Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

rare.

It is said that I derive my opinions from such a question as we have before us. Immy noble friend; but occasionally and at agine a Cabinet Council sitting in the War intervals I am capable of forming opinions Office around the BUTTON ! Fancy the of my own, and such an interval has oc- present Cabinet gathered together having curred now.

to decide who should touch the BUTTON, He refused to be an accomplice in

and the difficulty of coming to a conclusion

whether it ought to be touched ! “ stabbing his party in the back," and deserted Lord Randolph in the divi- It was enough. If there were any sion.

waverers before Churchill spoke there After this Churchill's appearance in were none after, for it would have debate became more Still at required strong conviction to carry a irregular intervals he used to take part member through this cascade of ridiin discussion, and never failed to de- cule. light his listeners in a way which was After the defeat of the Unionists at only excelled by one other member of the polls in 1892, Lord Randolph threw the House.

in his lot heart and soul with his old A signal instance of his power to colleagues. Alas! it was no longer invest the dreariest subject with charm the same lightning oratory which used took place one drowsy Wednesday lo sting Mr. Gladstone to indignant afternoon in June, 1888. The debate retort. The wreck wrought by overwas dull even according to the standard heavy drafts on the physical powers of Wednesday. The subject under was only too manifest. The speech discussion was Sir Edward Watkin's halted, the gesture failed ; new memChannel Tunnel Scheme. Every argu- bers who beheld him for the first time ment that could be used on either side turned in wonder to ask if this, then, had been repeated over and over again was the Randolph who had towered so in former sessions, and the discussion high and fallen so low? It was a sorwas being languidly kept up till enough rowful sight. The House of Commons members should come down for a divi- has been charged with many defects, sion. Lord Randolph strolled listlessly but it is touching to see the gentleness into the House about four, o'clock, with which it deals with one whom it stood at the bar pulling his moustache has once learnt to admire. In the while Sir Hussey Vivian rolled forth words of the apostle, if one member his heavy periods, and, turning, asked suffer, all the members suffer with it. a bystander what was the subject un- Lord Raudolph Churchill's career der discussion. Then he walked to lies before the young politician as both his corner seat behind the treasury a warning and as a model. The warnbench. “ Randolph is up” was soon ing takes the somewhat liumdrum but repeated through lobbies and smoking- eternally vital lesson that no spirit room, and members crowded in, curi- however imperious, no wit however ous to know what line he would take. poignant, no knowledge however comThey were not long in doubt. Lifting plete — avails to render a man indepenthe subject as if by magic out of the dent of his associates. The one-man mud where it had been floundering for force may develop itself in process of hours, he invested his denunciation of years, but it is the growth of habit that the scheme with all the charm of wit makes others bow willingly to despotand perfect lucidity.

ism of this sort. A notable element The Hon. Baronet has told us that the in Lord Randolph's failure was his improposed tunnel may be easily blocked by patience of the petits soins of every-day certain machinery which he or some friend intercourse. His destiny might have of his has invented, connected with a but- been very differently shaped had he ton which was to be touched by a secretary been at the pains to attach others to of state in a Cabinet in Pall Mall. I ask himself by ordinary civility. whether such a ridiculous proposition was a worthy argument to be introduced inio Hæc res et jungit, junctos et servat amicos. The model is found in the enormous | tunism. If there is any one strong advantage secured by any young mem- enough to steer a steady course, gifted ber who chooses to master the compli- with Churchill's fertility of resource, cated rules of procedure and precedent able to lay hold, as he did, of the popuin Parliament. In nothing is knowl- lar imagination, and capable, as he was edge more surely power than in this; not, of bringing out the best qualities without this the most brilliant gifts of his associates, the future of the may be wasted, the most favorable Constitutional party in this country opportunities thrown away.

