I felt jolly glad that I was never “encouraged” in this kind of way when I was at school.
“I have no doubt that if you flog him enough he will one day be so clever that no one on this earth will be able to appreciate him.”
“You are right,” said the old man, perceiving at once the sarcasm of my remark, “you are right. I shall never beat my son again.”
The children of labourers generally attend night-schools, where they receive a sound education for very little money and sometimes even gratis.
I am sure you will be interested to learn after what fashion children are named in the Land of the Morning Calm, as baptism with holy water is not yet customary. To tell you the truth, however, I am not quite certain how things are managed, and I rather doubt whether even the Coreans themselves know it. The only rule I was able to establish is that there was no rule at all, with the exception that all the males took the family name, to which followed (not preceded, as with us) one other name, and then the title or rank. Nicknames are extremely common, and there is hardly any one who not only has one, but actually goes by it instead of by his real name. Foreigners also are always called after some distinguishing mark either in the features or in the clothing. I went by the name of “disguised Corean,” for I was always mistaken for one, notwithstanding that I dressed in European clothes. I will not say that I was very proud of my new name.
The Corean noblemen, during their many hours of dolce far niente, often indulge in games of chess, backgammon and checkers, and teach these games to their sons as part of a gentleman’s accomplishments. Cards, besides being forbidden by order of the king, are considered vulgar and a low amusement only fit for the lowest people. The soldiers indulge much in card-playing and gambling with dice-throwing and other ways.
But to return to the children of Cho-sen: do you know what is the system employed by the yellow-skinned women to send their babies to sleep?
They scrape them gently on the stomach!
The rowdiest baby is sent to sleep in no time by this simple process. I can speak from experience, for I once tried it on a baby—only a few months old—that I wanted to paint. He was restless, and anything but a good sitter. It was impossible to start work until he was quiet, so I decided to experiment on the juvenile model the “scraping process” that I had seen have its effect a day or two previously. At first the baby became ten times more lively than before, and looked at me as if it meant to say, “What the devil are you doing?” Then, as I went on scraping his little stomach for the best part of ten minutes, he became drowsy, was hardly able to keep his eyes open, and finally, thank Heaven, fell asleep!
He was, indeed, he was so much so that I thought he was never going to wake up again.