I was told, yet grew very rich.

The Republican "boss" was a tall, thin, United States senator. I was
also introduced to him--a Mephistophelian sort of an individual--to me
utterly without any attraction; but I was informed that he carried the
vote of the Republican party in his pocket. How? that is the mystery. If
you desired office you went to him; without his influence one was
impotent. Thousands of office-holders felt his power, hated him,
perhaps, but did not dare to say it.

The "boss" controls the situation, gives and "takes," and the other
citizens get the satisfaction of thinking they are a free people. In
reality, they are political slaves, and the "boss," "sub-boss," and the
long line of smaller "bosses" are their masters. Very much the same
situation is seen in national politics. The party is controlled by a
"boss," and at the present this personage is a millionaire, named Hanna,
said to be an honest, upright man, with a genius for political
diplomacy, a puller of wires, a maker of Presidents, having virtually
placed President McKinley where he is. This man I met. Many of the
politicians called him "Uncle Mark." He has a familiar way with
reporters. He is a man of good size, with a face of a rather common
type, with very large and protruding ears, but two bright, gleaming
eyes, that tell of genius, force, intelligence, power, and executive
talents of an exalted order. I recall but one other such pair of eyes,
and those were in the head of Senator James G. Blaine, whom I saw during
my first visit to America. Hanna is famous for his _bonhomie_, and is a
fine story-teller. Indeed, unless a man can tell stories he had better
remain out of politics, or rather he will never get into politics.

As an outsider I should say that the power of the "boss" was due to the
fact that the best classes will have none of him, as a rule (I refer to
the ordinary "boss"), and as a consequence he and his henchmen control
the situation. I think I am not overstating the truth when I say that
every city in the United States has been looted by the politicians of
various parties. It is of public record that Philadelphia, Chicago, St.
Louis, and New York citizens have repeatedly risen and shown that the
city was being robbed in the most bare-handed manner. Bribery and
corruption have been found to exist to-day in the entire system, and if
the credit of the republic stands on its political _morale_ this vast
union of States is a colossal failure, as it is being pillaged by
politicians. Every "boss" has what are termed "heelers," one function
of whom is to buy votes and do other work in the interest of "reform." A
friend told me that he spent election day in the office of a candidate
for Congress in a certain Western town, and the candidate had his safe
heaped full of silver dollars. All day long men were coming and going,
each taking the dollars to buy votes. By night the supply was exhausted,
and the man defeated. I expressed satisfaction at this, but my friend
laughed; the other fellow who won paid more for votes, he said. I was
told that all the great senatorial battles were merely a question of
dollars; the man with the largest "sack" won.

On the other hand, there are senators who not only never paid for a vote
but never expressed a wish to be elected. The foreign vote--Italians and
others--are swayed by cash considerations; the negroes are bought and
sold politically. The "bosses" handle the money, and the senators
consider it as "expenses," and doubtless do not know that some of it has
been used to influence legislators. The Americans have a remarkable
network of laws to prevent fraudulent voting. Each candidate in some
States is required to swear to an expense account, yet the wary
politician, with his "ways that are dark," evades the law. The entire
system, the control of the political fortunes of 80,000,000 Americans,
is in the hands of a small army of political "bosses," some of whom, had
they figured as grafters in "effete" China, would have been beheaded
without mercy.


[9] Slang for citizens.

[10] Slang for information, facts.

[11] Mexican hash in corn-husk.



A fundamental idea with the American is to educate children. This is
carried to the extent of making it an offense not to send those above a
certain age to school, while State or town officers, called "truant
police," are on the alert to arrest all such children who are not in
school. The following was told me by a Government official in
Washington, who had obtained it from a well-known literary man who
witnessed the incident. The literary man was invited to visit a Boston
school of the lower grade, where he found the teacher, an attractive
woman, engaged in teaching a class of "youngsters," the progeny of the
working class. After the visitor had listened to the recitations for
some time, he remarked to the teacher, "How do you account for the
neatness and cleanliness of these children?" "Oh, I insist upon it," was
the reply. "The Board of Education does not anticipate all the
desiderata, but I make them come clean and make it a part of the
course;" then rising and tapping on the table, she said, "Prepare for
the sixth exercise." All the children stood up. "One," said the teacher,
whereupon each pupil took out a clean cloth handkerchief. "Two," counted
the teacher, and with one concerted blast every pupil blew his or her
nose in clarion notes. "Three," came again after a few seconds, and the
handkerchiefs were replaced. At "four" the student body sank back to
their seats without even smiling, or without having "cracked a smile."
You could search the world over and not find a prototype. It goes
without saying that the teacher was a wit and wag, but the lesson of
handkerchiefs and their use was inculcated.

Education is a part of the scheme to make all Americans equal. A more
splendid _system_ it is impossible to conceive. Every possible facility
is afforded the poorest family to educate their children. Public schools
loom up everywhere, and are increased as rapidly as the children, so
there is no excuse for ignorance. The schools are graded, and there is
no expense or fee. The parents pay a tax, a small sum, those who have no
children being taxed as well as those who have many. There are schools
to train boys to any trade; normal free schools to make teachers; night
schools for working boys; commercial schools to educate clerks; ship
schools to train sailors and engineers. Then come the great
universities, in part free, with all the splendid paraphernalia, some
being State institutions and others memorials of dead millionaires.
Then there are the great technical schools, as well as universities
(where one can study Chinese, if desired). There are schools of art,
law, medicine, nature, forestry, sculpture; schools to teach one how to
write, how to dress, how to eat, and how to keep well; schools to teach
one how to write advertisements, to cultivate the memory, to grow
strong; schools for shooting, boxing, fencing; schools for nurses and
cooks; summer schools; winter schools.

And yet the American is not profoundly educated. He has too much within
his reach. I have been distinctly surprised at crude specimens I have
met who were graduates of great universities. The well-educated
Englishman, German, and American are different things. The American is
far behind in the best sense, which I am inclined to think is due to
the teachers. Any one can get through a normal school and become a
teacher who can pass the examination, and I have seen some singular
instances. If all the teachers were obliged to pass examinations in
culture, refinement, and the art of _conveying_ knowledge, there would
be a falling of pedagogic heads. The free and over education of the poor
places them at once above their parents. They are free, and the daughter
of a ditch laborer, whose wife is a floor scrubber, upon being educated
is ashamed of her parents, learns to play the piano, apes the rich, and
is at least unhappy.

The result is, there remains no peasant class. The effect of education
on the country boy is to make him despise the farm and go to the city,
to become a clerk and ape the fashions of the wealthy at six or eight
dollars a week. He has been educated up to the standard of his "boss"
and to be his equal. The overeducation of the poor is a heartless thing.
The women vie with the men, and as a result women graduates, taking
positions at half the price that men demand, crowd them out of the
fields of skilled labor, whereas the man, not crowded out, should,
normally, marry the girl. In power, strength, and progress the American
nation stands first in the world, and all this may be due to splendid
educational facilities. But this is not everything. There result strife,
unhappiness, envy, and a craze for riches. I do not think the Americans
as a race are as happy as the Chinese. Religious denominations try to
have their own schools, so that children shall not be captured by other
denominations. Thus the Roman Catholics have parochial schools, under
priests and sisters, and colleges of various grades. They oppose the use
of the Bible in the public school, and in some States their influence
has helped to suppress its use. The Quakers, with a following of only
eighty thousand, have colleges and schools. The Methodists have
universities, as have the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and others. All
denominations have institutions of learning. These schools are in the
hands of clergymen, and are often endowed or supported by wealthy
members of the denomination.

A remarkable feature of American life is the college of correspondence.
A man or firm advertises to teach by correspondence at so much a month.
Many branches are taught, and if the student is in earnest a certain
amount of information can thus be accumulated. Among the people I have
met I have observed a lack of what I term full, broad education,
producing a well-rounded mind, which is rare except among the class
that stands first in America--the refined, cultured, educated man of an
old family, who is the product of many generations. The curriculum of
the high school in America would in China seem sufficient to equip a
student for any position in diplomatic life; but I have found that a
majority of graduates become clerks in a grocery or in other shops, car
conductors, or commercial travelers, where Latin, Greek, and other
higher studies are absolutely useless. The brightest educational sign I
see in America is the attention given to manual training. In schools
boys are taught some trade or are allowed to experiment in the trades in
order to find out their natural bent, so that the boy can be educated
with his future in view. As a result of education, women appear in
nearly every field except that of manual labor on farms, which is
performed in America only by alien women.

The richest men in America to-day, the multi-millionaires, are not the
product of the universities, but mainly of the public schools. Carnegie,
Rockefeller, Schwab, men of the great steel combine, the oil magnates,
the great railway magnates, the great mine owners, were all men of
limited education at the beginning. Among great merchants, however, the
university man is found, and among the Harvard and Yale graduates, for
example, may be found some of America's most distinguished men. But
Lincoln, the martyred President, had the most limited education, and
among public men the majority have been the product of the public
school, which suggests that great men are natural geniuses, who will
attain prominence despite the lack of education. The best-educated men
in America to my mind are the graduates of West Point and Annapolis, the
military and naval academies. These two institutions are extremely
rigorous, and are open to the most humble citizens. They so transform
men in four years that people would hardly recognize them. The result is
a highly educated, refined, cultivated, practical man, with a high sense
of honor and patriotism. If America would have a school of this kind in
every State there would be no limit to her power in two decades.

Despite education, the great mass of the people are superficial; they
have a smattering of this and that. An employer of several thousand men
told the Superintendent of Education of the District of Columbia that he
had selected the brightest boy graduate of a high school for a position
which required only a knowledge of simple arithmetic. The graduate
proved to be totally unfit for the position and was discharged. Later he
became the driver of a team of horses. America abounds in thousands of
educational institutions, yet there is not one so well endowed that it
can say to the world we wish no more money. It is singular that some
multi-millionaire does not grasp this opportunity to donate one hundred
millions to a great national school or university, to be placed at
Washington, where the buildings would all be lessons in architecture of
marble after the plans of a world's fair. Instead they leave a few
thousands here and a few there. Carnegie, the leading millionaire, gives
libraries to cities all over the States, each of which bears the name of
the giver. The object is too obvious, and is cheap in conception. In San
Francisco some years ago a citizen tried the same experiment. He
proposed to give the city a large number of fountains. When they were
finished _each_ one was seen to be surmounted by his own statue. A few
were put up, how many I do not recall, but one night some citizens
waited on a statue, fastened a rope to its neck, and hauled it down. So
peculiar are the Americans that I believe if Mr. Carnegie should place
his name on ten thousand libraries, with the object of attaining undying
fame, the people, by a concerted effort, would forget all about him in a
few decades. Such an attempt does not appeal to any side of the American
character. I have known the best Americans, but Mr. Carnegie has not
known the best of his own countrymen or he would not attempt to
perpetuate his memory in this way.



