“My opponents are disloyal. They would pull down my government.” He who
spoke was cordial in his manner as he thus off handedly epitomized his
theory of government.

Yuan Shih-kai, President of the Chinese Republic, was short of stature
and thickset; but his expressive face, his quick gestures, his powerful
neck and bullet head, gave him the appearance of great energy. His
eyes, which were fine and clear, alive with interest and mobile, were
always brightly alert. They fixed themselves on the visitor with keen
penetration, yet never seemed hostile; they were full always of keen
interest. These eyes of his revealed how readily he followed–or
usually anticipated–the trend of the conversation, though he listened
with close attention, seemingly bringing his judgment to bear on each
new detail. Frenchmen saw in him a resemblance to Clemenceau; and this
is born out by his portrait which appears on the Chinese dollar. In
stature, facial expression, shape of head, contour of features as well
as in the manner of wearing his moustache, he did greatly resemble the

I had noted these things when I was first presented to the President,
and I had felt also the almost ruthless power of the man. Republican
in title he was, but an autocrat at heart. All the old glittering
trappings of the empire he had preserved. Even the Chief of the
Military Department of the President’s household, General Yin Chang,
whom Yuan had sent to fetch me in Imperial splendour, is a Manchu and
former Imperial commander. His one foreign language significantly
enough was German which he acquired when he was minister in Berlin. I
had passed between files of the huge guardsmen of Yuan Shih-kai, who
had Frederick the Great’s fondness for tall men; and I found him in the
showy palace of the great Empress Dowager, standing in the main throne
hall to receive me. He was flanked by thirty generals of his household,
extended in wings at both sides of him, and their uniforms made it a
most impressive scene.

But that was an occasion of state. Later, at a more informal interview,
accompanied only by Mr. Williams, secretary of the legation and Mr.
Peck, the Chinese secretary, observed Yuan’s character more fully.
He had just expelled from parliament the democratic party (Kuo Min
Tang); then he had summarily dismissed the Parliament itself. Feeling,
perhaps, a possible loss of American goodwill he had sent for me to
explain his action.

“It was not a good parliament, for it was made up largely of
inexperienced theorists and young politicians,” he began. “They wished
to meddle with the Government as well as to legislate on all matters.
Their real function was to adopt a permanent constitution for the
Republic, but they made no headway with that.” And with much truth he
added: “Our traditions are very different from your Western ones and
our affairs are very complex. We cannot safely apply your abstract
ideas of policy.”

Of his own work of stirring up, through emissaries, internal and
partisan controversies which prevented the new parliament from
effectively organizing, Yuan of course omitted to speak. Moreover,
he said little of the possibility of more closely coördinating the
executive and the legislative branches; so while he avowed his desire
to have a constitution forthwith, and to reconstitute Parliament by
more careful selections under a new electoral law, I found myself
thinking of his own career. His personal rule, his unscrupulous
advancement to power, with the incidental corruption and cold-blooded
executions that marked it, and his bitter personal feeling against all
political opponents–these were not qualities that make for stable
parliamentary government, which depends on allowing other people
frankly to advocate their opinions in the effort to gain adherents
enough to succeed in turn to political power. The failure to understand
this basic principle of democracy is the vice of Chinese politics.

“As you see,” Yuan beamed eagerly, “the Chinese Republic is a very
young baby. It must be nursed and kept from taking strong meat or
potent medicines like those prescribed by foreign doctors.” This
metaphor he repeated with relish, his eyes sparkling as they sought
mine and those of the other listeners to get their expressions of
assent or reserve.

A young baby indeed and childishly cared for! Here, for example, is a
decree published by Yuan Shih-kai on March 8, 1915. It indicates how
faith in his republicanism was penetrating to remote regions, and how
such faith was rewarded by him:

“Ihsihaishun, Prince of the Koersin Banner, reported through the Board
for Mongolia and Tibet that Kuanchuk-chuaimupal, Hutukhtu of the
Banner, has led his followers to support the cause of the Republic and
requested that the said Hutukhtu be rewarded for his good sentiments.
The said Hutukhtu led his followers and vowed allegiance to the
Republic, which action shows that he clearly understands the good
cause. He is hereby allowed to ride in a yellow canopied carriage to
show our appreciation.”

This rather naïve emphasis on externals and on display is born of the
old imperialism, a more significant feature of Chinese political life
than it may seem. It colours most of the public ceremonies in China.
The state carriage which the President had sent to convey me to his
official residence in the Imperial City for the presentation of my
credentials, on November 17th, was highly ornate, enamelled in blue
with gold decorations. It was drawn by eight horses, with a cavalry
escort sent by the President and my own guard of mounted marines; the
legation staff of secretaries and attachés accompanied me in other

Thus in an old Imperial barouche and with an ex-Imperial military
officer, General Yin, at my side, I rolled on toward the abode of the
republican chief magistrate. We alighted at the monumental gate of an
enclosure that surrounds the lovely South Lake in the western part of
the Imperial City. On an island within this lake arose, tier above
tier, and roofed with bright tiles of blue and yellow, the palace
assigned by the Empress Dowager to Emperor Kwang Hsu; for long years,
until death took him, it was his abode in semi-captivity. This palace
was now the home of President Yuan.

The remote origin of its buildings, their exquisite forms and brilliant
colouring, as contrasted with the sombreness of the lake at that
season, and the stirring events of which they have been the scene,
cannot fail to impress the visitor as he slowly glides across the
Imperial lake in the old-fashioned boat, with its formal little cabin,
curtained and upholstered, and with its lateral planks, up and down
which pass the men who propel the boat with long poles.

Arrived at the palace, everything recalled the colourful court life
so recently departed. I was greeted by the master of ceremonies, Mr.
Lu Cheng-hsiang, and his associate, Mr. Alfred Sze, later Chinese
minister at London and Washington. The former soon after became
Minister for Foreign Affairs, while Mr. Sze was originally sent as
minister to England. These gentlemen escorted me through a series of
courts and halls, all spacious and impressive, until we reached the
old Imperial library, a very jewel of architecture in this remarkable
Eastern world of beauty. The library faces on a clear and deep pool
round which are grouped the court theatre and various throne rooms
and festival halls; all quiet and secluded–a charming place for
distinguished entertainments. The rustle of heavy silks, the play of
iridescent colour, the echoes of song and lute from the theatre–all
that exquisite oriental refinement still seems to linger.

The library itself is the choicest of all these apartments. The perfect
sense of proportion expressed in the architecture, the quiet reserve
in all its decorations, the living literary reminiscence in the verses
written on the paper panels by the Imperial hand, all testify to a most
fastidious taste.

Here we rested for a few minutes while word was carried to the
President, who was to receive my credentials. Then followed our walk
between the files of the huge guardsmen, our entrance to the large
audience chamber in the pretentious modern structure erected by the
Empress Dowager, and the presentation to Yuan Shih-kai, as he stood in
the centre, flanked by his generals.

I was formally presented to the President by Mr. Sun Pao-chi, Minister
of Foreign Affairs; and Dr. Wellington Koo translated my brief address
and the President’s reply.

A military dictatorship had succeeded the old imperialism, that was
all. Yuan had made his reputation and gained his power as a military
commander. Yet there was about him nothing of the adventurer, nor any
suggestion of the field of battle. He seemed now to be an administrator
rather than a military captain. Certainly he had won power through
infinite patience, great knowledge of men, political insight, and,
above all, through playing always a safe if unscrupulous game.

