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A SHORT HOLIDAY IN NANKIN., Issue 10423, 18 September 1897, Supplement
A SHORT HOLIDAY IN NANKIN.
[Specially Written for the Star.]
Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne In rayless majesty now stretches forth Her leaden sceptre o'er a lumbering world. The chimes of tho Customs clock were giving forth their musical note, a3 a sort of prelude to the heavy clangor of the clock itself, as as in ponderous tones it strikes the hour of two, whon the Kiangfoo's lines were loosened, and, swinging round to the tide, slowly glided down the VVhangpoo on its way to Hankow. It was a beautiful night. Stars were plentiful in fie firmament, and the moon in its second quarter was doing its duty well. White fleecy clouds were scudding across the clear expanse of heavens before the evening's breeze, which, hailing from the south, brought with it a taste of rapidly approaching summer. At this late hour a silence profound reigned over the river and the city on its banks. We see Shanghai under a different aspect. The Bund, usually all life and activity, is now pretty well deserted, excepting a few jinrickshaws, whoseowners are'slowlydraggingthem along, or an occasional carriage or two taking their inmates home from some late carousal —nothing else is to be seen. On the river the many vessels at anchor on its waters are enshrouded in shadowy nightland ; no sigu of life except the beacon light, or perhaps the man on watch, who slowly paces the deck, or leans over the railing looking at a scene which has no interest for him, for his thoughts are many miles away upon another shore. Soon we are below the shipping, and our pace is quickened somewhat, but the echoes of the night are sadly awakened by a loud bellow from our whistle. What is it? Oh, it is nothing; only a Chinese junk showing its independence of spirit by trying to cross our bows. We watch it as with sombre sails outspread it quietly but quickly makes its way up the river, and is soon lost in the gloom of distance. At length we reach the Woosung bar, and are on the waters where the ill-fated Onwo met its doom just a week previous. She was going out, as we were, with a large Native passenger list for the river ports, and at this point collided with the NewchwaDg, a coastal steamer returning to Shanghai. The latter wa3 beached, but the Onwo sank with all on board, and so sudden was the catastrophe that very few lives were saved. Nexc morning, on going on deck, we were stemming the yellow, murky waters of the Yang-tse-kiang, whose low-lying banks could just be discerned, so wide is the river at this part. At eleven o'clock we are off a large Native city, when our speed is slack-
eued to take on and put off passengers, who como off to us in large barges or native boats. This, to one who has not seen it before, is an undertaking of great amusement ; in fact, I think it would ever have a curious side, even to those who are always on the river. The barge cornea alongside, and no sooner is it secured by a line to the steamer than the uproar begins. I have seen aheep in a hurry to got out of a pen, and so great was the rush at the gateway that those bahind were leaping over the backs of those in front, but this is a mere ika-bite to the present scene. From all parts of the barge luggage is flying in mid-air, and the owners themselves are rushing and scrambling up the steamer's side and on to her lower deck, knocking other about in their eagerness to get on board before tho steamer starts. Then, when the barge is empty, the tap is let on from above, and luggage from aloft is soon flying around " like chaff from a threshing floor," followed with very little less speed by the coolies themselves, who seem to think it a matter of life and death to got off the steamer first, and a broken shin or two or smashed-up belongings is of no couscquenco. During this time the uproar is simply immense, and no one who has not bsen in a Chiuese crowd can very well understand it. Some would ask : Why cannot they have a better system of embarking and disembarking passengers at these places ? It certainly could be worked on a quieter basis and in as quick a time, but the word "decorum" is a strangsr to a Chinese coolie, for, as Pat would say, " It is not natural to tho biste."