Among the most delightful people I have met in America are the army and
navy officers, graduates of West Point and Annapolis, well-bred,
cultivated men, patriotic, open-hearted, and chivalrous. They are like
our own class of men who answer to the American term of gentlemen. I am
not going to tell you of their splendid ships, their training or
uniform, but of a few of their idiosyncrasies. There is no dueling in
the army. If two men have trouble at the academies they fight it out
with bare fists, and in the army settle it in some other way, dueling
being forbidden. Owing to the fact that all men are equal in America,
the attitude of the officer to the civilian is entirely different. If a
civilian strikes an officer in Germany the latter will cut him down with
his saber and be protected in it, but here the man would be arrested and
treated as any other criminal; in a word, the officer is a servant of
the people, and stands with them. He has been trained to treat his men
well, and they respect him. But while the officer is the people's
servant and his salary in some part is paid by the humblest grocer's
clerk, laborer, or artisan, the officer has a social position which, in
the eyes of himself and the Government, makes him the social equal of
kings and emperors; and here we see a strange fact in American life.

When a garrison is ordered to a town or city, people call to pay their
respects. The grocer, who in being taxed aids in paying the officer's
salary, is _persona non grata_. The grocer, milk dealer, shoe dealer,
and retail dealers in general might call, but would not be received on
cordial terms. The wife of the colonel might return the call of the
grocer's wife if she made a good appearance, but the latter would under
no circumstances be invited to a function at the camp or post. The
undertaker, the dentist, the ice-man, the retail shoe man are under the
ban. Certain kinds of business appear to have certain social rights.
Thus a dentist would not be received, but the man who manufactures
dentists' tools may be a leader among the "Four Hundred."

Strange complications arise. A young officer fell in love with a
sergeant's daughter, and married her, as I learned from a well-known
officer at the Army and Navy Club. This was serious enough, as there
could be no intimacy between a commissioned and non-commissioned
officer. The young man and his bride were ordered to a distant post,
where the story of course followed them. All went well for a time. The
bride sank her social inferiority in the rank of her husband, and the
ladies of the post called on her, not as the sergeant's daughter but as
the officer's wife. The mother of the bride finally decided to visit
her, and thus became the guest of the officer, who was a lieutenant.
Under ordinary circumstances it was the duty of all the ladies to call
on the mother of the lieutenant's wife; but it so happened that she was
the wife of a sergeant, and hence to call was impossible. No one did so.

The young wife felt herself insulted, and the ubiquitous reporter seized
upon the situation, until it was taken up by every paper in the country.
The pictures of mother, daughter, and sergeant were shown, and columns
were written on the subject. Almost to a man the editors denounced what
they termed the snobbishness of the army, and denounced West Point for
producing snobs, claiming that the ladies of the post, had they been
real ladies, would have called on a respectable laundress even if she
had been the sergeant's wife. I refer to this to show the intricacies of
American etiquette. The point is that nearly all the editors who knew
anything, believed that the ladies were right, but did not dare to say
so on account of the fact that the majority of their readers felt
themselves the equals of the army officer; hence the cry of snobbery
that went whistling over the land. The lieutenant committed a gross
mistake in marrying the girl; he married out of his class. But in
America I am told there are no classes, and I am constantly forgetting

In the army there are several black regiments (negroes). They have
black chaplains, and attempts have been made to find black officers,
but the social difficulties make this impossible, though the blacks are
free and independent citizens and help pay the salaries of the white
men. It would be impossible to force white soldiers to admit to their
regiment black soldiers. No white man would permit a black officer to be
placed over him, even by inference.

In the navy we see an entirely different situation. On every ship are
negroes in the crew, sleeping on the same gun-decks with the white men,
and no fault is found; but a negro officer would be an impossibility.
Though several have been sent to the Naval Academy, none have "gone
through." Even in these almost perfect institutions favoritism exists.
To illustrate: the son of a prominent man was about to fail in his
examinations, when the powers that be passed the word that he must
pass, _nolens volens_. The professor in whose class he was and who had
found him deficient resented this, and when he learned that it was the
intention to pass the boy over his head he resigned and was ordered to
his regiment. The young man was graduated, entered the army and, aided
by influence, jumped many of his class men and finally acquired rank at
the request of the wife of one of the Presidents. This was a very
exceptional case, the result of strong national sentiment that favored
the father.

The management of the army does not seem rational to a foreigner. To
preserve the idea of republican simplicity and equality, army men are
not rewarded with orders, as in other countries, which is a great
injustice. Few officers, though veterans of many wars, wear medals, and
when they do they were not given as rewards for bravery, but are merely
corps badges, showing that the officer belongs to this or that army
corps. But if an officer does a brave deed he may be promoted several
points over his fellows, as brave as he, but who did not have the same
opportunity to show bravery. Ill feeling may be the result. Every man is
expected to be brave, and extraordinary examples of bravery are
recognized in other nations by the presentation of medals, the
possession of which creates no ill feeling. The actual head of the army
is the Secretary of War, a political appointment, an adviser selected by
the President, who, usually, has no military knowledge. This officer
gives all the orders to the general of the army, and, as in a recent
instance, a vast amount of friction has been the result. Intense feeling
was occasioned by the elevation of certain officers, who were supposed
to possess remarkable executive ability.

Civil war veterans at the Army and Navy Club complained to an
acquaintance of mine that when they arrived at the seat of war in Cuba
they found their superior officers to be, first, General Wheeler, an
ex-Confederate, against whom they had fought in the civil war; second,
Colonel Wood, who had been a contract army surgeon under nearly all of
them; and finally, Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt, who was a babe in arms
when they were fighting the battles of the civil war. This story serves
to illustrate the point that political "pulls" and favoritism are
rampant in the service, and are the cause of much disgust among
officers. General Funston affords an illustration that has incensed many
officers. Funston was an unknown man, who captured Aguinaldo by a clever
ruse, a valuable and courageous piece of work, which should have been
rewarded with a decoration and _some_ promotion; but he was jumped over
the heads of hundreds, landing at the top of the army in one "fell
swoop." I judge the policy of the Government to be to promote officers
so soon as they show evidence of extraordinary capability.

It would be an easy matter for any one to obtain photographs of plans
and sketches of American fortifications. One of my friends hired a
photographer to get up what he called a scrap-book of pictures to take
home to his family in Tokio in order to "entertain his people." The
photographer sent him a wonderful series, showing the forts overlooking
New York harbor, interiors and exteriors; and those in Boston, Portland,
Baltimore, Fort Monroe, Key West, and San Francisco were also obtained.
Photographs of guns and charts, which can be purchased everywhere, were
included, as well as Government reports. If Japan ever goes to war with
the Yankees my friend's scrap-book will be in demand. I do not believe
the American War Department makes any secret of the forts. They are open
to the public. Even if a kodak were not permitted, pictures could be
secured. My friend said his photographer had a kodak which he wore
inside his vest, the opening protruding from a button-hole. All he had
to do was to stand in front of an object and pull a cord. Such a kodak
is known as a "detective camera." There are several designs, all very
clever. I once saw my face reproduced in a paper, and until I heard
about this camera it was a mystery how the original was obtained, as I
had not "posed" for any one.

The possibility of America going to war with another nation is remote.
From what I see of the people and their tremendous activity they could
not be defeated by any nation or combination of nations. They are like
Senator ----'s Malay game-cock, of which the senator has said that there
is only one trouble with him--the bird never knows when he is licked,
and if he does he does not stay licked. America could raise an army of
ten or twelve millions of the finest fighters in the world for defense
against any combination, and she would win. The senator told me a story,
which illustrates the situation. One of the American men-of-war in a
Malay port had an old American eagle aboard as a mascot and pet. When
the men got liberty they went ashore with the eagle, and showed it as an
"American game-cock." The natives wanted to arrange a match, and finally
one was planned, the eagle cock against a black Malay. When the fight
began, the black cock put its spur into the eagle several times, the
latter doing nothing but eye the cock, first with one eye, and then with
the other. Once more the black cock stabbed the eagle, bringing blood,
whereupon the eagle leaned forward, and as the cock thrust out its head,
seized it with one claw, pressed it to the ground, and with the other
tore off its head and began to eat it. This is what would happen if
almost any nation really and seriously went to war with the United
States. But the country was ill prepared for the war with Spain. If
Cervera had reached the New England coast he could have shelled Boston
and then New York.

Service in America is not compulsory. It is merely made popular, and as
a result, every part of the country has State militia of splendidly
drilled men, ready to be called on at a moment's notice. They receive no
pay, considering it an honor to be in the militia service. In the
regular army old names are perpetuated. The great generals and admirals
have sent sons into the service. Our Government would do well to send
young men to West Point and Annapolis. The Japanese did this for years,
and received the best of their ideas from those sources. There is but
one thing in the way. Chinamen are _tabooed_ in America, and doubtless
would reach no farther than the port of entry. The only way to get in
now would be for a new minister or diplomat to bring over ten or a dozen
young men as members of the suite and then distribute them among the
schools and universities--a humiliation that China will probably resent.

Our trade with America is extremely valuable to her. The cotton, flour,
and other commodities we import represent a vast sum, and I believe if
we refused at once to buy anything from America we could make our own
terms in less than two years. This could be accomplished very gradually.
The Americans would find it out first through their consuls, who are all
instructed to report on every possible point of vantage that can be
taken in China by their merchants. They would report a decreased demand.
American merchants would then demand an explanation from the Department
of State, and finally we could announce that we preferred to buy from
our friends, American treatment of the Chinese being inimical to good
feeling. Knowing the American business men as I do, you could count on a
wail coming up from them. An appeal would be made to Congress through
representatives and senators, the American business men demanding that
the "Chinese matter" be arranged upon a "more liberal basis." When you
touch the pocketbook of "Uncle Sam" you reach his earthquake center; yet
for defense, for the preservation of the national honor, this people
will spend untold sums. The American Government bond is the best
security in the world. It is founded on the rock of honor and
patriotism. And there is no repudiation like that of ----, and none like
the pretended one of ----.[12] We have our faults, and it is well to
recognize them; but I never saw them until I mingled with the English
and Americans.

