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- Round the World - 3/46 -


are! Are they happy? overjoyed at being homeward bound? We cannot judge. Those sphinx-like, copper-colored faces tell us no tales. We had asked a question last night by telegraph, and here is the reply brought to us on the deck. It ends with a tender good-bye. How near and yet how far! but even if the message had sought us out at the Antipodes, its power to warm the heart with the sense of the near presence and companionship of those we love would only have been enhanced. In this we seem almost to have reached the dream of the Swedish seer, who tells us that thought brings presence, annihilating space in heaven.

We start promptly at noon. Our ship is deeply laden with flour, which China needs in consequence of the famine prevailing in its northern provinces, not owing to a failure of the rice, as I had understood, but of the millet, which is used by the poor instead of rice. Some writers estimate that five millions of people must die from starvation before the next crop can be gathered; but this seems incredible. And now America comes to the rescue, so that at this moment, while from its Eastern shores it pours forth its inexhaustible stores to feed Europe, it sends from the West of its surplus to the older races of the far East. Thus from all sides, fabled Ceres as she is, she scatters to all peoples from the horn of plenty. Favored land, may you prove worthy of all your blessings and show to the world that after ages of wars and conquests there comes at last to the troubled earth the glorious reign of peace. But no new steel cruisers, no standing army. These are the devil's tools in monarchies; the Republic's weapons are the ploughshare and the pruning hook.

For three hundred miles the Pacific is never pacific. Coast winds create a swell, and our first two nights at sea were trying to bad sailors, but the motion was to me so soft after our long railway ride that I seemed to be resting on air cushions. It was more delightful to be awake and enjoy the sense of perfect rest than to sleep, tired as we were; so we lay literally

"Rocked in the cradle of the rude imperious surge,"

and enjoyed it.

To some of my talented New York friends who are touched with Buddhism just now and much puzzled to describe, and I judge even to imagine, their heaven, I confidently recommend a week's continuous jar upon a rough railway as the surest preparation for attaining a just conception of Nirvana, where perfect rest is held the greatest possible bliss. Lying, as I did apparently, upon air cushions, and rocked so softly on the waves, I had not a wish; desire was gone; I was content; every particle of my weary body seemed bathed in delight. Here was the delicious sense of rest we are promised in Nirvana. The third day out we are beyond the influence of the coast, and begin our first experience of the Pacific Ocean. So far it is simply perfect; we are on the ideal summer sea. What hours for lovers, these superb nights! they would develop rapidly, I'm sure, under such skyey influences. The temperature is genial, balmy breezes blow, there is no feeling of chilliness; the sea, bathed in silver, glistens in the moonlight; we sit under awnings and glide through the water. The loneliness of this great ocean I find very impressive--so different from the Atlantic pathway--we are so terribly alone, a speck in the universe; the sky seems to enclose us in a huge inverted bowl, and we are only groping about, as it were, to find a way out; it is equidistant all around us; nothing but clouds and water. But as we sail westward we have every night a magnificent picture. I have never seen such resplendent sunsets as these: we seem nightly to be just approaching the gates of Enchanted Land; through the clouds, in beautiful perspective, shine the gardens of the Hesperides, and imagination readily creates fairy lands beyond, peopled with spirits and fays. It is not so much the gorgeousness of the colors as their variety which gives these sunsets a character of their own; one can find anything he chooses in their infinite depths. Turner must have seen such in his mind's eye. "I never saw such sunsets as these you paint," said the critic of his style. "No; don't you wish you could?" was the reply. But I think even a prosaic critic would feel that these Pacific pictures have a spiritual sense beyond the letter, unless, indeed, he were Wordsworth's friend, to whom

"A primrose by a river's brim A yellow primrose was to him, And it was nothing more."

He, of course, is hopeless.

* * * * *

THURSDAY, October 31.

We have been a week at sea. Can it be only seven days since we waved adieu to bright eyes on the pier? We begin to feel at home on the ship. The passengers are now known to each other, and hereafter the days, will slip by faster. I went down with the doctor and Vandy to see the Chinamen to-day. What a sight! Piled in narrow cots three tiers deep, with passages between the rows scarcely wide enough for one to walk, from end to end of the ship these poor wretches lie in an atmosphere so stifling that I had to rush up to the deck for air. So far three have died, and two have become crazy. My foolish curiosity has made the voyage less satisfactory, for I cannot forget the danger of disease breaking out among this horde, nor can I drive the yellow, stupid-looking faces out of mind. The night of the day in which I had gone below we were playing a rubber of whist in the cabin when the port-hole at my head was pushed open, and a voice in broken English shouted, "Crazee manee; he makee firee, firee!" I jumped round and saw a Chinaman. Such an expression--Shakespeare alone has described it--

"And with a look so piteous in purport, As if he had been loosed out of hell To speak of horrors."

