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- Round the World - 20/46 -


of French authority. But just as certain as the sun shines, should any considerable commerce arise in Cochin China, the English will absorb nine-tenths of it, and this by a law from which there is no escape.

When the French people forced the government to withdraw from Egypt they gave us reason to hope that Herbert Spencer's law, which creates pacific principles in proportion that power is held by the masses, had received a significant vindication. Let us hope the republican element will ere long put its veto upon foolish interference in Tonquin.

The night we spent at Saigon the French governor gave a grand ball, five hundred invitations; but out of all this number how many ladies, think you? Society here musters but thirty-five, mammas and grandmammas included, and only three young ladies. Think of it, ye belles of Cresson, Newport and Saratoga (Cresson first, Mr. Printer, is quite correct)! fifteen officers in dazzling uniforms for every lady!

We have on board several English merchants and one American, who are taking a run home for a visit. The latter regrets that his countrymen should be induced to drink green tea abominations, and I console him by stating that a reform is surely near at hand. These gentlemen agree that the American cotton goods are taking the market and driving the adulterated English goods out. The trade is increasing so fast that it was welcome intelligence for them to be advised by the last mail that another large mill in Massachusetts was being altered to make exclusively Chinese goods. I congratulate my friend Edward Atkinson upon this result. But is this new business to be permanent? I think not. The day is far distant, I hope, when either labor or capital in America will have to be content with the return obtained in a populous country like Britain; and unless we have superior natural advantages we cannot hope to compete with her. In cotton manufacture for the East we have not any advantage, as I find that the cheapest way of reaching China from New York is to ship via London. England can bring the raw cotton from New Orleans or New York, and send the manufactured goods to market for certainly not more than the cost of transportation from the American mills to market, and therefore England can retain that trade whenever she adopts the latest improvements in mode of manufacture; and this she is as certain to do as the sun shines, and probably to improve upon them.

* * * * *

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 1879.

The clock strikes twelve. Good-bye, 1878; and you, 1879, all hail! Be as kind to us as the departed, and we shall in turn bless your memory. This midnight hour of all the hours of the year is reputed the best for framing good resolutions, but somehow those I have tried at this season hitherto have not been exceptionally fortunate in bearing good fruit. However, I have never "resolved" on a New-Year's night before while suffering from heat and mosquitoes. I conclude to hazard one, so here goes antipodal resolution No. I. See what you are good for. I record it that it may be the more deeply impressed upon my mind, and, if a failure, that it may in print sternly stare me in the face, and not "down at my bidding."

To-day we make our first acquaintance with punkas. They extend throughout the cabin, ominous of hot weather, which I detest; Vandy, on the other hand, revels in it, and it is his turn now. Vandy handed me today a string of Cambodia money, sixty pieces, which cost only two cents, showing to what fractions they reduce exchanges in Cochin China. I have been careful to collect coins in every place visited. Sock No. 1 is now full, and I have had to start bag No. 2. I have some rare specimens; of Japan the set is complete, from the gold cobang, worth $115, oblong, five inches long by about three wide, down to the smallest copper piece. I have some Chinese coins shaped like a St. Andrew's cross, dating before Christ. The mania for coin collecting is another inherent tendency the presence of which has probably never been suspected in my disposition. But collecting the coin of the realm, when one thinks of it, isn't at all foreign to my tastes. The form of manifestation is different, that's all--old coin for new--the "ruling love," to use a Swedenborgianism, being the same; and the ruling love must be acted out, so Aunt tells me, even in heaven. "Oh!" said L., when she heard this, "I wonder what they'll get for Mr.----to do in the other world; there are no dollars and cents there; but there will be the _golden harps_ for him to trim and weigh." So he would still handle the siller, and be in his element. Some time afterward, when this was recalled to L., she declared that it was impossible that she could have said it. "Mr.----trim and weigh! He would never be satisfied unless he were _boiling it down solid_."

* * * * *

SINGAPORE, Saturday, January 4.

We reached Singapore at dusk. The drive through the town was a curious one. Nowhere else can such a mixture of races be seen, and each nationality was enjoying itself in its own peculiar fashion--all except the Chinese, who were, as usual, hard at work in their little dens. No recreation for this people. Work, work, work! They never play, never smile, but plod away, from early morning until late at night. The Chinaman's objection to giving his creditor in New York a note was because it "walkee, walkee alle timee; walkee, walkee, no sleepee." They seem to me to emulate these objectionable obligations.

