“Our cook, ‘Lo,’ takes care of our pigeons. Some have died and a few have been stolen, but they have continued gradually to increase. They now number twenty. They are very pretty, and very tame. They spend much of the time on the open veranda in front of our house. Some of them are of a dark brown color, some are perfectly white, some are black and white. We shall soon have enough to begin eating pigeon pies, but I suppose we shall be loth to kill the pretty birds. Some of them are of the Carrier pigeon species. We might take them to a good distance from Amoy and they would doubtless find their way home again. The Chinese have a small whistle which they sometimes fasten on the back of the pigeons near the tail. ‘Lo’ has some attached to some of our pigeons. When they fly swiftly through the air, you can hear the whistle at a great distance. The noise often reminds us of the whistle of a locomotive.
“The gold-fish in the lamp continue much as when I wrote before. We have made some additions to our flower-pots and flowers this spring. Our open veranda is being turned into a sort of open garden. We now have from sixty to seventy pots, from the size of a barrel down to the size of a two-quart measure. Some of them are empty and some of them are not. Besides flowers, we have parsley, onions, peppers, mint, etc., etc. Our garden does not flourish as well as it would, if I had time to attend to it. Besides this, the pigeons are very fond of picking off the young sprouts. Lest you should think us too extravagant, I ought to tell you the cost of the flower-pots. Those which were presented to us, did not cost us anything. Those we bought, cost from a cent apiece to sixpence. Some two or three cost as high as fifteen or twenty cents apiece. But you will never understand how nice and how odd we have it, unless you step in some day to look for yourself.”
China has maintained her integrity as an empire for hundreds of years. But not without struggle. There have been rebellions and dynastic overthrows that threatened to cleave the empire to its foundations. Indeed rebellion has often had the sanction of religion in China. Let a government be unsuccessful; let a dynasty see the gaunt hand of famine, or the poison hand of pestilence laid on the land, that is the mute voice of Heaven speaking against those who rule. And what nobler than to be self-chosen executors of Heaven’s vengeance. Green-eyed envy in imperial pavilion and courtrooms has often stood sponsor to the wildest lawlessness. A base and extortionate government has often driven men in sheer self-defence to tearing down yamens and hunting down the “tiger” mandarin.