There is of course a large foreign element in the American
army--thousands of Irish and Germans; but this does not signify, as I
learn that in the State of Massachusetts, the stronghold of Americans,
the Irish hold a third of the official positions, the native-born
Yankees about one-fourth. This is particularly exasperating to old
families in New England, as it is notorious that the Irish come directly
from the very dregs of the poverty-stricken peasantry--the
"bog-trotters." I was much impressed by the high standard of honor in
the army and navy, and am told that it is the rarest of occurrences for
a regular army officer to commit a crime or to default. This is due to
the training received at the military and naval schools, where young men
are placed on their honor.


[12] China has twice repudiated its Government bonds within four



It is seldom that I have been complimented in America, but a lady has
told me that she envied our "art sense." She said the Chinese are
essentially artistic, that the cheapest thing, the most ordinary
article, is artistic or beautiful. I wished that I could return the
compliment, but a strict observance of the truth compels me to say that
the reverse is true in America. If one go into a Chinese shop and ask
for any ordinary article, it will be found artistic. If one go into an
American shop, say a hardware "store," there will not be found an
article that would be considered decorative, while everything in a
Chinese shop of like character would fall under this head. The
conclusion is that the Chinese are artistic, while the Americans are

The reason lies in the fact that the Chinese are homogeneous, while the
Americans are a mixed race, that is injured by the continual
introduction of baser elements. If immigration could be stopped for
fifty years, and the people have a chance to acquire "oneness," they
might become artistic. The middle class, however, is, from an artistic
standpoint, a horror; they have absolutely no art sense, and the
_nouveaux riches_ are often as bad. The latter sometimes place their
money in the hands of an agent, who buys for them; but all at once a man
may break out and insist upon buying something himself, so that in a
splendid collection of European names will appear some artistic horror
to stamp the owner as a parvenu.

The Americans have not produced a great painter. By this I mean a
really great artist, nor have they a great sculptor, one who is or has
been an inspiration. But they have thousands of artists, and many poor
ones thrive in selling their wares. You may see a man with an income of
thirty thousand dollars having paintings on his walls that give one the
vertigo. The poor artist has taken him in, or "pulled his leg," to use
the latest American slang. There are some fine paintings in America. I
have visited the great collections in Boston, New York, Philadelphia,
Washington, Chicago, and those in many private galleries, but the best
of the pictures are always from England, France, Germany, and other
European countries. Old masters are particularly revered. Americans pay
enormous sums for them, but sometimes are deceived.

They have art schools by the hundred, where they study from the nude
and from models of all kinds. There are splendid museums of art,
especially in Boston and New York. The art interests are particularly
active, but not the people; there are a few art lovers only, the people
in the mass being hopeless. Cheap prints, chromos, and other deadly
things are ground out by the million and sold, to clog still deeper the
art sense of an inartistic people. They laugh at our conventional
Chinese art, but the extreme of conventionality is certainly better than
some of the daubs I have seen in American homes. Americans have peculiar
fancies in art. One is called Impressionist Art. As near as I can
understand it, painters claim that while you are looking at an object
you do not really see it all, you merely gain an impression; so they
paint only the impression. In a museum of art I was shown several rooms
full of daubs, having absolutely nothing to commend them, weird colors
being thrown together in the strangest manner, without rhyme or reason,
but over which people went mad. The great masters of Europe appeal to me
strongly. In America, marine painters attract me the most, for example,
Edward Moran, who is a splendid delineator of the sea. Bierstadt is a
noble painter, and so is Thomas Moran. There are half a hundred men who
are fine painters, but half a thousand men and women who think they are
artistic but who are not.

Americans have developed no individual architecture. You see
semipagoda-like effects in the East, and old English houses in the
South. They steal the latter and call them Colonial. They steal the
architecture of the Moors and call it Mexican. They borrow Roman and
Grecian effects for great public buildings. At one time they went mad
over the French roof, or mansard. Nowhere have I seen purely American
architecture. The race is not possessed of sufficient unity. So all
their art is from abroad, and notably is French and English. They make
broad effects, and give them an American name; but they are copied from
the Dutch or Germans. All the furniture designers in America are
Europeans. You will find a splendid house with a Chinese room, having
teak inlaid with ivory, etc.; a Japanese room, a Moorish room, and an
Italian room, all splendidly decorated; but the family lives in an
"American room," that is commonplace and subversive of all art digestion
and assimilation. The average middle-class American knows absolutely
nothing about art; the lower classes so little that their homes are
hopeless. Knowing this, they are preyed upon by thousands of foreign
swindlers. There are hundreds of articles manufactured in Europe to sell
to the American tourist. I have seen Napoleonic furniture enough to load
a fleet. I can only compare it to the pieces of the true cross and the
holy relics of the Catholics, of which there are enough to fill the
original ark which the Bible tells the Americans landed on Mount Ararat
in a great flood.

The houses of the best people I have told you about are as far removed
from the commonplace as the equator from the poles. They are rich in
conception, sumptuous in detail, artistic in every way, and filled with
the art gems of the world. But these people have descended from refined
people for several generations. They are the true Americans, but make up
a small number compared to the inartistic whole. I believe America
recognizes this, and with her stupendous energy is doing everything to
educate the masses in art. They are building splendid museums; rich men
give away millions. There are hundreds of art schools, free to all, and
art is taught in all the schools. Fine monuments are placed in public
squares and parks, and beautiful fountains and memorials in these and
other public places. Their buildings, though foreign in design, are
beautiful. In Boston one may see marvelous work in frescoes, etc., and
in the Government buildings at Washington. The Capitol, while not
American in design, is a pile worthy of the great people who erected it.



The questions I know you will wish answered are, Whether this stupendous
aggregation of States is a success? Does it possess advantages beyond
those of the Chinese Empire? Does it fulfil the expectations of its own
people? Frankly, I do not consider myself competent to answer. I have
studied America and the Americans for many years during my visits to
this country and Europe, and while I have seen many accounts of the
country, written after several months of observation, I believe that no
just estimate of the republican form of government can be formed after
such experience. My private impression, however, is that the republic
falls far short of what the men in Washington's time expected, and it
is also my private opinion that it has not so many advantages as a
government like that of England.

It is too splendid an organization to be lightly denounced. The idea of
the equality of men is noble, and I would not wish to be arraigned among
its critics. There is too much good to offset the bad. I have been
attempting to amuse you by analyzing the Americans, pointing out their
frailties as well as their good qualities. I tell you what I see as I
run, always, I hope, remembering what is good in this spontaneous and
open-hearted people. The characteristic claim of the people is that the
Government offers freedom to its citizens; yet every man is quite as
free in China if he behaves himself, and he can rise if he possesses

Any native-born citizen in the United States may become the head of the
nation has he the courage of his convictions, the many accomplishments
which equip the great leader, and should the hour and the man meet
opportunity. This is the one prize which distinguishes America from
England. The latter in other respects offers exactly as much freedom
with half the wear and tear; in fact, to me the freedom of America is
one of her disadvantages. Every one knows, and the American best of all,
that all men are _not equal_, never were and never can be. Yet this
false doctrine is their standard, and they swear by it, though some will
explain that what is meant is political freedom. Freedom accounts for
the gross impertinence of the ignorant and lower classes, the laughable
assumptions of servants, and the illogical pretenses of the _nouveau
riche_, which make America impossible to some people. Cultivated
Americans are as thoroughly aristocratic as the nobility of England.
There are the same classes here as there. A grocer becomes rich and
retires or dies; his children refuse to associate with the families of
other grocers; in a word, the Americans have the aristocratic feeling,
but they have no peasant class; the latter would be, in their own
estimation, as good as any one. One class, the lower and poorer, is
arraigned against the upper and richer, and the gap is growing daily.

But this would not prove that the republic is a failure. What then? It
is, in the opinion of many of its clergymen, a great moral failure. No
nation in history has lasted many centuries after having developed the
"symptoms" now shown in the United States. I quote their own press, "the
States are morally rotten," and you have but to turn to these organs and
the magazines of the past decade, which make a feature of holding up
the shortcomings of cities and millionaires, to read the details of the
tragedy. Thieves--grafters--have seized upon the vitals of the country.
St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, great representative
cities--what is their history? The story of dishonesty among officials,
of bribery, stealing, and every possible crime that a man can devise to
wring money from the people. This is no secret. It has all been exposed
by the friends of morality. City governments are overthrown, the rascals
are turned out, but in a few months the new officers are caught devising
some new "grafting" operation.

I have it from a prominent official that there is not an honest State or
city administration in America. What can a nation say when for years it
has known that a large and influential lobby has been maintained to
influence statesmen, a lobby comprising a corps of "persuaders" in the
pay of business men? How do they influence them? The great fights waged
to defeat certain measures are well known, and it is known that money
was used. Certain congressmen have been notoriously receptive. I have
seen the following story in print in many forms. I took the trouble to
ask a well-known man if it was possible that it could be founded on
fact; his reply was, "Certainly it is a fact." A briber entered the
private room of a congressman. "Mr. ----, to come right to the point, I
want the ---- bill to pass, and I will give you five hundred dollars for
the vote and your interest." The congressman rose to his feet, purple
with rage. "You dare to offer me this insulting bribe? You infernal
scoundrel, I will throw you out." "Well, suppose we make it one
thousand," said the imperturbable visitor. "Well," replied the
congressman, cooling down, "that is a little better put. We will talk it

The American Government had been attempting, since 1859, to build a
canal across the Isthmus. I believe surveys were made earlier than that,
but bribery and corruption and "graft" enabled the friends of
transcontinental railroads to stop the canals. It would be a
disadvantage to the railroads to have a canal across the Isthmus. So in
some mysterious way the canal, which the people wished, has not been
built, and will not be until the people rise and demand it. Corruption
has stood on the Isthmus with a flaming sword and struck down every
attempt to build the canal. The morality of the people is low. Divorce
is rampant, the daily journals are filled with accounts of divorces, and
daily lists of crimes are printed that would seem impossible to a
nation that can raise millions to send to China to convert the
"heathen." If they would only divert these Chinese missionaries from
China to their own heathen and grafters, but they will not. The peculiar
freedom of the country, which is nothing less than the most atrocious
license, tends to drag it down.

