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A SHORT HOLIDAY IN NANKIN.

[Specially Written fob tlie Stab.]

( Concluded.}

On Monday, after an early morning gallop with a few friends and a hearty breakfast, I called on the Rev. T. W. H , with whom I went to Dr M ’s dispensary, in the southern part of the city. We thread our way thlbugh'abrrte-aFthapeitieipalslreets, which at that hour of the day was thronged with, a busy concourse of peopled As usual, the noise was great, for in a Chinese street such a thing as quietness is, I should say, almost unknown; but as a rule the people are very orderly, and do not seem to mind a little knocking about by the large amount of traffic that passes up and down these narrow by-ways, for rickshas and chairs are constantly going to and fro, while horses and donkeys add their part to the excitements.of life in these busy thoroughfares. “Here copies our freight train,” said ray friend, and looking ahead I see a stream of donkeys, sixteen or twenty in number, coming up the street at a gentle trot, their backs heavily ladened with merchandise and the bells around their necks ringing merrily. In donkeyback is the principal mode of "getting around, and these animals are to be counted by the hundreds. Each donkey wears a bell - around it’s neck, which keeps up a constant ringing as it goes along. This is for the purpose of awakening the populace to the fact that a donkey is on the warpath, fmd that it is necessary to make room. It is rather pleasing than otherwise, for wherever you go—in the crowded street, upon the city wall, or away in some shaded glade on the hill aide—cm be beard '■ The jingling and the tinkling of the bulls.

.Music is everywhere, and yet we cannot quote Poe’s lines in regard to them, for they do not denote merriment or pleasure, bat '-lather serfdom and labor, for each donkey uas its master in close attendance, who is uot at all averse to a liberal use of the stick on the very smallest offence, and this, together with a meagre allowance of chow, makes the poor donkey’s life a miserable one indeed. They are • very docile - looking creatures, bat, my ! they can be obstinate, and- I am not at all surprised at the person we read about in ancient history losing his temper and murdering the language of his people. I almost did the same myself onco, and I suppose it was owing to the careful training of niy early youth which made me refrain, for it is wonderful how it influences you in later days. On the occasion of which I speak I hidden out with some friends cn an excursion into the country. Our return was somewhat later than we at first expected, and having an appointment out to dinner I had tc hurry. I hired a donkey, being under the impression that. it would be quicker than going on foot, bbt the reverse proved to bo the case, for that animal, would not go; the attendant whacked, I whacked, we whacked both together, while bur voices mingled in exhortation"at “ double forty,” and the bell rang violently, but to no j effect, till the boy gavo his tail (the donkeys) a certain twist, which sent it off like an avalanche down the precipitous slopes of Switzerland ; but the effect was only momentary, for wo had to keep the . whacking, twisting, and vocal exercises up - till we reached our destination, too late for dinner, and voices 8b hoarse that to. try and .emulate the doings of a. Santley during the evening was out of the question. Wa arrived at the Dispensary in due course, and found Dr M—— busy iu his morn* : icgVdubles, arrayed in dark'blua overall, aod’with two Native assistants to help him in his work. Before him stood a large dumber of patients waiting to be treated. Such a motley group of suffering humanity I have never before witnessed, for here are represented pretty well all the diseases of mankind. Oae man is suffe ing from severe catarrh in the head ; another has a tumor in the throat, and can hardly speak ; a little child is suffering from frightful burns; a decrepit old woman is afflicted with the toothache, and submits to the hauling out of two immense molars without giving a howl ii,exchange. In a corner of the room a man stands by himself, and does not move amongst the rest. Oq asking the doctor v. e are told that this is a leper. Still they come; as one goes out another comes in from the outer room, which is crowded. The doctor is hard pressed, but he has a cheery word ready for each as ho quickly and deftly attends to their wants, and a small booklet and a smile finishes the contract. As you watch the doctor treating with tenderness a patient that you would hardly touch with a ten-foot pole, you cannot help admiring the noble spirit and self-denying love that brings this man from his beautiful home, his pure surroundings, and largo