will be more auspicious than some of There are those persons of two ex- its best friends are able at present to tremes who are unable to see in Lord believe. But if the decision on great Randolph Churchill's achievement questions of the hour is to be apmore than one of these aspects. To proached and undertaken solely with a those of one extreme his niemory will view to their anticipated effect on the remain that of a dazzling constellation immediate fortunes of a political party, which, when it sank below the hori- and without regard to, or in defiance zon, left the heavens dark and the of, settled principles, disaster cannot prospect without life. To those of the long be postponed. What every great other extreme, his rise was the upward country stands in need of is a leader rush of the rocket, to be followed by who will lead and not follow, having the inglorious descent of the stick. the confidence of a body of men who But the great mass of his countrymen are indifferent to the allurements of will have in mind the imperious force office and are resolved to maintain a of the ascent, the pathos of the de- wise check on the forces of change. cline. Not later than his prime in For such a party, led by one of the

but hopelessly bankrupt in magnetic power of Churchill, the counbealth, Lord Randolph passed from the try must look in the hour when proscene of his triumph and his fall. Who longed adversity in commerce or serious shall say it was too soon for us or for restriction of employment shall have him ? Nay, had the end been hastened brought about the confusion of which by a few years, and the painful lapse we have long been on the brink ; a of physical powers been exchanged for party which has learnt how to deal the earlier shock of suilden death, sympathetically and effectively with would not men have looked one an- the pressure of social problems, withother in the eyes, and said that here out exciting vain hopes or erecting vishad been realized the poet's dream in ionary ideals. Should the country look the Odyssey, of existence in that blessed for this in vain ? Syrian Isle, " where disease is not, nor bunger, nor thirst; where, lest men should grow old, Apollo comes with Artemis, and slays them with his silver

From Blackwood's Magazine. bow."

A VISIT TO THE BUDDHIST AND TAO-IST The effect of Lord Randolph's as

MONASTERIES ON THE LO FAU SAN. cendency will long outlive himself. It To fathom tlie Chinese religion to its required the blow-pipe temperature of depthis would require a knowledge of his energy to fuse the cast-iron preju- humanity, a patience, and a gift of dices of the Conservative party into tongues, such as few men can lay claim sympathy with the wants and aspira- to - certainly not the writer. But for tions of the new electorate. He effected people who are willing to accept broad this and did not remain to see the full approximations for truths, it is not results. The scope of these results bard to remember that the conscience will greatly depend upon the heads of China is acted on by four influences, and bands charged with the policy of which may be classified as agnosticism, the party in the next few years. There a folklore, and the fossil remains of is a dangerous tendency to pure oppor-'two religions.

By agnosticism, I mean the doc- | monasteries on the slopes of Lo Fau trines of Confucius, which, in name at San. least, are accepted by the mass of the By six o'clock on an August morning gentry and literati. But Confucius was I was out on the river in a slipperno prophet; he was a statesman and a boat, ready to catch the steam-lug that philanthropist. It is true that he regu- runs up to Shik Lung (Dragon Shore), lated with exactness the ancestral and the starting-point for Lo Fau San. spirit worship of his day ; but that was August is hot all over China ; but in only because there were four things Canton you gasp for a breath of air in which, his biographer says, he would the steam that rises from the polluted never hear discussed ; and of these river, and the thousand tainted sickly one was revolutions, and the other little smells which ooze up from a Chiwas religion. Now, because this un- nese town. The tug being supposed to believing Confucius is a guiding star start at day break, it was natural that at to the whole educated population of eight we should still be lying in the China, therefore, with native logic, current, dodging destruction by the China builds temples for his wor- foreign customs launches, as they ship, and worships him in every dis- dashed up and down the stream. But trict city.

at last she puffed up in a great hurry, But Confucianism has never affected with a broad-beamed barge in tow. the natural religion of the country. It Two officials of the native customs, has never shaken the universal belief sleek as are those who drive fat cattle, in a teeming world of spirits jostling went aboard and made their search. with the world of life, and helping, Foreigners are exempt from examinasaving, tormenting, or destroying, ac- tion, because after fifty years' expericording to circumstances. From this, ence it is still believed that they do not China has evolved its most human and know how to cheat. Accordingly, the touching belief in the good-will of a writer and All Man (which is, the Lateman's father towards him after death. born — perfect among boys) boarded It is this that has kept the plains of the lug, and were accosted by a halfChina inviolate from the rush of the naked person, whose enormous girth locomotive. Those two lines of thought, betokened his importance. He proved the sceptical and the pantheistic, be- to be the skipper, and the following longing to the educated and ignorant argument took place. classes respectively, but always acting Skipper. Tshaw ! Go away. and reacting on each other, may be Foreign Devil. Shan't. considered as the bases of a China- Skipper. You must! Go ou to the man's faith.

