Open Collections

The Chung Collection

Chung Logo

The Chung Collection

Letters of Kwang Chang Ling : The Chinese side of the Chinese question, by a Chinese literature of the… Ling, Kwang Chang 1878

Item Metadata


JSON: chungpub-1.0056375.json
JSON-LD: chungpub-1.0056375-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): chungpub-1.0056375-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: chungpub-1.0056375-rdf.json
Turtle: chungpub-1.0056375-turtle.txt
N-Triples: chungpub-1.0056375-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: chungpub-1.0056375-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

l ; m
The  Chinese  Side of the Chinese Question, by a
Chinese Literate of the Fiest Class,
August 7th, 10th, 17th, and SeptExMBEr 7th, 18*78.
^\£&he Q&&~-
7  *   2>
/_55rf    Cl&&
rfc (g>t0 •
f<f~-&J&,      • «•
A Pertinent Inquiry from a Mandarin High in Authority.
Palace Hotel, August 2, 1878.
To the Argonaut:—You will doubtless gather from the superscription and general
appearance of this letter that I am what Europeans, in the abundance of their vanity,
would be very likely to regard as an anomaly—an educated Chinaman. In a word, I
speak and write your language, as I believe, correctly. And it is because of this slight
accomplishment that my general unworthiness has been overlooked by my countrymen
residing in California, and I have been selected by them to communicate to the public
the Chinese side of the Chinese question. The Argonaut has been especially preferred
as the medium for the promulgation of these views on account of its reputed fairness
to all.
The cry is here that the Chinese must go. I say that they should.not go; that they
can not go; will not go. More than this, that, were it conceivable that they went, your
State would be ruined; in a word, that the Chinese population of the Pacific Coast
have become indispensable to its continued prosperity, and that you cannot afford to
part with them upon any consideration.
If this be true—and I believe I can demonstrate it even to your satisfaction—the truth
is an important one. It concerns every element of the future social life of California;
it lies at the basis of your industries; it is bound to subvert that demagogism by which
your politics, as you call it, have been degraded to a level scarcely higher than
incendiarism, pillage and murder.
Before I begin, let me describe the spirit in which I propose to discuss this subject.
In the first place I intend to be just; to differ from you honestly; to be influenced by
neither prejudice, hatred nor resentment; to employ no specious arguments; to set up
no weak issue, the easier to demolish it; to employ respectful language; to advance no
facts which are not either well known to history or established in the course of the
discussion itself.
Clothed in this dignity of discourse, I enter the lists without fear. I am upon your
soil; I am surrounded at the best by unsympathetic spectators; my only buckler is the
truth; my only weapon your language, the peculiarities of which can never be wholly
master%d by a foreigner.' Far from complaining of any disadvantage in these respects,
I am free to own that no soil is freer, no assemblage more noble, no regulations more
just than those which claim the proud title of American.
And now let the heralds be heard and my grievance stated. Hear, oh, ye just and.
valiant men, ye beauteous and compassionate women, the plaint of Kwang Chang Ling;,
a UteratPof the first class, a warrior and noble, a leader of the Chinese and a representative by authority.
The first intercourse in modern times between Europe and China took place in the
early part of the thirteenth century, when Genghis Khan, our first Mongol emperor,
carried an imperial army and the cause of Deism, or, as you now call it, Unitarianism,
(I use the word advisedly), through idolatrous Russia. In 1235, Oktai, son of Genghis,
dispatched his nephew, Batu Khan, with 500,000 men, who, in the same cause, conquered
Russia, Poland and Silesia, including the strongly fortified cities of Cracow and Lublin.
This prince met and overthrew in battle Prince George II., of Prussia; Henry, Duke of
Breslau; and Bela IV., of Hungary; only resting his victorious army after he had
encamped in Dalmatia and floated the ensign of China above the Venitian sea.
In 1240, and while still occupied in that religious regeneration of Eastern Europe,
which had been commenced by the illustrious Genghis, Prince Batu died, leaving command of the army of occupation to Prince Barkah. In 1245, after news had reached
Europe of the conquest of Jerusalem by the Kharizmians and the treacherous massacre WHY  SHOTLD  THE  CHINESE GO? 3
tianity, which had been tolerated and allowed to be preached in China since the advent
of the Nestorian Olopwen in 636; second, at the time of Prince Batu's death he was
preparing a force to conquer Turkey and uproot Mohammedanism. But, insurrection
breaking out in Russia, Barkah was compelled to march thither and forego the pleasure
of uniting his forces with those of the Christian monarchs. When, at a later period,.
Pope Boniface VIII. sent a number of Catholic missionaries to our country, they were
received with kindness and permitted to preach their doctrines without molestation.
So much for the first intercourse betwen China and modern Europe.    To you, Genghis.
Khan was a cruel marauder at the head of an army of robbers and murderers, who overran Eastern Europe for spoil.    To us, he was a great religious leader; who sought to
uproot idolatry and establish a pure and simple deism in its place.    The idea of leaving
a rich country like China to find spoil upon the desolate steppes of Russia, or amongst
the wretched peasants of Prussia or Hungary, is absurd.    If our generals had been after-
spoil they would have marched into Western Europe for it.    There was no physical
obstacle to stop them.    They had more men-at-arms equipped and encamped in Dalmatia,
than all Europe could have raised in a year.   But there was amoral obstacle in the way.
Western Europe was a Christian country, and with the religion of Christ the Chinese
leaders had no quarrel.    And so, from the confines of Christendom, within whose borders they never entered, these half a million of warriors, with whom Prince Barkah had
crossed the Danube, were marched back over five thousand miles, chiefly of arid wastes,
to the Flowery Kingdom and their homes.
If you have anything in the history of your civilization to match the magnitude of
these expeditions, the distances they traversed, the grandeur of their mission, and the
sublime restraint they exercised toward Christian Europe, we Chinamen would be glad
to hear of it. I am sure you will not find it in the expeditions of Cortez or Pizarro, who,
between them and in the name of your religion, butchered several millions of the peaceful and inoffensive inhabitants of Mexico and Peru, and reduced the remainder to the
cruel slavery of the mines. Nor is it to be found in the annals of the Thirty Years War,
nor in the records of the Inquisition.
But it is not to invite such comparisons that these episodes of history have been introduced. My object is a higher one. This is to compare the military power and resources
of China and Western Europe at three critical periods of their intercourse—at the period
of the Chinese invasions of the thirteenth century, at the opening of maritime commerce
by Europeans in the sixteenth century, and at the present time.
When the hosts of Batu Khan overlooked the Adriatic Sea; they were clad in steel
armor and mounted on fleet horses. Their arms consisted of the sword, battle-ax, mace,
bow-gun, and culverin. With the exception of the pieces used by the Arabs in Spain,
who had obtained a knowledge of gunpowder from China, through commercial channels,
these culverins were the only artillery in Europe, In a word, the arms and accoutrements of the Chinese were at that period vastly superior to those employed throughout
Europe generally; the numbers of their armies were far greater, and their discipline was
perfect; and as to their prowess, this is attested by their conquests, and still more by the
almost entire silence of European history concerning them.
At this period, save in Mohammedan Spain, Western Europe was steeped in poverty,
ignorance and despair. Its civilization had been long decaying; its population had
dwindled from sixty millions, in the time of the Antonines, to thirty millions when the
Inquisition was established. Society had become so debased that in the eleventh century human beings were employed as a circulating medium in Britain, and the price of
a man was less than that of a hawk.
In the twelfth century, and as a sign of his superiority, Pope Celestine III. kicked
the crown off the head of the Emperor, Henry VI. Kings then lived in huts, and peasants
in holes in the ground, where they slept with the pigs. The common garment was a
sheepskin, which was worn through life. That of Thomas a' Becket had to be peeled
from his back after he died. Woolen garments were worn at a later date, and at first
only by the feudal lords and their principal retainers. As for undergarments, these were
only known to the Arabs.
