Two classes of books are written about China by two classes of people. There are books written by people who have spent the night in China, as it were, superficial and amusing, full of the tinkling of temple bells; and there are other books written by people who have spent years in China and who know it well,—ponderous books, full of absolute information, heavy and unreadable. Books of the first class get one nowhere. They are delightful and entertaining, but one feels their irresponsible authorship. Books of the second class get one nowhere, for one cannot read them; they are too didactic and dull. The only people who might read them do not read them, for they also are possessed of deep, fundamental knowledge of China, and their views agree in no slightest particular with the views set forth by the learned scholars and theorists.This book falls into neither of these two classes, except perhaps in the irresponsibility of its author. It is compounded of gossip,—the flying gossip or dust of Peking. Take it lightly; blow off such dust as may happen to stick to you. For authentic information turn to the heavy volumes written by the acknowledged students of international politics.
of tourists, and a tired-looking, sallow group of anemic men and women who have just come up from Manila on an army transport.
The approach to Peking is tremendously impressive. Lying in an arid plain, the great, gray walls, with their magnificent towers, rise dignified and majestic. Over the tops of the walls nothing is to be seen. There are no skyscrapers within; no house is higher than the surrounding, defending ramparts. Peking is divided into several areas, each called a city, each city surrounded by its own walls. There is the great, populous Chinese City, where only the Chinese dwell. The Tartar, or Manchu, City has several subdivisions. It contains the legation quarter, and all the foreign legations are clustered together in a small, compact area, surrounded by a small wall for defensive purposes. Beyond the legation quarter, on all sides, extends the Tartar City itself. Foreigners also live in this part of Peking, and, as far as I can see, always hold themselves in readiness to dash to the pr