barge. Passengers not allowed here I have spoken of Tao-ism and Buddh- [and he produced a paper]. ism as fossils, because the fundamen- Foreign Devil. I don't want to see tal doctrines of both religions have it. Foreigners never travel ou barges. long since been upheeded and forgot- Skipper (coming down a little, in an tei. Buddhist monks are made use of aside to the Late-born). What will he to bury the dead, and . for their sup- pay, if I let him stop? posed ability to regulate the rainfall; Foreign Devil (ditto ditlo). Ask if I and the Tao-ists gain influence by can stay for double fare ? geomancy and their tutelage of popular And so the negotiations proceeded on deities ; but these are the limits of a strictly commercial basis. their power. This being so, not much Iudeed I cannot recommend the knowledge of the heart of China can barge. It has three decks, each high be gained from the trip to be described. enough to crawl under comfortably, But to those who can content themselves with a general view of the show

1 The Lo Fau San (Hill of the Floating Basket)

lies about eighteen miles from Shik Lung, on the part of the creeds, I can heartily rec- right bank of the Tang Kong or East River, some ommend a fortnight spent among the six hours' journey by river-steamer above Canton.

strewed with Chinese, some sleeping, in hot weather he is distinctly unpleassome smoking opium or tobacco and aut. This front room is divided from spiuiug continuously. A native geu- the kitchen and pig-sty by what may be tleman, under the circumstances, will called a distinguished-guest chamber — strip off his long robe, curl himself up a box the size of the lift in a hotel on the planking, and go to sleep with with a narrow passage to form the conbis head on his elbow or a block of necting link. From the shop side this wood for a pillow ; but for white men bedroom is entered by a half-door, the the tug is best.

top part of which is latticed, and lets Barring accidents, Dragonshore is in just so much of the gloom. without reached any time between two and five as will give an outline to the horrors in the afternoon. The town does not within. Here I was introcluced to my look unpicturesque, with its line of landlord, who was lying in bed a-smoksquat brick houses flanking the river, ing. He graciously gave up his room and the strings of barges moored along. to me, and for want of better accomside ; and when you have said that, modation I installed myself therein. you have said about all. A geologist's Over the rest of that day and night I eye will note the formation of the will draw a veil. It will be enough to landing-stage, an outcrop of broken observe that the cloud of flies by day potsherds through a bed of primary was followed by a cloud of mosquitoes ooze.

by night. A roaring fire from the I asked my way to the inn of one of kitchen, with whiffs of cooking and the knot of loafers who had come to pig-sty, the sweet, nauseating smell of inspect me ; and a boy was told off to opium, - if these and filth and bugs lead the way. In return for a civil past counting are enough to damn a request, Chinese are glad to render lodging-house, then let visitors beware such little services, as long as they cost and shun the sign of the Rich Man's nothing. The streets of Dragonshore Resort at Dragonshore. The obvious are about two paces wide. The after- alternative is to stay on board the noon was hot and breathless. The al- launch all night and refuse to be mosphere of each shop swelled through evicted. the framework of door and window to The kulis had been engaged overmingle with the smell of the shop night, and had promised to be at the opposite ; and as I passed under con- inn by daylight next day. They turned voy of my guide, we seemed to be up about eight, which was pretty well, working through successive layers of and by nine we were off. It is safe to pork, fruit, fish, and grocery essences, give your bearers an hour to play the all beated to a temperature of 90° fool in before they start ; and the best Fahrenheit.

