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On Shanghai

October 2, 1915:


“I had a very fine time in Shanghai. As you know, it was the first time that I have been there since I left for Chinkiang. The big port is certainly a wonderful place. It is not as big as some places that I have been in, having about a million people, but it is combining the East and the West in a very peculiar and interesting way. I suppose that it is one of the livest places in the world and as a matter of fact you can do most anything in that town and get away with it. . . . 

There are about 40 representative citizens on the International Council and one of them is an American. The rest are principally British, now that the Germans are interned. 

There are very few Americans in the Shanghai Club, which is undoubtedly one of the swellest clubs in the world, though the Americans in number rank next to the British. 

The French have their own Concession which is even larger than the International Concession and of course is simply a part of France transported. The streets all have French names, all the signs are in French and even the trams give French cash receipts when they cross the line. Most of the finest residences in the settlement are located way out in French town. 


The Shanghai Bund is the principal thoroughfare and extends the length of all Concessions. . . . I guess that every race in the world is represented on that thoroughfare and in very motley groups at that. The policemen are all huge turbaned Indians with swords. There are probably quite a lot of what they would call in America, decent and respectable people who don’t drink, smoke or swear but they look to me an awful lot like missionaries and so I fight shy of bumping into them. The rest of the people undoubtedly drink and I am afraid that quite a few of them smoke. It is the best thing that is done in Shanghai, drinking, and people are rather thorough about it. 

The buildings on the Bund are magnificent, the most impressive type of metropolitan Continental architecture. . . .  Rickshas, motors, victorias, trams, jam the Bund and Nanking Road so that it is just a seething mass of color and humanity. Until last month there were 22,000 rickshas plying their trade in the International Settlement and French town but recently the Council has reduced the number to 16,000, which is enough to mightily disturb one’s peace. If you want to go down into French town you have to say to the coolie, “have got French” or else you may be stuck for another ricksha when you come to the line, one with a French license. 

That world famous barbarous jumble of what sounds like English, known as Pidgeon English, originated in Hong Kong and its use is universal amongst the Chinese of the coolie and servant class in Shanghai. A majority of the ricksha coolies speak a few words of it so one can always manage to navigate. It takes some time for the Nanking Road habitue to pick up this strange jargon which bears little resemblance to English as she is spoke but it is very useful in the big sea Treaty Ports. . . . It is no use to take an untravelled Chinkiang man down to Shanghai to as act an interpreter as he does not understand them. 

I stayed at the Palace Hotel this trip and that not overwhelmingly fine hostelry accumulated a lot of my hard earned wealth. A pleasing custom exists here of having all the hall boys, room boys, bath boys, elevator boys, shoe clean boys, and all others of the scores of menials of an Oriental hotel with whom you have had the least connection line up before the door of your hotel as you go out to your carriage. Standard Oil men can get a room for Mex. $6 a day at any of the best hotels in Shanghai which of course includes meals and tea and is rather cheap as you will agree. But a fellow’s chits run up tremendously in the Orient particularly as one never pays cash for anything. The Palace Hotel is on Nanking Road just where it meets the Bund. On both sides along the Bund are the great banks, about thirty of them. . . . 

The French club is very cosmopolitan and most of the Americans who belong to any club belong to this one. A few Americans belong to the Race club, the Polo club and the Rowing club but most any sportsman can belong to them. Of course the French club is not swell in the exclusive sense that the Shanghai club is or the Americans probably would not belong to it.


The great German club is the club Concordia which is as fine a club as you will find in the world with the usual splendid veranda overlooking the Bund. Here every afternoon all the high class Germans sit with a sneer on their faces and drink and look haughtily at the thronging Bund. They have of course been kicked out of every other club in Shanghai. 

The Shanghai club probably ranks with two or three New York and London clubs as the finest in the world. It certainly has more servants than any club that ever lured men away from their fond wives, having nearly 400. It has the longest bar in the world and at the noon hour they say that this vast mahagony is lined five deep with thirsty parties."

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