Eirly in the afternoon we were abreast of the Kiang Yin forts, which command the keyway to the Yangtse Valley, the river at this place being only about a mile wide. The forts are situated ou high hills overlooking the river, and from their position can sweep tho water for miles. As they are in possession of the Litest quiek-firing and heavy-calibre guns it would be almost impossible for a vessel to pass if the forts were under propnr control; but the Chinese are not renowned for their bravery, neither are they noted for their good markraanship. Two weeks or so previous to this Kiang Yin was the scene of one of these anti-foreign outrages, which, if it had not been for the coolness of the two gentlemen concerned, would most probably have culminated in their death. By great presence of mind they managed to get out of tho clutches of tho howling mob, who were eager to take their lives, and after a most exhaustive run of three miles reached the forts in safety, where they providentially met with protection. Chinkiang, the first of the river ports, beheld our presence about 10 p.m., but beyond the many flickering lights that could be dimly seen through the heavy rain that was falling nothing else wa3 discernible, so in disgust I retired to my cabin. At an early hour next morning we were alongside the China merchant's hulk at Nankin, where a mahfoo (groom) was waiting with a horse to take me to my friend's residence at Han-si-Mung five miles distant; so without further delay I had my luggage put into a ricksha, jumped into the saddle, and, with the mahfoo in attendance, set out for the city. Our way led along a splendidly-made road which has not been long opened, and which has led to the introduction of carriages and rickshas, before unknown in this part of the world. At first the accidents connected with the ricksha traffic were legion; the coolies, being unused tasuch labor, were always capsizing them or letting go the shafts at the wrong time, much to the discomfort of the occupant.' I was told of an incident that happened a short while after their introduction. A children's party was in progress at a resident's house, and as the weather was unfavorable to walking rickshas were in great demand. One fond rcother deapatched two of her little ones in the care of a ricksha coolie, with instructions to be very careful in the management of his twowheeled conveyance. All went well until he was nearing his destination, when, forgetting about the balancing of the shafts, up they went, and the two little girls took a somersault out of the back. Fortunately for their bones, but not for their clothes, a mud-hole was there to receive them, from which they emerged in a state hardly fit for a tea party.
A mile or two from the river we pass through the city wall, which has a circumference of about thirty miles, and surrounds a city which at one time was noted for its excellency and grandeur, but now, alas! through the action of the Taiping rebels, its glory has disappeared, end on every hand you see the mark of the devastator and the destroyer. As you pa3s through the thick and luxuriant foliage that greet 3 you at this time of the year you seem to think that you have made a mistake, and, instead of being within a Chinese city wall, that you have suddenly popped out of China altogether. This thought is added to on turning a sharp corner on the roadway by finding myself in the midst of a large party of gailycaparisoned horsemen, who in most cases wore long military cloaks, wholly covering the wearer, and shaped somewhat similar to a Spanish poncho, varying in color, the most prominent of which were red and black. These, with the bright strappings and red tassels of the horses themselves, who, fresh after their evening's rest, were prancing and capering about, almost made me wonder if I bad not all at once jumped into the middle of a Chilian hunting camp; but I am coon convinced that I am still in China, for a number of boys mounted on donkeys appear on the scene, whose legs in most cases nearly touch the ground, and, with others, the stirrups, were so short that their knees came to within a short distance of their nose. They cut a ridiculous figure, but in their case "Where ignorance is bliss.'tis folly to be wise " is a true one, for, judging by their jollity and laughter, they were enjoying to a high degree their morning's spin. At length we reach a more thickly-
