Across China on Foot eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 397 pages of information about Across China on Foot.

The large official paper given to one’s military escort from point to point was here produced for the last time, and great ado was made about me.  Reading this document aloud from the top of the steps, when he came to my name the mandarin bowed very low, called me Ding Daren[BG] (a sign of highest respect), asked if I would exchange cards, and then lapsed unconsciously into profuse congratulation to myself that I should have been born an Englishman.  So far as he knew, I could be assured that the existing relations between the administrative bodies of his contemptible country and my own royal land were of a nature so felicitously mutual and peaceful—­in fact, both Governments saw eye to eye in regard to international affairs in Far Western China—­that he felt sure that I should arrive at the bridge leading into Burma without personal harm.  He then, with a colossal bow to myself and a gentle wave of his three-inch finger-nail, handed me over with pungent emphasis of speech to the keeping of a Chinese and a Shan, who with a keen sense of favors to come were to form my escort to Burma’s border.

A low grunt of unrestrained approval came from the multitude.  The underlings—­Chino-Kachino-Burmo-Shan people—­who ran about in a little of each of the clothing characteristic of the four said races, were all busy in their endeavors to extricate from me a few cash apiece by doing all and more than was necessary.

Then the great man rose.  He condescended to depart.  He passed from the threshold, turned, paused, bowed, turned again, went down the steps, bowed again—­a long curving bow, which nearly sent him to the ground—­and then continued with a light heart towards that loveliest land of the East.  My men exhibited no emotion.  That they were coming into British territory was of no concern to them; they had come from far away in the interior, and were the greenest of the green, the rawest of the raw.

But soon I passed over a small bridge, a spot where two great empires meet.  I was in Burma.

* * * * *

So I have crossed from one end of China to the other.  I entered China on March 4th, 1909; I came out on February 14th, 1910.

I had come to see how far the modern spirit had penetrated into the hidden recesses of the Chinese Empire.  One may be little given to philosophizing, and possess but scanty skill in putting into words the conclusions which form themselves in one’s mind, but it is impossible to cross China entirely unobservant.  One must begin, no matter how dimly, to perceive something of the causes which are at work.  By the incoming of the European to inland China a transformation is being wrought, not the natural growth of a gradual evolution, itself the result of propulsion from within, but produced, on the contrary, by artificial means, in bitter conflict with inherent instincts, inherited traditions, innate tendencies, characteristics, and genius, racial and individual.  In the eyes of

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Across China on Foot from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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