The papers have absolutely no check on their freedom. Men and women are
attacked by them, ruined, held up to scorn and ridicule, and the victim
has no recourse but to shoot the editor and thus embroil himself. That
it is a crime to ridicule a man and make him the butt of a nation or the
world seems never to occur to these men. Certain statesmen have been so
lampooned by the "hired" libelers that they have been ruined. The press
hires a class of men, called cartoonists, usually ill-bred fellows of
no standing, yet clever, in their business, whose duty it is to hold up
public men to ridicule in every possible way and make them infamous
before the people. This is called the freedom of the press, and its
attitude, or the sensational part of it, in presenting crime in an
alluring manner, is having its effect upon the youth of the country.
Young girls and boys become familiar with every feature of bestial crime
through the "yellow journals," so called, and that the republic will
reap sorely from this sowing I venture to prophesy.

I asked one of the great insurance men why it was that great financial
institutions took so strong an interest in politics. He laughed, and
said, "If I am not mistaken, not long since your country repudiated its
Government bonds, and they are not negotiable to any great extent among
your people." Hearing this I assumed the American attitude and "sawed
wood." "We take an interest in politics," he continued, "to offset the
professional blackmailer and thief. Now in the case of your repudiation
I understand all about it. The Chinese Government was in straits, and
suddenly some seemingly patriotic citizen started a petition, stating to
the Government that the subscribers offered their Government securities
to the Government as a gift. By no means all the bondholders signed, but
enough, I understand, to have justified your Government in repudiating
the bonds--'at the request of the people'--thus destroying the national
credit at home and abroad. Now in America that would be called 'graft.'
The act would be done by a few grafters in the hope of reward, or by
some unscrupulous statesmen to save the Government from bankruptcy
during their term of office. I conceive this to be what was done in
China. If we do not keep eternal watch we shall be bled every day. It is
done in this way: a grafter becomes an assemblyman, and with others lays
a plan of graft. It is to get up a bill, so offensive to our corporation
that it would mean ruin if passed. The grafter has no idea that it will
pass, but it is made much of, and of course reaches our ears, and the
question is how to stop it. We are finally told that we had better see
Mr. ----, in our own city. He is accordingly looked up and found to be a
cheap and ignorant politician, who, if there are no witnesses, tells our
agent plainly that it can be stopped for ten thousand dollars. Perhaps
we beat him down to eight thousand, but we pay it. Hundreds of firms
have been blackmailed in this way. Now we keep an agent in the State
Capitol to attend to our interests, and we take an interest in politics
to head off the election of professional grafters."

One of the most serious things in this phase of national immorality is
showing itself in what are termed "lynchings"; that is, a negro commits
a crime against a white woman, and instead of permitting the law to run
its course, the people rise, seized with a savage craze for revenge,
batter in the jails, take the criminal, and burn him at the stake. This
burning is sometimes attended by thousands, who display the most
remarkable _abandon_ and savagery. Some African chiefs have sacrificed
more people at one time, but no savage has ever displayed greater
bestiality, gloated over his victim with more real satisfaction, than
these free Americans in numerous instances when shouting and yelling
about the burning body of some unfortunate whose crime has aroused
their ferocity to the point of madness.

Not one but many clergymen have denounced this. They compare it to the
most brutal acts of savagery, and we have the picture of a country
posing as civilized, with the temerity to point out the sins of others,
giving themselves over to orgies that would disgrace the lowest of
races. I have it from the lips of a clergyman that during the past
twelve years over twenty-five hundred men have been lynched in the
United States. In a single year two hundred and forty men were killed by
mobs in this way, many being burned at the stake. If any excuse is
offered, it is said that most of these were negroes, and the crime was
rape, and the victims white women; but of the number mentioned only
forty-six were charged with this crime and but two-thirds were black.
Many confessed as the torch was applied, many died protesting their
innocence, and in no case was the offense legally proved. This lynching
seems to be a mania with the people. It began with the attack of negroes
on white women. The repetition of similar cases so enraged the whites
that they have become mad upon the subject. The feeling is well
illustrated by the remark of a Southerner to me. "If a woman of my
family was attacked by a negro I must be his executioner. I could not
wait for the law." This man told me that no lynching would ever have
taken place had it not been for the uncertainty of the law. Men who were
known to be guilty of the grossest of crimes had been virtually
protected by the law, and their cases dragged along at great expense to
the State, this occurring so many times that the patience of the people
became exhausted. This man forgot that the law was instigated for the
purpose of justice.

The negro is an issue in America and a cause of much crime, a vengeance
on the people who held them as slaves. The negro has increased so
rapidly that in forty years he has doubled in number, there now being
over nine millions in the country. At the present rate there will be
twenty-five millions in 1930--a black menace to the white American.

The negro is a factor in the national unrest. They outnumber the whites
in some localities, and hence vote themselves many offices, while the
few whites pay eighty or eighty-five per cent of the taxes and the
negroes supply from eighty to ninety per cent of the criminals. While
this is going on in the South and the whites are rising and preparing to
disfranchise the blacks in many States, the people of Boston and
Cambridge are discussing the propriety of the whites and blacks
marrying to settle the question of social equality. Such proposals I
have read. Reprinted in the South, they added fuel to the flame.

Another element of distress in America is the attitude of labor, the
policy of the Government of letting in the lowest of the low from every
nation except the Chinese, against whom the only charge has been that
they are too industrious and thus a menace to the whites. The swarms of
people from the low and criminal classes of Europe have enabled the
anarchists to obtain such a foothold that in this free country the
President of the United States is almost as closely guarded as the
Emperor of Russia. The White House is surrounded and guarded by
detectives of various kinds. The secret-service department is equal in
its equipment to that of many European nations, and millions are spent
in watching criminals and putting down their strikes and riots. The
doctrine of freedom to all appeals so well to the ignorant laborer that
he has decided to control the entire situation, and to this end labor is
divided into "unions," and in many sections business has been ruined.

The demands of these ignorant men are so preposterous that they can
scarcely be credited. The merchant no longer owns his business or
directs it. The laborer tells him what to pay, how to pay it, when and
how long the hours shall be--in fact, undertakes to usurp entire
control. If the owner protests, the laborers all stop work, strike,
appoint guards, who attack, kill, or intimidate any one who attempts to
take their place. In this way it is said that one billion dollars have
been lost in the last few years. Contracts have been broken, men
ruined, localities and cities placed in the greatest jeopardy, and
hundreds of lives lost. Every branch of trade has its "union," and in so
many cases have the laborers been successful that a national panic comes
almost in sight. Never was there a more farcical illustration of
freedom. Irrational, ignorant Irishmen, who had not the mental capacity
to earn more than a dollar a day, dictated to merchant princes and
millionaire contractors. In New York it was proved that the leaders of
the strikers sold out to employers, and accepted bribes to call off

The question before the American people is, Has an American citizen the
right to conduct his own business to suit himself and employ whom he
wishes? Has the laborer the right to work for whom and what rate he
pleases? The imported socialists, anarchists, and their converts among
Americans say no, and it will require but little to precipitate a
bloody war, when labor, led by red-handed murderers, will enact in New
York and all over the United States the horrors of the French Commune.

The republic for a great and enlightened country has too many criminals.
I am told by a prohibition clergyman that the curse of drink and license
has its fangs in the heart of the land. He tells me that the Americans
pay yearly $1,172,000,000 for their alcoholic drink; for bread,
$600,000,000; for tobacco, $625,000,000; for education, $197,000,000;
for ministers' salaries, $14,000,000. It has been found that the
downfall of eighty-one per cent of criminals is traceable to drink. He
said: "Our republic is a failure morally, as we have 2,550,000 drunkards
and people addicted to drink. We have 600,000 prostitutes, and many more
doubtless that are not known, and in nine cases out of ten their
downfall can be traced to drink."

I listen to this side of the story, and then I see wonderful
philanthropy, institutions for the prevention of crime, good men at work
according to their light, millions employed to educate the young,
thousands of churches and societies to aid man in making man better.
When I listen to these men, and see tens of thousands of Christian men
and women living pure lives, building up vast cities, great monuments
for the future, I feel that I can not judge the Americans. They perhaps
expect too much from their freedom and their republican ideas. I shall
never be a republican. I believe that we all have all the freedom we
deserve. It is well to remember that man is an animal. After all his
polish and refinement, he has animal tastes and desires, and if he makes
laws that are in direct opposition to the indulgence which his animal
nature suggests, he certainly must have some method of enforcing the
laws. Like all animals, some men are easily influenced and others not,
and the human animal has not made progress so far but that he needs
watching in order to make him conform to what he has decided or elected
to call right.

You will expect me to compare the American to the Chinaman, but it is
impossible. Some things which we look upon as right, the American
considers grievous sins. The point of view is entirely at variance, but
I have boundless faith in the brilliant and good men and women I have
met in America. I say this despite my other impressions, which also

The great political scheme of the people is poorly devised and crude. It
is so arranged that in some States governors are elected every year or
two and other officers every year, representatives of the people in
Congress every two years, senators every six, Presidents every four
years. Thus the country is constantly in a whirl, and as soon as the
rancor of one national election is over begins the scheming for another.
The people have really little to do with the selection of a President. A
small band of rich and influential schemers generally have the entire
plan or "slate" laid out. A plan, natural in appearance, is _arranged_
for the public, and at the right time the slated program is sprung.
Senators should be elected by the people, congressmen should be elected
for a longer period, and Presidents should have twice the terms they do.
But it is easy to suggest, and I confess that my suggestions are those
of many American people themselves which I hear reformers cry abroad.

The vital trouble with America to-day is that she can not assimilate
the 600,000 debased, ignorant, poverty-stricken foreigners who are
coming in every year. They keep out the one peaceful nation. They
exclude the Chinese and take to the national heart the Jew, the
Socialist, the Italian, the Roumanian and others who constitute a nation
of unrest. What America needs is the "rest cure" that you hear so much
about here. She should close her seaports to these aliens for ten years,
allow the people here to assimilate; but they can not do it. The foreign
transportation lines under foreign flags are in the business to load up
America with the dregs of Europe. I know of one family of Jews, four
brothers, who wished to come to America, but found that they would have
to show that they were not paupers. They mustered about one thousand
dollars. One came over, and sent back the money by draft. The second
brought it back as his fortune, then immediately sent it back for
another brother to bring over, and so on until they all arrived, each
proving that he was not a pauper. Yet these same brothers, each with
several children, became an expense to the Government before they were
earners. The children were sent to industrial homes, and later entered
the sweat-shops. In America there is not a Chinaman to-day in a
workhouse, or a pauper[13] at the expense of the Government; yet the
Chinese are not wanted here.


[13] This is doubtful.--EDITOR.