The continent was divided into a great number of petty kingdoms—in France alone
there were twenty-nine, each with its own dynasty and history—and each kingdom into
an infinite number of feudatories. The kings were mere figure-heads; the real power
lay locally with the feudal lords, and continentally with the Pope. Indulgences were
bought and sold in open day; the grossest sensuality prevailed^ and every tendency
toward progression was smothered in the folds of a sordid ecclesiasticism and a profligate aristocracy.
In a word, in the thirteenth century, China stood at the height of her power and magnificence; Europe at the lowest point of her decadence. Magna Charta was not written
until 1215, and had to be confirmed above fifty times during three centuries before its
reforms were assured. Coal—that illimitable reservoir of mechanical force, which has
subverted the relations and revolutionized the history of races—was not discovered in
Newcastle until 1239, nor made an article of traffic until 1381. The Crusades, the inventions of gunpowder and printing—both obtained from China—the discovery of America,
the reformation; in short, all of those causes or influences to which the civilization of
1 '
Modern Europe has been variously ascribed, had yet to occur. When these did occur
Europe rose to power, whilst at the same time, China, from causes which I need not
enter into here, fell into decay. We have seen how China behaved toward Europe when
the latter was at her mercy. We have next to trace the attitude of Europe toward China
upon the opening of Oriental commerce and since that time—that is to say, ever since
Europe has become the stronger. This exchange of conditions had partly occurred
before the Portugese rounded the Cape of Good Hope. At this period China was in a
decaying and feudal condition, while the causes referred to were soon to infuse fresh life,
vigor and resources into Europe. It was the Europeans who were now the better armed
and equipped. Their ships, their artillery, their small arms, were all better than ours.
We shall presently see what use they made of them. ^|
Meanwhile, let us rapidly glance at the condition of the Celestial Empire. It was, as
I have stated, in a feudal condition, and so, in great measure, it continues to this day,
Although the just pride of the Emperor will not permit him to admit the fact, his power
over the numerous provinces, islands, and vassal and tributary, states, which compose
his dominions, is far from complete.
Europeans do not appear to understand this condition of affairs; yet it has had much
to do with their misunderstandings of my countrymen. The foreigners who have at
various times sought and obtained imperial permission to trade at certain ports of China
supposed, perhaps, when this permission was obtained, that they had a complete right
to trade. But this by no means followed. There remained to be obtained the permission
of the feudatory or local authorities of the territory in which the trading was to be done.
This permission was not always sought after, and forcible attempts were made to trade
without it—attempts that invariably gave rise to further misunderstandings.
As feudalism of the type now existing in China has been long since extinguished in
Europe, it is difficult to illustrate the injustice of these attempts by reference to any
governmental arrangements that now exist in the Western World. The best simile I can
think of would be furnished by an effort on the part of foreigners to lay a railroad through
the United States under a charter from the Federal Government, and without obtaining
permission from the States. But, after all, the resemblance between feudalism and
federalism is very faint. Happily for Americans the Federal Governmeut possesses sufficient military strength to keep the States in subordination, and the States sufficient
respect for the Federal Constitution not to defy its authority; but such is not the case in
China, nor has it been for several centuries. The great vassals of the empire divide
much of its power between them; sometimes they even create the Emperor.
It was in the year 1498 that the Portuguese, under Vasco de Gama, made their way
around, the Cape. In 1510, under Albuquerque, they treacherously seized the East
Indian city of Goa, and leaving a garrison in it, sailed away to Malacca, which they had
seen and coveted in 1508. This great city they treacherously and piratically captured.
The superiority of their arms will be understood when it is stated that this act was committed by only eight Portuguese, assisted by two hundred Malabar natives. They
plundered Malacca of "a booty so enormous that the quinto, or fifth, of the King of
Portugal amounted to 200,000 gold cruzadoes, a sum equivalent to *$5,000,000," exclusive
of ships, naval stores, artillery, and other property. Malacca was at that time a vassal
state of the Chinese Empire, and our first acquaintance with maritime Europe was,
therefore, begun on its part by the greatest act of piracy the world has ever witnessed.
Pizarro's plundering of Peru, committed a few years later, was nothing compared with
it. Hearing at Malacca of the great Chinese cities to the northeast, and hoping, no
doubt, to pillage them, as his companions had pillaged Goa and Malacca, one of the
Portuguese, Raphael Perestralo, sailed away in a junk to view our coast. Finding the
Chinese better prepared for pirates than he expected, he returned to Malacca.
The result of this reconnoissance was that a pretended "embassy." was dispatched
from Lisbon in 1518, under Ferdinand Andrada, to treat with the Emperor of China for
permission to trade. Andrada, the first European to land at a seaport of China, appeared
off the harbor of Canton in the same year, and was allowed to disembark and to send an
envoy to the Emperor at Peking. This envoy, whose name was Thomas Perez, was
kindly received, loaded with presents, and accorded the favors he sought. He at once
visited all the sea-coast towns, and after a rapid survey of them returned to Canton and
joined his colleague Andrada. Meanwhile, Andrada's brother Simon appeared off the
coast in command of a piratical squadron, pillaging the inhabitants and seizing young
women. He then built a fort on the island cf Taywan and extorted money from every
vessel bound to or from Canton; not supposing but that his brother Ferdinand was on
board of his own ship and safe from Chinese reprisal. Thus it appeared that this band
of " embassadors " were nothing but a lot of adventurers and cut-throats, whose sole
object was plunder and rapine. So soon as their doings became known, Perez and
Andrada were seized in Canton, tried, and condemned to pay a fine, and to leave the
country—a mild punishment for their great offenses. Pending the payment of this fine
a subject of the Sultan of Malacca arrived at Peking, and related the story of the pillage
of that town by the Portuguese. The true character of these scoundiels was now clear
beyond a doubt. They were again seized, this time on charges of high treason, and condemned to death; their lives being offered them on condition of restoring Malacca.
Failing to do this, they were all executed in 1823.
I have related the particulars of this our first transaction with natives of maritime
Europe because it is a type of all the others that followed from that time until the opium
war of 1842. The naval commanders of the sixteenth century were little more than
pirates, and so long as they succeeded in filling the royal treasuries of Europe with gold
and silver, their sovereigns were quite ready to close their eyes to the means by which
this wealth was acquired. Such was the character of Albuquerque, Andrada, Cortes,
Pizarro, Sir John Hawkins, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Henry Morgan, and numerous
others. The Portuguese, the Dutch, and the English came to China as the Spaniards
had visited Mexico and Peru, and as the English afterward visited the West India Islands,
the Spanish Main, and the East Indies—to plunder it. At first we did not suspect them
of such designs, and being especially a peaceful and commercial people, we listened to
their proposals of trade, and threw the whole country open to them. It was only after
repeated evidences had convinced us that they designed to treat China as they had treated
Spamsh America and Hindostan that we adopted the policy of restriction, which afterward came to be looked upon, however erroneously, as essentially Chinese. The real
fact of the matter is that we desired to trace even more strongly than you did, only,
observing that your guns were heavier and your men stronger than ours, that your
traders were little better than bandits, and your naval commanders a parcel of swash
bucklers, deemed it prudent to conduct the trade solely at Macao and Canton, where,
confined to limited districts and the management of the Hongs, it might not be used as
a means of gaining entrance to the country, and of tampering with our vassal states, as
had been done in Mexico, Peru and Hindostan.
Perhaps you may think that the Chinese question in California has little to do
with all this. Well, we shall see. The trouble about the Chinese question is, that it
has hitherto been viewed from too low and narrow a standpoint. It has been forgotten
that nations have histories, and that their relations toward one another are not to be
determined altogether by present or local considerations.
This may not be perceptible to my friends of the sand-lot, who, as workingmen, inspire
my respect, while as historians and logicians they excite only my amusement. But it
will be perceived the moment it comes to be practically decided, and it may then be too
late to discuss this matter. For this reason, and because a peaceful solution of this
question is desirable, both for your people and ours, I prefer, with your honorable
permission, to discuss it now.