circle of friends in the Some Land to work amongst this povertiy and dirt that sickens you to look at ; and-yet there are hundreds of sucjj men and women .spread over this w h° have been nursed in the , trained in the best colleges who have given up all Tor tM-iplpK drawing this people ,away frtm of idolatry and superstition to the pa(hjvay that leads to a heavenly home and^h- ; Saviour’s love. Thousands have already enlisted under the banner of the King of Kings; but these are only a few compared with the many who vylll yet fight in the ranks of the army that always advances, and knows hot retreat; for how can it bo otherwise .when so many hundreds are working with the true spirit of Him-who says “ It is better to give than to receive ”? The last patient having been seen to and the. last bottle put in its place—for the doctor is most methodical in his work—we then adjourn to a native restaurant not far distant to partake of tiffin in the style peculiar to the' people of- Cathay. It was one of the crack places, but, as far as looks and cleanliness are concerned, could be simply wiped out of existence by one of our colonial restaurants of the sixpenny order. However, it is not fair to go by appearances only, for the dishes brought to our order were splendidly got up in regard-to flavor, and would please the most delicate palate. Here we spend an hour in partaking of strangely got-up mixture?, struggling with chopsticks, which are most awkward to a greenhorn, undergoing the steady stare of many eyes and submitting to be catechised by those whose inquisitiveness would not allow their tongues to rest, for in a Chinese restaurant there is no such thing as privacy, and, according to Chinese etiquette, to be questioned shows a friendly spirit on the part of the questioner. Having settled with the proprietor we take pur departure, and find our way through the crowded streets to the examination balls, which” constitute one of the sights of Nankin, and should be seen by everyone who visits the city. From a scholastic and literary point of view, Nankin holds one of the first positions in the Empire, Being the residence of tho GovernorGeneral of the province, it is the centre of a large number of officials, and the settling spot of many hundreds of educated men and students, who, like the flies around the jam pot, are seeking for the sweetest part, and at the same time are taking advantage of the book stores and library for tho furtherance of their knowledge in art and literature. The halls of which X write cover several acres in extent, and can accommodate at one time no less than 20,000 students. The appearance of the halls is very disappointing, for, instead of being iu one or two large buildings, they are built in long, narrow rows of 100 compartments, each with a narrow pathway in front, in which the thistle and other weeds grow luxuriantly, and gives one the idea that he is walking through an immense cattle yard that has not been used for some time. These cells—for they cannot be called anything elec—are thoroughly devoid of comfort, being open in front and just large enough for a man to sit inside with a board in front of him, which answers the double purpose of a door and table. In this lie sits as long as tho examination lasts, sometimes two or three days at a stretch. His food is brought to him at stated intervals, and he is not allowed—indeed, ho has not the chance—to speak to an individual. This period of the student’s existence is not a happy one, and many have been known to go out of their minds through the severity of these stern and rigorous rules. Yet at the lime of these examinations, which take place every three years, students flock from all parts of China, and so eager are they to soar on ambition’s lofty,height that three generations of one family have been known to be taking part in the same examinations. “ In what land but China,” writes Dr A. H. Smith in his noted -work ‘ Chinese Characteristics,’ “would it be passible to find example of a grandfather, son, and grandson all competing in the same examination for the same degree, age and indomitable perseverance being rewarded at eighty years by the long coveted prize.” In China, literary ability and knowledge takes premier place. lots the key that opens the golden gate to rank aud position in the Empire, hence the many 7 that crave for its possession. Next morning I had a very' interesting ride along tlio top of the city wall, which is sufficiently wide for a gillop, even to allow for swerving room if the horse so desires, though it would not bn exactly wise to have 100 spirited a charger under you, forasudden drop of eighty or one hundre'd feet would be rather too stagey a conclusion for either man or beast. From this point wo obtain a splendid view of the country around, which at every turn bestows on us now scenic beauties. On our left is the canal with its many sampans and junks, some slowely drifting with the current towards the river, others working their way up to Nankin by means of tho stern oac or men on tho tow-path. Beyond this, and as far as the eye can reach, . Slants the young croon of cornfields, and tho depth Of rich lucerne, and meadows white for hay. Straight ahead is the Yangtse, flishing like an immense piece of silver in the morning’s sun; numerous jqtika with white sails spread are ekimmlog over the waters, while away iu the distance oan be seen tho hl.ck smoko of some steamer. On the right the first thing that attracts attention is the Heavenly Like, nestling amongst hills of greenest verdure. Ido not know from whence it got its name, but certainly the first time I saw it the title was somewhat applicable then at early morn, when the dew of eve still sparkled on the grassy sward, aud the rising sun tipped the hilltops with gold, and enshrouded the still waters of the lake in a halo of glory, when not even a rustle disturbed tho graceful weeping willows, as with bended branches they kiss tho liquid silver at their foot, and birds of pleasing voice warbled forth their morning’s hymn of praise. Still on our right as we proceed are hills, valleys, and ravines, all covered with a plenteous coating of forest and bushland, while here and there the yellow or red walls of some temple comes clearly 7 into view or can be dimly seen through the thick folioge. An engagement to tiffin brings us up with a short rein, and wheeling to the right-about we retrace our steps to tho guardhouse, where wo can descend to tho streets below, aud from \rnonna ina innl-n f l.n t I- <-_ I\_

