Even in Japan, I found at all the foreign banks, in some of the shops, and in the Grand Hotel, that the cashiers were not Japanese, but Chinamen. Of course, one who has never traded with them cannot judge of their comparative abilities in a business way, but merchants in Yokohama, Shanghai, and Hong-Kong, as well as on the island of Shameen, told us that Chinamen were more trustworthy than the Japanese, and could be usually depended on to live up to their contracts, whether they proved favorable or unfavorable.
A Marriage Procession.
An English gentleman who had resided both in China and Japan for years, once said to me: "The more you see of the Japanese the less you will like them. The more you see of the Chinese the less you will dislike them. You will always like the Japanese; you will always dislike Chinamen; but the degree in which you cherish and express these sentiments will constantly diminish."
Besides the numerous differences between Oriental and Occidental customs noticed in Japan, we found in China many other proofs of what has been well called a state of topsy-turvydom. Thus, our tailors draw the needle inward; Chinese tailors stitch outward. With us military men wear their swords on the left side; in China they are worn on the right. In boxing the compass a Chinaman says "East, West, South, North." To mark a place in a book we turn the corner of a page inside; a Chinaman bends it the other way. We print the title of a volume on the back; the Chinese on the front. We play battledore and shuttlecock with our hands; the Chinese use their feet for a battledore and catch the shuttlecock on their foreheads. We use our own names when engaged in business; in China fancy names are taken. We carry one watch hidden in our pocket; a Chinese gentleman sometimes wears two outside his clothes, with their faces exposed. We black our boots; the Chinese whiten theirs. With us it is considered impolite to ask a person's age; in China it is a high compliment, and there a man is congratulated if he is old. Men, at least in the Occident, have plenty of pockets; the Chinaman has none, and uses his stockings as receptacles for papers, and at the back of his neck inserts his folded fan. At our weddings youthful bridesmaids are desired; at Chinese nuptials old women serve in that capacity. We launch our vessels lengthwise; the Chinese launch theirs side- wise. We mount a horse from the left; they mount their horses from the right. We begin dinner with soup and fish, and end with dessert; they do exactly the reverse. Finally, the spoken language of China is never written, and the written language is never spoken.
A Chinese Junk.
After all, however, we should remember that Chinamen who travel in our own country think that our customs are as strange as theirs appear to us. A prominent official of the Flowery Kingdom, who made the tour of Europe several years ago, took notes of what he saw, and published them on his return. Among them are the following: "Women, when going to the drawing-room of Queen Victoria regard a bare skin as a mark of respect." "When people meet and wish to show affection, they put their lips and chins together and make a smacking sound." This is not so difficult to understand, when we recollect that, like most Orientals, the Chinese do not kiss, and that even a mother does not kiss her own baby, although she will press it to her cheek. Again, he thus describes our dancing parties: "A European skipping match is a strange sight. To this a number of men and women come in couples, and enter a spacious hall; there, at the sound of music, they grasp each other by both arms, and leap and prance backward and forward, and round and round, till they are forced to stop for want of breath. All this," he adds, "is most extraordinary;" and when we Occidentals think of it, perhaps it is. A Chinese youth, after eating for the first time a European dinner, wrote of his experience: "Dishes of half-raw meat were served, from which pieces were cut with sword-like instruments and placed before the guests. Finally came a green and white substance, the smell of which was overpowering. This, I was informed, was a compound of sour milk, baked in the sun, under whose influence it remains until it becomes filled with insects; yet the greener and livelier it is, the greater the relish with which it is eaten! This is called Che-sze."