I had not been in Washington a month before I received invitations to a
"country club golf" tournament, to a "rowing club," to a "pink tea," to
a "polo game," to a private "boxing" bout between two light-weight
professionals, given in Senator ----'s stable, to a private "cock-fight"
by the brother of ----'s wife, to a gun club "shoot," not to speak of
invitations to several "poker games." From this you may infer that
Americans are fond of sport. The official sport--that is, the game I
heard of most among Government officials, senators, and others--was
"poker," and the sums played for at times I am assured are beyond
belief. There are rules and etiquette for poker, and one of the most
distinguished of American diplomatists of a past generation, General
Schenck, emulated the Marquis of Queensberry in boxing by writing a book
on the national game, that has all the charm claimed for it. It is
seductive, and doubtless has had its influence on the people who employ
the "bluff" in diplomacy, war, business, or poker, with equal tact and

Middle-class Americans are fond of sport in every way, but the
aristocrats lack sporting spontaneity; they like it, or pretend to like
it, because it is the fashion, and they take up one sport after another
as it becomes the fad. That this is true can be shown by comparing the
Englishman and the American of the fashionable class. The Englishman is
fond of sport because it is in his blood; he does not like golf to-day
and swimming to-morrow, but he likes them all, and always has done so.
He would never give up cricket, golf, or any of his games because they
go out of fashion; he does not allow them to go out of fashion; but with
the American it is different.

Hence I assume that the average American of the better class is not
imbued with the sporting spirit. He wears it like an ill-fitting coat. I
find a singular feature among the Americans in connection with their
sports. Thus if something is known and recognized as sport, people take
to it with avidity, but if the same thing is called labor or exercise,
it is considered hard work, shirked and avoided. This is very cleverly
illustrated by Mark Twain in one of his books, where a boy makes his
companions believe that white-washing a fence is sport, and so relieves
himself from an arduous duty by pretending to share the great privilege
with them.

No one would think of walking steadily for six days, yet once this
became sport; dozens of men undertook it, and long walks became a fad.
If a man committed a crime and should be sentenced to play the modern
American game of football every day for thirty days as a punishment,
there are some who might prefer a death sentence and so avoid a
lingering end; but under the title of "sport" all young men play it, and
a number are maimed and killed yearly.

Sport is in the blood of the common people. Children begin with tops,
marbles, and kites, yet never appreciate our skill with either. I amazed
a boy on the outskirts of Washington one day by asking him why he did
not _irritate_ his kite and make it go through various evolutions. He
had never heard of doing that, and when I took the string and began to
jerk it, and finally made the kite plunge downward or swing in circles,
and always restored it by suddenly slacking off the cord, he was
astonished and delighted. The national game is baseball, a very clever
game. It is nothing to see thousands at a game, each person having paid
twenty-five or fifty cents for the privilege. In summer this game,
played by experts, becomes a most profitable business. Rarely is any one
hurt but the judge or umpire, who is at times hissed by the audience and
mobbed, and at others beaten by either side for unfair decisions; but
this is rare.

Football is dangerous, but is even more popular than the other. You
might imagine by the name that the ball is kicked. On the contrary the
real action of the game consists in running down, tripping up, smashing
into, and falling on whomever has the ball. As a consequence, men wear a
soft armor. There are fashions in sports which demonstrate the
ephemeral quality of the American love for sport. A while ago "wheeling"
was popular, and everybody wheeled. Books were printed on the etiquette
of the sport; roads were built for it and improved; but suddenly the
working class took it up and fashion dropped it. Then came golf,
imported from Scotland. With this fad millions of dollars were expended
in country clubs and greens all over the United States, as acres of land
were necessary. People seized upon this with a fierceness that warmed
the hearts of dealers in balls and clubs. The men who edited wheel
magazines now changed them to "golf monthlies." This sport began to wane
as the novelty wore off, until golf is now played by comparatively few
experts and lovers.

Society introduced the automobile, and we have the same thing--more
magazines, the spending of millions, the building of the _garage_, and
the appearance of the _chaufeur_ or driver. Then came the etiquette of
the auto--a German navy cap, rubber coat, and Chinese goggles. This
peculiar uniform is of course only to be worn when racing, but you see
the American going out for a slow ride solemnly attired in rubber coat
and goggles. The moment the auto comes within reach of the poor man it
will be given up; but it is now the fad and a most expensive one, the
best machines costing ten thousand dollars or more, and I have seen
races where the speed exceeded a mile a minute.

All sports have their ethics and rules and their correct costuming.
Baseball men are in uniform, generally white, with various-colored
stockings. The golfer wears a red coat and has a servant or valet, who
carries his bag of clubs, designed for every possible expediency. To
hear a group of golfers discuss the merits of these tools is one of the
extraordinary experiences one has in America. I have been made fairly
"giddy," as the Englishmen say, by this anemic conversation at country
clubs. The "high-ball" was the saving clause--a remarkable invention
this. Have I explained it? You take a very tall glass, made for the
purpose, and into it pour the contents of a small cut-glass bottle or
decanter of whisky, which must be Scotch, tasting of smoke. On this you
pour seltzer or soda-water, filling up the glass, and if you take enough
you are "high" and feel like a rolling ball. It is the thing to take a
"high-ball" after every nine holes in golf. Then after the game you
bathe, and sit and drink as many as your skin will hold. I got this from
a professional golf-teacher in charge of the ---- links, and hence it
is official.

The avidity with which the Americans seize upon a sport and the
suddenness with which they drop it, illustrating what I have said about
the lack of a national sporting taste, is well shown by the coming of a
game called "ping pong," a parlor tennis, with our battledores for
rackets. What great mind invented this game, or where it came from, no
one seems to know, but as a wag remarked, "When in doubt lay it to
China." Some suppose it is Chinese, the name suggesting it. So
extraordinary was the early demand for it that it appeared as though
everybody in America was determined to own and play ping pong. The
dealers could not produce it fast enough. Factories were established all
over the country, and the tools were ground out by the ten thousands.
Books were written on the ethics of the game; experts came to the
front; ping pong weeklies and monthlies were founded, to dumfound the
masses, and the very air vibrated with the "ping" and the "pong."

The old and young, rich and poor, feeble and herculean, all played it.
Doctors advised it, children cried for it, and a fashionable journal
devised the correct ping-pong costume for players. Great matches were
played between the experts of various sections, and this sport, a game
really for small children, after the fashion of battledore and
shuttlecock, ran its course among young and old. Pictures of adult
ping-pong champions were blazoned in the public print; even churchmen
took it up. Public gardens had special ping-pong tables to relieve the
stress. At last the people seized upon ping pong, and it became common.
Then it was dropped like a dead fish. If some cyclonic disturbance had
swept all the ping-pong balls into space, the disappearance could not
have been more complete. Ping pong was put out of fashion. All this to
the alien suggests something, a want of balance, a "youngness" perhaps.

At the present time the old game of croquet is being revived under
another name, and tennis is the vogue among many. Among the fashionable
and wealthy men polo is the vogue, but among a few everything goes by
fads for a few years. Every one will rush to see or play some game; but
this interest soon dies out, and something new starts up. Such games as
baseball and football, tennis and polo are, in a sense, in a class by
themselves, but among the pastimes of the people a wide vogue belongs to
fishing, and shooting wild fowl and large game. The former is universal,
and the Americans are the most skilled anglers with artificial lures in
the world, due to the abundance of game-fish, trout, and others, and the
perfect Government care exercised to perfect the supply.

As an illustration, each State considers hunting and fishing a valuable
asset to attract those who will come and spend money. I was told by a
Government official that the State of Maine reckoned its game at five
million dollars per annum, which means that the sport is so good that
sportsmen spend that amount there every year; but I fancy the amount is
overestimated. The Government has perfect fish hatcheries, constantly
supplying young fish to streams, while the business in anglers' supplies
is immense. There are thousands of duck-shooting clubs in the United
States. Men, or a body of men, rent or buy marshes, and keep the poor
man out. Rich men acquire hundreds of acres, and make preserves.
Possibly the sport of hunting wild fowl is the most characteristic of
American sports. This also has its etiquette, its costumes, its
club-houses, and its poker and high-balls. I know of one such club in
which almost all the members are millionaires. A humorous paper stated
that they used "gold shot."

As a nation the Americans are fond of athletics, which are taught in the
schools. There are splendid gymnasiums, and boys and girls are trained
in athletic exercises. Athletics are all in vogue. It is fashionable to
be a good "fencer." All the young dance. I believe the Americans stand
high as a nation in all-around athletics; at least they are far ahead of
China in this respect.

I have reserved for mention last the most popular fashion of the people
in sport, which is prize-fighting. Here again you see a strange
contradiction. The people are preeminently religious, and
prize-fighting and football are the sports of brutes; yet the two are
most popular. No public event attracts more attention in America than a
gladiatorial fight to the finish between the champion and some aspirant.
For months the papers are filled with it, and on the day of the event
the streets are thronged with people crowding about the billboards to
receive the news. No national event, save the killing of a President,
attracted more universal attention than the beating of Sullivan by
Corbett and the beating of Corbett by Fitzsimmons, and "Fitz" in turn by
Jeffries. I might add that I joined with the Americans in this, as the
modern prize-fighter is a fine animal. If all boys were taught to
believe that their fists are their natural weapons, there would be fewer
murders and sudden deaths in America. I have seen several of these
prize-fights and many private bouts, all with gloves. They are governed
by rules. Such a combat is by no means as dangerous as football, where
the obvious intention seems to be to break ribs and crush the opponent.

Rowing is much indulged in, and yachting is a great national maritime
sport, in which the Americans lead and challenge the world. In no sport
is the wealth of the nation so well shown. Every seaside town has its
yacht or boat club, and in this the interest is perpetual. Even in
winter the yacht is rigged into an "ice-boat." I have often wondered
that fashionable people do not take up the romantic sport of falconry,
as they have the birds and every facility. I suggested this to a lady,
who replied, "Ah, that is too barbaric for us." "More barbaric than
cock-fighting?" I asked, knowing that her brother owned the finest
game-cocks in the District of Columbia. Among the Americans there is a
distinct love for fair play, and such sports as "bull-baiting,"
"bull-fights," "dog-fights," and "cock-fights" have never attained any
degree of popularity. There are spasmodic instances of such indulgences,
but in no sense can they be included, as in England and Spain, among the
national sports, which leads me to the conclusion that, aside from the
many peculiarities, as taking up and dropping sports, America, all in
all, is the greatest sporting nation of the world. It leads in
fist-fighting, rifle-shooting, in skilful angling, in yachting, in
rowing, in running, in six-day walking, in auto-racing, in trotting and
running horses, and in trap-shooting, and if its champions in all fields
could be lined up it would make a surprising showing. I am free to
confess and quite agree with a vivacious young woman who at the country
club told me that it was very nice of me to uphold my country, but that
we were "not in it" with American sports.