Kwang Chang Ling.
* Palace Hotel, August 2, 1878.
To the Argonaut :—In my last communication I showed that when, in the thirteenth
century, China was superior to Europe in population, civilization, and arms, and that
although she was able to do, and did march half a million of well equipped men to the
shores of the Adriatic, she paused there out of respect for Christianity and the social
progress of mankind, and led her vast hosts back to their distant homes without molesting the West. I showed, also, when, in the sixteenth century, these conditions of
strength had become reversed—when China had become the weaker and Europe the
stronger—what bad use the latter made of its superiority, and how nothing short of
rigorous exclusiveness on our part could have saved our country from being desolated
by European arms and enslaved by European adventurers.
It will not do for you to claim that you European's had no intentions of this sort; for
history would belie you. What was Columbus' objective point when he sailed to the
West? Cathay, that far famed China, whose riches had been portrayed in the glowing
pages of Marco Polo. To his dying day the great Captain supposed the shores of
Hispaniola were those of Cathay, and that he had only to explore farther in order to
reach the civilized portion of that vast empire. What land did the Spaniards suppose
they were on when they ravaged the Mexican Empire? China. It was always China of
which you were in search, and had you found it there can be no doubt that you would
have despoiled it as you despoiled the lands which you mistook for it.
Nor will it do for you Americans to claim exemption from reproach on the ground that
these atrocious transactions were the work of other nations than your own. You are
all as one nation in your attitude toward China. When one of you obtains a concession
from the Imperial Government, no matter how unjustly—witness the treaties after the
wars of 1842 and 1858—the others are sure to demand similar concessions.
When one of you gains an advantage from us the others are certain to claim a similar
advantage. Because the Portuguese obtain a footing at Macao, the British must have
the Island of Hongkong. When any misfortune happens to us, you are all so eager to
profit by it that you stand by one another as a single body.    Thus, when the Taiping mui*ju4u_p**
rebellion threatened to subvert the Empire, your war-ships all swung coldly at their
•anchorages in our harbors, like so many vultures waiting for their prey to expire; and
.-so far'from offering to help us, you helped the rebels. More than this, you took advantage of the occasion to make war upon us. I do not blame you; I merely state a fact.
You are united by the bonds of a religion which you fancy to be the source of your
^greatness, and to be filled with the promise of more. The Spanish conquistadores used
to carry the symbol of their faith in front of their armies; modern Europe more discreetly smuggles it into the "most favored nation" clause of its treaties with China.
The inferiority of our arms to yours at the period of our early maritime intercourse is
•evinced, not only by the easy fall of Malacca, but also by the fact that chief among the
goods we used to purchase of you were European muskets. It is also proved during
the bombardment of our ports in the opium war, when the British found our batteries
to contain only cast-iron three pounders, and sometimes only representations of guns
painted on canvas.
When we came to acquire the knowledge of European arms, and the way to make
them, the fear of invasion and subjection became lessened; but it has never wholly passed away, nor can it pass away until China wholly emerges from the feudal condition in
which she still lingers. This condition is one of great peril to her imperial autonomy.
"The efforts of the central government have to be continually exercised to keep the great
feudatories in subjection. Wljen I sta'te that there are lords in China who own greater
domains, and are more wealthy, than any individual in Christendom, whilst the people
are extremely poor, you will understand me. For instance, when Prince Keshen was
condemned in 1841 for having suffered defeat in the opium war, there was confiscated
of his property $7,500,000 in gold, $2,667,000 in silver, and other goods worth still
more—in all about $25,000,000 worth. A country whose lords are thus rich is easily
subdued. Her millions of soldiers count for nothing, because they belong to the feudatories, and these may be easily divided by a crafty foe. Witness the operations of
Cortez in Mexico and Clive in India.
From these facts and considerations; from the absence on our part of hostility toward European civilization, as evinced by our forbearance toward you when, in the
thirteenth century, we were stronger; from the existence on your part of hostility
toward our civilization, as evinced by the bad use you made of your superiority when
in the sixteenth century, you had become the stronger; from the feudal condition of our
empire and the fear entertained by our government even now, when our weapons are
the same as yours, that China may be conquered and reduced by you as have been
Mexico, Peru and India—from these facts and considerations, I say, we would much
prefer to have no dealings with you; we would rather close our ports and maintain a
policy of entire isolation from the European world.
The trouble with Europe, however, is that such a policy would not suit its interests.
You desire to possess every 'conceivable privilege of trade, residence, religion, etc., for
Americans in China, whilst you would deny all of them to Chinamen in America. And
lihis brings us directly to the Chinese question in California.
Let it be fully understood at the outset that we Chinese have never sought to obtain
leave for our people to live in your countries, except as a counterpoise to a similar permission first sought on your part. Nearly two thousand years before a Chinaman ever
settled in Europe, Europeans settled in China. Not only this, they were protected in
•their persons, their property, and their religion. Furthermore, the* Emperor, Tienpan,
went so far as to build a Christian church for Olopwen and order it to be supported out
of the public coffers. And this was five hundred years before Christianity was intro-
*duced even into some parts of Europe—for example, Russia.
When the elder Polos visited us, we treated them well. They remained with us for
more than fifteen years, and then departed freely, carrying away great wealth. When
Marco Polo came, he was similarly treated. He remained twenty years, and when he
departed, which he did at his own request, he was loaded with presents and other
favors. During all this time we sent none of our people to Europe. It was you always
that sought permission to dwell with us, whilst we never came to you. And observe
what you gained by it. You took from us the inventions of the mariners' compass,
sails for ships, rudders, gunpowder, paper, printing, and many other useful things.
All these came to you from China, either by the hands of the Arabs, of, later on, with
the expeditions of Genghis Kahn or Batu Kahn, or through the Polos; for these inventions were not known to Europe in the Middle Ages, while they had long been used in
our eountry.
When, at a later period, the western nations made their way to our ports, it was they
who came to us and sought permission for their merchants and artisans to dwell among
us, not we who desired to send colonists to you. The whole burden of the negotiations
■sought by European nations with the Imperial Court has been—permission to live in
.China. In these negotiations, Americans have ever been foremost. You sent Mr.
Caleb Cushing to us in 1844, Mr. Reed in 1858, and Mr. Buiiingame in 1867. When
the last-named gentleman resigned from your diplomatic service to enter ours, and effected the treaty that goes by his name, he was rewarded by you for his part in the
transaction with the highest encomiums and the warmest welco'me. WHY SHOULD THE CHINESE GO? 7
Let me read you two or three clauses from this treaty.
Article VI. guarantees every privilege and complete protection to Americans in China,
and this is carried so far that Article I. forbids the employment of the foreign establishments on the coast of China—for example, the Portuguese establishment at Macao,
the British island of Hongkong, etc.—as a means of aggression against the United
States, in case of a war between that country and Portugal, or Great Britain, etc.
Article IV. grants entire freedom of religion, protection of sepulture, etc. And Article VII. the right to establish their own schools, etc. to Americans in China.
Article VI. confers equal rights upon Chinamen in the United States.
Under these articles a numerous body of your citizens hove established themselves in
China, possessed them elves of the coasting trade, and many other branches of navigation and traffic, and thus deprived thousands of Chinamen of employment. The complaints of these poor people are not conveyed to you; because our government has too
much respect for its treaty obligations to permit you to be annoyed with any expression of regret concerning the working of its compacts with you. On the other hand,
while the profits of which the Chinese coast and river junk trade have been
deprived, by American steamers, go to swell the dividends of your navigation
companies and afford employment to your maritime classes, your shipbuilders, and
your machinists, your newspapers are filled and your halls of legislation resound, with
. outcries against Chinese labor in America. •
Thus it appears that the United States maintains precisely the same position in respect to China as the other European nations do. You all desire to possess advantages
in China, which, at the same time, you would deny to Chinamen in America. You
have bombarded our ports and forced us into an unwilling commerce with you, which
now you desire shall be entirely one-sided. Your reason for this unfairness is not a
sordid one. You are clear-headed enough to perceive that the benefit to commercial
intercourse cannot be unilateral. But you fancy that the advantages of social intercourse may be monopolized by one party. You will not permit us to shut ourselves
up. You demand every privilege for Americans in China, but you would deny the
same privileges to Chinamen in America, because, in your opinion, the presence of the
Chinese amongst you is a menace to your civilization. You shrink from contact with
us, not because you regard us as mentally or bodily inferior, for neither fact nor argument will support you here—but rather because our religious code appears to be different from yours, and because we are deemed to be more abstemious in food, clothing
and shelter.