populated district, where Native cook shops demand your attention with their oil-fried twißts and other friz2led abominations of a like sort, and yournoHeia greeted with those horrible smells that? only a Chinaman can meet with appreciation. Here rickßhaa met us, which as yetarelookedupon withgreatdistrust by a large number of the Nankin ponies. Thus J found it in my case, for on getting between two of these vehicles the animal I bestrode was quite dumbfounded for the moment, and then, in a quick swerve to the left, almost precipitated ricksha, occupant and all, into the ditch. I had the honor of being noticed by the owner, who spoke most affably; but as it was in a lauguage to me unknown, his eloquence was like the flower which lo3t its sweetness on tho desert air. Continuing my way over hill tops and down narrow lanes, where the untrimmed hedges showered down upon you their gatherings from recent showers, along badly paved and still more miserably drained roads, I at length find myself on the verandah within my friend's compound, where I meet with a hearty weloomo, and after an agreeable change am ready for tho
choicely laid breakfast that awaits me. During the first two days little of the outside world could be seen, for did it not rain ; and this, intermingled with loud peals of thunder, accompanied with vivid flashes of lightning, made the house the most desirable place, even if it meant to be licked hollow at chess and put through in a most unmeroiful manner at halma. However, on the third day the clouds had given way to a sky of clearness and beauty, and we went out for a tramp abroad, rejoicing with Nature around us in the glorious changes the sunshine had wrought. The first places of interest visited were Df Beebe's Native Hospital and tho Methodist College, both of which institutions are having splendid results in the different lines of work in which they are engaged. The hospital is well accommodated with wards, and can take in 70 to 100 patients at one time. Besides this, Dr Beebe has a large number of out -patients, so many hours of each morning be ing set apart to thorn. The college is a fine looking building, situated in a park-like enclosure. Here a goodly nnmber of Native studeuts are studying English and the higher branches of education under the superintendence of the Kev. J. C. Ferguso.i, a gentleman well gifted in every way for the position he occupies—that of training the youth of China, and fitting them for positions of influence and importance in tbs Empire. I was shown through the college, and before leaving had a look at Nankin and its surroundings from the top of the town, which gave us a good idea of the large area of country confined within its walls, and also impressed me with thoughts of its earlier history, when it was renowned for its many magnificent buildings, among which was the Porcelain Tower, a most handsome structure; but its grandeur received its death note with the entrance of Hung Sui Chuen and his rebel band, for when they were forced to vacate their posi* tion eleven years later it was found that most of the ornamontal structures, of which the city had been so justly proud, were destroyed, and the city once so famed had become a sesne of ruin and desolation.
Next day was set apart for * visit to the Ming Tombs, and at an early hour I let out for this interesting spot, about five miles distant from the city. I formed one of a jolly party, some iu chain, some on donkeys, and the rest of us on horseback ; this, with twelve chair-bearers, besides donkey boy* and mahfoos, made up quite a lively cavalcade, and caused no little stir down the narrow streets through which vre had to pass. Reaching the outer gate of tho oity we came to a fine grassy plain, which we crossed, and soon arrived at the entrance to tho long serpentine pathway which leads to the Ming Tombs, in the centre of which is a large tablet erected to the Emperor by Ming the Third in 1368. Oa eitiier side of tho roadway are colossal figures of elephants, camels, horses, and so on, carved in solid stone, which were, no doubt, originally put there as a sort of guard to the Sicrecl Tomb, but now they have no distinct form of arrangement, and all show the delerioratin" effect of tii-.3 aud atmosphere. Through these relics of the past we make our way, and ere long r-.Ach a gateway leading into an enclosure, at the head of which, buried under a high mound thickly covered with trees, lies the Emperor Ming the First, who reigned in the early part of the fourteenth century. The approach to the tomb i 3
througa a well-built tunnel, over which are the ruins of a temple which at one time was a handsome pieca of architecture. From this ruin we have a good view of the whole of the enclosure, which is of considerable size, and are very much struck with the decayod, tumbled-down appearance of everything, and tho rankness of the undergrowth. No hand has been here to trim and keep in beauty the many trees and shrubs that disfigure the spot with their wild array, and no one has tried to preserve in any way the aneient tomb, which, according to their ideas of aucestral worship and that of emperors, they should so much honor. A few minutes' rest, and we make a start for the Spirit Valley. Oar way leads across the plains, where flocks