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About Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922 | View Entire Issue (March 11, 1906)
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MAKCII 11, ll'OG.
AROUND THE WORLD WITH WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN
Some of the Physical Aspects of the Flowery Kingdom, with Its Commercial Prospects and the Social Customs of he Manchu Rulers and Mongolian Inhabitants of the Empire
Ninth of This Notable Series of Letters Tenth Let
ter Will Appear in The Bee Next Sunday
ONGKONQ, China, Dec. 19, 1905 (Special Correspondence of
The Bee.) The contrast between the China of antiquity,
hoary with age, and the new China, Just awakening' Into
life. Is so great as to suggest the treatment of the two
periods In different articles. And if the contrast between the China
of yesterday and the China of today is great, what shall we say
of the contrast between the Flowery kingdom and our own countryT
The same stars shine overhead and the same laws of nature operate
on the earth, but In mode of living, appearance, customs and hablta
of thought, the Chinese people could scarcely be more different from
First, a word as to the land which they occupy; Us very vast
ness Impresses one, unless he has recently consulted his geography.
While the eighteen provinces which constitute China proper have'
something leas than 2,000,000 square miles, yet the Chinese em
pire with Its tributary states has an area of about 5,300,000 square
miles and extends over thirty degrees north and south and seventy .
degrees east and west. We hardly realize when we speak of China
that Its emperor holds sway over a territory nearly twice as large
as the United States; that his decrees are law to a population
estimated at from 250,000,000 to 400,000,000; 'that its. climate is
like that of Russia in the north, while In the southern provinces ,
its people live under a tropical sun, and that it has so many moun
tains and such mighty deserts that more than half of Its popula
tion is crowded together upon a plain which contains but a little -more
than 200,000 square miles. Williams, In his work entitled
"The Middle Kingdom," calls this district ."the most densely settled
of any part of the world of the same slie," and estimates that upon
this plain, less than three times the size of Nebraska, 177,000,000
of human beings dwell.
Chinese Harbors Not Very Good
The harbors of China are hardly what one might expect on so
extended a line of sea coast. While the harbor at Hongkong is an
admirable one one of the best In the world the one at Shanghai
has no hills to protect it, the one at Che Fqo is open to the storms
and the one at Taku does not deserve to be called a harbor at all.
In leaving Shanghai we went an hour and a half by launch In order
to reach a steamer of only 6,000 tons; at Che Foo a still smaller ship
was delayed a day because the lighters could not unload it in the
rlnd, and at Taku, the seaport of Tien Tsin and Peking, we spent a
day on the bar waiting for ten feet of water.
The capital of the empire has until recently been so difficult of
access that comparatively few tourists have visited it. The large
ocean steamers stop at Shanghai and Hongkong only, making it
necessary for one desiring to visit Peking to take a smaller boat and
risk indefinite delays on account of wind and tide.
Since the completion of the railroad from Hankow to Peking -It
Is possible to accomplish the Journey from Shanghai to Peking
In less time, and In addition enjoy the advantage of a trip inland.
When the projected road Is completed from Hankow to Canton the
tourist can land at Shanghai, take a river boat 600 miles up the
Yangtse Kiang to Hankow, then by rail to Peking, about 800 miles
north, then back through Hankow to Canton nearly as far south.
from which point there are dally boats to Hongkong. This trip.
cuvenux ueuny x.vuu iniicn ui moi
of railroad travel (not including the return trip from. Peking to-'
Hankow) can be made in the time formerly spent in travel along
the ,'coaBt and furnishes an infinitely better opportunity for the
study of the country and the people. As a matter or precaution
I ought to add that Peking is so tar north that before the opening
of the railroad it was extremely difficult to visit it after December
1, and even now it Is desirable that the trip should be made before
the middle of November. i
, Rivers of China Are Useful
China is well watered; the largest river, the Yangtse Kiang,
which empties Into the ocean at Shanghai, is 3,000 miles long, drains
more than 600.000 square miles and 700 miles above Its mouth
carries a volume of water estimated at 500 cubic feet per second.
It is one of the great rivers of the earth and Is navigable for large
vessels for more than 1,000 miles. . .
The Yellow river, or, in Chinese, the Hwang" Ho, drains a basin
almost as long, but does not' carry, so large a volume of water.
This Is the river whose overflows have been so disastrous as to earn
for it the name of "The Great Sorrow." This river carries down
so much deposit that within recent times it has so . choked Its
original outlet as to form a new channel entering the ocean some
300 miles farther north. At that time thousands of villages were
swept away and the loss of life was estimated at several millions.
The current of the Yellow river is so shifting, the sandbars so numer
ous and the volume of water so changeable that the river is prac
tically useless for navigation. .,
x Besides these, there are a number of rivers of less importance
and tributaries of these two large rivers which only seem small by
As if inspired by the numerous and natural waterways, the
Chinese people centuries ago connected its great water systems by
an Immense canal which, with the streams utilized by it, gave water
communication, between Peking and Canton. This canal, sometimes
known as the Transit river, is nearly twice as long as the Erie
canal and it not only the greatest work of its kind in Asia, but at
the time of its construction was the greatest in the world.
k 'X l :
travel and In the south we saw the water buffalo drawing the plow,
but In China loss than anywhere we have been has man supple
mented his strength by the strength of domestic animals.
In the cities the streets are so' narrow that travel by ordinary
vehicles Is Impossible. In Peking there are a few wide streets leading
from the gates through the city and on these a peculiar heavy
wheeled sprlngless cart Is used, but most of the streets are more
like alleys In which two 'rlkishas can hardly pass. We did not see
a full sized horse In the capital city. Some ponies have been brought
down from Manchuria (Manchuria Is regarded as the personal
property of the Imperial family and there is a royal monopoly In
ponies), but the most popular saddle animal Is the patient donkey.
It looks ludicrous to see a fat Chinaman perched upon the rump of
one of these tiny beasts, but there seems to be entire harmony
between the two, and the donkey trudges along with as little thought
of change as' the ancient race whom he serves.
In Canton the streets are not wide enough for the 'rlkiRha and
both the pory and donkey are conspicuous their absence. The
sedan chair, borne by coolies, was t'.e only to vejance we saw in a
day's tour of the city, and it required some engineering to mako
any headway with it when two parties met.
Although the business buildings are seldom more than two
stories high (the residences are usually only one story), the streets
are so narrow and filled with signs and advertising banners that
the sun can scarcely find its way to the pavement. The stores nro
narrow little stalls with the entire front open to the street. Often
there is a little shrine outside the door where lneonso Is burnt
and innumerable gods of wood, brass and stone are to be seen.
Personal Aspect of the People
While in their style of dress and In their Institutions the
Chinese are much the same throughout the empire, they differ
considerably in size and color according to the latitude, and in
features according to race history. In the north the people aro
lighter and larger than In the south, while the men and women of
Manchuria have coarser faces than the Chinese. The people In the
north- seem to be more vigorous and warlike and less artistic than
the people In the south.
The shaved forehead and the queue were prescribed by the
Manchu rulers 250 years ago as a sign of subjection, but they are
now a source of pride, and no greater humiliation can be Inflicted
upon one than to cut off his queue. In the northern provinces the
men, women and children wear padded clothes, generally of dark
blue cotton. The breeches of the men are tied at the ankles and
jQMAfal-4r'"t,'i j' f .....
'y-"' . V
; , 3 T U - J l 1 : ' ;
STREET IN nONO KONG, WHERE THE SIGNS EXCLUDE THE
SUNLIGHT.. . ;u ;. . v: .
GUA11D TOWER AT CORNER OF THE WALL OF rETCIXG.
Hih Living in Gotham and the Price
Great Walls a Waste of Labor
Before speaking of the people a word should be said in regard
to the great wall. It extends from the ocean westward along the
' northern boundary of China proper for a distance of about 1,500
miles, climbing in its torturous course hills and mountains, one
more than 6,000 feet high. It is about twenty-five feet thick at the
base and fifteen at the top and varies from fifteen to thirty feet in
height. It is made of earth with a shell of stone or large brick
to hold the earth' in place. The watch towers built at intervals
along the line add to Its imposing appearance and makes It an
object of historic interest, although a large part of the wall has
fallen into decay and in some places only a ridge of dirt remains.
This wall was constructed about 200 years before the Christian era
as a protection against the hostile tribes of the north, and for
many centuries it answered its purpose, although today it only
suggests a tremendous waste of labor. jf
But the great wall, imposing as it is because of its length,
Js Inferior in height, thickness and construction to some of the
r fitv walls. The wall of the city of Peking, for Instance, is about
sixty feet high and forty feet wide at its base and is kept In excellent
repair. The wall Incloses what is known as the Tartar city and is
nearly four miles square. Huge watch towers rise above each gate,
and to give still greater security the gates open into an enclosed
square. While the walls of the city of Peking are the most sub
stantial in the empire, the walls of Nanking, the former capital,
inclose nearly four times as much ground. There was a double object
In making the walls of the city extensive first, to provide for
future growth, and, second, to enable the people to withstand a
longer siege. How well the second purpose was served is shown
by the fact that during the Tal-plng rebellion the city of Nanking
was besieged for thirteen years. Just outside the walls of the city
may still be seen the earthworks thrown up by the Imperial army,
which sometimes numbered 35,000.
But it must not be understood that the capital cities were the
only ones protected by walls. On the contrary, all the cities are
welled; one sees fifteen or twenty of these walled cities on the rall-
THE Impressions of an Omaha business man, Robert Cowell, of
swell life in New York City, the extravagant display and the
rapidity with which money circulates there, are not a whit
overdrawn. In fact they , are not llf esize. Only the surface
of the show can be observed and sketched in three weeks' time. To
delve beneath the atmosphere of swelldom and reach the' facts require
talent always on the spot, and this is supplied by the New York Sun
in an article dealing with the extravagance of New York women. The
activity of men in that line may be assumed without special details,
because the male population rarely lag behind their sisters.
In part the Sun says:
"The increasing splendor- of New York's wealthy people in their
clothes, their houses, their pleasures, their entertainments and the cost
of maintaining this splendor are popular topics just now with persons
both in and out of fashionable society, both In this and In other coun
tries, for the fame of New York's prodigal expenditure crossed the
ocean long ago.
"A discussion of these topics always develops a big difference of
opinion. Old World fashionables, for instance, lean to the opinion
that, take them all in all, wealthy Americans are the most recklessly
extravagant people on earth, and Americans who have lived for months
at a time In European capitals and are qtflte at home in fashionable
society of other countries agree with this opinion. Said one of the
latter the other day:
" The expenditures of New York's wealthy women Indicate an ap
palling extravagance not equalled in any other country.'
"Talk with any woman of fe fashionable class and she scouts the
idea that she herself is extravagant, even while admitting that some
of her friends may be. Most of these women laugh at a comparison
of past and present splendor In New York's clothes and style of living.
Said one, whose clothes are the despair of ber enemies:
" 'By the way, in talking about the New York woman's extrava
gance, a good many persons separate entirely ber clothes and ber houne,
whereas the principal reason why some New York women now get
ten gowns where they used to buy one is that their husbands have built
mansions and furnished them like palaces almost There are now
hundreds of superb hou3es in this city which were not thought of
twenty years ago. According to New York ideas of consistency a
woman who lives in a palace must dress like a queen, be attired ele
gantly every day and- at all hours of the day.'
" 'Which costs the more, a fashionable woman's clothes or her en
tertainments? the speaker was asked.
" 'Sometimes one, sometimes the other. Mrs. Blank, who enter
tains handsomely almost the year round, told me that she managed
with $2,000 a month. That does not include the servants' pay roll, and
she keeps twenty servants In her New York bouse.
" 'Few of the newer bouses can be run vf 1th less than twenty
servants many of them employ twenty-five or twenty-seven. I cuu
not manage with fewer than five servants for the dining room nloue.
spent in keeping up their, automobiles and other accessories, like an
, opera box and two or three out-of-town cottages, which are maintained
quite as much for their friends as for their own diversion.'
"When these figures were quoted to a man whose expenditures are
large, he reflected a moment and then said slowly:
" 'Small, very small; that is, if one is estimating the amount spent
on his acquaintances and friends by the very rich men of this city
the men who have built the couple of miles or so of palatial dwellings
in the section above Central park East and West, and most of whom
count their fortunes away up in the millions. In fact, I don't see how
anyone can separate the sum he or she spends In entertaining from
the sum total of living expenses outside of clothes perhaps, for the
reason that, willy nllly, the wealthy are bound to entertain, and their
houses, furnishings and equipages are means to that end. From that
standpoint $50,000 is a mere bagatelle.
" 'Extravagant? Why, certainly, society is getting to be more ex
travagant every minute. Entertainments which my wife thought very
elegant ten years ago she turns her nose up at uow. Her dinners alone
now cost ten times as much as they did then,' "
"When one of the so-called smart set was asked for an opinion as
to the relative cost of a fashionable woman's wardrobe now and a
score of years back, she auewered remlniscently:
'Strange that question should be put to me. It was exactly
twenty years ago that one day when in a small company of friends I
asked an older woman, who was looked up to as an authority In dress,
how much money she thought a woman In fashionable society neel
spend In order to be suitably gowned, and I remember her answer was
that, taking one year with another, she could manage well on $1,000
the long, narrow coat reaches almost to the feet. In China the
women also wear trousers, but they are more like the American
article, and the coat worn by the women Is considerably shorter
than that worn by the men. China Is a great place for furs, and
the right to wear sable Is conferred as a mark of distinction upon
the higher officials.
The Manchu women and the Chinese women differ materially.
The Manchus, whose ancestors came from Manchuria, still retain
the customs peculiar to their section. , Their hair is stretched over
a hoad, wing like frame and three hours are required for Its
arrangement. Flowers, natural feathers, beads and tinsel are pro
fusely used In hair decoration. The Manchu women, except the
widows, employ paint and powder with a boldness which would put
to shame the most Inveterate user of cosmetics in America. In the
painting here there is no suggestion of a delicate glow of health;
it is a generous application of bright red in two streaks, running
from above the eyes to the corners of the mouth. The rest of
the face is whitened with rice powder, which does not harmonlzo
with the yellow skin of the neck.
Foot-Binding a Torture to Women
But If the Manchu women show more vanity in the treatment
of the face, they at least do not imitate the Chinese women in
the binding of the feet, though by wearing skirts and a shoe resting
on a block, shaped like a French heel, the size of the foot is
Foot binding is probably the strangest form that human pride
has ever taken, and It Is hard to believe that Chinese women from
time Immemorial have endured the agonies of foot binding and
forced it upon their daughters. It is not known certainly how the
custom originated. One tradition is that it began with a club
footed queen; another that it was designed to distinguish the upper
class women from the coolies, and a third tradition has it that it
was a scheme devised by the men for keeping the women at home.
But whatever causes may have led to the inauguration of the
'On another occasion about ten years ago the same question came custom it has become so firmly established that a prominent China-
road from Peking to Hankow and, a number of others on the ride and no one can who entertains constantly and has a quantity of silver
in use an trie time, ibis one Item alone shows the difference between
the scale of living now and twenty -five years ago, when five or six
down the river to Shanghai.