If our religious forms, our daily bill of fare, and our demands for wages were the
same as yours, it would be difficult to see what grievances, either real or fanciful, you
would have to complain about. Since you profess in your political constitution, your
pulpit declamations, and, more than all, in your manner of living, that you are not bigoted, and care nothing for religious forms, the menace to your civilization appears to
resolve itself into a fear of losing your accustomed roast beef, white shirt-collars, and
carpeted houses. It i% a menace to the sensual indulgences to which you have been
accustomed for the last three centuries—that is to say, since the opening of sea trade
to the Orient.
There is a significance in this coincidence, to which, in another place I shall have
occasion to allude more fully. Meanwhile, let us agree upon the grounds of your hostility to the Chinese in California. I say it is chiefly the fear of having to descend (as
you would regard it) to your notion of the Chinese level of subsistence—rice, one smt
of clothes, and bare walls. This is the substance of your 1300-page report of the Joint
Special Committee to investigate Chinese Emigration. If it is anything else, -I shall
be glad to shift the issue with you.
Treating this as the essence of the Chinese question, let us see what there is m it.
Substantially, Asia desires seclusion from the European world; substantially, Europe
desires commerce with Asia. In India this commerce is carried on by forces In China
and Japan, because you cannot employ force, you desire to so arrange it that, while the
commercial benefits may be mutual, the social advantages, as you regard them may
all be on your side. You insist upon trade with China, but you want no contact with
her people, for fear of their pagan influence and their economical mode of living. Can
you be gratified in both respects?   Impossible.
The same God that made you, made us; the same inexorable laws of nature that
govern you, govern us. Foremost among these laws is that of gravitation. When a
substance falls to the earth, the earth rises at the same time to the substance. All
action and reaction are reciprocal. This law holds good throughout the physical world,
it also holds good throughout the moral and political world. Nature forbids one-sided
arrangements If you must t*ade with China, you must come in contact with Chinamen, and be subjected to, the influence of Chinese morality and Chinese civilization
The influence may be small, may be remote, may be inappreciable - as is the rise
of the earth toward falling substances - but it must take place ^ faihei
you nor we can help it. You may drive us out of California, but we shall influence your social affiSrs all the same. The goods that we ^ manui^ure^
San Francisco will be fabricated in Canton; and, no matter how high you may raise 8 WHY SHOULD THE CHINESE GO?
your tariff, you will walk in Canton shoes, wear Canton shirts, smoke Canton cigars,
and shoot each other with Canton revolvers and gunpowder; for we can make all of
them cheaper than you can.
•U'you have debauched us with opium, we have got even with you by acquiring your
mechanical arts; and henceforth, unless Europe and Asia shall fall back upon a now
impossible scheme of strict non-intercourse, their fortunes must go together. If, as you
believe, your civilization is superior to ours, it will have to fall a little in order that
ours may rise a great deal; and this must take place whether the few Chinese now in
California shall remain or not. It is God's law, and can not be averted. It is the
means by which he has and will continue to slowly knit together the diverse threads of
all human life.
In my next and final letter I propose to show how mistaken you are in regarding your
civilization as, on the whole, superior to ours; and, on the contrary, how much your
civilization owes to ours, and how rapidly it would decay without the support which
our civilization affords it, even at the present time. After this I will endeavor to draw
a picture of what California would be were the Chinese driven from it, and to justify
this delineation will refer to the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, and the Chinese
from Manila.   And when I shall have done this, I will rest my case.
Let me in this place, however, endeavor to correct one great misapprehension in
respect to the Chinaman. You are continually objecting to his morality. Your travelers say he is depraved; your missioners call him ungodly; your commissioners call
him uncleanly; and your sans culottes call him everything that is vile. Yet your housewives permit him to wait upon them at table; they admit him to their bed-chambers;
they confide to him. their garments and jewels; and even trust their lives to him, by
awarding him supreme control over their kitchens and the preparation of their food.
There is a glaring contradiction here.
The plain truth is, that what .you have regarded as evidences of immorality and depravity are simply evidences of indigence and misery. China is in a feudal condition.
Her nobles are enormously rich and powerful; her peasants are extremely poor and
wretched. The unpleasant things which your travelers and missionaries have observed
in China, are not common to Chinamen. They have never been observed in connection with rich Chinamen. They are peculiar only to poverty. They belong to the
miserable—to the miserable of all countries. What Mr. Griffis, in his recent chapter
on the " Heart of Japan," says of that country, is true also of China: the peasantry
are very poor. The nakedness of the towns, of the houses, of the people, their scant
fare, their degradation—which were only to be fully perceived when he reached the
interior of the country—made him exclaim, with disappointment: "I began to realize
the utter poverty and wretchedness of the people and the country of Japan "' (p. 415).
Yet everywhere he found some education and abundance of good nature (p. 420).
It is the same in China. The nobles are the richest in the world; the peasants are
the poorest. What little of the latter's habits and surroundings *has proved repulsive
to Occidental eyes, is the result, not of inferior morality, but of inferior wealth. The
European peasant was in the same condition three centuries ago, and in some countries
—for example, Russia, Eastern Germany, Roumania, Ireland, and parts of Italy and
Portugal—he is very nearly in a similar condition to-day. Yet you not only tolerate
him in America, you share with him your political privileges; you admit him to social
communion; he is your brother; while the poor Chinaman you would drive away with
blows and contumely. What if it should appear that, after all, there was nothing defensible beneath your hatred of Chinamen but ignorance and religious bigotry? Where
would then stand the bases of your vaunted civilization?
The slender fare of rice and the other economical habits of the peasant class, which
are so objectionable to your lower orders and the demagogues who trumpet their
clamors, are not the result of choice to Chinamen; they follow poverty. The hardworking, patient, servants that you have about you to-day, love good fare as well as;
other men, but they are engaged in a work far higher than the gratification of self-
indulgence; they are working to liberate their parents in China from the thraldom of
feudal villeinage, and so long as their labor continues to strike off the fetters from their
beloved ones will they continue to practice their noble self-abnegation. When this
emancipation is complete, you will find the Chinaman as prone as any human creature
to fill his belly and cover his back with good things.
Hwang Chang Ling,
LETTER III.        I
Palace Hotel, August 2, 1878.   «
To the Argonaut:—The limits to which these letters restrict me are a great source
of embarrassment. I am forced to outline the story of twenty centuries of intercourse,,
three of which have been active and bear immediately on the present question, in the »
course of a few columns. I must compare Christiainity with Buddhism, an allodial civilization with a feudal one, and strike a balance between two worlds with the dash of a.
pen.    It is not a cause that I am to defend; it is a miracle that I must accomplish.
Let me begin this letter with the religious question. Is it the religion of the Chinese
residents in America of which you complain? What right have you to do this,'*with
freedom of religion guaranteed in your Federal and State constitutions and a hundred
monstrous sects flourishing in your midst and protected by your laws? There are
more Shakers than Buddhists, more Mormons than Confucians, in your country; and,
while the latter keep their religion to themselves, the former flaunt theirs, with all its
repulsive features, in the face of your moral code, which it flatly insults. Do you complain of Chinese morality? In what respect is your code superior to ours? What duty,
does it commend which ours disregards? What virtue does it inculcate which ours
neglects? Or do you complain of the practical behavior of Chinamen, regardless of
religion or moral code? Let their industry, their peaceful manners, their resignation
to insult and contumely, be your answer.