M ——’3 residence. .A few hours later a smal party of us, well mounted on strong and spirited Manchurian ponies, start off in the opposite direction to a village named Cha-ln-ku; distant.a few miles from the oity wall, where, afur a pleasant ride, we. arrived in due course, haying seen nothing of greater interest than a travelling theatrical company who were giving a performance on an open .verandah, before which were gathered, and on the hillsides across the road, n large concourse, of people, who were evidently enjoying the scene before them. We pulled up for a minute, hat the noise and din—which seems to be the chief characteristic of a Chinese play—was so great that a glance was quite sufficient to satisfy us. On our return we left the roadway and branched off into a bridle track leading into' the hills, which ere long we leave behind, and emerge on to a small open plain dotted over with farming hamlets, the crossing of which gives us the opportunity of seeing the farmer in his own domain. As we near the farmsteads we are greeted with the noisy barking of wonks (native dog), who meet us to do battle, but, seeing our. whips, speedily put to the right-about, for they are the most cowardly brutes in creation. Here we have a glance at the home life of the farmer. In an open square are a number of people energetically engaged in threshing out the corn by means ot the oldfashioned flail. Others are out in the fields ploughing with buffaloes, or working amongst the crops. In the houses as we pass by can be seen the guid-wife at her household arrangements, or spinning silk or cotton in ths doorway. Children were playing about iu high glee, and pigs were grunting most vociferously, especially as we ap-' preached. One little porker which was tethered to a door post was so struck with our appearance that be literally charged between my horse’s legs. Luckily the rope broke, so it culminated only iu a wild plunge to the left from the grey and a touching squeak, of anguisb.from piggy. Having navigated the cornfields, which is slow work, owing '’to the narrowness of the pathways, we come to a bit of clear country, where we allow our eager chargers to have a stretch, which brings us in a few minutes to the edge of a morass, densely covered with reeds growing to the height of five or six feet. Through this we force our way, and very soon are on tho racing track—formed by the German instructors in tho Chinese army, and which runs outside tho city wall for about a mile where we finished the day’s ride in a right-down headlong gallop. Gordon’s ‘ How Wo Beat the Favorite ’ was not in it, for the Maori won by a neck and a few lengths to spare. With the next morning my pleasant holiday came to an end, and at an early hour my travelling paraphernalia was sent down to the landing stage on the river’s bank, followed a little later by Mr D and myself on horseback. We take a different track to the one I had come, and which look us through some large bamboo plantations. It is astonishing how quickly this member of the botanic family snoots up, for they were in height from twelve to fourteen feet, although they had only been planted a few months. On reaching the river no steamer could be seen, so wo had to bottle our impatience by a parade up and down tho foreshore, and which lasted for about three hours, so irregular are these steamers in arrival. Meanwhile the up river boat from Shanghai had come and gone, and all its passengers were ashore. It was amusing to watch the squeezing process that takes place on the landing of Native passengers. As each one steps ashore he is confronted by a man, who demands 200 yen cash, and which he has to pay before he is allowed to go on his way. These men are employed by the owners of the native boats, and are stationed at intervals along the bank where the passengers are landed. Thisextra charge isanimposition, as I was told ihat the cost of landing (20c) was included in tho steamer’s ticket, but it is thoChineseoilstomtoaquefczaon every possibly opportunity, and I suppose the majority of those who came ashore thought the matter quite a proper one, although some of them kicked against it mightily, but had to yield up the coin in the end.

At length the smoke is seen curling upwards from the Tatung’s funnel as she rapidly makes her way down with the current, so, taking a native boat, we meet her out in mid-stream, and are sooa enjoying the comforts of her spacious saloon. Aoout five' o’clock we were alongside the hulk at Chiukiaug, situated at tho junction of the Yangtso and the Grand Canal, and in consequence doss a very large trade with the interior. We stayed here for close on two hours, aud had a hurried look through part of the town. From a high prominence to the right of the Bund we had a very fine view of the city stretching over the low-lying country; while from where we stood a line of high, irregular hills ran straight back from the river, which were dotted with temples, the houses of the foreign residents, etc. On the river steamers were alongside the hulks or lying at anchor in tho stream. An American gunboat lay abreast of the Bund, with the stars and stripes flying gaily at her stern ; while between it and the shore ono of her boats was dancing merrily over tho water as quickly as eight bluejackets with regular stroke could send it, the prettily feathered oar casting a spray of liquid silver at every dip. Oa board again, and have our last look at Chinkiang as the crimson glow of a most beautiful sunset was holding it enslaved. Tue row of hoegs aud business houses on the Bund threw back the reflection till it was almost dazzling to look at it. The crags and rooky pinnacles of Silver Island on our left fairly danced in the rippling light, and the Pagoda on Golden Island to our right was as if it were made of that precious metal. Quickly we steamed away, aud as quiekly faded this gorgeous light us the sun dropped behind its curtain in the west, till nothing was left but the dim light of rapidly approaching darkness. We reached Shanghai next morning on the back of ten o’clock, where, taking a ricksha, I went straight to the office, aud was soon hard at work with the ledgers aud cash books, thoroughly refreshed with the enjoyable time spent amid the hills and valleys of fair Naukin, through the kindness and'hospitality of her foreign residents. There were sixty-three military bauds in the Jubilee procession.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18971009.2.31.3

Bibliographic details

A SHORT HOLIDAY IN NANKIN., Issue 10441, 9 October 1897, Supplement

Word Count
3,198

A SHORT HOLIDAY IN NANKIN. Issue 10441, 9 October 1897, Supplement

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