The Presidents are often sportsmen. President Cleveland and President
Harrison both have been famous, the former as a fisherman, the latter as
well as the former as a duck-shooter. President McKinley has no taste
for sport, but the Vice-President is a promoter of sport of each and
every kind. He is at home in polo or hurdle racing, with the rifle or
revolver. This calls to mind the national weapon--the revolver.
Nine-tenths of all the shooting is done with this weapon, that is
carried in a special pocket on the hips, and I venture to say that a
pair of "trousers" was never made without the pistol pocket. Even the
clergymen have one. I asked an Episcopal clergyman why he had a pistol
pocket. He replied that he carried his prayer-book there. The Southern
people use a long curved knife, called a bowie, after its inventor. Many
people have been cut by this weapon. The negro, for some strange reason,
carries a razor, and in a fight "whips out" this awful weapon and
slashes his enemy. I have asked many negroes to explain this habit or
selection. One replied that it was "none of my d---- business." Nearly
all the others said they did not know why they carried it.



The average Irishman whom one meets in America, and he is legion, is a
very different person from the polished gentleman I have met in Belfast,
Dublin, and other cities in Ireland; but I never heard that the American
Irishman, the product of an ignorant peasantry crowded out of Ireland,
had been accepted as a type of the race. Peculiar discrimination is made
in America against the Chinese. Our lower classes, "coolies" from the
Cantonese districts, have flocked to America. Americans "lump" all
Chinese under this head, and can not conceive that in China there are
cultivated men, just as there are cultivated men in Ireland, the
antipodes of the grotesque Irish types seen in America.

I believe there are seventy-five or eighty thousand Chinamen in America.
They do not assimilate with the Americans. Many are common laborers,
laundrymen, and small merchants. In New York, Chicago, San Francisco,
and other cities there are large settlements of them. In San Francisco
many have acquired wealth. The Chinese quarter is to all intents and
purposes a Chinese city. None of these people, or very few, are
Americanized in the sense of taking an active part in the government;
Americans do not permit it. I was told that the Chinese were among the
best citizens, the percentage of criminals being very small. They are
honest, frugal, and industrious--too industrious, in fact, and for this
very reason the ban has been placed upon them. Red-handed members of the
Italian Mafia--a society of murderers--the most ignorant class in
Ireland, Wales, and England, the scum of Russia, and the human dregs of
Europe generally are welcome, but the clean, hard-working Chinaman is

Millions are spent yearly in keeping him out after he had been invited
to come. He built many American railroads; he opened the door between
the Atlantic and the Pacific; he worked in the mines; he did work that
no one else would or could do, and when it was completed the American
laborer, the product of this scum of all nations, demanded that the
Chinaman be "thrown out" and kept out. America listened to the blatant
demagogues, the "sand-lot orators," and excluded the Chinese. To-day it
is almost impossible for a Chinese gentleman to send his son to America
to travel or study. He will not be distinguished from laundryman
"John," and is thrown back in the teeth of his countrymen; meanwhile
China continues to be raided by American missionaries. The insult is
rarely resented. In the treaty ratified by the United States Senate in
1868 we read:

"The United States of America and the Empire of China cordially
recognize the inherent right of man to change his home and allegiance,
and also the mutual advantage of the free immigration and emigration of
their citizens and subjects respectively from the one country to the
other for purposes of curiosity, of trade or as permanent residents."

Again we read, in the treaty ratified under the Hayes administration,
that the Government of the United States, "if its labor interests are
threatened by the incoming Chinese, may regulate or limit such coming,
but may not _absolutely prohibit_ it." The United States Government has
disregarded its solemn treaty obligations. Not only this, our people,
previous to the Exclusion Act, were killed, stoned, and attacked time
and again by "hoodlums." The life of a Chinaman was not safe. The labor
class in America, the lowest and almost always a foreign class, wished
to get rid of the Chinaman so that they could raise the price of labor
and secure all the work. China had reason to go to war with America for
her treatment of her people and for failure to observe a treaty. The
Scott Exclusion Act was a gratuitous insult. I hope our people will
continue to retaliate by refusing to buy anything from the Americans or
sell anything to them. Let us deal with our friends.

Then came the Geary Bill, which was an outrage, our people being thrown
into jail for a year and then sent back. I might quote some of the
charges made against our people. Mr. Geary, I understand, is an Irish
ex-congressman from the State of California, who, while in Congress, was
the mouthpiece of the worst anti-Chinese faction ever organized in
America. He was ultimately defeated, much to the delight of New England
and many other people in the East. Mr. Geary's chief complaint against
the Chinese was that they work too cheaply, are too industrious, and do
not eat as much as an American. He obtained his information from Consul
Bedloe, of Amoy. He says the average earnings of the Chinese adult
employed as mechanic or laborer (in China) is five dollars per month,
and states that this is ten per cent above the average wages prevailing
throughout China.

The wages paid, according to his report, per month, to blacksmiths are
$7.25; carpenters, $8.50; cabinet-makers, $9; glass-blowers, $9;
plasterers, $6.25; plumbers, $6.25; machinists, $6; while other classes
of skilled labor are paid from $7.25 to $9 per month, and common
laborers receive $4 per month. In European houses the average wages paid
to servants are from $5 to $6 a month, without board. Clothing costs per
year from 75 cents to $1.50. Out of these incomes large families are
maintained. He says: "The daily fare of an Amoy working man and its cost
are about as follows: 1½ pounds of rice, 3 cents; 1 ounce of meat, 1
ounce of fish, 2 ounces of shell-fish, 1 cent; 1 pound of cabbage or
other vegetable, 1 cent; fuel, salt, and oil, 1 cent; total, 6 cents.

"Here," said Mr. Geary, "is a condition deserving of attention by all
friends of this country, and by all who believe in the protection of the
working classes. Is it fair to subject our laborer to a competitor who
can measure his wants by an expenditure of six cents a day, and who can
live on an income not exceeding five dollars a month? What will become
of the boasted civilization of our country if our toilers are compelled
to compete with this class of labor, with more competitors available
than twice the entire population of France, Germany, Austria, Belgium,
Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain?

"The Chinese laborer brings neither wife nor children, and his wants are
limited to the immediate necessities of the individual, while the
American is compelled to earn income sufficient to maintain the wife and
babies. There can be but one end to this. If this immigration is
permitted to continue, American labor must surely be reduced to the
level of the Chinese competitor--the American's wants measured by his
wants, the American's comforts be made no greater than the comforts of
the Chinaman, and the American laborer, not having been educated to
maintain himself according to this standard, must either meet his
Chinese competitor on his own level, or else take up his pack and leave
his native land. The entire trade of China, if we had it all, is not
worth such a sacrifice."

Mr. Geary forgets that when Chinamen go to America they adapt themselves
to prevailing conditions. Chinese cooks in the States to-day receive
from $30 to $50 per month and board; Chinese laborers from $20 to $30,
and some of them $2 per day. In China, where there is an enormous
population, prices are lower, people are not wasteful, and the
necessities of life do not cost so much. The Chinaman goes to America to
obtain the benefit of _high_ wages, not to _reduce_ wages. I have never
seen such poverty and wretchedness in China as I have seen in London,
or such vice and poverty as can be seen in any large American city. Mr.
Geary scorns the treaties between his country and China, and laughs at
our commercial relations. He says, "There is nothing in the Chinese
trade, or rather the loss of it, to alarm any American. We would be
better off without any part or portion of it."

In answer to this I would suggest that China take him at his word, and I
assure you that if every Chinaman could be recalled, if in six months or
less we could take the eighty or one hundred thousand Chinamen out of
the country, the region where they now live would be demoralized. The
Chinese control the vegetable-garden business on the Pacific Coast; they
virtually control the laundry business; and that the Americans want
them, and want cheaper labor than they are getting from the Irish and
Italians, is shown by the fact that they continue to patronize our
people, and that in various lines Chinamen have the monopoly. Even when
the "hoodlums" of San Francisco were fighting the Chinese, the American
women did not withdraw their patronage, and while the men were off
speaking on the sand-lots against employing our people their wives were
buying vegetables from them.

Why? Because their hypocritical husbands and brothers refused to pay
higher prices. America is suffering not for want of the cheapest labor,
but for a laborer like the Chinese, and until they have him industries
will languish. With American labor and American "union" prices it is
impossible for the American farmer or rancher to make money. The
vineyardist, the orange, lemon, olive, and other fruit raisers can not
compete with Europe. Labor is kept up to such a high rate that the
country is obliged to put on a high tariff to keep out foreign
competition, and in so doing they "cut off the nose to spite the face."
The common people are taxed by the rich. The salvation of industrial
America is a cheap, but not degraded, labor. America desires
house-servants at from $10 to $12 per month; this is all a mere servant
is worth. She wants good cooks at $12 or $15 per month. She wants
fruit-pickers at $10 to $12 per month and board. She wants vineyard men,
hop-pickers, cherry, peach, apricot and berry pickers, and people to
work in canneries at these prices. She wants gardeners, drivers,
railroad laborers at lower rates, and, to quote an American, "wants them

When in San Francisco I made a thorough investigation of the
"house-servant" question, and learned that our people as cooks in
private houses were receiving from $30 to $50 per month and board. A
friend tells me there is continued protest against this. Housekeepers on
the Pacific coast are complaining of the lack of "Chinese boys," and
want more to come over so that prices shall go down. The American wants
the Chinaman, but the American _foreign laborer_, the Irishman, the
Italian, the Mexican, and others who dominate American politics, do not
want him and will not have him. As a result of this bending to the alien
vote the Americans find themselves in a most serious and laughable
position in their relations to domestic labor.