You say that your civilization is superior to ours, and that it must not be degraded
by contact with us. When your twenty discordant writers, Volney, Burke, Guizot,
Mackinnon, Colquhon, Buckle, Spencer, Draper, and the rest agree stpon what .civilization means, we shall be better able to reply to you. With us, civilization indicates a
given condition of society, combined with the direction and velocity of its movement
from that condition to another. The condition we regard as due to physical resources;
the movement and its velocity to the struggle between those resources and the popular
tion which has to subsist upon them. At times, population gets the upper hand of
nature; then civilization advances. At others, nature gets the better of population;
then civilization decays. We are an old nation and have seen many of these changes;
but we have neither forgotten justice nor charity to others when they favored, nor
begged indulgence from others when they went against us. When, in the days of Genghis Khan, our name was a terror to Western Europe, we took no advantage of you
and imposed upon you no yoke. Now that we are engaged in so desperate a straggle
against nature that, during the past few years, millions of human beings have expired
from starvation within our borders, we ask no favors from you. Whatever you may
think of our civilization, violence and force form no portions of its basis. Its foundations—however rudely capped—are laid in justice, and mercy, and toleration.
But what is this Western civilization of which you boast so loudly? Had it any his^
tory previous to the opening of the sea route to China? Pause a moment. Be just*
Reflect. When you shall have caught the clue to such a history, let us be apprized.
But we believe you will fail. You will remember that we happen to know something of
Europe in the thirteenth century, and to-day our histories can tell more of this obscure
period than yours. We have our own theory concerning the sources; of your present
greatness. We ascribe it, in part, to your gains from the piratical conquest, enslavement, and murderous extinction of the American races, but chiefly to the profitable
trade with the Orient. From the opening of this trade to 1640, when the Portuguese
were driven from Japan, and the British first acquired territory in Hindostan, three of
your nations alone took a thousand millions of specie from Asia; two thirds as much
as they wrung from all America during the same period. From Malacca, alone, they
took twenty-five millions; from Japan, up to the date mentioned, four hundred millions;
from India and China other vast sums. These nations were Spain, Portugal and Holland. You imported calicoes from India, rice and silk from China, copper from Japan,
spices from the Islands; and you sent, in return, woolens, iron-wares, and other
northern fabrics. Every western nation had its East India or Oriental company, whose
profits on each voyage varied from forty to three hundred per cent. When you could
not trade, you robbed; and your pirates, whose atrocities your monarchs not only connived at but rewarded, despoiled our seas and ravaged our coasts. These profits and
spoils gave rise to those industries which furnish the present support to your boasted
civilization; they invoked those industrial classes, which before them had no existence
in Europe, and whose emergence from feudal vassalage forms the history of your liberties. In a word, your civilization is indebted to ours for all there is of it to which you
dare to refer; and it still depends so largely upon the Oriental trade, which amounts in
value to $1,000,000,000 per annum, and employs ten miUkp tons of western shipping-
more than one-half of which is with China alone—that if this trade were destroyed,
through your illiberality to Chinamen, there can be little risk in predicting that your
civilization would sustain the severest blow to which, practically, it is liable to be subjected. During the palmy days of the Oriental trade your physical resources exceeded
the wants of your population; you grew, took to the consumption of luxuries, and have
now become proud, insolent and unjust. At the present time, although the Oriental
trade is greater than ever, competition has reduced its profits to a minunum; your population, in Europe and America, grown from forty millions to four hundred millions, is
fast outstripping your productive resources, and you can not afford to dispense with,
any of themthat you possess—least of all, with so important a one as the Chinese trade.
Abandon that, and your fate as a progressive civilization is sealed; and as things which
do not grow, decay, so will the day dawn when, not the Zealander, but the Chinaman,
J mmmmm
will arise to muse over your ruined cities, and recall the ingratitude and folly that pre-
•oipitated your fall.
Driven from your place in the ranks of a civilization whose greatness you now perpetually boast, you may meanly seek as Americans to escape the fate that threatens to
overtake you as Europeans. You may cry let European civilization decay if it will:
our concern is with the United States; sauve qui pent! In vain; you must fall, as you
"have risen, with the rest. If, meaner still, you entrench yourselves on the narrow strip
of land between the Sierra and the ocean and resolve, as Californians, to pursue a
policy which you fear to avow as Americans, let me show you what will happen. And
here I appeal not to philosophy, but to history, which seems better fitted to the scope
♦of western minds.
In 1505 the Spaniards in Mexico—the same men who discovered and colonized California—sent a fleet to the Phillippine Islands, which they captured and occupied.
Under assurances of protection from these marauders a considerable number of Chinamen were induced to reside upon the islands, which under the effects of their industry
and enterprise, became as rich and productive as before they had been poor and
barren. In 1602 there were upward of twenty thousand Chinese in Manila, whilst the
number of Spaniards did not exceed eight hundred. There never had been the slightest disturbance between them. The Chinese were hard workers, who meddled with
nobody. The Spaniards rode about on horseback, enjoying the fruits of the Chinamen's labor and living like lords; and yet they were not satisfied. They wanted to rob
ithe Chinamen of the little they had managed to save under the hard conditions of their
life. The Spaniards met together in secret, planned a massacre of the Chinese, and
•carried out this atrocious design with such expedition that, in the course of a few
months, but few of the twenty thousand victims were left alive. The marauders then
divided the spoils they had gained, and rejoiced in the name of civilization and religion.
Thirty-seven years later, a new generation of Chinamen having arisen, who were ignorant or careless of what had occurred before, some thirty-three thousand of my countrymen gradually found their way to Manila. Precisely the same thing happened as
before. The Spaniards, conveting the wretched gains of the Chinese, planned their
massacre, and slaughtered twenty-two thousand of them in four months, with a loss on
their own side of but three hundred and thirty (Martin's History of China, I, 378).
-From that moment the Phillippines decayed and sunk to nothing. In 1762, when Sir
"William Draper captured Manila from Spain, his most numerous and eager allies were
the Chinese.    It was a punishment and retribution to the Spaniards.
Did the Phillippines decay because the Chinese had been driven from them ? Yes.
But let us glance at the story of the Moorish expulsion from Spain before we dig down
to those reasons which so nearly concern the present welfare of California and the
Pacific slope of America.
At the time Ferdinand and Isabella conquered Granada, Spain had a population of
21,000,000; Castile had 11,000,000; Aragon, 7,000,000; Granada, 3,000,000. A large
proportion of the inhabitants of Castile and Aragon, and all of those in Granada, were
Moors and Jews. The former were the agriculturists of the peninsular; the later the
manufacturers and merchants. The conquest had been aided br fanaticism, and the
impersonators of this element claimed for their reward the expulsion of the Moors and
Jews. No sooner said than done. The fiat went forth, and in the same year that
America was discovered by Colombus the kingdom of Spain was closed to the heretics.
A million of them were driven forth. Some professed Christianity and remained until
1610, when they, too, were cast out. Others of the proscribed fled to freer lands, so
that in 1594 the entire population left in Spain was but 8,206,791. The kingdom was
a wreck, and despite the magnificent conquest of America, despite the gold and silver
wrung from the Indians and the monopoly of the Colonial trade, which was maintained
Until the period of the Mexican and South American revolutions, it never recovered the
loss thus sustained. It is only within the past twenty-five years that Spain has been
again enabled to hold up her head among the nations of the world; only since the time
when she has decreed religious toleration and blotted out from her history the bloody
and detestable crime which she committed three centuries ago. The cry raised against
"*he Moors in Spain and the Chinese in Manila was the same: paganism, filth, leprosy, a
lower civilization. It was fal^e in both cases, as it is in the present case of California. The real offense was that the hated races were more abstemious and economical
than the race in power, and much as you may endeavor to conceal it from the world
and from yourselves, this is the offense of the Chinamen in California, Are not your
-sans1 culottes destroying your harvesters and other labor-saving machinery ? Do they not
murder those of their own number who are satisfied to accept lower wages than the
leaders choose to demand?