thing to do is to begin breakfast when The inn at Dragonshore is not a suc- the boy announces in pure Hongkongcess in summer. You look in through ese, “ That five piecee kuli-man be the open doorway on to a dingy little come, galáw ! S'posee you makee room about twelve feet square, with a chop-chop all same bettalı.” After greasy counter at one side, and a stock breakfast and a cigar, you will stroll in trade of rice, wine, dried fishi, to- out to find a dense crowed surrounding bacco, and opium behind. Opposite your baggage, by this time carefully are two square, black tables (they were impacked and arranged in little parcels white once) covered with bowls of salt on the roadway, in the midst of which vegetable and flies, round which half- the kulis are brandishing a steelyard, a-lozen laborers are sitting at their with fearful outcries and faces distorted rice. A Chinese kuli squatting half- with passion. It is annoying, as everynaked on a bench, with a bowl at his thing has been carefully packed and lips, stoking rice and bawling at the weighed and approved overnight, but same moment, is not a pretty spectacle you have no redress. You may ejacunder the most favorable conditions - Tulate, “ Lai chii ! Lai chii !(Come, go !) at intervals, to which all presenting, “These cash are ten parts [i.e., will respond, “ Lai chu !but it will one hundred per cent.] worthless ; not make the smallest difference. and in corroboration of his statement, Still, everything must have an end ; at your would-be victim points out, or last smiles are the order of the day ; pretends to point out, the absence of every one says, “ Come, go !” and you certain blurs on the horrid little rings are exhorted to get into your chair. of brass. The fact is that, quite apart There was one of my men who had from the difference in the rates of exsomewhat prepossessed me. He alone change, there are at least three sorts of had not grumbleil about his burden, cash in circulation, golden, indifferent, but bad sat stoliilly on a lemonade-box, and worthless, – just as if two good plastering a green leaf over a sore on shillings and a bad sixpence were legal his leg. It was at this moment that he tender for a doubtful half-crowu, showed his true colors. " Wait a bit,” Then, again, one trade is by popular he said, with a face like a stone ; feeling allowed a keener sensitiveness “tobacco-pipe forgotten, I must go on this point than is another. A clothhome get it.” “O may Heaven bless ier will not reject so many of your you ! and how far is your dear home?” | cash as will a pawnbroker ; as if a cabi Not far." " And how far is that?” man were justified in biting on his “Not far; perhaps it is, speaking shilling, while a booking-clerk ought to roughly, more or less about four li” (a think himself lucky in getting what he mile and a hall). Mere weak human- can, and should gladly accept two irreity, under the circumstances, will proachable pennies for a 30, fare. All 6 endure loss of capital,” as a China- this and a great deal more every child man would say, and give the scoundrel of ten throughout the land has at liis a farthing to buy a brand-new pipe at fingers' ends. Now what is the use of a shop across the road. Then your boy trying to teach a people our multiplicabethinks him that he must go and buy tion-table, whose every-day experience a dollar's worth of cash. He invariably proclaims : Twice two ought to make does this at the last minute, thus adding five; take heed lest it makes but three an associated horror to the intrinsic and a half. vileness of the coin. It is held by By the time I had pondered on these some that the coinage of China was things, the Late-born returned, his invented especially for the confusion cash wrapped in an aldermanic protuof the foreigner. At any rate, two berance round his waist ; and we really market-villages twenty miles apart are did get off at last. The journey from quite certain to have a different rate of Dragonshore to Lo Fau Sau is across exchange, and (but this may be only a the alluvial plain of the East River. It coincidence) the foreigner is not the one is as uninteresting a twenty miles of who profits thereby. Thus, suppose swampy padi-land as can be found anyyou tender a dollar at Stone Umbrella where, and the roads are simply the mart, and after much weighing and slimy bunds between the rice-fiells. testing thereof are given in exchange if the river is up, your kulis will, after 1,030 brass coins strung on a string, of starting, point out that the country is varying weight and thickness. Ar- flooded, and that you must go by boat rived at the Plaiu of Peace, you buy a through the creeks for a third of the dollar's worth of fowls, and put down way. They will not laugh externally your 1,030 ; only to be told that the as they tell you this. On the CO!)exchange is 1,160, and you have to find trary, they will loudly express their the balance. Next day, having in- dissatisfaction ; but if you listen carevested all your savings in cash, you fully to their conversation and merrireturn to Stone Umbrella, intending to ment for the rest of the day, you will buy up all the silver in circulation at find the point to be, that the fool of a the lower rate of exchange. Alas for red-hair-devil has paid them carrying your hopes! You are met with a chill. I wages to sit in a boat for seven miles.

« AnteriorContinuar »