We saw in Singapore our first lot of Hindoos, moving about the streets like ghosts, wrapped in webs of thin white cotton cloth, which scissors, needle, or thread have never defiled. The cloth must remain just as it came from the loom; no hat, no shoes, their foreheads chalked, or painted in red with the stamp of the god they worship and the caste to which they belong. They are a small, slight race, with fine, delicate features.

I went out for a stroll before retiring, and hearing a great noise up the street, followed and came up with a Hindoo procession. The god was being paraded through the Hindoo portion of the town amid the beating of drums and blowing of squeaking trumpets. The idol was seated in a finely decorated temple upon wheels, drawn by devotees, many of whom danced wildly around, while others bore torches aloft, making altogether a very gorgeous display. Priests stood at each side performing mysterious rites as the cortege proceeded. It was my first sight of an idolatrous procession, and it made a deep impression upon me, carrying me back to Sunday- school days, and the terrible car of Juggernaut and all its horrors.

I have had many experiences in beds, from the generous feather cover of the Germans to the canopy of state couch of England, but to-night my couch was minus covering of any kind. Calling to Vandy, I found he was in the same predicament. Each had instead a long, stiff bolster lying lengthwise in the middle of the mattress, the use of which neither of us could make out. We soon discovered that there was no need of covering at the Equator; but this bolster must have some use, if we could only find it. Upon inquiring next day we ascertained that it is composed of a kind of pith which has the property of keeping cool in the hottest weather, and that it is the greatest relief at night to cultivate the closest possible acquaintance with this strange bed-fellow; in fact, in Singapore, "no family should be without it."

The island of Singapore, which is included in the British Straits Settlements, is nearly seventy miles in circumference, with a population of about one hundred thousand, one-half of which is Chinese, the remainder Malays, Klings, Javanese, Hindoos, and every other Eastern race under the sun, I believe, and a few Europeans. Here the "survival of the fittest" is being fought out under the protection of the British flag, which insures peace and order wherever it floats. In this struggle we have no hesitation in backing the Heathen Chinee against the field. Permanent occupation by any Western race is of course out of the question. An Englishman would inevitably cease to be an Englishman in a few, a very few, generations, and it is therefore only a question of time when the Chinese will drive every other race to the wall. No race can possibly stand against them anywhere in the East.

On Sunday, Major Studer, United States Consul, and his accomplished daughter, drove us to the house and gardens of the leading Chinese merchant of this region, Mr. Wampoo, who received and entertained us with great cordiality. His residence is extensive and filled in every part with curios; but his gardens are most celebrated, and far surpass anything of the kind we have yet seen. His collection of Victoria Regia plants is said to be the best in the world. Unfortunately none were in bloom, but a flower was due, I understood, in about ten years! The kind old gentleman invited us back to see it, and we accepted; but since writing this we have heard, alas! that he has ceased to play his part upon earth.

The newspapers here sometimes give strange local items. Here is one from yesterday's _Times_:

"Tigers must be increasing on the island; a fine big male one was caught in a pit on Christmas eve at the water-works." The fellow was probably on the track of a Christmas dinner, and ventured to the very suburbs of the town.

We were driven one day, by the major and Miss Studer, some ten or twelve miles in the interior, passing through groves of cocoa and betel-nut trees, both in full bearing, to a tapioca plantation, where we saw many trees and plants new to us--the fan and sago palms and many other varieties, bananas, nutmeg trees, bread fruit, durion, gutta-percha trees and others. We also saw the indigo plant under cultivation, and passed through fields of the sensitive plant as we walked about, while pine-apples were everywhere. We are in a new world of vegetation here, within a degree of the Equator; but, rich as it is, there is still a feeling of disappointment because it is all green--no bright hues, no coloring, such as gives Florida its charm, or lends to an American forest in autumn its unrivalled glory! It is always summer, and the moisture of the tropics keeps everything green. There is another cause of disappointment to one accustomed to the primeval forest and its majestic trees. These monarchs cannot develop themselves in the tropics, and in their stead we have only underbrush, the "jungle" of the tiger, which does not at all come up to one's expectations.

About one thousand men and women are employed upon this tapioca plantation. Married Hindoos get twenty cents per day, but the greater number are Javanese unmarried men, who get only sixteen cents; both find themselves. The Javanese are Mohammedans from Java _en route_ to Mecca as a religious duty. They come here and work and save for two years to get sufficient to pay their


Round the World - 20/46

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