I believe that I have said enough to show why the Chinese should not go. It is only
ne jessary to advert to the enormous interest which they have built up in this country
to make it clear that they can not go; and I may add that if it becomes necessary for
them to appeal to all Christendom, and even to arms; against your injustice, they are
prepared to do so. They did not seek Western intercourse; they did not ask for the
Burmigame treaty; but now that both have been thrust upon them they are determined ^
that both shall be respected. They will not be driven forth. It must sound strangely
to near a Ohmaman speak of resorting to arms to obtain the observance of a treaty. It
is strange; but it is your method, the method of your boasted Western civilization ;
you have taught it to us, and we shall employ it. It may, also, seem preposterous on
our part to speak of aims, when you believe that we have none. But here you are mistaken. J
During your civil war, a single Confederate cruiser, whose operations in Chinese
waters were zealously aided by the British Consuls, and alarmingly magnified by the
reports of the British merchants in our ports, entirely swept your commerce from the
Pacific Ocean This fact taught us two things, First, the English are your rivals in
trade and would gladly ruin you; second, thev are ready to sell war-ships, arms and
ammunition to your enemies. At the present time they have a number of fine ironclads, which, being our friends, they will be glad to sell to us, and, if needs be, show
us how to handle. The day that you become so weak and faithless as to give way to
7i?U/ign°r^nt classes* and permit the torch and dagger to drive us from your shores,
that day will see every resource of Ta-sing empire put forth to punish you. Your commerce will be swept from the Pacific, perhaps forever; it may even be seriously crippled on the Atlantic; and you may then learn, when too late, that China, though old
and apathetic, is by no means dead or powerless.
But pardon these threats. They are merel/ the ebullition of an injured patriotism,
an outraged sense of justice. We would be your friends, not your enemies. The oldest
and newest empires of the world, joined together in the common cause of Free Trade,
would furnish a spectacle whose sublimity might form the Pharos to a new and higher
civilization for a united world. Disunited, warring with each other, and in war seeking for allies, with little regard to the incongruity of the alliance, they would not only
afford an unseemly spectacle, but they might involve each other in ruin and the world in
a desolation so wide spread that its rehabilitation may need the work of centuries. I
have said it, the Chinese should not, can not, will not go. I will now show you that if
they did, it would be so much worse for you—aye, even for the very classes who are
clamorous for their removal. What are they doing here? In a word, they are pursuing
a number of industries which, without them, would have no existence at all on this
coast. All the evidence in your Chinese Immigration Report goes to prove that this is
a correct description of the class of vocations in which they are employed. The City
Assessor, who with binocular vision, finds 28,500 Chinese in this city, gives their occupations as follows, the classification being my own:
(1) As domestics and washermen  7,200
(2) As makers of clothing, shoes and slippers 6,250
(3) As makers of cigars and cigar-boxes  3,150
(4) As fishermen, truck-farmers and hucksters  3,700
(5) As Chinese merchants, brokers, clerks, and porters, Chinese restaurants,
places of worship, and other purely Chinese occupations 4,150
(6) As rag-pickers      600
(7) In American manufactories: fruit-canning, woolen mills, tanneries, matches,
gun-powder mills, and brick-yards  3,450
Total 28,500
In the other towns of the State the Chinese are employed in similar vocations. In
the rural sections th*v pick nineteen-twentieths of the grape crop (Rep., p. 1203). In
the mining districtsfhey work the placers which white men have long since abandoned.
It is quite safe to say that if they were driven from those industries not one of them
would be continued. Let us look at them seriatim: (1) Families who would have to
pay $25 to $40 a month, Biddy's demand for housework, instead of the $10 or $15
with which John is satisfied, would break up housekeeping, become their own domestics, or else leave the country. The times are past when exceptionally high rates of
wages can be sustained. (2) The clothing, shoes and slippers now made here by Chinamen would either be made in.China, of British muslin, leather, etc., or else manufactured in the East, and in either case imported to this coast. It is entirely out of the
question to imagine that these industries would be continued upon the Californian
workingmen's wage-basis of $3 or $4 a day. The general level of wages and prices
and living has fallen far below such rates, and neither intimidation nor violence can
raise it. The workingmen themselves would have to leave the State, because the capitalists could no longer afford to live here. (3) No one pretends that cigars can De
made upon your would-be basis of wages. Already most of the cigars consumed here,
apart from those made by Chinamen, are imported from New York. As for the yarns about
leprous Chinese cigar-makers, the finest cigar in the world, those of Havana, are all,
without exception, made by Chinamen; and this has been the case for upward of
twenty years. (4) Fish caught and vegetables grown by Chinamen are now sold in
this market quite cheaply. Drive the Chinamen away, and neither of these articles of
food would be seen at any tables but those of the rich. (5 and 6) Itis presumed that
no one but Chinamen are prepared to fill the places of these clashes.    (7) This is 12 WHY SHOULD THE  CHINESE GO?
really the only class of laborers who come into competition with the workingmen whom
you admit to citizenship. They are ready to retire at any moment in favor of the latter, who are welcome to undertake the dangerous and offensive labors which the Chinese
now perform in these manufactories.
The settlement of California is due to its placer mines. While these were prolific the
country was prosperous, and high prices, high wages and high living was possible. To
augment this prolificity you invited Chinamen here, and worked them for your own
benefit. When the placers were exhausted some of you combined and turned your attention to quartz mines; others to wheat farming. The Chinese picked up a living by
resorting to petty industries in which you could not compete with foreign or Eastern
artisans, and which you, therefore, could not have started. Now that the Chinamen
have built up these trades some of you would drive them away, hoping, no doubt, to
fill their places, and perhaps fill them at higher wages. How mean! How stupid! The
truth is that you can no more continue these industries after the Chinamen are driven
away than you can work a hydraulic claim without piping, or a manufactory without
steam. The Chinese are the labor-saving machines that render these industries possible. Banish them and the industries will perish. Then will your coast be deserted and
your workingmen themselves forced to flee from it. They can not live upon quartz
mines and seemed to be averse to wheat farming. When they shall have raised the
price of living to what it was of yore, and shall find themselves, as they will, without
the placer mines which sustained it, they must either leave or starve. May heaven
guide them in their darkness. They have much need of light when they regard the
poor Chinamen as being in their way; the truth being that without his aid in providing
them with cheap food, clothing, services, etc., they would not be able to live here at aD.
The same logic that would banish the Chinese will destroy every labor-saving machine
in the land. This would involve not merely the harvesting and sewing machines, but
also the spade and the axe. The former in the hands of a skilled husbandman will perform as much labor as could be done by a dozen men with fingers and toes; the latter
as much as could be effected by a hundred men with their unaided teeth. These labor-
saving implements, therefore, displace so many honest workingmen, who may starve
for lack of work. Moreover, the spade and axe are non-consumers. They neither eat,
drink, nor wear clothes as Christians do. The spade has no religion ; the axe no morals. The spade is a filthly instrument grovling among worms and putrid bodies; the
axe has committed many a bloody crime. The spade cannot agitate; nor the axe vote.
They are not allowed to perform the duties of a citizen, and are, therefore, unworthy
of its privileges; one of those being tnat of remaining in the country. Many spades
and axes come from Sheffield, and nearly all others are made of British steel. They
are, therefore, aliens, whose presence here, and whose strange attributes form a standing threat to American institutions. Your laws or customs do not permit them to
mingle with your people. No man may marry a spade; no woman an axe. The very
aspect of these alien labor-saving machines is repulsive to you. The spade does not
wear a queue longer than George Washington's, nor the axe excel General Grant in the
smoking of narcotics; but they both go stark naked, without a strip of clothing on
them; and what sight can be more offensive to civilized eyes? Then down with these
labor-saving implements. Let the cry of every good American be: The Spades and
Axes Must Go!