of sheep and goats are enjoying the pleasant pasturage, while the owners or tho herd-boys in charge are lying at ease on the soft, downy turf, Seemingly too lazy to cast even an occasional glance at their different charges. Through pieces of bush land, across sparkling brooklets, till at last we find ourselves at the entrance to an old temple, situated right under the shadow of the mountains, and surrounded by thick forest—a most romantic spot, and well named the Spirit Valley. The luncheon basket* are taken into the temple, and in the coolness of its shelter we partake of tiffin, washed down with fragrant Chinese tea prooured on the premises. Refreshed and invigorated by our tlfEn and the cool retreat of the temple, we, of the sterner sex, leave the ladies to their own devices, and swinging ourselves into our saddles 6et out on an expedition to the top of the mountains, I,oooft above the plains. Our sure-footed ponies take ns three-quarters of the distance, when becoming too Bteep for comfortable riding we dismonnt, and leaving them in charge of the mahfoos do the rest on foot. It was hot work, for the sun wa3 bright and broiling, but our efforts were rewarded on reaching the top by the splendid view that met our gaze on looking towards the plain. Standing beside a bubbling spring, under the shade of sweet-smelling pines, with the afternoon's breeze gently fanning our cheeks, we enjoy the panoramic splendors of the scene before ns. At our feet lays Nankin, with itß massive walls of fireburned bricks, blackened by the storms of ages. You can follow it for miles, as it stretches over the hilltops and again dips into the valleys, with here and there an immense buttress, on which, in most cases, a guardhouse ia fixed. At stated intervals in the circuit of the wall are situated arched gateways (nine in number), whose gigantic
frames awing heavily forward at nightfall, closing the city to the outside world to an early hour in the morning. Around this splendid specimen of man's handicraft is as fine a piece of rolling, undulating country that one could wish to find, and through which flows the mighty Yangtse, whose waters, after leaving the precipitous mountain passes of far-away Thibet, have found their way through tho heart of Western China, refreshened the shores of beautiful Szechuen, with their cooling flnences, tore and fumed their wav down mighty gorges, and are now tranquilly flowing on towards the sea, bearing on their bo3om tonß upon tons of merchandise which will ultimately find their way to all parts of the known globe. Beyond this and in the far. distance are mountain ranges looking lovely in their misty covering of bluish haze, and whose topmost edges seem to touch the very heavens. Half an hour spent in the temple quaffing copious cups of tea and listening to the pleasant confab of the monk in charge, who was a moat agreeable sort of personage, we then make a start for home, and having reached our horses are soon enjoying a gallop across the plains. We made for the Taiping Gate, and on our way saw the trenches leading up the mountain sido which the Imperial Army used for rifle pits and to cover their march up to the forts on top. Before reaching the gateway we passed the Bpot where a breach had been made in tho wall by means of an underground mine, and through which the Imperial troops entered the. city by a gallant charge, which cost them six or seven hundred in killed, but which brought the siege of eleven years to a conclusion and gave the death blow to the Taiping rebellion. In a hollow to our right is a tablet
giving the date, etc., of this successful attempt to storm the city; and around, large plantations of pomegranates grace the with their red flowers. Still further to the right is Lotus L*ke, which in the month of July is ono mass of gorgeous flowers. Next day being Sunday, I attended divine worship in the Rev. W. J. Drummond's ohurch. It being a Native service, I did not understand anything of what was being said, but it was pleasing to note the interest that was manifested throughout the congregation as they listened to the old, old story of God's goodness and love. A young Native woman presided at the organ, and did her part well in the playing of the hymns, which were sung in an earnest and whole-hearted manner, although the blending of the voices was a little out at times, but this in a Chinese congregation is quite of a secondary consideration, - each one thinking it their duty to sing out to the best of their ability, maslcee (never mind) an occasional discord. In the afternoon a foreign service was held in a house belonging to one of the missionaries, who, I believe, take 'it in turn to conduct the isrvices. (To bt continued. J
A SHORT HOLIDAY IN NANKIN., Issue 10423, 18 September 1897, Supplement
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