What is meant by governing in a republic he could not know. Without
high literary culture, although with a mind trained and well informed,
he had not seen foreign countries, nor had he any knowledge of foreign
languages. Therefore, he could have only a remote and vague notion of
the foreign institutions which China at this time was beginning to
imitate. He had no real knowledge or conception of the commonwealth
principle of government, nor of the true use and function of a
parliament, and particularly of a parliamentary opposition. He merely
accepted these as necessary evils to be held within as narrow limits as

During the two and a half years from my coming to Peking until the
time of his death, Yuan Shih-kai left the enclosure of his palace only
twice. This reminds me of the American, with an introduction from the
State Department, who wired me from Shanghai asking me to arrange for
him to take a moving picture of Yuan “proceeding from his White House
to his Capitol.” This enterprising Yankee would have had plenty of
time to meditate on the difference between oriental political customs
and our own if he had waited for Yuan Shih-kai to “proceed” from his
political hermitage. The President’s seclusion was usually attributed
to fear of assassination, but if such fear was present in his mind, as
well it might have been, there was undoubtedly also the idea, taken
over from the Empire, that the holder of the highest political power
should not appear in public except on very unusual occasions.

When he received me informally, he doffed the uniform of state and
always wore a long Chinese coat. He had retained the distinction and
refinement of Chinese manners, with a few additions from the West, such
as shaking hands. His cue he had abandoned in 1912, when he decided
to become President of the Republic. In the building which is now the
Foreign Office and where he was then residing, Yuan asked Admiral Tsai
Ting-kan whether his entry into the new era should not be outwardly
expressed by shedding the traditional adornment of the head which
though once a sign of bondage had become an emblem of nationality.
When Admiral Tsai advised strongly in favour of it, Yuan sent for a big
pair of scissors, and said to him: “It is your advice. You carry it
out.” The Admiral, with a vigorous clip, transformed Yuan into a modern

But inwardly Yuan Shih-kai was not much changed thereby.

Yuan Shih-kai, a ruler whose power was personal, whose theories of
government were those of an absolute monarch, who believed that
in himself lay the hope of his people; China itself a nation of
individualists, among whom there was as yet no unifying national sense,
no inbred love of country, no traditions of personal responsibility
toward their government, no sense that they themselves shared in the
making of the laws which ordered their lives–these, I think, were the
first clear impressions I had of the land to which I came as envoy in
the early days of the Republic.

Even the rivers and cities through which we passed on our way to Peking
seemed to deepen this feeling for me. The houseboats jammed together in
the harbour at Shanghai visualized it. Each of these boats sheltered
a family, who lived and moved and had their being, for the most part,
on its narrow decks. Each family was quite independent of the people
on the next boat. Each was immersed in the stern business of earning
bread. These houseboat people (so it seemed) had little in common with
each other, little in common with the life of the cities and villages
which they regularly visited. As a class they lived apart; and each
family was, for most of the time, isolated from the others. Their
life, I thought, was the civilization of China in miniature. Of course
such a figure applies only roughly. I mean merely to suggest that the
population of this vast country is not a homogeneous one in a political
sense. The unit of society is–as it has been for many centuries–the
family, not the state. This is changing now, and changing rapidly.
The seeds of democracy found fertile soil in China; but a civilization
which has been shaping itself through eighty centuries cannot be too
abruptly attacked. China is, after all, an ancient monarchy upon which
the republican form of government was rather suddenly imposed. It is
still in the period of adjustment. Such at least were my reactions as
we ascended the Hwang-pu River, on that October day in 1913, and drew
into the harbour basin which lies at the centre of Shanghai.

In one of the hotels of the city we found the “Saturday Lunch Club” in
session. I was not a little surprised that this mid-day gastronomic
forum, which had but lately come into vogue in America, had become
so thoroughly acclimated in this distant port. But despite the many
nationalities represented at this international gathering, the language
was English. As to dress, many of the Chinese at the luncheon preferred
their dignified, long-flowing robes to Western coats and trousers.

Dr. Wu Ting-fang was present in Chinese costume and a little purple
skull cap, and we sat down to talk together. He related the moves
made by President Yuan against the democratic party (Kuo Min Tang)
in parliament and said: “Yuan Shih-kai’s sole aim is to get rid of
parliament. He has no conception of free government, is entirely a man
of personal authority. The air of absolutism surrounds him. Beware,”
Dr. Wu admonished, “when you get behind those high walls of Peking.
The atmosphere is stagnant. It seems to overcome men and make them
reactionary. Nobody seems to resist that power!”

Later I was accosted on a momentous matter by an American missionary.
He was not affiliated with any missionary society, but had organized
a so-called International Institute for a Mission among the Higher
Classes. His mien betrayed overburdening care, ominous presentiment,
and he said he had already submitted a grave matter to the Department
of State. It concerned the Saturday Lunch Club. Somewhat too
precipitately I spoke with gratification of its apparent success. “But,
sir,” he interposed, “it was established and set in motion by the

As still I could not see wherein the difficulty lay, my visitor became

“Do you not realize, sir, that my institute was established to bring
the different nationalities together, and that the formation of such a
club should have been left to me?”

When I expressed my feeling that there was no end of work to be done
in the world in establishing relationships of goodwill; that every
accomplishment of this kind was to be received with gratitude, he
gave me up. I had thought, at first, that he was about to charge the
consul-general, at the very least, with embezzlement.

That afternoon I inspected the student battalion of St. John’s
University. This institution is modern, affiliated with the
Episcopalian Church, and many of its alumni are distinguished in public
life as well as in industrial enterprise and commerce. Of these I need
only mention Dr. W.W. Yen, Dr. Wellington Koo, Dr. Alfred Sze, and
Dr. Wang Chung-hui, later Chief Justice of China. Dr. Hawks Pott, the
president, introduced me to the assembled students as an old friend
of China. There I met Dr. Pott’s wife, a Chinese lady, and several of
their daughters and sons, two of whom later fought in the Great War.

A newspaper reporter brought me back abruptly to local matters. He
was the first to interview me in China. “Will you remove the American
marines,” he queried, “from the Chienmen Tower?”

A disturbing question! I was cautious, as I had not even known there
were marines posted on that ancient tower. Whether they ought to
be kept there was a matter to look into, along with other things
affecting the destiny of nations.

I could not stop to see Shanghai then, but did so later. If one looks
deeply enough its excellences stand out. The private gardens, behind
high walls, show its charm; acres covered with glorious plants, shrubs,
and bushes; rows and groves of springtime trees radiant with blossoms;
the parks and the verandas of clubs where people resort of late
afternoons to take their tea; the glitter of Nanking Road at night, its
surge of humanity, the swarming life on river and creeks. This is the
real Shanghai, market and meeting place of the nations.

Nanking came next, visited the 4th of November. Forlorn and woeful the
old capital lay in gray morning light as we entered. The semi-barbarous
troops of Chang Hsun lined its streets. They had sacked the town,
ostensibly suppressing the last vestiges of the “Revolution.” General
Chang Hsun, an old imperialist, still clinging to ancient customs, had
espoused the cause of President Yuan. A rough soldier quite innocent
of modernity, he had taken Nanking, not really for the republican
government, but for immediate advantage to himself, and for his
soldiers to loot and burn. There they stood, huge, black-uniformed,
pig-tailed men, “guarding” the streets along which the native dwellers
were slinking sullenly and in fear. Everywhere charred walls without
roofs; the contents of houses broken and cast on the street; fragments
of shrapnel in the walls–withal a depressing picture of misery.

Nanking, immense and primitive, had reverted partly to agriculture, and
for miles the houses of farmers line extensive fields. Three Japanese
men-of-war rode at anchor in mid-river; they had come to support the
representations of the Japanese consul over an injury suffered by a
Japanese barber during the disturbances. General Chang Hsun, forced to
offer reparation, had among other things to call ceremoniously on the
Japanese consul to express his formal regrets. This he did, saving his
face by arranging to call on all the foreign consuls the same day.