But this machine-smashing logic is not peculiar to California. The industrial world
of Christendom resounds with it. The same class of men who burned the woolen
frames at Lancashire are now breaking the reaper and mowers of New York, the harvesters of Kansas, and the gang-plow of the San Joaquin vallej^ When Commodore
Perry visited Japan he carried ashore a miniature railway, a telegraph, a liarvester,
and numerous labor-saving implements. "Your civilization is degraded; ours is elevated," cried this worthy commander to the wondering Asiatics, f* Behold the proof.
Your plows and carriages {Jin~riki-ska) are drawn by men; ours by steam. Your
messages are carried by runners; ours by lightning. You are the slaves of toil; we are
the masters. You were very anxious to sell these civilizing machines to the Japanese
in order, as you said, to lift them up to your own proud level, and you have never
failed to similarly press them upon us. Was this because you were mistaken with respect to the advantages of labor-saving machines, or because you anticipated having no
further use for them at home.
But enough. The times are hard; there is much suffering among the poor in every
land, and coming, as I do, from a country where suffering has most enthroned itself I
am not disposed to push the argument beyond the self-defense. No one has a deeper
stake in the welfare of your working classes than the Chinese; for unless they manage
to sustain themselves, what must be the fate of our starving millions? All I ask is that
your workingmen will cease to look upon the Chinese as the source of their troubles.
It is not there, nor is it in the presence of any other labor-saving machines. Perhaps
they will find it in she world's dwindling stock of metallic money—and in this respect
one of the planks of their platform commends itself most heartily to my mind. Per-1
haps they will find it in the govermental extravagance, in trade monopolies, in the privileges accorded to corporations, in the exemption of government bonds and other prop- ■-"
erty from taxation—I know not where. Your Congressional Committee, now in New
lork, is making the proper inquires. It is not our business to discover the causes of
your misfortunes. It is enough if we show that they do not spring from our presence
here, and that on the contrary, they would be infinitely aggravated were you unfortunately to forget what is due to honor, to justice, and to your own interets, 'and attempt
to drive us away from your shores. Kwang Chang Ling/
Another Letter from  Kwang Chang Ling.
To the Argonaut:—Do not be alarmed. It is not proposed to bore you with any
further arguments concerning the Chinese question in California. Should it ever
assume the form of discussion I shall be happy, if permitted, to take part in it; but
such is not yet the fact; and I am too well aware of the inveteracy and rancor of race
prejudice to expect to convince my opponents so long as they refuse to join issue with
me, and are satisfied merely to reiterate that demand for the expulsion of the Chinese
which it has been my endeavor to show'was both unjust and unwise.
There are, however, some topics connected with China which, although they relate
remotely to to the Chinese question, must possess a higher interest for you in other
respects; and this interest must remain, whether ths Chinese question is settled by
our expulsion or not. They relate to the general question of civilization; to the world's
civilization; to Asiatic, to European civilization; and—which is more to you—to these
civilizations considered apart. One of these topics is the population of the Chinese
empire; and with your honorable permission, I will lay before you certain facts and inferences in this connection which I have raason to believe will possess some interest to
you, quite separate from the question concerning the Chinese in California.
There are few events in history more remarkable than the settlement of the recent war in
Turkey. A power commanding nearly 90,000,000 of subjects overruns, in the course of
a few months, the territory of another power, commanding less than 25,000,000 and is
upon the point of entirely destroying the latter, when a third power, summoning to its
aid a force of Indian allies, puts a stop to the conquest, and, with little change, restores
the enraged belligerents to their previous positions and relations. The novel means
employed to bring about this extraordinary and unlooked for result did not fail to elicit
the indignation of the baffled conqueror. Count Schouvaloff significantly warned
Europe that arms of precision in the hands of Asiatics convey a menace to all European civilization. But these are not all of the means employed. The other were the
brains of a British Premier, who is himself of Asiatic blood, and deeply imbued with
the characteristics of ^-|iatic civilization—strong passions, a powerful imagination, and
disregard for the coj  trsation of national religions.
Lord BeaconsfielcrT^longs to a race who, up to within a very recent period, were
hated and despised in Europe as much as the Chinese are to-day in America. They
could not own land; they could not even drive a horse; they enjoyed no civil privileges;
their residences were confined to noisome ghettos; they were restricted to the most disreputable and repulsive vocations: they were compelled to wear peculiar dresses, and
forbidden even to assume surnames. There is not a country in Europe which has not
repeatedly plundered, massacred, and driven them forth. There are but two to-day—
England and France—where they do not have to struggle against civil disabilties; and it is
only a few years since these were removed in England. Precisely the same charges
that are to-day made against the Chinese were but quite recently urged against the Jews.
They were an alien race, unfit to mix with Christians, whose civilization was menaced
by their presence. They were filthy and leprous; they poisoned wells; they ate Christian babies; they were incorrigible cheats, and void of conscience; they lived upon refuse, and underbid the labor of honest men. They were hated by man and accursed of
That the entire power of the British Empire, embracing, as it does, some two hundred and fifty millions of inhabitants and greater wealth and resources than all the
world besides, should have been recently intrusted, without hesitation, to the disposition of one of this race, would appear to contain a still more serious menace to the
conservation of European civilization than the event noticed by Count Schouvaloff. But
every thinking man knows that it  does not.    Why? Simply because the Jews are a de- %}
cay ing people. There are not half as many Jews in all the world to-day as there were two
thousand years ago in Palestine alone. Has persecution killed them? Not at all. Under
persecution they have invariably thriven and increased. What, then, has diminished their numbers, and must soon extinguish them altogether? Absorption. Merely absorption. The great sponge of European civilization, which
first;' opened its pores during the French Revolution, has absorbed and nearly extinguished
them. Lord Beacohsfield is himself an example of the process. He is a member of
the Church of England. And myriads of similarly absorbed Jews surronnd you upon
all sides. They not only abjure their distinguishing religion and customs; they change
their names; and in the course of two or three generations there is nothing left of their
original characteristics, but a trace of their highly-organized blood and ancient refinement. So, too, have the Chinese been a decaying race for more than a century past.
My government does not admit this; my confreres vehemently deny it; but many years
spent in, the Western world during my youth, and some familiarity with Chinese affairs,
combined with a knowledge of Western histories and books of travel, enable me, as I
believe, to perceive what my government would conceal and my companions are loth to
admit. It belongs to history, to science, and to civilization, to reveal the truth in this
matter. The truth can do no harm to any one; certainly not to my countrymen.
Under the policy of concealment in this respect they have suffered all that men can endure. Let the t/uth now be tried. It is the inheritence' of all mankind; it is the bequest of Heaven.
According to the various official enumerations which I have been able to find mentioned in European authors, the population of China proper at various periods of history was as follows: |
b. c. 100J.
to 248..
a. D. 255
1st cent'y
a. d	
D.    740
D.    997
D. 1393
D. 1491
D. 1506
D. 1578
D. 1662
Chow dynasty
Hah dynasty.
Han dynasty,
Wan-te ,
Number of
European Authority.
Martin's Hist. Ch., I, 217
Mai tin, I, 217
 Malte-Brun, II, 94
 Malte-Brun, II, 94
 Martin, I, 225
 Martin, I, 229-
 -.Martin, I, 29*
 Martin, I, 29*
   Martin, I, 29
 Martin, I, 29-
.. Allerstein, in Malte-Brun.
.. .Allerstein, in Appleton $
... .Allerstein, in Appleton
.Macgreggor Com. St., V, 7
  Estimated as in text
.. .From previeus numbers
* Number of men between fifteen aud sixty years of age.
t Given by Martin as tbe whole population, but evidently meaning fa
X Am. Cyc, Old Ed., 1377.
§ From one hundred to one hundred and twenty millions.
From this table it will be seen that the population of China reached its greatest numbers more than a century ago, and that at the present time it amounts to little more
than one-half as many as it did then. As these results will probably be questioned, I
will now proceed as briefly as possible to substantiate them.
