Across China on Foot eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 397 pages of information about Across China on Foot.
the Chinese of the old school these changes in the habit of life infinitely old are improving nothing and ruining much—­all is empty, vapid, useless to God and man.  The tawdry shell, the valueless husk, of ancient Chinese life is here still, remains untouched in many places, as will have been seen in previous chapters; but the soul within is steadily and surely, if slowly, undergoing a process of final atrophy.  But yet the proper opening-up of the country by internal reform and not by external pressure has as yet hardly commenced in immense areas of the Empire far removed from the imperial city of Peking.  And the mere fact that the Chinese propose such an absurd program as that which plans the building of all their railways without the aid of foreign capital is sufficient to react in an unwholesome manner economically.[BH][BI]

I cannot but admit that, whilst in most parts of my journey there are distinct traces of reform—­I speak, of course, of the outlying parts of China—­and some very striking traces, too, and a real longing on the part of far-seeing officials to escape from a humiliating international position, it is distinctly apparent that in everything which concerns Europe and the Western world the people and the officials as a whole are of one mind in the methods of procrastination which are so dear to the heart of the Celestial, and that peculiar opposition to Europeanism which has marked the real East since the beginning of modern history.

* * * * *

And now lovely, lovely Burma!

I had not been in Burma two minutes before the very box containing the clothes into which I must change before I could enter into the social life of Bhamo swung from the broken pole of one of my coolies, and rolled rapidly towards the river.  It was recovered after great trouble.

Thick jungle land lay out before me, fleecy clouds in the dense blue sky hung lazily over the green hills, the heavy air was pregnant with that delicious ease known only in the tropics—­all was still and sweet.  The river flowed grandly from the interior through magnificent forest country, receiving on either shore the frequent tribute of other minor streams, and its banks were marvelous cliffs of jungle—­tangles of giant trees on crowding underwood, clinging vine and festooning parasite—­rising sheer from the water’s brink.  Now long clusters of villages, deep in the shade of palm and fruit trees; now wide expanses of grass-grown meadow, where the grazing grounds dip to the river, and where the only echoes of China are the resting pack-horse caravans—­the banks cut into huge trampled clefts by the passage of the kine trooping down to drink.  Occasional wooded islands broke the monotony of the river, and were just discernible from the magnificent English roads which skirted the hills high up from the river, and yellow sandspits and big wedges of granite and rock ran far out into its uneven course.  By day

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Across China on Foot from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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