« ZurückWeiter »
in the streets by foreigners without the least provocation. The beating of chair coolies and servants is also a matter of daily occurrence. I do not mean to say that the lower classes of Chinese do not sometimes try a man's patience, but the frequent infliction of corporal punishment by foreigners upon unoffending Chinese is what no fair-minded. man would approve. Ill-considered acts of this kind are talked about, and greatly embitter the feelings of the natives against foreigners.
It is but fair to mention that there are foreigners in China, and these are not few, who treat the natives with every consideration and fairness, and entirely disapprove of the highhanded proceedings of other foreigners. For these good men I have nothing but words of gratitude and praise. But, unfortunately, the mischief done by the thoughtless and inconsiderate has more than counterbalanced the favorable impression created by them.
In this connection, I cannot help adverting to the character of the foreign press in China. Its general tone is calculated to set the whole Chinese nation against foreigners and things foreign. Take up any foreign newspaper published in China, and you will find that columns are devoted in almost every issue to denouncing the Chinese Government and its officials and condemning everything which the people hold dear and sacred. Far be it from me to assert that all Chinese officials are men of immaculate character. I admit that in China, as in every other country, some of the officials are unworthy of public trust. But the foreign newspapers in China lead one to believe that the Chinese Government is nothing but a sham ; that the officials are all scoundrels; that the people are ground down by fearful oppression. It seems to be their settled policy to pick flaws in everything the Chinese do and begrudge even the small crumb of justice which is their due. If our government should adopt a certain policy, the motive for such a course would be sure to be misconstrued. If the provincial authorities should take
a certain step, even the best intentions would be distorted into something nefarious. The recent unfortunate uprising in China is a god-send to writers for the foreign press. It unfortunately furnishes them with just the kind of material for blackguarding the government and the people of China without stint. We Chinese representatives abroad, as well as many high officials and intelligent Chinese, deplore as deeply and denounce as strongly as does any foreigner the frightful atrocities recently perpetrated. It should be remembered that the violence of the Tientsin and Peking mobs was not directed against foreigners alone, but also against a large portion of their own countrymen. The number of proforeign Chinese, especially Cantonese, who lost their lives, families, property and all during those terrible days of mob rule was far greater than that of foreign victims. But since that lamentable outbreak, the Chinese people have been overwhelmed with obloquy and held up to the execration of the world without exception. The crimes committed by the Boxers are imputed to the machinations of the whole nation. Even the diplomatic representatives of China abroad have not escaped the general condemnation, but have been treated as participes criminis. Dr. Morrison, a correspondent of the London Times in Peking, went so far as to charge my colleague in London, Sir Chihchen Lofengluh, and myself with barefaced mendacity in his telegraphic despatches. Here is a characteristic extract from one of his despatches:
“The most profound indignation is felt here (Peking) that Ministers Lo Fengluh and Wu Ting-fang, whose shameless lies and transmission of bogus Imperial Edicts delayed the departure of relief until it was nearly too late, are still received with honor in London and Washington."
I do not pretend to know the feeling of the besieged foreigners at Peking. But if Dr. Morrison voices the general sentiment, it only shows to what extreme people will sometimes go in indiscriminate condemnation. I can very well understand how men and women, after being subjected to tremendous mental and bodily strain continually for a couple of months, may lose their equanimity and let their temper get the better of their judgment. Unless I am greatly mistaken, I do not, however, believe that a majority of the foreigners, who have been so cruelly confined in Peking, and with whom I deeply sympathize, entertain such profound indignation against Sir Chihchen and me as has been alleged by Dr. Morrison. I am led to this opinion, because I am told that Dr. Morrison is not always careful in his assertions, he having, some years ago, slandered the missionaries in China without just cause. When Dr. Morrison's absurd statement first appeared in the newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic, my colleague and myself immediately gave a flat denial. It is too charitable to expect a public apology from Dr. Morrison. But it seems to me quite extraordinary that the London Times should have not only ignored our reply, but even repeated in a late issue of that paper the charge of “shameless mendacity" against me without a tittle of proof. This clearly shows the prejudice of that journal. I know that a public man is liable to all insidious attacks and ought not to be too thin-skinned. As for myself, I hope to be able to live down all slanders of this kind. But the general mass of the Chinese people are not of so philosophical a turn of mind. When they see such sweeping attacks upon their country, their public men, their traditions and their institutions made by the foreign newspapers in China, is it a wonder that they entertain anything but a friendly feeling toward their slanderers ?