I am not overstating the fact when I say that the "servant-girl"
question is going to be a political issue in the future. The man may
howl against the Chinese, but his wife will demand that "John" be
admitted to relieve a situation that is becoming unbearable. As the
Americans are all equal, there are no servants among them. The poor are
as good as the "boss," and won't be called servants. You read in the
papers, "A lady desires a position as cook in a small family, no
children; wages, $35." "A young lady wishes a position to take care of
children; salary, $30." "A saleslady wants position." "A lady (good
scrubber) will go out by the day; $2." When you meet these "ladies," in
nine cases out of ten they are Irish from the peasant class--untidy,
insolent, often dissipated in the sense of drink. When they apply for a
position they put the employer through a course of questions. Some want
references from the last girl, I am told. Some want one thing, some
another, and all must have time for pleasure. Few have the air of
servants or inferiors, but are often offensive in appearance and
manners. I have never been called "John" by the girls who came to the
door where I called to pay a visit, but I could see that they all wished
so to address me. In England, where classes are acknowledged and a
servant is hired as a servant, and is one, an entirely different state
of affairs holds. They are respectful, having been educated to be
servants, know that they are servants, and as a result are cared for and
treated as old retainers and pensioners of the family.

The whole story of exclusion is a blot upon the American national honor,
and the most mystifying part of it is that intelligent people, the best
people, are not a party to it. The railroads want the Chinese laborer.
The great ranches of the West need him; people want cooks at $15 and $20
a month instead of $30 or $50. In a word, America is suffering for what
she must have some time--cheap labor; yet the low elements force the
issue. Congressmen are dominated by labor organizations on the Pacific
slope, and there are hundreds of Dennis Kearneys to-day where there was
one a few years ago. To make the case more exasperating, the Americans,
in their dire necessity, have imported swarms of low Mexicans to take
the place of the Chinese on the railroads, against whom there seems to
be no Irish hand raised. The Irish and Mexicans are of a piece. I know
from inquiry everywhere that the country at large would welcome
thousands of servants and field-workers in vineyards and orchards which
can not be made to pay if worked by expensive labor.

The Americans try to keep us out, but they also try to convert those who
get in. They have what they call Chinese missions, to which Chinamen go.
To be converted? No. To learn the language? Yes. I am told by an
American friend that here and in China over fifty thousand Chinese have
embraced Christianity. On the Atlantic coast I am assured that eight
hundred Chinamen are Christians, and on the Pacific slope two thousand
have embraced the faith of the Christians. There is a Christian Chinese
evangelist working among our people in the West, Lum Foon, and I have
met the pastor of a Pacific coast church who told me that nearly a third
of his congregation were Chinamen, and he esteemed them highly. But the
most conclusive evidence that the Americans are succeeding in their
proselyting is that in one year a single denomination received as a
donation from Chinamen $6,000. The Americans have a saying, "Money
talks," which is much like one of our own.

On the other hand, a clergyman told me that it was discouraging work to
some, so few Chinamen were "converted" compared to the great mass of
them. The Chinese of California have sent $1,000 to Canton to build a
Christian church, and the Chinese members of the Presbyterian Church of
California sent $3,000 in one year for the same purpose. I am told that
the Chinese Methodists of one church in California give yearly from
$1,000 to $1,800 for the various purposes of the church. The Christians
have captured some brilliant men, such as Sia Sek Ong, who is a
Methodist; Chan Hon Fan, who ought to be in our army from what I hear;
Rev. Tong Keet Hing, the Baptist, a noted Biblical scholar; Rev. Wong,
of the Presbyterians; Rev. Ng Poon Chiv, famous as a Greek and Hebrew
reader; Gee Gam and Rev. Le Tong Hay, Methodists; and there are many
more, suggestive that our people are interested in Christianity,
against the _moral_ teachings of which no one could seriously object.

I dined some time ago with a merchants' club, and was much pleased at
the eulogy I heard on the Chinese. A merchant said, "My firm deals
largely with the Chinese and Japanese. When I make a trade with the
Japanese I tie them up with a written contract, but I have always found
that the word of a Chinese merchant was sufficient." This I found to be
the universal feeling, and yet Americans exclude us at the bidding of
"hoodlums," a term applied to the lowest class of young men on the
Pacific coast. In the East he is a "tough" or "rough" or "rowdy." "Tough
nut" and "hard nut" are also applied to such people, the Americans
having numbers of terms like these, which may be called "nicknames," or
false names. Thus a man who is noted for his dress is a "swell," a
"dude," or a "sport."

The United States Government does not allow the Chinese to vote, yet
tens of thousands of poor Americans, "white trash" in the South,
ignorant negroes, low Irish and Italians who can not speak the tongue,
are welcome and courted by both parties. It is difficult for me to
overlook this insult on the part of America. There is a large settlement
of Chinese in New York, but they are as isolated as if they were in
China. In San Francisco there is the largest settlement, and many fine
merchants live there, and also in Los Angeles.

In the latter city ---- told me that the best of feeling existed between
the Chinese and Americans; and at the American Festival of the Rose the
Chinese joined in the procession. The dragon was brought out, and all
the Chinese merchants appeared; but these gentlemen are never consulted
by the Americans, never allowed to vote or take any interest in the
growth of the city, and ---- informed me that none of them had ever been
asked to join a board of trade. It is the same everywhere; the only
advances the Americans make is to try and "convert" us to their various
religious denominations. While the Chinese are not allowed to vote or to
have any part in the affairs of government, they are taxed. "Taxation
without representation" was the cause of the war of the American
Revolution, but that is another matter.

Yet our people have ways of influencing the whites with the "dollar,"
for which some officials will do anything, and, I regret to say, all
Chinamen are not above bribing Americans. I have heard that the Chinese
of San Francisco for years were blackmailed by Americans, and obliged
to raise money to fight bills in the Legislature. In 1892 the Six
Companies raised $200,000 to defeat the "Geary Bill." The Chinese
merchants have some influence. Out of the 110,000 Chinamen in America
hardly ten per cent obeyed the iniquitous law and registered. The
Chinese societies contracted to defend all who refused to register.

Our people have a strong and influential membership in the Sam Yup, Hop
Wo, Yan Wo, Kong Chow, Ning Yeong, and Yeong Wo companies. These
societies practically control everything in America relating to the
Chinese, and they retain American lawyers to fight their battles. I have
met many of the officers of these companies, and China has produced no
more brilliant minds than some, and, _sub rosa_, they have been pitted
against the Americans on more than one occasion and have outwitted them.
Among these men are Yee Ha Chung, Chang Wah Kwan, Chun Ti Chu, Chu Shee
Sum, Lee Cheang Chun, and others. Many of these men have been presidents
of the Six Companies in San Francisco, and rank in intelligence with the
most brilliant American statesmen. I regret to see them in America.

Chun Ti Chu especially, at one time president of the Sam Yuz, should be
in China. I met this brilliant man some years ago in San Francisco.
After dinner he took me to a place and showed me a placard which was a
reward of $300 for his head. He had obtained the enmity of criminal
Chinamen on the Pacific coast, but when I last heard of him he was still
alive. There are many criminals here who do not dare to return to China,
who left their country for their country's good. These are the cause of
much trouble here, and bring discredit upon the better class of our
people. Our people in America are loyal to the Government. It was
interesting to see at one time a proclamation from the Emperor brought
over by Chew Shu Sum and posted in the streets of an American city: "By
order of his Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of China." The President, the
mayor of San Francisco, was not thought of; China was revered, and is
to-day holding her government over the Chinese in every American city
where they have a stronghold. So much for the loyalty of our people.



Thomas J. Geary, the former congressman, is an avowed enemy of the
Chinese and the author of the famous Geary bill, but I condone all he
has said against us for one profound utterance made in a published
address or article, in which he said: "As to the missionaries (in
China), it wouldn't be a national loss if they were required to return
home. If the American missionary would only look about him in the large
cities of the Union he would find enough of misery, enough of suffering,
enough people falling away from the Christian churches, enough of
darkness, enough of vice in all its conditions and all its grades, to
furnish him work for years to come." This is a sentiment Americans may
well think of; but there are "none so blind as those who will not see."
There will always be women and men willing to spend their time in
picturesque China at the expense of foreign missions. China has never
attempted to convert the Americans to her religion, believing she has
all she can do to keep her people within bounds at home.

In my search for information in America I have had some singular
experiences. I have made an examination of the many religions of the
Americans, and they have been remarkably prolific in this respect. While
we are satisfied with Taoism, Buddhism, but mostly with Confucianism, I
have observed the following sects in America: Baptists of two kinds,
Congregationalists, Methodists, Quakers of three kinds, Catholics,
Unitarians, Universalists, Presbyterians, Swedenborgians,
Spiritualists, Christian Scientists (healers), Episcopalians (high and
low), Jews, Seventh-Day Adventists, and many more. Nearly all are
Christians, as we are nearly all Confucians. Unitarians, Universalists,
Jews, and several others believe in the moral teachings of Christ, but
hold that he was not of divine origin. America was first settled to
supply room for religious liberty, which perhaps explains the remarkable
number of religions. They are constantly increasing. Nearly all of these
denominations hold that their own belief is the right one. Much
proselyting is going on among them, with which one would take no
exception if there was no denouncing of one another. Our religion,
founded in the faith of Confucius, seems satisfying to us. Some of us
believe that at least we are not savages.

Some American friends once invited me to go to a negro church in
Washington. Upon arriving we were given a seat well down in front. The
pastor was a "visiting evangelist," and in a short time had these
excitable and ignorant people in a frenzy, several being carried out of
the church in a semicataleptic condition. Suddenly the minister began to
pray for the strangers, and especially "for the heathen in our midst,"
for the unsaved from pagan lands, that they might be saved; and I could
not but wonder at the conceit and ignorance that would ask a believer in
the splendid philosophy of Confucius to throw it aside for this African
religion. This idea that a Chinaman is a "pagan" and idolator is found
everywhere in America, and every attempt is made to "save" him.

I very much fear that many of our countrymen go to the American
missions and Sunday-schools merely to learn the language and enjoy the
social life of those who are interested in this special work. I was told
by a well-to-do Chinaman that he knew Chinamen who were both Catholic
and Protestant, and who attended all the Chinese missions without
reference to sect. They were Methodist when at the Methodist mission,
Catholic when at mass, and when they returned to their home slipped back
into Confucianism. Let us hope this is not universal, though I venture
the belief that the witty Americans would see the humor of it.

I was told by a prominent patron of the Woman's Christian Union that she
felt very sorry I did not have the consolation of religion, coming as I
did from a heathen land. Some "heathens" might have been insulted, but I
had come to know the Americans and was aware that she really felt a
kindly interest in me. I replied that we could find some consolation in
the sayings of our religious teachers, as the great guide of our life
is, "What you do not like when done to yourself do not do to others."

"Why," said the lady, "that is Christian doctrine, our 'Golden Rule.'"