Another bit of local colour: We were driven to the American consulate,
modestly placed on the edge of the agricultural region of Nanking, with
barns in the offing. The consul being absent on leave, the official in
charge greeted us. His wife related that a few days before thirty of
Chang’s braves, armed to the teeth, had come to the house to see what
they might carry off. In her husband’s absence Mrs. Gilbert met them
at the door and very quietly talked the matter over with them as to
what unending bother it would occasion everybody, particularly General
Chang, if his men should invade the American consulate, and how it
would be far better to think it over while she prepared some tea for

The men, at first fierce and unrelenting, looked at one another
puzzled, then found seats along the edge of the veranda. When the tea
came in, their spokesman said they recognized that theirs had been a
foolish enterprise. With expressions of civility and gratitude they
consumed their tea and went away–which shows what one American woman
can do in stilling the savage breast of a Chinese vandal by a quiet
word of reason.

After the exhibition his men had made of themselves in Nanking, I had
no wish to call on His Excellency Chang Hsun. We arranged to take the
first train for Tientsin. Crossing the broad river by ferry, from its
deck friends pointed out Tiger Head and other famous landscapes, the
scenes of recent fighting and of clashes during the Revolution of
1911. In the sitting room of our special car on the Pukow railway, the
little company comprised Dr. Stanley K. Hornbeck, who went on with me
to Peking; Mr. Roy S. Anderson, an American uniquely informed about
the Chinese, and a Chinese governmental representative who accompanied
me. In a single afternoon Mr. Anderson gave me a complete view of
the existing situation in Chinese politics, relating many personal
incidents and characteristics.

In Chinese politics the personal element is supreme. The key to the
ramifications of political influence lies in knowledge of persons;
their past history, affiliations and interests, friendships, enmities,
financial standing, their groupings and the interactions of the various
groups. Intensely human, there is little of the abstract in Chinese
social ethics. Their ideals of conduct are personal, while the remoter
loyalties to principle or patriotic duty are not strongly expressed
in action. In this immediate social cement is the strength by which
Chinese society has been able to exist for ages.

The defect of this great quality is in the absence of any motive
whereby men may be carried beyond their narrower interests in
definitely conceived, broad public aims. When I came to China these
older methods prevailed more than at present; hence Mr. Anderson’s
knowledge of the Chinese, wide as the nation and specific as to the
qualities of all its important men, enabled me to approach Chinese
affairs concretely, personally, and to lay aside for the time any
general and preconceived notions. It enabled me to see, also, how
matters of such vast consequence, as, for example, the Hwai River
famines, had been neglected for the short-sighted individual concerns
of Chinese politics.

That afternoon we passed through the Hwai River region. An apparently
endless alluvial plain, it is inexhaustibly rich in depth and quality
of soil–_loess_, which has been carried down from the mountains and
deposited here for eons. Fitted by Nature to be one of the most fertile
garden spots on earth, Nature herself has spoiled it. The rivers,
swollen by torrential rains in the highlands, flood this great area
periodically, destroying all crops; for many years only two harvests
have been gathered out of a possible six, in some years there have been
none at all.

Here the visitations of famine and plague are immemorial. The liberal
and effective assistance which the American Red Cross gave during
the last famine, in 1911, is gratefully remembered by the Chinese.
Beholding this region, so richly provided and lacking only a moderate,
systematic expenditure for engineering works to make it the source of
assured livelihood for at least twenty millions more than its present
population, I resolved that one of my first efforts would be to help
reclaim the vast estate.

We arrived after dark in the province of Shantung–Shantung, which
was destined to play so large a part in my official life in China!
The crowds at stations were growing enormous, their greetings more
vociferous. An old friend appeared, Tsai Chu-tung, emissary of the
Provincial Governor and of the Commissioner of Foreign Affairs; he
had been a student under me, and, for a time, my Chinese secretary.
Past the stations with their military bands and metallic welcomes
and deputations appearing with cards, at all hours of the night, we
arrived at length at Tsinan, Shantung’s capital. Here, in behalf of
the Governor, the young Commissioner Tsai, together with an official
deputation, formally greeted me; thence he accompanied me to Peking,
affording me another chance to hear from a very keen and highly trained
man an account of China’s situation.

Reaching Tientsin that afternoon, we were met by representatives of the
Civil Governor and by his band. There the American community, it seems,
had been stirred prematurely by news of my coming, and had visited
the station for two days in succession. The manager of the railway, a
Britisher, had confused the Consul-General by his error in date of my
arrival, starting too soon the entire machinery of reception, including
a parade by the Fifteenth United States Infantry.

We had dinner that evening with Civil Governor Liu at his palace. Miles
of driving in rain through dark, narrow streets, ending with a vision
of huge walls and lantern-illuminated gates, found us in the inner
courts, and, finally, in the main hall of the antique, many-coloured
structure where the fat and friendly Governor received us. The heads
of the various provincial departments attended, together with the
President of the Assembly and the military aides. Young Mr. Li, the
Governor’s secretary and interpreter for the after-dinner speechmakers,
performed the rare feat of rendering into either language an entire
speech at a time–and the speeches were not short. My Chinese secretary
commented on his brilliant translations, the perfect renderings of
the English into Chinese, and I could myself admire his mastery of
the English idiom. Such talent of translation is seldom displayed;
the discourse of speakers is usually limited to brief paragraphs,
continually checked by the renderings of the interpreters. Of course,
this interrupts the flow of thought and contact with one’s hearers.
But the interpreter at this dinner even managed to translate jokes
and witticisms without losing the point. A play on words is most
difficult to carry into a foreign tongue, but the Chinese is so full
of opportunities for puns that a nimble interpreter will always find a
substitute. To the telling of a really funny situation the Chinese can
be relied on to respond. Their humour is not unlike the American, which
delights particularly in exposing undue pretensions. Interpreters, in
translating speeches to the general public, have sometimes resorted
to something of their own invention, in order to produce the expected
laugh. When they despair of making the foreign joke hit the bull’s-eye,
they occasionally help things along by making personal remarks about
the speaker, whose gratifications at the hilarity produced is usually
unclouded by a knowledge of the method employed.

Our departure from Tientsin was signalized by an unusual mark of
Chinese governmental courtesy. For the trip to Peking we found assigned
the palace car of the former Empress Dowager, and I was told that it
had not been used since her reign came to an end. Adapting a new
invention to old custom, the car’s interior had been arranged as a
little palace chamber. The entrance doors were in a double set. Those
in the centre were to be opened only when the sovereign entered or
departed, the side doors being for ordinary use. Opposite the central
doors at the end of the salon stood a little throne, high and wide,
upholstered in Imperial yellow. The draperies and upholsteries of the
car were all of that colour, and it made, in its way, quite a showing
of splendour and departed greatness.

As one approaches the capital city, the beautiful mountain forms of
the so-called Western Hills, which rise suddenly out of the plain
about ten miles beyond Peking and attain an altitude of from six to
seven thousand feet, present a striking contrast to the flat and
far-stretching Chihli plain. The towers and city walls of Peking, an
impressive and astounding apparition of strength and permanence, befit
this scene. Solemn and mysterious, memorable for their size, extent,
and general inevitableness of structure, they can be compared only with
the Pyramids, or with great mountains fashioned by the hand of Nature
herself. Looking down upon these plains, where so many races have
met, fought, worked, lived, and died, where there is one of the chief
meeting points of racial currents, these walls are in themselves the
symbols of a memorable and long-sustained civilization.

