Stages to the capital. Universality of reform in China. Political, moral, social and spiritual contrast of Yuen-nan with other parts of the Empire. Inconsistencies of celestial life. Author’s start for Burma. The caravan. To Che-chi. Dogs fighting over human bones. Lai-t’eo-p’o: highest point traversed on overland journey. Snow and hail storms at ten thousand feet. Desolation and poverty. Brutal husband. Horse saves author from destruction. The one hundred li to Kongshan. Wild, rugged moorland and mournful mountains. Wretchedness of the people. Night travel in Western China. Author knocks a man down. Late arrival and its vexations. Horrible inn accommodation. End of the Yuen-nan Plateau. Appreciable rise in temperature. Entertaining a band of inelegant infidels. European contention for superiority, and the Chinese point of view. Insoluble conundrums of “John’s” national character. The Yuen-nan railway. Current ideas in Yuen-nan regarding foreigners. Discourteous fu-song and his escapades. Fright of ill-clad urchin. Scene at Yang-lin. Arrival at the capital.
No exaggeration is it to say that the eyes of the world are upon China. It is equally safe to say that, whilst all is open and may be seen, but little is understood.
In the Far Eastern and European press so much is heard of the awakening of China that one is apt really to believe that the whole Empire, from its Dan to Beersheba, is boiling for reform. But it may be that the husk is taken from the kernel. The husk comprises the treaty ports and some of the capital cities of the provinces; the kernel is that vast sleepy interior of China. Few people, even in Shanghai, know what it means; so that to the stay-at-home European pardon for ignorance of existing conditions so much out of his focus should readily be granted.
From Shanghai, up past Hankow, on to Ichang, through the Gorges to Chung-king, is a trip likely to strike optimism in the breast of the most skeptical foreigner. But after he has lived for a couple of years in an interior city as I have done, with its antiquated legislation, its superstition and idolatry, its infanticide, its girl suicides, its public corruption and moral degradation, rubbing shoulders continually at close quarters with the inhabitants, and himself living in the main a Chinese life, our optimist may alter his opinions, and stand in wonder at the extraordinary differences in the most ordinary details of life at the ports on the China coast and the Interior, and of the gross inconsistencies in the Chinese mind and character. If in addition he has stayed a few days away from a city in which the foreigners were shut up inside the city walls because the roaring mob of rebels outside were asking for their heads, and he has had to abandon