Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

from which they suffer, and to voice the eternal call of their helplessness. One hopes to see the day when, by this means, å searchlight is thrown on infamous deeds and shameful practices, perpetrated upon lonely roads and in the hidden jungles, which have often made the hearts of humane people ache for the animals of the Empire.

In view of progress and advance in thought it is not visionary to hope that in the future Britain will remember that these are indeed her animals, that she is responsible for their well-being; and that to the uttermost limits of her great Empire, and wherever the Union Jack is flying, there will extend a humane legislation on their behalf, not merely granted as a whitewash in response to public demand, but legislation thoughtfully applied and carried out with courage and good sense by those who realise that possession implies duty, and that in these distant lands, far more than at home, the honour of the Empire is in their keeping.

If wisely thought out and systematically and zealously taken up, this new departure will lead to a considerable diminution of suffering, to the dawn of a brighter day for myriads of voiceless servants of Empire for whom that Empire only represents at present a Prison House of Pain, and to the raising morally and spiritually of their cruel gaolers and taskmasters. None can doubt the ultimate triumph of a cause the solution of which is not to be found in the barren formula of any creed or dogma, nor even in the multitude of its adherents, but in its direct appeal to the ‘inward witness' and in its unexampled power of touching the human heart.

It is work which must be engineered with care by those who feel a genuine interest in it, who possess the capacity for mastering a case and presenting it, who have an open mind, and are aware of the high call of faith and of the sacrifices that the good cause will ask for to the end.

Surely we may trust our fellow countrymen and women to think imperially upon the subject of our duty towards these unhappy creatures, and to recognise that all who combine to determine some true line of reform will be working also for England's honour, since the various forms of abuse to which animals are at present subject all over our great Empire are an outrage to the national sense of upright dealing and are a stain on the British Flag.

ZEENEB CHARLTON.

SOME ASPECTS OF CHINESE REFORM

No more than a brief century of years has elapsed since the first faint stirrings of a new national life in the heart of Europe preluded the birth of a great Empire. On the 16th of March 1813 a disunited Germany declared war upon France, and the titanic struggle for union and liberty was begun.

To the student of history in its more human aspects the analogy which may be traced between incidents of the twentyfive years immediately succeeding that memorable date in German history and the events of the last ten years which have culminated in the present crisis in the Chinese Empire cannot fail to prove of the deepest interest and significance.

Then, as now, the spirit of reform was primarily engendered in, and emanated from, what may be termed the student classes of the two communities. Indeed, it is but the natural and inevitable revolt of the sturdy arrogance of youth against the effete autocracy of age-as it is held to be; the determined opposition of a new and liberal school of thought to a venerable and time-sanctified conservatism. But there is this point of difference where the analogy fails. The first King of Prussia, a single German State, was crowned in 1701; the history of China as an Empire may be traced back for nearly three thousand years.

Student risings have ever been intimately connected with crises in European history, and Young China is, to-day, but following the path once trodden by Young Austria or Young France. In fact, at the present moment some subtle bond of sympathy would appear to subsist between China and Russia in those schools of political thought directly influenced by the more advanced of the younger generation.

The Reform movement in China has long since reached the point from which public interest in this country has begun to fail. The telegrams in the Press-at no time of any great value, save those from the honoured diplomatist who represented The Times in Peking-are more and more abbreviated, editorial comments are becoming even less adequate, and little or nothing-except in the direction of comment upon the financial question—is done

[ocr errors]

to stimulate public concern in events which are affecting the destinies of a people forming a quarter of the entire population of the world, and inhabiting a country more vast than the whole of Europe.

To that elusive individual, 'the man in the street,' this revolution appears to have differed but little from the recent upheaval in Portugal. He may, perhaps, quote the well-worn phrase, 'The Awakening of China,' but his perception of its true value is dim, and his recognition of the real forces at work and the effects which have already been produced is even more indistinct. Of the more human side of the movement, as distinct from the alarums and excursions of the opposing forces, he is curiously unappreciative.

From this introductory reference to the primal forces at work in China it is the writer's desire in the present article briefly to indicate two or three of the directions in which a line of social progress is being pursued, or is suggested; something of the debt which China owes to Western civilisation; and, finally, to venture upon a suggestion in regard to the relationship between foreigners and the Chinese. With certain material questions such as the Army, Education, and the Drama he has dealt more fully elsewhere.