As we approach more closely, the walls tower immediately above us as
the train skirts them for several miles, crosses a number of busy roads
leading to the southern gates of the city, and then suddenly slips
through an opening in the walls to the inside. We first pass through
the so-called Chinese city; this particular corner is no longer densely
populated, but is now left to gardens, fields, and burial places with
their monuments and pagodas. We only skirt the populous part of the
Chinese city. Soon we are brought immediately under the lofty walls
which separate the Chinese from the Manchu city, adjacent to it on
the north, but separated from it by an enormous wall one hundred feet
high, with a diameter of eighty feet. Where the two encircling walls
meet, towering bastions soar upward, and above the roadways rise high
gate-houses of many stories. The impassivity of these monumental
structures contrasts sharply with the swarming human life that surges
in the streets below.

From Mr. Willys R. Peck, Chinese Secretary of the Legation, who had
met us at Tientsin and accompanied us to Peking, I learned more about
the recent events in the capital and the fight which Yuan Shih-Kai
was waging against the Parliament. At the station we were greeted by
a large concourse of civilian and military officials, and Mr. E.T.
Williams, Chargé d’Affaires since Mr. Calhoun’s departure, acted as
introducer. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sun Pao-chi, a tall,
benevolent-looking man, wearing European dress and long chin whiskers,
and speaking a little English with more French and German, offered
his welcome and felicitations. Other high officials were there, many
members of the American community, and several representatives of
the parliament. It was a delight to see the fine-looking companies
of American marines, who among all troops in Peking are noted for
their well-groomed, smart, and soldierly appearance. Included for the
official welcome was a company of stalwart Chinese infantry, and one
of the Peking gendarmerie, which also is military in its organization.
The several bands vied with each other in playing national airs and
salutes, while thousands of spectators congregated.

The central Tartar city gate (the Chienmen), was still in its original
form, and in passing through or under it one received an indelible
impression of the stupendous majesty and dignity which characterize
this unique capital. The curtain walls connecting the inner and outer
gates have since been removed. We drove through a side gate in the
curtain wall, finding ourselves in an impressive plaza overtowered by
the two lofty and beautiful gate-houses. Two small picturesque antique
temples flank the main entrance; one, dedicated to the God of War, was
a favourite place with the Empress Dowager, who stopped her cortège
there whenever she passed. From the flag-poles of these temples huge,
brilliantly coloured banners floated in the air. Atop the wall from
which the Chienmen Tower arises were American marines on guard and
looking down upon us. These, then, were the men whose presence up there
seemed to be interesting people so much.

From the main gateway one looks straight up the avenue which forms the
central axis of Peking; it leads through many ornamental gates and
between stately buildings to the central throne halls of the Imperial
Palace. The city plan of Peking is a symmetrical one. This central
axis, running due north and south, passes through a succession of
important gateways, monuments, and seats of power. From it the city
expands regularly east and west; on the south the Chinese city, the
symmetry of its streets and alleyways more broken; and the Manchu city
on the north, with broad avenues leading to the principal gates, while
the large blocks between them are cut up more regularly by narrower
streets and alleyways.

From the main south gate of the Chinese city the central line passes
along the principal business street to the central south gate of the
Tartar city–the imposing Chienmen–while eighty rods beyond this
stands the first outer gate of the Imperial City. Thence the central
line cuts the large square which lies immediately outside of the
Forbidden City, forming the main approach to the Imperial City. The
line then passes between pillars and huge stone lions through the
Forbidden City’s first gate, cutting its inner parade ground and inner
gate, above which stands the throne from which the Emperor reviewed
his troops. Through the central enclosures, with the throne rooms
and coronation halls, three magnificent structures in succession,
the line passes, at the point where the thrones stand, into the
residential portion of the Forbidden City where the present Emperor
lives, and strikes the summit of Coal Hill, the highest point in
Peking. It bisects the temple where the dead bodies of Emperors reposed
before burial, and proceeds from the rear of the Imperial City by
its north gate through the ancient Bell Tower and Drum Tower. A more
awe-inspiring and majestic approach to a seat of power is not to be
seen in this world. We can well imagine, when tribute bearers came to
Peking and passed along this highway beset with imposing structures and
great monuments, that they were prepared to pay homage when finally
in the presence of the being to whose might all this was but an

But we did not follow along this path of sovereign power. After passing
through the Chienmen we turned directly to the right to enter the
Legation Quarter and to reach the American Legation, which nestles
immediately inside the Tartar wall in the shadow of the tall and
imposing Chienmen Tower. It is the first of the great establishments
along Legation Street, which is approached through a beautiful
many-coloured pailu, or street arch.

No other American representative abroad has quite so easy a time
upon arrival at his post. We were going to a home prepared for
our reception, adequately furnished, and with a complete staff of
servants and attendants who were ready to serve luncheon immediately,
if required. In most cases, unfortunately, an American diplomatic
representative will for weeks or months have no place to lay his head
except in a hotel. Many American ministers and ambassadors have spent
fully one half the time during their first year of office in making
those necessary living arrangements which I found entirely complete at
Peking. That is the crucial period, too, when their minds should be
free for observing the situation in which they are to do their work.
May the time soon come when the nation realizes more fully the need of
dignified representation of its interests abroad.

The residence of the minister I found simple but handsome, in stately
colonial renaissance style, its interior admirably combining the
spaciousness needed for official entertaining with the repose of a
real home. It is made of imported American materials, and a government
architect was expressly sent to put up the legation buildings. He had
been designing government structures in America, and the somewhat
stereotyped chancery and houses of the secretaries were popularly
called “the young post offices.” But the minister’s house, largely
due to the efforts of Mr. Rockhill, who was minister at the time, is
a masterpiece of appropriateness–all but the chimneys. It is related
that the architect, being unfamiliar with the ways of Chinese labourers
and frequently impatient with them, incurred their ill-will. When
Mr. Rockhill first occupied the residence, it was found the chimneys
would not draw; the disgruntled masons had quietly walled them up, in
order that the architect might “lose face,” and the chimney from the
fireplace of the large dining room was so thoroughly blockaded that it
remained permanently out of commission.

At a distance from the “compound,” or enclosure, which surrounds the
minister’s residence, fronting on a central plaza, there is a veritable
hamlet of additional houses occupied by secretaries, attachés, consular
students, and the clerical staff. It is a picturesque Chinese village,
with an antique temple and many separate houses, each with its garden
enclosed within high walls–a rescued bit of ancient China in the midst
of the European monotony of the Legation Quarter. It adjoins the Jade
Canal, opposite the hotel called “Sleeping Cars” by some unimaginative
director, but more fitly known as the Hotel of the Four Nations. At the
Water Gate, where the Jade Canal passes under the Tartar wall, is the
very point where the American marines first penetrated into the Tartar
city in 1900.

The Chinese are remarkably free from self-consciousness, and therefore
are good actors; as one sees the thousands passing back and forth on
the streets, one feels that they, too, are all acting. Here are not
the headlong rush and elbowing scramble of the crowded streets of a
Western metropolis. All walk and ride with dignity, as if conscious of
a certain importance, representing in themselves not the eager purpose
presently to get to a certain place, but rather a leisurely flow of
existence, carrying traditions and memories of centuries in which
the present enterprise is but a minor incident. Foreign women have
sometimes been terrified by these vast, surging crowds; but no matter
how timid they be, a few rickshaw rides along the streets, a short
observation of the manners of these people, will make the faintest
hearted feel at home. Before long these Tartaric hordes cease to be
terrifying, and even the feeling that they are ethnological specimens
passes away; it is remarkable how soon one feels the humanity of it
all among these multitudes that seem to engulf but that never press or

Looking down upon a Chinese street, with multitudes of walkers and
runners passing back and forth, mingled among donkey carts, riders on
horse- or donkey-back, mule litters, rickshaws, camel caravans, flocks
of animals led to sale and slaughter, together with rapidly flying
automobiles–all gives the impression of perfect control of motion and
avoidance, of crowding and scuffling, and recalls the movements of
practised dancers on a crowded ballroom floor. A view of the crowds
which patiently wait at the great gateways for their turn to pass
through affords a constant source of amusement and delight. The line
slowly pushes through the gate like an endless string being threaded
through a needle. If there is mishap or collision, though voices of
protest may arise, they will never be those of the stoic, dignified
persons sitting in the rickshaws; it is against etiquette for the
passenger to excite himself about anything, and he leaves that to the
rickshaw man. All humanity and animaldom live and work together in
China, in almost undisturbed harmony and mutual understanding.

Only occasionally a hubbub of altercation rises to the skies. In
these days the pigtails had only just been abolished. Under the old
conditions, the technique of personal combat was for each party to
grab the other by the cue and hold him there, while describing to him
his true character. During the first years of the reform era one might
still see men who were having a difference frantically grabbing at the
back of each other’s heads where there was, however, no longer anything
to afford a secure hold.

A great part of Chinese life is public. It is on the streets with
their innumerable restaurants; their wide-open bazaars of the trades;
their ambulent letter-writers and story-tellers with the curious ones
clustered about them; their itinerant markets; their gliding rickshaws;
their haphazard little shops filled with a profusion of ageless,
precious relics. There is the charm of all this and of the humanity
there swarming, with its good-natured consideration for the other
fellow, its constant movement, its excited chatter, its animation and
its pensiveness, and its occasional moments of heated but bloodless

“The whole Chinese people hold the doctrines of Confucius most sacred,”
declared President Yuan Shih-kai in his decree of November 26, 1913,
which re-introduced much of the old state religion. He stopped a little
short of giving Confucianism the character of an established religion,
but ordered that the sacrificial rites and the biennial commemoration
exercises be restored. “I am strongly convinced,” he said, “of the
importance of preserving the traditional beliefs of China.” In this
he was upheld by the Confucian Society at Peking, in the organization
of which an American university graduate, Dr. Chen Huan-chang, was a
leading spirit. Mr. Chen’s doctoral dissertation had dealt with the
economic principles of Confucius and his school; upon his return to
China his aim had been to make Confucianism the state religion under
the Republic.

The Christian missionaries were agitated. They felt it to be a step
backward for the new republic to recognize any form of belief.
Yuan, however, said: “It is rather the ethic and moral principles
of Confucius, as a part of education, that the Government wishes
to emphasize.” As there is nothing mystical or theological about
Confucianism, such a view is, indeed, quite tenable.

Yuan Shih-kai again declared toward the end of December: “I have
decided to perform the worship of heaven on the day of the winter

This fell on the 23rd of December, and again excited discussion.
“It means that Yuan is edging toward the assumption of the Imperial
dignity,” many said.

I had a talk about this matter with the Minister of the Interior, Mr.
Chu Chi-chien, who was thoroughly informed concerning the details
of Confucian worship and the worship of Heaven; he had, in fact, an
inexhaustible fund of knowledge of Chinese traditions. Nevertheless, he
was a man of action, planning cities, building roads, and developing
industries. Comparatively young and entirely Chinese by education and
character, he had supremely that knowledge of the personalities of
Chinese politics which was necessary in his ministry. As a builder he
became the Baron Haussmann of Peking, widening and paving the avenues,
establishing parks, rearranging public places, in all of which he
did marvels within his short term of two years. He established the
National Museum of Peking, and converted a part of the Imperial City
into a public park which has become a centre of civic life theretofore
unknown in China. Mr. Chu’s familiarity with religion, art, and
architecture–he was a living encyclopædia of archæology and art–and
his pleasure in reciting the history of some Chinese temple or palace
did not free him from a modern temptation. He would try to import too
many foreign elements in the improvements which he planned, so that
foreign friends of Chinese art had to keep close to him to prevent the
bringing in of incongruous Western forms which would have spoiled the
marvellous harmony of this great city.

“It would be dangerous,” Mr. Chu informed me, “for the republican
government to neglect the worship of Heaven. The entire farm population
observes the ceremonial relative to sowing, harvesting, and other
rural occupations according to the old calendar. Should the worship of
Heaven be omitted on the winter solstice day, now that the Government
has become established; and should there follow a leanness or entire
failure of crops, the Government would surely be held responsible by
the farmers throughout the land.”

“Of course,” he added, smilingly, “the worship will not guarantee
good crops, but at any rate it will relieve the Government of

I could not but reflect that, even in our own democracy,
administrations have been given credit and blame by reason of general
prosperity or of the lack of it, and that good crops certainly do help
the party in power.

“In the ritual, we shall introduce some changes appropriate to
republicanism,” Mr. Chu assured me. “I am myself designing a special
ceremonial dress to be worn by those participating, and the music
and liturgy will be somewhat changed.” But it was difficult to see
wherein consisted the specific republican bias of the changes. Yuan
Shih-kai did proceed to the Temple of Heaven before daybreak on
December 23rd; in the dark of the morning the President drove to that
wonderfully dignified open-air sanctuary in its large sacred grove
along the southern wall of the Chinese city. He drove surrounded by
personal bodyguards over streets covered with yellow sand and lined
three-fold with soldiers stationed there the evening before. With him
were the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Master of Ceremonies,
the Censor General, the Minister of War, and a staff of other high
officials and generals. Arrived at the temple, he changed his uniform
for the sacrificial robes and hat, and, after ablutions, proceeded
together with all the other dignitaries to the great circular altar,
which he ascended. He was there joined by the sacrificial meat-bearers,
the silk and jade bearers, the cupbearers, and those who chanted
invocations. In succession the different ceremonial offerings were
brought forward and presented to Heaven with many series of bows. A
prayer was then offered, as follows:

Heaven, Thou dost look down on us and givest us the nation. All-seeing
and all-hearing, everywhere, yet how near and how close: We come
before Thee on this winter solstice day when the air assumes a new
life; in spirit devout, and with ceremony old, we offer to Thee jade,
silk, and meat. May our prayer and offerings rise unto Thee together
with sweet incense. We sanctify ourselves and pray that Thou accept
our offerings.

The first Confucian ceremony, which the President attended in person
at four o’clock in the morning, took place about two months later. A
complete rehearsal of the ceremony, with all details, had been held on
the preceding afternoon. Many foreigners were present. Passing from
the entrance of the Temple, between rows of immemorial ilex trees,
and through lofty porticoes, in one of which are preserved the famous
stone drums which date from the time of the Sage, the visitors entered
the innermost enclosure. It, too, is set with ancient trees, which,
however, leave the central portion open. The musical instruments were
placed on the platform in front of the main temple hall. Here the
ceremony itself was enacted, while the surface of the court was filled
with members of the Confucian Society, ranks of dignified long-gowned
men, members of the best classes of Peking.

I was told that the music played on this occasion was a modification
of the classic strains which had from time immemorial been heard
here. Perfect knowledge of this music seems no longer to exist. The
music accompanying the ceremony was nevertheless attractive, produced
with jade plaques, flutes, long-stringed instruments resembling small
harps, but with strings of more uniform length, drums, and cymbals.
A dominant note was struck on one of the jade plaques, whereupon
all the instruments fell in with a humming sound, held for fully a
minute, which resembled the murmur of forest trees or the surging
of waves. There was no melody; only a succession of dominants, with
the accompaniment of this flow of sound surging up, then ebbing and
receding. One of the instruments is most curious, in the shape of a
leopard-like animal, in whose back there are closely set about twenty
small boards. At certain stages of the music a stick is rapidly passed
over these boards, giving a very peculiar punctuation to the strains
that are being played.