Some Features of Chinese Life
The agricultural population, instead of occupying individual
farms as la America, is gathered la little villages, each home being
servants were considered a satisfactory equipment for even a fash
ionable New York, household.
" 'Last March I took a party of six friends with me on a trip to
Inclosed ia its own wall. During the summer the people swarm' California and around home by way of Mexico in a private car. We
?ut front the cities and villages and cultivate their little tracts were gone not quite seven weeks, snd the jaunt cost $tl,0iK. This is
Y land with the most primitive tools, carrying the farm products almost a common way of entertaining now.
K:k to their homes on wheelbarrows or in baskets balanced -on 'I could name dosens of my friends who never spend less than
I-.. In the nortU of China the camel lo used for long distance - fWJXK) a year tor entertaining, and that decs not Include .the amount
lln ..1. ...... .. . M . . .
ui oi n luui-uruu, uu one 01 iuh guests remaruea mat $3,000 a year
wus all that a fashionable woman need spend for wearing apparel.'
Now here is the question again, when it is harder than ever to answer.
" 'In fact it is impassible to answer that question offhand, for the
reason that in these duys it is not so much a question of what a woman
needs to spend as of what she thiuks she needs to spend. In other
words, the attitude of most society women now is not how much they
can save on clothes or the leant sum with which they can manage to
present a suitable appearance, but how much mouey they can get hold
of to HptMid on their wardrobe.
" 'It is true that ten years ago some women did make quite an ele
gant apiearauce on $3,000 a year. Today a society woman's lingerie,
negligees and slippers alone cost that much often.
" "This may not be right. I am not defending it. I frankly admit
that New York society wo..nii :ire getting to be outrageously extrava
gant. At the same time they need ten times as mttny clothes as their
grandmothers needed, for the reason thut they eutertain continuously
and are on dress parade oil the time.
" 'What is the minimum sum a fushlouuble New York womun can
" 'A woman who attends the opera, goes to dinners, entertains and
Is entertained constantly cr.nnot. In my opinion, manage on less than
$10,000. and then she will have to scrimp. I have one fk-iend who man
ages v. lfli $S,(Hio, she sujb, but she told lug. In confidence, it whs never
possible, for her to order more than eight new gowus in the spring and
the same numlter in the fall, and that she couldn't think of getting a
new fur coat or Jacket oftener than once in two or three years, w hich
must be a trial, considering how very fashionable short Jackets of all.
aorta of furs are this winter.' i
wan 101a me mai, ueing opposea to loot Dinaing, no naa when a
young man tried to find a wife with natural feet, but was not able
to do so. He has In recent years persuaded his wife to unbind her
feet and has kept his daughters from undergoing the ordeal.
The process as described by a physician is as follows. At the
age of 5 or 6 the little girl's feet are tightly bandaged, the second,
third, fourth and fifth toes being gradually brought back under
the sole of the foot; the heel Is then drawn forward under the
Instep and the natural growth of the foot entirely arrested. The
medical missionaries report Instances In which the foot has rotted
away because of the lack of circulation. On one of the boats we
met an Intelligent Chinese merchant who, after condemning the
practice of foot binding and telling us that, in opposition to his
wife's wishes and in opposition to the girl herself, he had saved
one daughter from foot binding, compared this custom to that of
lacing, which he affirmed was much more injurious. He also ven
tured to suggest that Chinese women do not expose their health
and their shoulders in dccollette gowus, but perceiving that he had
discovered a weak spot In our social armor, I hurriedly changed the
subject. But I must reserve for auother article the discussion of
other characteristics. WILLIAM J. BIIVA.N'.
A western lawyer wulklng along u street In San Francisco got In
volved In a playful dibcUHsiou with his companion as to which whs t lie
handsomer man of the two They agreed to leave the question to t lie
decision of a Chinese who was seen upproaclilng them. The mutter
being laid before him, the Oriental considered long and carefully. Then
be announced in a tone of finality, "Both are worse."
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