Fire! that epitome of all that is appalling at sea, the danger each one instinctively dreads, but no one mentions. One ran one way and one another. The doctor (a real canny Scot, who sings "My Nannie's awa'" like Wilson) was over the rail and down the hold in a moment. I ran to Captain Meyer's room on the upper deck and roused him. He too was down and in the hold like a flash--brave fellows that they are, these "true British sailors." I waited the result, knowing that if fire had really started, a general stampede of Chinamen would soon come from the hatches; but all was still. How long those few moments seemed! In a short time the captain returned, looking, in his night-clothes, like a ghost. One of the crazy men had broken loose from his chains, and the Chinamen were panic-stricken. The watchman wanted the most startling alarm, and found it, undoubtedly, in that word fire. It is all over; but when he next has to sound an alarm let him "take any form but that."

We have a reverend missionary and wife, with two young lady missionaries in embryo, who are on their way to begin their labors among the Chinese. They are busily engaged learning the language. Poor girls! what a life they have before them! But apart from all question of its true usefulness, they have the grand thought to sustain them, and ennoble their lives, that they go at the call of what seems to them their duty. We watch the Chinese eating and laugh at their chopsticks, but we forget that one reason why John Chinaman prides himself upon being at the pinnacle of civilization is that he uses these very chopsticks. (None of the races of Asia, and until recently he knew no other, have ever got beyond chopsticks, the use of which was first taught China, while most of them don't even have them yet.) Let us not forget that our ancestors were using their fingers--barbarians that they were--when the Chinese had risen, centuries before, to the refinement of these sticks, for the fork is only about three hundred years old. Shakespeare probably, Spenser certainly, had only a knife at his girdle to carve the meat he ate, the fingers being important auxiliaries. We must be modest upon this chopstick question. It costs the ship eleven cents (5-1/2 d.) per day a head to feed these people, and this pays for a wholesome diet in great abundance, much beyond what they are accustomed to.

While on the subject of the Chinaman I may note that of course we did not get through California without hearing the Chinese problem warmly discussed. It is the burning question just now upon the Pacific coast, but it seems to me our Californians' fears are, as Colonel Diehl would put it, "slightly previous." There are only about 130,000 Chinese in America, and great numbers are returning as the result of hard times, and I fear harder treatment. There is no indication that we are to be overrun by them, and until they change their religious ideas and come to California to marry, settle, die, and be buried there, it is preposterous to believe there is any thing in the agitation against them beyond the usual prejudice of the ignorant races next to them in the social scale.

I met the owner of a quicksilver mine, whose remarks shed a flood of light upon the matter. The mine yields a lean ore, and did not pay when worked by white labor costing $2 to $2.50 per day. He contracted with a Chinaman to furnish 170 men at one-half these rates. They work well, doing as much per man as the white man can do in this climate. He has no trouble with them--no fights, no sprees, no strikes. The difference in the cost enables him to work at a profit a mine which otherwise would be idle; and to such as talk against Chinese labor in the neighborhood, he replies, "Very well, drive it off if you please, but the mine stops if you do." The benefit to the district of having a mine actively at work has so far insured protection. This is the whole story. Our free American citizen from Tipperary and the restless rowdy of home growth find a rival beating them in the race, and instead of taking the lesson to heart and practising the virtues which cause the Chinaman to excel, they mount the rostrum and proclaim that this is a "white man's country," and "down with the nigger and the Heathen Chinee," and "three cheers for whiskey and a free fight!" The Chinese question has not reached a stage requiring legislation, nor, if let alone, will it do so for centuries to come--and not then unless the Chinese change their religious ideas, which they have not done for thousands of years, and are not likely to do in our time.

* * * * *

FRIDAY, November 1

We saw flying-fishes to-day for the first time. The captain had been telling us as we approached the 3Oth degree of latitude that we should see these curiosities, and, sure enough, while standing on the bridge this morning, looking toward the bow, I saw three objects rise out of the water and fly from us. One seemed as large as a herring, the others were like humming-birds. They have much larger wings than I had supposed, and shine brightly in the sun as they fly. We have on board a gentleman connected with the Dutch Government, who visits their out-of-the-way possessions in the Malay Archipelago. He has been where a white man never was


Round the World - 3/46

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