In the first place it must be borne in mind that the recent armed revolution has been by no means a great national rising on behalf of freedom, a revolt of an oppressed people against an autocratic Government. A review of the struggle will show that the rising has been confined almost entirely to the extreme eastern part of the empire and to the great towns and cities adjoining a line drawn diagonally between Kalgan in the far north and Canton in the south. Hankow, for instance, through which this line would pass, is no more distant from the seacoast than Inverness is from London. If a second line be drawn joining Hankow with Hangchow, which stands at the head of an inlet of the sea, the suggestive fact will be noticed that the country to the north as far as Kalgan and Peking is served with many ways of intercommunication, and such as are lacking in the interior. Apart from the River Yangtze, the Grand Canal, and many lesser waterways, an excellent railway connects Hankow with Peking, another runs from Hangchow via Shanghai, Nanking to Suchow (in the north of Kiangsu), and this also, with the completion of a strip of 100 miles at present under construction, will connect with Peking, via Tientsin. A branch connects this line with the German settlement of Tsingtau ; and several other connecting links are projected.

This delimitation leaves at least three-fourths of the empire untouched, and, although a few isolated revolutionary centres

are to be found therein, it is perhaps no exaggeration to suggest that five-sixths of the Chinese people have no concern whatever with the revolution, nor with reform of any kind.

With this large majority we are not at present concerned, although it would be of interest to dwell upon the extraordinary contradictions and inconsistencies, even in the most ordinary details of every-day life, between the Chinese in the coast towns and cities and those in the sleepy interior of the country. There roads are non-existent; inns are, for the most part, revolting hovels ; bribery, corruption, moral degradation, infanticide, effete legislation, superstition in its worst aspects—all hold unlimited sway. Well may the most ardent reformer, Chinese or foreign, throw up his hands in despair. And yet in the eastern provinces, despite certain remarkable instances to the contrary, there is evidence upon every side of a breaking up of old traditions and of an influential progress in thought and action such as man, in Eastern or Western civilisation, has never conceived.

II The railway systems of China offer perhaps the most direct evidence of this progress. The first railway line, a very small undertaking constructed under British auspices and running between Shanghai and Woosung, was formally opened to traffic on the 30th of June 1876, in face of the most determined opposition from the natives. This was exactly sixty-two years after Stephenson's first locomotive came into actual use in England. The line was temporarily closed, and was then sold to the Chinese at cost price, by whom it was subsequently shipped off to Formosa. Incidentally it may be added that the Chinese erected a temple upon the site of the old Shanghai terminus as a peace-offering to the Goddess of Mercy.

It was not until 1887, and consequent upon certain events in the Franco-Chinese War, that the necessity for railway transport was officially recognised. The following year a track of eighty-one miles was opened in the vicinity of the capital, and China possessed her first real railway.

The history of subsequent railway enterprise, of the rush for concessions and so forth, has been often related, and there is no need to enlarge upon the subject. There are now actually in operation in the empire 5400 miles of railways, while plans are ready for an additional 14,000 miles. The systems fall roughly under five headings, and of these the Shanghai-Nanking system is, if not the most important, of the greatest interest.

This section, of 193 miles, serves what is perhaps the richest portion of the empire. Opened in March 1908, the line is the best laid and the most admirably equipped of all the Chinese railways. Incidentally it is, so far as the writer is aware, the only system in the empire which publishes a balance-sheet. The passenger coaches would be a credit to any of our own larger companies, and it is a curious experience for the European traveller landing in Shanghai and proceeding up country to find himself being carried through uncivilised (!) China in so luxurious a manner, and served en route with excellent meals and wines.

Unfortunately this system has hitherto been worked at a loss, or at least without profit. The initial cost works out at the large figure of 17,0001. per mile; the capital charge per unit of traffic is accounted too high; and lastly, owing to the surrounding country being intersected by a network of navigable waterways, it has been found impossible to secure an adequate freight traffic. In this connexion an interesting project has recently been initiated, by which certain trains are stopped at various points between stations to pick up individual Chinese bringing in vegetable produce, etc., to market. The scheme, which has met with considerable favour and success, may seem trivial enough to Westerners, but it is at least another step in the right direction of giving the Chinese what they really want instead of what we consider that they ought to want.

On the other hand, it may emphasise the predilection of the natives for regarding a railway track as an excellent footpath or wheelbarrow route, and the metals as a convenient pillow for nocturnal slumber. In fact, the habit of coolies sleeping upon the line has become a positive nuisance to engine-drivers.

As an example of present-day Chinese workmanship the line of railway recently opened from Peking through the Nankou Pass to Kalgan may be cited. This was constructed and is supervised entirely by Chinese, the engines and rolling-stock being made locally. The embankment through the pass, eighty feet or so above the river, is in itself a triumph of engineering skill.

Although the ultimate prospects of railway enterprise in China are bright, present progress is very slow. A great deal of opposition on the part of the countryfolk is still encountered, especially on the Canton-Hankow line; financial conditions are most unsatisfactory, and although money is scarce there appears a decided aversion to negotiating any foreign loans. It would almost seem that China, even at this stage of her development, has not yet taken to heart the lessons which a record of lost opportunities should have taught her. Had the Imperial Government of fifty years ago given heed to wise counsel, China would to-day have been in possession of a network of effective railways. The vast mineral resources of the country would now be open to development, trade might well be flourishing, the frontiers

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »