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En Route on the Grand Canal 
Bound for Tsingkiangpu, 
Province of Kiangsu, 
Oct. 7, 1915. 

Dear Mamma and Cora: 


It is done now. I took one last squint at Chinkiang which beautiful burg is now but a memory for I am bound for the real China, the China of the Chinaman, not the China over which the Union Jack flies so arrogantly, or the China of the ever-gushing American tourist, or of the Great Treaty Ports, imposing Bunds, Clubs, Banks, and Britishers. They tell me that in three months I will think of Chinkiang, that low-brow Port above Silver Island, as I now think of Greater New York, and that a view of the Chinkiang Bund instantly recalls the splendors of Fifth Avenue. Carney says that I am to come down again in March but as a matter of fact I may get down for New Year’s day.

I have always stood by the Church and claimed that religion is a good thing but I am very much afraid now that I will have to see too much of the good thing, for the only white people that I will ever see will [be] a few shouters from Joplin, Mo. chiefly of the China Inland Mission, I presume, but some Presbyterians, and not a few of other peculiar denominations. I don’t get on very well with the missionaries as it is but now I suppose that I will have to stomach them. Some of them are all right but so many have this heavy “How are you, brothah” stuff. 

Did I tell you that I went to the house of a missionary for dinner the other night, the father of the stenographer in our office, and we prayed three times during the course of the meal for the success of Allied arms and the damnation of the Huns. True Christian spirit, but the old boy is one of these red hot Limies. I didn’t mind praying for the assurance that the Kaiser would sizzle forever if they weren’t so long winded about it. You can give a man a thorough damning in very few words and the soup won’t get cold. It was some party, was it not? Yes it was not. These people were not Americans but that fact affords no consolation for they say that the Americans are worse if anything. 

We are just passing Yangchow [Yangzhou]. I suppose many people would like to see Yangchow. More people have been killed in Yangchow than in any other city in the world. The sack of Yangchow was the greatest slaughter in the world’s history. Suffragettes will be glad to note that there was no discrimination as to sex made by the Manchus on that occasion for all the women and children being the easiest to kill were killed first. On those six days in June, 1645, in the city of Yangchowfu they killed 800,000 men, women and children. 

China for many, many centuries has had a wonderful civilization, but handed down through the ages in succession as the Mings, Monguls, Manchus, and Republicans were in the ascendant is their great love slaughter, not the slaughter of armed soldiers but the butchering by soldiers of helpless millions whose idea of resistance is to flop down on their knees and then get stuck like a pig. It is wonderful and rather fine when you think of the ruthless massacres that the pitiful records of so many Chinese cities show. The methodical, insatiate, deliberate, coldblooded way in which a few thousand savage soldiers turned loose in a great walled city of a million inhabitants will eliminate every inhabitant and convert the city into weed covered piles of brick and rotting bodies certainly shows how serious the Chinese are when they really go into anything. . . . 

Out here a common thief is beaten with bamboo flails that rip out whole hunks of his flesh and his bones are twisted in teakwood racks. Political offenders are usually given the water cure. Their stomachs are filled with water and a heavy bamboo is brought forcibly across them and the pressure of the water bursts open their stomachs. It is called the “cure” because it is very liable to cure others of indiscreet ideas though it is too late to cure the offender. There is nothing to do but to bury him. Up-country the other day they wanted to skin a man alive and the people were very much dissappointed when no one was found capable of doing the job. 

The country along the Grand Canal is very much the same wherever you go, low rolling country. The Canal itself is almost as wide as the Allegheny River and there are many important cities located along its banks. One can go all the way from Hangchow [Hangzhou] to Tientsin [Tianjin] via the Canal, forty times as far as the Panama Canal, and it was built centuries and centuries ago. Some people, these Chinese, eh? The smaller places that I have passed, villages and towns of from 5,000 to 30,000 inhabitants, are all much the same with their clay huts and ornate shops along the water front, which is usually choked up with hundreds and hundreds of junks. 

The funniest thing about Kiangsu Province is the sight one gets looking across an apparently unbroken wheat field to see moving masts seeming moving across solid ground. But the fact is that the Province is a perfect network of canals. There is no town, however small, that cannot be reached by water. That is what makes transhipping very interesting in this territory, and continual knowledge must be had as to the condition of the waterways for remote transfers. 

Well, I have just arrived at the beautiful city of Tsingkiangpu. I am compelled to state that my first impressions of it give me the gloomiest forbodings. We have been unable to make the regular landing place for the Houseboat, so the Chinese launch that runs between Chinkiang and Tsingkiangpu, which pulled me up, has shunted the boat off to a landing on one bank. 
It is of course impossible to describe a great Chinese city of the interior to a person who has no idea whatever as to what it is like. This must be a very large city from the appearance on the Canal and the approach. The Canal is very wide at this point and splits into two big branches, one of which seems to be bordered with hotels and other brilliantly lighted places. 

It was just turning dark as we reached the outskirts and I can remember nothing more depressing than the miles of earthen huts, low, absolutely dark, their desolate silence speaking vividly of this strange ungodly city which I have just entered. Never have I felt so low as when we slowly moved past this awful desolation, these miles of silent huts with not even a light visible. I could just make out silent figures on the shore but I might as well be in a city of a half million dogs for all the human relationship that exists between us. 

As I speak but a few words of Chinese I cannot understand why I have been shunted up on the most hopeless riverbank that I ever hoped to see. Right next to the bank is a tall bamboo paling and these dark, silent huts make a solid wall around me. My boy says that the reason we have stopped is that the soldiers will not let us go up under some bridge after dark. He says there are no theaters in this city, nothing but joss houses. 

As far as I was able to tell from the Canal, the people get around in the wheelbarrow, and the lao-yeh and Kuan-kuan ti, or the better classes travel in ornate chairs. Up across the Canal there is a great deal of noise and the sounds of a big city minus, of course, any mechanical sounds. Did I tell you that there is a telegraph station in this city? The nearest railway is the road to Tientsin, 450 miles to the westward. After that there is the railway from Pekin [Beijing] to Hankow [Hankou] running through Anhwei [Anhui], 1100 miles from here, and beyond that is nothing until you reach Russia where there is a road from Bokara in Turkestan to Petrograd, but this road is at least 7,000 miles away. So there is little railway traffic in this neighborhood. 

When a fellow strikes a place like this after dark he feels pretty low. A revolution might result in any moment and [if] somebody disliked the foreign devil, I guess they would get me pretty quick. I have a revolver always loaded but Carney told me never to draw it if I ran across any too-fa or river bandits because they always shoot first. There are no Too-fa down here but Taierchwang [Taierzhuang] has not a few and they have stopped inspectors up there. The only way to do, according to Carney, is to give them $25 or they will get you quick and the Company would have no come back and would lose a high salaried man. 

I hope I am not here when the armies from the North come through in event of Yuan’s assuming the throne. Soldiers are thick in every city, town, and hamlet in these provinces and as they are very ignorant and are only paid $3 a month, Mex., a fellow cannot expect much of them. I am more worried about the soldiers than I am of any other outlaw. They are terribly arrogant and frightfully cruel, and will often tear the tongue out of somebody they are going to kill before they shoot him. Individually they are meek and mild enough but when a big slaughter comes, their blood lust is terrible, and they kill for the love of killing. 

Wilson, of the A.P. [Asiatic Petroleum], an Englishman in Chinkiang who has been through both the big revolutions and was present at the first extinction of Nanking [in 1911] says he saw during the first bloody week at Nanking when they killed 70,000 noncombatants, a soldier plunge his sword through a baby at its mothers breast pinning the baby to the mother. The soldiers at Nanking killed anyone and everyone, and dashed all babies against the ground or a wall thus spoiling them. Up here in the country they are considerably worse than down in Nanking however. 

I am continuing this later. I have taken a look over this city and find it very interesting. It is all too easy to get lost however as it is so crooked and exists in so many partitions. It is considerably bigger than Chinkiang. 

Last night I went out to a dinner with our agent who had a large number of guests with him. We went to a very large restaurant inside the city wall which is across the canal from where I am located. This is the city proper and is apparently of enormous extent. It would be impossible to go in there without a guide and after six o’clock at night it is necessary to have a pass from the military authorities as soldiers close the gates and mount machine guns to prevent any uprising. 

A Chinaman is never a piker and the way they entertain should be a lesson back home to people as an example of hospitality. I was offered champagne, endless varieties of Chinese wines, and a huge feast. It is a wonder that I am living today to tell the tale. Old Wong, the agent, is quite a character. He is a Ningpo [Ningbo] man and all his assistants are Ningpo and Soochow [Suzhou] men. The Chung Hing agent was also there. There were also some very pretty singing girls included in the entertainment. 

I took a stroll around the town this morning to see how things size up. The first thing that draws attention is the large number of soldiers that one sees. They are every where; the streets are filled with scattering companies on the march. They all have drawn bayonets. 

A funny little fellow from the B.A.T. has just dropped in. His house boat is located next to mine, though he is here only temporarily. He has just come down from a trip up Haichow way and has not eaten white chow for four weeks. He says that he has not had a bath for 11 days and that he has not slept on a bed for four weeks. You should see him. He is a sight. He has scurvy, dysentery, and a rash on his face. He has visited the most ungodly and unsanitary spots imaginable and says that I am the first white man he has spoken to since he left Matau, three weeks ago where he saw a Catholic priest; all in the service of the British-American Tobacco Company of London. . . . 

Well I have to cease this careless assortment of phraseology and to ask you to keep me well in mind. I may not get the answer to this letter until Christmas time and I will spend Christmas in Tsingkiangpu or in the further interior. I hope that you have received the 80 taels that I sent you and you might use it your self if you need it and buy some books and magazines for me with the rest. I cannot send over anymore at the present exchange which is horrible, so that will have to last for some time. I shall now proceed to enjoy metropolitan life as practiced in Tsingkiangpu, Yaowan, and other centers of art and culture. 

However I am coming strong so don’t ever worry about me, for the first time I see any real clouds in the sky I go into a cave. Continue to address every thing to Chinkiang, Province of Kiangsu. I wish that when you send a good magazine for a couple of times you would not miss a number, for then I lose the benefit of the serials. For example you did not send the last number of Hearst’s and now I cannot read The Story of Susan in which I am much interested. I tried to get it in Shanghai but they had all sold out so now the story is spoiled for me. When you are located on the banks of the Grand Canal of China, or in the not overly pleasingly fragranted lower Shantung, you feel kind of low at small occurences like missing the number of a magazine. 

Tell Cora to write me at considerable length and to give my regards to the girls. Two thousand dollars a year is quite a bunch of money but it doesn’t keep one from missing the girls. Also keep very well and enjoy life. I am finding the Interior quite interesting and no doubt I shall enjoy it, and as I remarked before, $2000 per annum is considerable coin for a fellow 22. If you run across any interesting pictures etc. you might send same. 

Very affectionately,

. . .  Please don’t forget to send the socks I asked for. I will send some silk home when I get time. Henry.

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