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Province Of Shantung

( Originally Published 1910 )

Kiao-Chao—Visit to Confucius's Tomb Expedition to the Jews of K'ai- fung- fu—The Grand Canal—Chefoo

IN SHANTUNG the people appear to be much more robust than their neighbours to the south. Wheat and millet rather than rice are their staple food. In their orchards apples, pears and peaches take the place of oranges.

At Kiao-chao (Kiau-Chau) the Germans, who occupied that port in 1897, have built a beautiful town opposite the Island of Tsingtao, presenting a fine model for imitation, which, however, the Chinese are not in haste to copy. They have constructed also a railway from the sea to Tsinan-fu, very nearly bisecting the province. Weihien is destined to become a railroad centre; and several missionary societies are erecting colleges there to teach the people truths that Confucius never knew. More than half a century ago, when a missionary distributed Christian books in that region, the people brought them back saying, "We have the works of our Sage, and they are sufficient for us." Will not the new arts and sciences of the West convince them that their Sage was not omniscient?

In 1866 I earned the honours of a hadji by visiting the tomb of Confucius—a magnificent mausoleum surrounded by his descendants of the seventieth generation, one of whom in quality of high priest to China's greatest teacher enjoys the rank of a hereditary duke.

On that occasion, I had come up from a visit to the Jews in Honan. Having profited by a winter vacation to make an expedition to K'ai-fung-fu, I had the intention of pushing on athwart the province to Hankow. The interior, however, as I learned to my intense disappointment, was, convulsed with rebellion. No cart driver was willing to venture his neck, his steed, and his vehicle by going in that direction. I accordingly steered for the Mecca of Shantung, and, having paid my respects to the memory of China's greatest sage, struck the Grand Canal and proceeded to Shanghai. From K'ai-fung-fu I had come by land slowly, painfully, and not without danger. From Tsi-ning I drifted down with luxurious ease in a well-appointed house-boat, meditating poetic terms in which to describe the contrast.

The canal deserves the name of "grand " as the wall on the north deserves the name of "great." Memorials of ancient times, they both still stand unrivalled by anything the Western world has to show, if one except the Siberian Railway. The Great Wall is an effete relic no longer of use; and it appears to be a satire on human foresight that the Grand Canal should have been built by the very people whom the Great Wall was intended to exclude from China. The canal is as useful today as it was six centuries ago, and remains the chief glory of the Mongol dynasty.

Kublai having set up his throne in the north, and completed the conquest of the eighteen provinces, ordered the construction of this magnificent waterway, which extends 800 miles from Peking to Hang-chow and connects with other waterways which put the northern capital in roundabout communication with provinces of the extreme south. His object was to tap the rice-fields of Central China and obtain a food supply which could not be interfered with by those daring sea-robbers, the redoubtable Japanese, who had destroyed his fleets and rendered abortive his attempt at conquest. Of the Great Wall, it may be said that the oppression inseparable from its construction hastened the overthrow of the house of its builder. The same is probably true of the Grand Canal. The myriads of unpaid labourers who were drafted by corvée from among the Chinese people subsequently enlisted, they or their children, under the revolutionary banner which expelled the oppressive Mongols.

Another port in this province which we cannot pass without an admiring glance, is Chefoo (Chifu). On a fine hill rising from the sea wave the flags of several nations; in the harbour is a cluster of islands; and above the settlement another noble hill rears its head crowned with a temple and groves of trees. On its sides and near the seashore are the residences of missionaries. There I have more than once found a refuge from the summer heat, under the hospitable roof of Mrs. Nevius, the widow of my friend Dr. J. L. Nevius, who, after opening a mission in Hangchow, became one of the pioneers of Shantung. In Chefoo he planted not only a church, but a fruit garden. To the Chinese eye this garden was a striking symbol of what his gospel proposed to effect for the people.

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