The chief dignitaries officiating were Mr. Chu Chi-chien, the Minister
of the Interior, and Mr. Sun Pao-chi, the Minister for Foreign Affairs,
gorgeous in their newly devised ceremonial costumes. The splendid and
dignified surroundings of the temple courts enhanced the ceremony, but
it depended for its effect on the manner of chanting, the music, and
the very dignified demeanour of all who participated. Quite apart from
the question of the advisability of a state religion or the possible
reactionary influences which such ceremonies might have, I could not
but feel that the refusal to cast off entirely such traditions was
inspired by sound instinct.

Moreover, this revival came during the adoption of new ways. Chinese
ladies came out in general society for the first time on the night of
the 5th of February, at the Foreign Office ball. Many representatives
of the outlying dependencies of China were there in picturesque
costumes, invariably exhibiting a natural self-confidence which made
them seem entirely in place in these modern surroundings. The Foreign
Office building, planned by an American architect, contains on the main
floor an impressive suite of apartments so arranged as to give ample
space for large entertainments, while it affords every opportunity for
the more intimate gathering of smaller groups. Guests were promenading
through the long rows of apartments from the ballroom, where the
excellent Navy Band was playing for the dancers.

The Chinese women gave no hint of being unaccustomed to such general
gatherings of society, but bore themselves with natural ease and
dignity. Nor did they conceal their somewhat amused interest in the
forms of the modern dance; for only a few of the younger Chinese
ladies had at that time acquired this Western art. The number of
votaries, however, increased rapidly during the next few years.

From among the Tartars of the outlying regions this occasion was graced
by a Living Buddha from Mongolia, to whom the Chinese officials were
most attentive. Surrounded by a large retinue, he overtopped them
all, and his bodily girth seemed enormous. He found his way early in
the evening to a room where refreshments were being offered, took
possession of a table, and proceeded to divest himself of seven or
eight layers of outer garments. Thus reduced, he became a man of
more normal dimensions. Several of his servitors then went foraging
among the various tables, bringing choice dishes to which the Living
Buddha did all justice. Long after midnight reports still came to the
ballroom: “The Living Buddha is still eating.”

It seems remarkable that Chinese women should so readily adapt
themselves to wholly new situations. They have shown themselves capable
of leadership in social, political, and scientific matters; a great
many develop wide intellectual interests and manifest keen mental
powers. When I gave the Commencement address at the Women’s Medical
College of Peking, the 13th of February, I was curious to see what
types of Chinese women would devote themselves to a medical education.
In this field Dr. King Ya-mei and Dr. Mary Stone are the pioneers.
With the advance of modern medicine in China many Chinese women have
adopted the career of nurses and of physicians. On this occasion the
women students of the middle school sang various selections, and I
was impressed with the cello-like quality of their alto voices. As
customary on such occasions my address was made through an interpreter.
The delivery of these chopped-off paragraphs can scarcely be inspiring,
yet Chinese audiences are so courteous and attentive that they never
give the speaker any suggestion of impatience.

A luncheon at the Botanical Gardens was given the next day by the
Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Chang Chien. This institution, to
which a small and rather hungry-looking collection of animals is
appended, occupies an extensive area outside of the northwest gate,
and was formerly a park or pleasure garden of the Empress Dowager. A
modern-style building, erected for her use and composed of large main
apartments on each floor, with smaller side-chambers opening out from
them, was used for our luncheon party. Its walls were still hung with
pictures painted by the hand of the august lady, who loved to vary her
busy life by painting flowers. The conversation here was mostly on
Chinese art, there being among the guests an antiquarian expert, Chow,
who exhibited some fine scrolls of paintings. I noted that the Chinese
evinced the same interest in the writing appended to the paintings
(colophon) as in the picture itself. They seemed to admire especially
the ability, in some famous writers, of executing complicated strokes
without hesitation and with perfect control. When we were looking at a
page written by a famous Sung poet, Mr. Chow said: “He always finished
a stroke lightly, like his poems, still leaving something unsaid.”

Chinese handwriting has infinite power to express differences of
character and cultivation. It is closely associated with personality.
Some writing has the precision of a steel engraving; other examples,
again, show the sweep and assurance of a brush wielded by a Franz Hals.
It is the latter that the Chinese particularly admire; and even without
any knowledge of Chinese script one cannot but be impressed with its
artistic quality and its power to reveal personal characteristics. It
is still the great ambition of educated Chinese to write well–that is,
with force and individual expression. My host on this occasion was one
of the most noted calligraphers in China. Many emulated him; among them
a northern military governor who had risen from the ranks, but spent
laborious hours every day decorating huge scrolls with a few characters
he had learned, with which to gladden the hearts of his friends.

The new things cropping out in Chinese life had their detractors. Mr.
and Mrs. Rockhill had come to Peking for a visit. Relieved of official
duties through a change in the administration, it was quite natural
that Mr. Rockhill should return where his principal intellectual
interests lay. Throughout our first conversation at dinner Mrs.
Rockhill affected a very reactionary view of things in China, praising
the Empire and making fun of all attempts at modernization. One would
have thought her not only a monarchist, but a believer in absolutism
of the old Czarist type. A woman so clever can make any point of view
seem reasonable. Mr. Rockhill did not express himself so strongly, but
he was evidently also filled with regret for the old days in China
which had passed. While we were together receiving guests at a dinner I
was giving Mr. Rockhill, some of the young Foreign Office counsellors
appeared in the distance, wearing conventional evening clothes. “How
horrible,” Mr. Rockhill murmured, quite distressed. Not perceiving
anything unusual to which his expression of horror could refer, I
asked, “What?” “They ought to wear their native costume,” he answered;
“European dress is intolerable on them, and it is so with all these
attempted imitations.”

The talk at another dinner, a small gathering including Mr. Rockhill,
Doctor Goodnow, and Dr. Henry C. Adams, revolved around conditions
in China and took a rather pessimistic tone. Doctor Adams had been
elaborating a system of unified accounting for the railways. “At every
turn,” he said, “we seem to get into a blind alley leading up to a
place where some spider of corruption sits, the whole tribe manipulated
by a powerful head spider.”

This inheritance of corruption from the easy-going past, when the
larger portion of official incomes was made up of commissions and
fees, was recognized to be a great evil by all the more enlightened
Chinese officials. They attempted to combat it in behalf of efficient
administration but they could not quite perform the heroic task of
lifting the entire system bodily onto a new basis. Because the new
methods would require greatly increased salaries, the ideal of strict
accountability, honesty, and efficiency, could only be gradually
approached. Doctor Goodnow for his part contributed to the conversation
a sense of all the difficulties encountered by saying: “Here is a
hitherto non-political society which had vegetated along through
centuries held together by self-enforced social and moral bonds,
without set tribunals or formal sanction. Now it suddenly determines
to take over elections, legislatures, and other elements of our more
abstract and artificial Western system. I incline to believe that it
would be infinitely better if the institutional changes had been more
gradual, if the system of representation had been based rather on
existing social groupings and interests than on the abstract idea of
universal suffrage. These political abstractions as yet mean nothing to
the Chinese by way of actual experience.”

He also did not approve of the persistent desire of the democratic
party to establish something analogous to the English system of cabinet
government. He felt that far more political experience was needed for
working so delicate a system. “I am inclined to look to concentration
of power and responsibility in the hands of the President for more
satisfactory results,” he said.

Mr. Rockhill’s fundamental belief was that it would be far better for
the world not to have meddled with China at all. “She should be allowed
to continue under her social system,” he urged, “a system which has
stood the test of thousands of years; and to trust that the gradual
influence of example would bring about necessary modifications.” He
had thorough confidence in the ability of Yuan Shih-kai, if allowed a
free hand, to govern China in accordance with her traditional ideas but
with a sufficient application of modern methods. He even considered the
strict press censorship applied by Yuan Shih-kai’s government as proper
under the circumstances.

