All debts among the Chinese are paid once a year, that is when their New Year comes around in our month of February. There are three ways in which they may cancel their debts. First, they pay them in money, if they are able, when accounts are cast up between creditor and debtor. If in the second place they are unable to pay what they owe they assign all their goods and effects to their creditors, and then the debtor gets a clean bill and so starts out anew with a clear conscience for another year. This in few words is the Chinese “Bankrupt Law.” But, in the third place, if a man has no assets, if he be entirely impoverished, and cannot pay his debts, he considers it a matter of honour to kill himself. Death pays all debts for him, settles all scores, and he is not looked upon with aversion or execrated. Even Chinese women have resorted to this extreme method of settling their accounts. But what of their settlement with their Maker who gave them life, who holds all men responsible for that gift, who expects us to use the boon aright? A Chinaman does not value life with the same feeling and estimate as an Anglo-Saxon. Should he fail in any great purpose, should he meet with defeat in some cherished plan, he will seek refuge in the bosom of the grave; he will voluntarily return to his ancestors whom he has worshipped as gods. In the late war between China and Japan, in which China was vanquished, some of her generals committed suicide. It presents, alas, a degenerate side of human nature. It is most pathetic. Better far to live under the smart of defeat and bear its shame, carry the cross, endure the stings of conscience, and meet the frowns of the world, than flee from the path of duty, than dishonour our manhood. The greatest victory is to conquer one’s proud heart, and to suffer, and do God’s will. The teachings of Christ show us the value of life, tell us how to live, how to die, how to win the divine approbation. To Him we bow and not to Confucius.
A CHINESE NEWSPAPER, LITTLE FEET, AND AN OPIUM JOINT