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On Relations with the British

July 30, 1916: “Just before I quit I ought to tell you that we, the Americans in the Socony that assembled in Chinkiang on the Fourth to celebrate our glorious country, had a sad dispute with the Limie (British) population. For some reason they (the Chinkiang Manager and the assistants in that territory) hate the British like poison and you may be sure that it is heartily reciprocated. In fact they don’t speak to each other. Think of that. In an interior Treaty Port of China where there are only 40 foreigners, one bunch hates the other so and the other bunch doesn’t like itself very well. At any rate, at the time I speak of, we fired a lot of firecrackers from the roof of our Hong and made a tremendous noise as firecrackers are dirt cheap out here and we had $80. worth. As it is a British Concession, the Consul fined the Co. $30. Mex. I am not in the Chinkiang territory so I did not care what happened, but the Manager, who was about to leave for America on furlough, refused to apologize to the British Consul and the Shanghai Management fired him which was what he wanted anyway, because he doesn’t intend to return to China. It made a big stir of which I just received the receding ripples as I was then making a trip into the Taichow [Taizhou] country. If I were in Chinkiang I would try to keep on as good terms with the limies as was consistent with the dignity of our nation because I know many that are not half bad. But the boys in Chinkiang consider the whole race bad eggs. When they first came out they were all pro-English, but it shows what the terrible isolation of a gossiping, drinking, altogether punk Treaty Port can do to a crowd of otherwise peaceable Foreign Devils.”

February 26, 1917: “The personnel of the Port in Chinkiang is constantly changing. The British Consul who was here when I first came to China has returned from his furlough which he spent in Ohio, where his wife’s home is, in London & at work for the Government in Copenhagan. I called on them. They have a new baby, a rather recent aquisition, of which Carney had told me nothing so of course I made a bad break by asking if it was theirs. Such remarks cause much horror in an assemblage of Englishmen.”

May 2, 1917: “Most of the Americans out here, since the war began, have been pro-German even though they don’t like the Germans. The reason is that they greatly dislike the British. Usually no one was outward about it, but everybody used to be highly amused when the “limies”, or British, got another licking. I found it very funny myself. Of course, now that we are in the war the sentiment has changed and everybody, with a few exceptions, among the Americans, is for the country against the Germans and I think that relations have improved with the British.” 

April 29, 1918: “There is a great deal of knowing of British officials in Shanghai and Hongkong as well as Australia and especially the British General Staff. These latter birds don’t seem to show up very well in a pinch. During the past week we have been having war films in Soochow, shown at each of the various missions in turn. They are British propaganda films issued for Chinese consumption and in quality are about what you might expect to palm off on the ivory headed heathen. . . . The Chinese, as you probably know, are intensely pro-German – why this is nobody can exactly figure. The Huns have probably passed on to the unhappy Chinos the most hearty kicks that they have received. The real reason for the Chinese feeling is because of the great dislike most of them have for the British, and British diplomacy, the Opium War, British Treaty Ports and all of that. And also, the average Chino figures that Germany is absolutely invincible, a sort of super-nation, as it were. At any rate after three days they had to withdraw the films from Soochow and cancel prospective engagements at most of the various mission schools because there was so much hissing of the British armies and loudly expressed sympathy for the various Hun prisoners shown on the screen. . . . The British have a way that must be particularly irritating to the Chinese, at any rate out here all the merchants with whom I talk refer to them as very “tiao pieh” or tricky.”

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