"Pardon me," I answered, "this is the golden rule of Confucius, written
four hundred years or so before Christ was born."

"I think you must be mistaken," she continued; "this is a fundamental
pillar of the Christian belief."

"True," I retorted; "but none the less Christians obtained it from

She did not believe me, and we referred the question to Bishop ----, who
sat near us. Much to her confusion he agreed with me, and then quoted
the well-known lines of one of our religious writers who lived twelve
hundred years before Christ: "The great God has conferred on the people
a moral sense, compliance with which would show their nature inevitably
right," and remarked that it was a splendid sentiment.

"Then you believe in a God," said the lady, turning to me.

"I trust so," was my answer.

Now this lady, who believed me to be a "pagan" and unsaved, was a
product of the American school system, yet she had never read a line of
Confucius, having been "brought up" to consider him an infidel writer.

I have seen many of the great Western nations and observed their
religions. My conclusion is that none make so general and united an
attempt to be what they consider "good and moral" as the Americans; but
the Americans scatter their efforts like shot fired from a gun, and the
result is a multiplicity of religious beliefs beyond belief. I do not
forget that America was settled to afford an asylum for religious
belief, where men could work out their salvation in peace. If Americans
would grant us the same privilege and not send missionaries to fight
over us, all would be well. No one can dispute the fact that the
Americans are in earnest; the greater number believe they are right, and
that they possess true zeal all China knows.

The impression the convert in China obtains is that the United States is
a sort of paradise, where Christians live in peace and happiness, loving
one another, doing good to those who ill-treat them, turning the cheek
to those who strike them, etc.; but the Chinaman soon finds after
landing in America that this is often "conspicuous by its absence."
These ideas are preached, and doubtless thousands follow them or attempt
to do so, but that they are common practises of the people is not true.
There is great need of Christian missions in America as well as in
China. I told a clergyman that our people believed the Christian
religion was very good for the Americans, and we had no fault to find
with it, nor had we the temerity to insinuate that our own was superior.

A Roman Catholic young lady whom I met spoke to me about burning our
prayers, our joss-houses, and our dragon, which she had seen carried
about the streets of San Francisco. "Pure symbolism," I answered, and
then told her of the Christian dragon in the Divine Key of the
Revelation of Jesus Christ as Given to John, by a Christian writer,
William Eugene Brown. This dragon had nine heads, while ours has only
one. I believe I had the best of the argument so far as heads went.
This young woman, a graduate of a large college, wore an amulet, which
she believes protects her from accident. She possessed a bottle of water
from a miraculous spring in Canada, which she said would cure any
disease, and she told me that one of the Catholic churches there, Ste.
Anne de Beaupré, had a small piece of the wrist-bone of the mother of
the Virgin, which would heal and had healed thousands. She had a picture
of the church, showing piles of crutches thrown aside by cured and
grateful patients. Can China produce such credulity? I think not.

All nations may be wrong in their religious beliefs, but certainly
"pagan China" is outdone in religious extravaganza by America or any
European state. Our joss-houses and our feasts are nothing to the
splendors of American churches. An American girl laughed at the bearded
figures in a San Francisco joss-house, but looked solemn when I referred
to the saints in a Catholic cathedral in the same city. If I were "fancy
free" I should like to lecture in America on the inconsistencies of the
Caucasian. They really challenge our own. Instead of having one splendid
church and devoting themselves to the real ethics of Christianity, these
Christians have divided irrevocably, and so lost strength and force.
They are in a sense turned against themselves, and their religious
colleges are graduating men to perpetuate the differences. No more
splendid religion than that expounded by Christ could be imagined if
they would join hands and, like the Confucians, devote their attention
not to rites and theological differences but to the daily conduct of

The Americans have a saying, "Take care of the pennies and the dollars
will care for themselves." We believe that in taking care of the morals
of the individual the nation will take care of itself. I took the
liberty of commending this Confucian doctrine to a Methodist brother,
but he had never been allowed to read the books of Confucius. They are
classed with those of Mohammed, Voltaire, and others. So what can one do
with such people, who have the conceit of the ages and the ignorance of
all time? Their great scholars see their idiosyncrasies, and I can not
begin to describe them. One sect believes that no one can be saved
unless immersed in water; others believe in sprinkling. Others, as the
Quakers, denounce all this as mummery. One sect, the Shakers, will have
no marriages. Another believes in having as many wives as they can
support--the Mormons. The Jews and Quakers oblige members to marry in
the society; in the latter instance the society is dying out, and the
former from constant intermarriage has resulted in conspicuous and
marked facial peculiarities. These different sects, instead of loving,
despise one another. Episcopalians look down upon the Methodists, and
the latter denounce the former because the priests sometimes smoke and
drink. The Unitarians are not regarded well by the others, yet nearly
all the other bodies contain Unitarians, who for business and other
reasons do not acknowledge the fact. A certain clergyman would not admit
a Catholic priest to his platform. All combine against the poor Jew.

So strong is the feeling against this people among the best of American
citizens that they are almost completely ostracised, at least socially.
In all the years spent in America I do not recall meeting a Jew at
dinner in Washington, New York, or Newport. They are disliked, and as a
rule associate entirely with themselves, having their own churches,
clubs, etc. Yet they in large degree control the finances of America.
They have almost complete control of the textile-fabric business,
clothing, and many other trades. Why the American Christians dislike the
American Jews is difficult to understand, but the invariable reply to
this question is that their manners are so offensive that Christians
will not associate with them. I doubt if in any of the first circles of
any city you would meet a Jew. In the fashionable circles of New York I
heard that it would be "easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a
needle" than for a Jew to enter these circles. Many hotels will not
receive them. In fact, the ban is on the Jew as completely in America as
in Russia. I was strongly tempted to ask if this was the brotherly love
I heard so much about, but refrained. I heard the following story at a
dinner: A Chinese laundryman received a call from a Jew, who brought
with him his soiled clothing. The Chinaman, glancing at the Jew, refused
to take the package. "But why?" asked the Jew; "here's the money in
advance." "No washee," said the Christian Chinaman; "you killed Melican
man's Joss," meaning that the Jews crucified the Christ.

The more you delve into the religions of the Americans the more
anomalies you find. I asked a New York lady at Newport if she had ever
met Miss ----, a prominent Chinese missionary. She had never heard of
her, and considered most missionaries very ordinary persons. This same
lady, when some one spoke about laxity of morals, replied, "It is not
morals but manners that we need"; and I can assure you that this
high-church lady, a model of propriety, judged her men acquaintances by
that standard. If their manners were correct, she apparently did not
care what moral lapses they committed when out of her presence. Briefly,
I looked in vain for the religion in everyday life preached by the
missionary. Doubtless many possess it, but the meek and humble follower
of the head of the Christian Church, the American who turned his cheek
for another blow, the one who loved his enemies, or the one who was
anxious to do unto others as he would have them do unto him, all these,
whom I expected to see everywhere, were not found, at least in any

In visiting a certain village I dined with several clergymen. One told
me he was the Catholic priest, and invited me to visit his chapel. Not
long after I met another clergyman. I do not recall his denomination,
but his work he told me was undoing that of the Catholic priest. The
latter converted the people to Catholicism, while the former tried to
reclaim them from Catholicism. I heard much about our joss-houses, but
they fade into insignificance when compared with the splendid religious
palaces of the Americans, and particularly those of the Catholics and
Episcopalians. Their religious customs are beyond belief. As an
illustration, their religion teaches them that the dead, if they have
led a good life, go at once to heaven, though the Catholics believe in a
purgatory, a half-way house, out of which the dead can be bought by the
payment of money.

Now the simple Chinaman would naturally believe that the relatives
would be pleased at the death of a friend who was _immediately_
transported to paradise and freed from the worries of life, but not at
all; at the death of a relative the friends are plunged into such grief
that they have been known to hire professional mourners, and instead of
putting on clothes indicative of joy and thanksgiving array themselves
in somber black, the token of woe, and wear it for years. Everything is
black, and the more fashionable the family the deeper the black. The
deepest crape is worn by the women. Writing-paper is inscribed with a
deep band, also visiting cards. Women use jet as jewelry, and white
pearls are replaced by black ones. Even servants are garbed in mourning
for the departed, who, they believe, have gone to the most beautiful
paradise possible to conceive. Contemplating all these inconsistencies
one is amazed, and the amazement is ever increasing as one delves deeper
into the ways of the inconsistent American.

The credulity of the American is nowhere more singularly shown than in
his susceptibility to religion. At a dinner given by the ---- of ---- in
Washington, conversation turned on religion, and Senator ----, a very
clever man, told me in a burst of confidence, "Our people are easily
led; it merely requires a leader, a bright, audacious man, with plenty
of 'cheek,' to create a following." There are hundreds of examples of
this statement. No matter how idiotic the religion or philosophy may be,
a following can be established among Americans. A man of the name of
Dowie, "ignorant, impertinent, but with a superabundance of cheek" (I
quote an American journal), announced himself as the prophet Elijah, and
obtained a following of thousands, built a large city, and lives upon
the credulity of the public.

Three different "healers" have appeared within a decade in America, each
by inference claiming to be the Christ and imitating his wanderings and
healing methods. All, even the last, grossest, and most impudent
impostor, who advertised himself in the daily press, the picture showing
him posing after one of the well-known pictures of Christ, had many
followers. I hoped to hear that this fellow had been "tarred and
feathered," a happy American remedy for gross things. This fellow, as
the Americans say, "went beyond the limit." I asked the senator how he
accounted for Americans, well educated as they are, taking up these
strange impostors. "Well," he replied, puffing on a big cigar, "between
you and me and the lamp-post it's on account of the kind of schooling
they get. I didn't get much myself--I'm an old-timer; but I accumulated
a lot of 'horse sense,' that has served me so well that I never have my
leg pulled, and I notice that all these 'suckers' are graduates from
something; but don't take this as gospel, as I'm always getting up
minority reports."

The religion of the Americans, as diffuse as it is, is one of the most
remarkable factors you meet in the country. Despite its peculiar phases
you can not fail to appreciate a people who make such stupendous
attempts to crush out evil and raise the morals of the masses. We may
differ from them. We may resent their assumption that we are pagans and
heathens, but this colossal series of movements, under the banner of the
Cross, is one of the marvels of the world. Surely it is disinterested.
It comes from the heart. I wish the Americans knew more of Confucius
and his code of morals; they would then see that we are not so "pagan"
as they suppose.


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