a I should like to mention that I and those Chinese who have a knowledge of some foreign language, as a rule, stand up for the foreigners in China, and for this reason we are generally regarded with suspicion by many of our conservative countrymen. It is rather disheartening for us to find that while incurring their displeasure, we have still to run: the gauntlet not only of foreign criticism but also of foreign
slander. This seems like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
Events of recent years in China have done much to increase the bitter feeling already existing between the Chinese and the foreigners. The seizure of territory without proper compensation; the forcible taking of lands from their Chinese owners, who have been in continous possession from time immemorial; the rough treatment received by those acting in defence of their rights, sometimes resulting in bloodshed—these have added fuel to the flame and contributed to the unpopularity of foreigners among the Chinese. In saying this, I do not wish to convey the impression that the Chinese are entirely free from blame. They are at fault in that they generally are over-suspicious of foreigners and do not study and appreciate the good points possessed by them. They have clung stubbornly to their old conservatism and remained content with the existing condition of things and unwilling to learn from the outside world. Many of them still think that the ancient civilization, which has existed for centuries, is still good for China in our day and generation, without any change to meet the requirements of modern life. If the Chinese had done as their enterprising neighbors, the Japanese, have done, they would doubtless stand higher to-day in the estimation of the world.
Now the question naturally arises, what are the remedies for this unsatisfactory state of things ? I will endeavor to answer it to the best of my ability. First of all, foreigners should show more consideration for the feelings of the natives than they have done heretofore. Chinese customs and manners are not necessarily bad, because they happen to be different from the customs and manners of the peoples of the West. Foreign ways are not always the best. I would advise foreigners in China to be more sparing in their condemnation of things Chinese and to try to understand the people better. If they should observe anything that is really objectionable, they ought rather to use gentle
arguments. Let them remember that sweeping denunciations of other people's ways serve only to stir up ill-feeling and antagonism, and do not carry conviction with them.
In the next place, foreigners, in their intercourse with Chinese officials, merchants and educated men, should remember that true politeness is the same in China as in Europe or America. Chinese etiquette may appear at first sight too complicated for the Western mind; but at the bottom of it lies a tenderness for the feelings of others, -an idea which, I am sure, even the dullest mind can grasp. Above all, foreigners in China should not treat all Chinese with whom they come in contact as inferior to them in intellect or education and unworthy of their society, but should show their friendly feeling, which will no doubt be reciprocated. They should live among the people of the country and not keep themselves apart as being above them.
In the third place, the foreign newspapers in China, which are all owned and published by Europeans, should assume a more conciliatory tone toward the government and people of China. Many Chinese can read foreign papers. If the foreign press award honor and praise to whom honor and praise are due, these intelligent men will tell their countrymen that foreigners are, after all, not unfair or unjust. With regard to missionaries, since they have treaty rights to reside in the interior, it is not to be expected that they will give up such rights. These men have it in their power to create either a good or bad impression upon the natives as regards foreigners. As I have said before, they have, on the whole, done a great deal of good in China. I hope that, after this, missionary societies in this country and in Europe will send out to China only first-class men who have proved themselves to be men of intelligence, tact and discretion, and will weed out those who are impulsive, hot-tempered and indiscreet. It would contribute greatly to the success of the Christian cause if only medical missionaries were sent to China. These men and women, while they are quietly