Throughout this conversation, which dwelt mostly on difficulties,
shortcomings and corruption, there was, nevertheless, a notable
undercurrent of confidence in the Chinese _people_. These experienced
men whose work brought them into contact with specific evils, looked at
the Chinese, not from the ordinary viewpoint so usual with foreigners
who assume the utter hopelessness of the whole China business, but much
as they would consider the shortcomings of their own nation, with an
underlying faith in the inherent strength and virtue of the national
character. The idea of China being bankrupt was laughed to scorn by
Mr. Rockhill. “There are its vast natural and human resources,” he
exclaimed. “The human resources are not just a quantity of crude
physical man power, but there is a very highly trained industrial
capacity in the handicrafts.” But it is exactly when we realize the
stupendous possibilities of the country, her resources of material
wealth, her man power, her industrial skill, and her actual capital
that the difficulties which obstruct her development seem so deplorable.

Mr. Liang Chi-chao gave a dinner at about this time, at which Doctor
Adams, Doctor Goodnow, President Judson of Chicago, and the ladies
were present. Mr. Liang had a cook who was a master in his art, able
to produce all that infinite variety of savory distinction with which
meat, vegetables, and pastry can be prepared by the Chinese. One
usually speaks of Chinese dinners as having from one hundred fifty
to two hundred courses. It would be more accurate, however, to speak
of so many dishes, as at all times there are a great many different
dishes on the table from which the guests make selection. The profusion
of food supplied at such a dinner is certainly astonishing. The
guests will take a taste here and there; but the greater part of it
is sent back to the household and retainers. It is a popular mistake
to believe that Chinese food is composed of unusual dishes. There are
indeed birdsnest soup, shark fins, and ducks’ kidneys, but the real
excellence of Chinese cooking lies in the ability to prepare one thing,
such as chicken, or fish, in innumerable ways, with endless varieties
of crispness, consistency, and flavour. It is notable to what extent
meat predominates. Although there is always a variety of vegetables
and of fruit, the amount of meat consumed by the Chinese is certainly
astonishing to one who has classified them, as is usually done, as a
vegetarian people.

The show of abundance at a Chinese banquet seems the fare of poverty
compared with the cargoes of delicacies served at the Imperial table.
It was a rule of the Imperial household that any dish which the Emperor
had at any time called for, must be served him at the principal meal
every day; as his reign lengthened the numbers of dishes at his table,
naturally, constantly increased. It is related that the dinner of the
Emperor Chen Lung required one hundred and twenty tables; and the
Empress Dowager, at the time of her death, had worked up to about
ninety-six tables. It is not to be wondered at that the Emperor’s
kitchen had an army of three hundred cooks! At one time when the Duke
Tsai was discussing with me the financial situation of the Imperial
family, he remarked, with a deep sigh: “The Emperor has had to reduce
the number of his servants. For instance, at present he has only thirty
cooks.” Not knowing of the custom described above, I was inclined to
consider that number quite adequate. I believe the little Emperor has
at the time I write reached the quota of about fifteen tables.

At the hospitable board of Mr. Liang Chi-chao, while the dishes were
served in Chinese style and the food eaten with chopsticks, some
modifications of the usual dinner procedure had been made. The
etiquette of a Chinese meal requires that when a new set of dishes with
food has been placed in the centre of the table, the host, hostess,
and other members of the family survey what is there and pick out the
choicest morsels to lay on the plates of their guests. The guests then
reciprocate the courtesy, and the interchange of favours continues
throughout the dinner, giving the whole affair a most sociable aspect.
At Mr. Liang Chi-chao’s table these courtesies were observed, but there
were special chopsticks provided for taking the food from the central
dishes and transferring it to a neighbour’s or to one’s own.

The conversation after dinner wandered toward Chinese ethics. Mr. Liang
Chi-chao is one of the most competent authorities on this subject
and on its relations to Western thought and life. I ventured this
opinion: “While the high respect in which the elders are held by the
younger generation in China is a remarkably strong social cement, it is
discouraging to progress in that it gives the younger and more active
little chance to carry out their own ideas.”

“But the system does not,” Mr. Liang rejoined, “necessarily work
to retard change; because it is, after all, society rather than
individuals which controls. With all proper respect for elders, the
younger element has ample opportunity to bring forward and carry out
ideas of social change.”

He regarded the principle of respect for elders and of ancestor worship
of fundamental importance; in addition to its direct social effects,
it gave to Chinese society all that the Western peoples derive from
the belief in immortality. The living individual feels a keen sense
of permanence through the continuity of a long line of ancestors,
whose influence perceptibly surrounds those actually living; moreover,
their own actions are raised to a higher plane, as seen not from the
narrow interests of the present, but in relation to the life of the
generations that are to succeed, in whom the character and action of
the individual now living will persist.

This evening’s entertainment, with its intimate Chinese setting
and its conversation dealing with the deeper relationships between
different civilizations, has remained a memorable experience for those
who attended it. Only recently it was thus recalled by one of the
guests: “Think of going to a dinner with the ‘Secretary of Justice’ in
Washington, and conversing about the immortality of the soul!”

Interested to see how, despite the new ways in China, the old
Confucianism persisted, I determined upon a pilgrimage to the Confucian
shrines. Dr. Henry C. Adams invited me in November, 1914, to join him
on a trip to the sacred mountain, Taishan, in Shantung Province, and to
Chüfu, the home of Confucius.

A small party was made up. I slipped away quietly in order to avoid
official attentions and to spare the local authorities all the bother
of formally entertaining a foreign representative. We arrived at
Taianfu early in the morning, where with the help of missionaries
chair-bearers had been secured to carry us up the mountain.

The trip to these sacred heights is of an unusual character. The ascent
from the base is almost continuously over stair-ways. Up these steep
and difficult grades two sturdy chairmen, with a third as alternate,
will carry the traveller rapidly and with easy gait. The route is
fascinating not only because of the singular natural beauty of the
ravines through which it passes, and of the constantly broadening
prospects over the fruitful plains of Shantung from every eminence, but
because of the historic interest of the place; this is testified to by
innumerable temples, monuments, tablets, and inscriptions sculptured
in the living rock which line the path up the mountain. It must be
remembered that in the time of Confucius this was already a place
of pilgrimage of immemorial tradition; a place of special grandeur,
wherein the mind might be freed of its narrow needs and find its
place in the infinite. Many of its monuments refer to Confucius and
record his sayings as he stopped by the way to rest or to behold the
prospect. At one point, whence one looks off a steep precipice down to
the plain thousands of feet below, his saying, as reported, was: “Seen
from this height, man is indeed but a speck or insect.” But not all
of his remarks were of this obvious nature, which justifies itself in
its appeal to the common mind, to be initiated into the truths of the

In these thousands of years many other sages, emperors, and statesmen
have ascended the sacred hill, also leaving memorials in the shape of
sculptured stones bearing their sentiments. It would be an agreeable
task for a vacation to read these inscriptions and to let the
imagination shadow forth again these unending pilgrimages extending
back to the dawn of history.

The stairway leading up the mountain, which is about 6,000 feet high,
is often so steep that we had to guard against being overcome by
dizziness in looking down. Occasionally a stop is made at a wayside
temple, where tea is served in the shady courts. In the summer heat
these refuges must be especially grateful. We reached the temples that
crown the summit after a journey of about six hours. In a temple court
at the very top the servants who had preceded us had set up their
kitchen, and an ample luncheon was awaiting us there.