It will be observed that I have adduced no enumerations which have not been mentioned in European authors. This course has been observed because of the non-acquaintance of Europeans with our native authors and language. The enumerations
previous to the reign of Kang-he (1662-1722) are not important in this connection.
They, however, serve to show that our population has retrogressed more than once before, and to some extent indicate the limits within which the numbers may be found at
various periods. Kank-he was one of the greatest princes who ever sat upon the
throne of China. He was an indefatigable student, a thorough mathematician, and by
far the best scholar in the empire. He visited the provinces in person, caused them to
be surveyed by Europeans, and ordered the geographical positions of all important
places to be ascertained. The enumerations made during his reign were subjected to
the inspection of Europeans—Messrs. Gerbillon, Bouvet and others. Kang-he reigned
sixty years, during which time the population increased from 105,000,000 to about
150,000,000. "His whole life was an arduous struggle to benefit his subjects."
j Very different was the character of Keen-lung (1736-1796). This prince also reigned
sixty years; but they were sixty years of foreign and domestic wars, turbulence* Sic-
penal rapacity, social decadence, and polit cal retrogression. Between 1765 and 1769
nearly 1,000,000 of men were lost in the war with Burmah. Civil wars occurred in
nearly all parts of the empire; the crops failed repeatedly, and vast numbers died^fmm
famine. From nearly 200,000,000—at which number the population stood when'lpm-
lung was called to the throne—it fell to little more than 150,000,000 at the time olhis
death in 1796. Yet but one year previcu* to this event he permitted Chu-ta-jin ofKhe
imperial foreign office to communicate to the British Ambassador, Lord Macartoel, a
statement to the effect that the population of the empire amounted to 333,000,000 acrifyt ,'■
It is out of this false statement that have sprung all the erroneous statements which ap-.
pear in your books of reference concerning the population of China.
Some of these works pretend to quote from a census of 1812; others from a census of
1842; the truth being that no censuses were ever taken, and that all these pretended
enumerations are conjectures based upon the falsehood conveyed to Lord Macartney in
1795, and the equally false assumption that the population has gone on increasing ever
since. There is no country in the world where better opportunities exist for taking a.
census than in China. Every district has its officer; every street its constable; every
ten houses its tything man; and every family is required to have a board always hanging up in the house ready for the inspection of the regular officer, on which board the
name of every man, woman, or child, in the house must be inscribed. Yet no actual
census of China has been published since that of 1761. Decaying countries are never
known to publish censuses; it is the act only of growing ones.
However, the best evidence of the population of China is afforded by the extent of
its cultivated lands. The productive capacity of these lands, and the usual quantity of
food necessary to support human life, being known, the number of thosj^-who dw^L-A
upon them can be deduced within a very reasonable degree of certainty. From these
data it will be found that the population at the date of the last cadastre, viz.: about the
year 1834, did not exceed 125,000,000.
China proper consists of eighteen states, or provinces, containing a total area of ■*
1,297,999 square miles, or 830,719,360 acres. Of this area, it has been stated that the >
extraordinary proportion of three-fourths, or 640,579,381 acres are cultivable (a). The
mountainous and desert character of a very large portion of the empire is a sufficient refutation of the statement; but be this as it may, the cultivated portion has never been held
by any author to exceed 141,119,347 acres (6). This figure, howjever^pippears to relate
to the last century, the latest figure of the area actuaEy cpttiv&ted being 108,907,338%
acres (c). This result is obtained from dur offTcial cadastral works, is given by.
provinces, contains internal proofs of correctness in.the*character of its details, and is
supported by'the collateral evidence afforded by the land tax.
The principal, though not the only, grain of China is rice. This grain forms the
staff of life chiefly in the southern and eastern provinces; whilst in the northern $nd
western, barley, wheat, buckwheat, maize and millet constitute the diet-fttfybf the peopfe.
Meat is scarce, but fish affords an important article of food, and is said to supply a
tenth of all consumed.
In the fertile districts of the southern provinces two crops of rice are raised every
year from the same land> and, in some very exceptionable spots, as many as three crops
have been obtained. Two annual croJ| in the south and one in the north is, however,
the rale.    Sometimes the secondary crop is not rice, but vegetables and even cotton.
by this system, and it has been decried by modern agricultur-
In toofcapidly and renders the succeeding crops feeble. This
he land has been used from time immemorial for the same
le harj^st returns of the Chinese Empire to-a condition that
Brvator o* overcropped lands in your Eastern and Middle
States, but may seem small toj|;hose of fresh and exuberant California. Even with two
crops a year from the same land in a, considerable portion of China, an acre of land in
that country will on an average of good years produce only 14.04 bushels of paddy, or
9.36 bushels of clean rice(-i). Were the-entire cultivated area of China sown in rice,
and every crop -flair average one, the entire annual harvest of the Empire would
amount to but 1,010,880,000 bushels.   As a considerable area is planted in tea and other
But there is lgjfrl****gai
ists.    It exhausts
system, and the fac
land of crop, has
cannot surprise the
year -...	
these sums are equal to ^81,250,000. Regarding the tribute as one-tenth of the whole
crop, and reckoning the value of the rice as low as 1% cents per pound, this would
make the crop equal to 1,083,000,000 bushels.
Wells William gives the grain tax for a recent year at 95,700,000 bushels.
this as a tithe of the whole, we have for the entire crop 957,000,000 bushels.    In round
(a) Wells Williams' Middle Kingdom I, 218.   Macgregor. V. II, 12, says that one-third of the land is
cultivated; but this, though nearer the mark, is mere conjecture.
(b.) Martin's History of China.   Table prefacing Vol 1.
(c.J G-utzlaff's China.
(d.) Chinese Repository, XIII,
els to the acre.   Ibid., Ill, 234.
26.   In Java the average product of rice is 575 pounds, or llj£ bush- fA
figures let us say it amounts to  1,000,000,000 bushels.   It remains to ascertain how
many people this will support.
Tbo average consumption of rice in China by men employed in agricultural labor is
threshing per day, or 15.77 bushels per year; in the cities it is one shing, or 5.26
buslfels per year, fish and other comestibles eking out the remainder of the fare. As
thejtarincipal portion of the population is agricultural it is fully within the mark to es-
tnmte the average annual consumption of grain throughout the empire at ten bushels
*bflf head, supplemented^y some fish and vegetables and a very little meat. • With a
c#p of 1,000,000,000 bushels, this bespeaks a population of not over 100,000,000.
leaking due allowance for possible errors of calculation and for the numbers of people
supported from the profits of foreign commerce in tea, silks, metals and manufactures
of various kinds, it appears liberal to estimate the population of China at the period to
which Gntzlaffs cadastral figures belong—namely, some forty odd years ago—at
1*25.000,000. At the present time they can hardly amount to 120,000,000, and may not
exceed 100,000,000.
But while from these evidences China appears to have declined in population during
the past hundred '-years or more, there are not wanting evidences that she is upon the
point of becoming, if indeed she had not already become, a growing nation again.
■During.the last fifteen or twenty years there has been a notable rise of wages in China;
the condition of the poor has materially improved and the incentives to emigration are
being fast overcome by the superior anvantages of remaining at home. This change is
attributable to the influence of a liberal imperial policy, foreign intercourse, the introduction of more rapid and certain means of transport and communication, of certain
Western arts, and of improved methods and implements of husbandry—the latter form-
iug-the merest beginnings of a new era, but nevertheless counting for something.
^t-China is by no means dead, but only sleeps. So far is she from threatening to let
loose upon the Western world a pauper population of four hundred and odd millions of
people, she does not possess over a hundred millions of people. To these have lately
been afforded such powerful means of future prosperity, that, instead of being obliged
to permit her sons to wander upon distant and inhospitable shores in search of a scanty
liviugvishejSaay be able at no distant time to offer homes, within her own domains, to
foreigiSe^si^ Kwang Chang Ling.


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items