At this altitude a cold and cutting wind was blowing. Yet we preferred
to stay outside of the temple buildings in order to enjoy the view
which is here unrolled, embracing a great portion of the whole province
of Shantung. I noted that the coolies did not seem impressed with the
sanctity of this majestic height, but used the temple courts as a

The descent is made rapidly, as the practised chair-bearers run
down the stairs with quick, sure steps–which gives the passenger
the sensation of skirting the mountainside in an aeroplane. When I
inquired whether accidents did not occasionally happen, they told me:
“Yes, but the last time when any one has fallen was about four hundred
years ago.” As in the early days chair-bearers who had fallen were
killed, the tendency to fall was in the course of time eradicated. They
descend with a gliding motion that reminds one of the flight of birds.
The chair-bearers are united in a guild, and happen to be Mohammedans
by religion.

The town of Taianfu, which lies at the foot of the mountain, is
notable for a very ancient and stately temple dedicated to the god
who represents the original nature worship which centres around Mount
Taishan, and which forms the historic basis for all religion in
China. The spacious temple courts, with their immemorial trees and
their forests of tall stone tablets bearing inscriptions dedicated by
emperors for thousands of years past, testify to the strength of the
native faith. The streets of the town, set at frequent intervals with
arches bearing sculptured animal forms, were lined with shops through
whose trellised windows, now that night had come, lights were shining,
revealing the activities within. These, with an occasional tall tower
or temple shadowing the gathering darkness, made this old town appear
full of romance and strange beauty.

Sleeping on our car, we were by night carried to the railway station of
Chüfu; some seven miles farther on lies the town of the same name, the
home of Confucius. We hired donkey carts at the station; also, as the
ladies were anxious to have the experience of using the local passenger
vehicle, the wheel-barrow, we engaged a few of these; whereupon our
modest cavalcade proceeded first to the Confucian burial ground, to the
north of the city. On the way thither we were met by chair-bearers who
carried a portable throne and brought complimentary messages from the
Holy Duke. As the chair had been sent for my use, there was nothing for
it but to get in. Soon appeared, also, a string of mule carts drawn by
sleek and well-fed animals, contrasting with the bony and dishevelled
beasts we had hired.

It was plain that the incognito was ended, and that the Duke had been
apprised of our coming. Then came the emissaries of the district
magistrate, offering further courtesies, such as a guard of honour; and
another delegation from the Duke brought a huge red envelope containing
an invitation for luncheon. We tried to decline all these civilities
and to stroll about quietly, in order to come entirely under the spell
of this place. But there was no more rambling and strolling for us. We
had to sit in our chairs and carts, and, after two polite declinations
of the luncheon invitation, alleging the shortness of our time and our
desire to see everything thoroughly, and asking leave to call on the
Duke later in the afternoon–we accepted the customary third issue of
the ducal invitation.

Our procession was quite imposing as we passed on to the inner gate of
the cemetery. Covering about one and a half square miles, the enclosure
has been the burial ground of the Confucian family for at least three
thousand years, antedating Confucius himself. No other family in the
world has such memorials of its continuity. The simple dignity of a
huge marble slab set erect before the mound-covered grave marks the
burial place of the sage. The adjoining site of the house where his
disciples guarded his tomb for generations, but which ultimately
disappeared some two thousand years ago, also bears monuments and

Leaving the cemetery, a large cavalry escort sent by the district
magistrate joined our cavalcade of chairs, mule carts, and
wheelbarrows, together with crowds of the curious who trudged
along. The village streets were lined with people anxious to see
the strangers; but their curiosity had nothing intrusive. They were
friendly lookers-on, nodding a pleasant welcome should your eye catch

We passed through many gates of the ancient palace before we were
finally received by the Duke himself at the main inner doorway. He was
accompanied by the magistrate, and with these two we sat down to chat;
nearly an hour elapsed before we were summoned to the table. The meal,
which was made up of innumerable courses, lasted at least two hours,
during which we kept up an animated conversation concerning the more
recent history of the town and of the temple.

The Duke was agitated because missionaries from Taianfu were trying to
acquire land in the town of Chüfu. He looked upon this intrusion as
unwarranted, saying that as his town was devoted to the memory of the
Chinese sage, it did not seem suitable that any foreign religion should
try to introduce its worship, and it would certainly result in local

I tried to quiet his apprehensions by speaking of the educational work
of missionaries, of the fact that they, also, respected the great sage;
but it was hard to allay his opposition.

The magistrate was jovial, laughing uproariously at the mildest joke.
When we arose from the table, the Duke took us to the apartments of the
Duchess, who was staying with the infant daughter recently born, their
first child. The Duchess was his second wife, and he was considerably
her senior. The little lady seemed to be particularly fond of cats, of
which at least forty were playing about her; one of these she presented
to Mrs. Adams.

The great Temple of Confucius immediately adjoins the palace. Although
the afternoon was wearing on, we still had time to visit it and to
wander about in its noble courts. The pillars in the main halls are
adorned by marvellous sculpture, and the temple is remarkable for
the refined beauty of the structures composing it and for the serene
dignity of its aspect. Adjoining the main temple is an ancient well
near which stood the original house of Confucius. Stone reliefs
present in a long series the history of Confucius in pictures, and
there is a great collection of instruments used in performing the
classical music. But the chief charm of the temple lies in the vistas
afforded by its courts, set with magnificent trees and with the
monuments of the past seventy generations.

It was dark when we had finished our visit to the temple. We bade
the Duke farewell, and our cavalcade, starting back to the station,
was now made picturesque by the flaring torches and the huge paper
lanterns which were carried alongside each chair and cart. Slowly the
procession wound its way back over the dark plains toward the lights
of the station platform and the emblems of a mechanical civilization
that contrasted at every point with the life we had seen. The Duke had
regretted having objected so strongly to the proposal to bring the
railway closer to the town, for it was of inconvenience to visitors;
but he felt, after all, that the great sage himself would always prefer
the peacefulness and quiet of the older civilization.

I revisited Chüfu three years later, this time with Mr. Charles R.
Crane and Mrs. Reinsch, who had been unable to accompany me on the
first visit. The officials were expecting us, and everywhere we were
followed with attentions. Not satisfied with giving us two private
cars, the railway officials insisted that we have a special engine,
too. In the region of Chüfu we gathered an army of military escorts.
Arriving at the palace, the Duke greeted us with a child on either
arm. The little daughter was now over three, the son slightly over
one year old. I have never seen any one who appeared more devoted to
his children than the Duke. He always had them with him, carried them
about, playing with them and fondling them. When he and the Duchess
visited us in Peking he brought the two little ones, and they and my
small children played long together joyfully and to the amusement
of their elders. The Duke was tall, broad-shouldered, aristocratic
looking. While not credited with great ability, he was undoubtedly a
man of intelligence, although his education had been narrowly classical
and had not given him contact with the world’s affairs. He was
seventy-third in line from the great sage. At that time he was engaged
especially with plans to create in Chüfu a university wherein the
Confucian tradition should be preserved in its purity, but which should
also teach modern science.

Once during the revolution against the Manchus the Duke was considered
a possible successor to the throne. If the country had had a Chinese
family of great prominence in affairs, the transfer of the monarchy
to a Chinese house might have been accomplished, but the Duke was by
no means a man of action or a politician. Neither had the descendants
of the Ming, Sung, and Chow emperors, or of other Imperial houses,
sufficient prominence or genius for leadership to command national

The title of the Holy Duke is the only one in China which remains
permanently the same. Under the empire, titles were granted, but in
each succeeding generation the rank was lowered by one grade until the
status of a commoner had again been reached. By this arrangement, under
which noble rank gradually “petered out,” China escaped the creation of
a class or caste of nobility.